Nature's marvellous medicine

Nature's marvellous medicine

Panel discussion with Professor Dianna Bowles, Professor Roderick Flower FRS and Professor Monique Simmonds, chaired by Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRS as part of the 2013 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Event details

For hundreds of years we have used plants and their extracts for their healing properties. Ancient Egyptians chewed white willow bark to relieve fevers and reduce inflammation, and many years later scientists discovered that the bark contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient used to make aspirin. Today we continue to turn to plants for medicinal uses, such as harvesting the bark of Yew trees to produce Taxol, a chemotherapy drug for treating cancer. In this panel discussion we investigate how sustainable it is to derive our medicines from natural resources, exploring the medical, economical and social benefits in comparison to drugs synthesised in the lab.

Professor Dianna Bowles is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of York and founder of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products.

Professor Roderick Flower FRS is Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology at the William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University, London.

Professor Monique Simmonds is Director of the Kew Innovation Unit, Deputy Keeper and Head of Sustainable Uses of Plants Group in the Jodrell Laboratory at Kew Gardens.

Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRS is Regius Professor of Botany in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

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Nature's marvellous medicine 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

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  • Stuff matters 31 May 2015 at Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales Join award winning author Mark Miodownik at the Hay Festival.
  • Elements, genomes and ecosystems: cascading nitrogen and phosphorus impacts across levels of biological organisation 01 June 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Theo Murphy international scientific meeting organised by Professor Andrew Leitch, Professor Maurine Neiman, Professor Dag Hessen, Professor Puni Jeyasingh, Professor Lawrence J. Weider and Dr Ilia Leitch

For more events please see the events diary.

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