The Center has adopted a multidisciplinary strategy to achieve its basic research and clinical research objectives. Participating faculty hailing from the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy have the experience and training to carry out Center aims. They work collaboratively and synergistically to formulate best-practice models as they develop and apply new and evolving analytical techniques to the research and development of botanical dietary supplements.
The primary goal of the botanical centers is to foster interdisciplinary research in order to identify the potential health benefits of botanical dietary supplements. Therefore, a systematic approach to evaluating the safety and efficacy of herbal products, particularly those botanicals that are generally available to the U.S. public as dietary supplements, is required. Center faculty and staff collaborated in their efforts at the inception of the Botanical Center in 1999 to investigate the clinical safety and efficacy of 10 botanicals widely used in the U.S. for the symptomatic treatment of menopause, premenstrual syndrome and chronic urinary tract infections. Since 1999 the list has been expanded to include botanicals which are commonly consumed by American women and are readily available in the marketplace including pharmacies, grocery stores and online businesses. The Botanical Center’s scientific research addresses the mechanism of action, identification of active compounds, and characterization of metabolism, bioavailability, and pharmacokinetics of active species contained in the botanicals under study.
The Center is composed of three Projects and four Cores, which engage in interdisciplinary and synergistic interactions. While each project has its own focus – Project 1: plant metabolome studies, Project 2: the impact of botanicals on cellular resilience, and Project 3: in vitro and in vivo botanical metabolism and safety studies – the results of each research project inform the research direction of the other projects.
This environment encourages the work of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who will take their research experience with the UIC Botanical Center to academia, industry and government settings, as they develop into the next generation of natural products scientists. Our trainees will adapt the commitment to safety and emphasis on healthy outcomes to the development of botanical dietary supplements in the variety of workplace environments in which they will find their employment.