Medicinal plants as a resource for drug discovery in the post-antibiotic era
Dr. Cassandra Quave
February 21 at 12:20pm in the Fralin Auditorium, 102 Fralin Hall
Hosted by Dr. J. Metzgar
Cassandra Quave, Ph.D. is Curator of the Herbarium and Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Human Health at Emory University, where she leads antibiotic drug discovery research initiatives and teaches courses on medicinal plants, microbiology and pharmacology. Her research focuses on the documentation and biochemical analysis of plants used in the traditional medical treatment of infectious and inflammatory skin disease. She applies this unique approach to natural products drug discovery in her search for new antibiotics that target multidrug resistant pathogens such as MRSA, carbapenem resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, CRE, and Candida auris, among others. Dr. Quave is the co-founder and CEO/CSO of PhytoTEK LLC, a drug discovery company dedicated to developing solutions from botanicals for the treatment of recalcitrant antibiotic resistant infections. She is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a past President of the Society for Economic Botany, a recipient of the Emory Williams Teaching Award and Charles Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award. She is the creator and host of Foodie Pharmacology, a podcast dedicated to exploring the links between food and medicine. Her research has been the subject of feature profiles in the New York Times Magazine, BBC Focus, National Geographic Magazine, Brigitte Magazin, National Geographic Channel, National Public Radio (NPR), and several major news outlets including the Washington Post, The Telegraph, CBS News, and NBC News.
Of the nearly 400,000 plants on Earth, approximately 28,000 of them are used in traditional medicine. Exploration of historic herbal texts and modern ethnobotanical inquiries into traditional knowledge can each contribute to a greater understanding of the medicinal potential of nature. In this talk, I will discuss how the review of historic texts from different eras, cultures and languages led to the evaluation of specific plants and formulations for the treatment of infectious disease, and the antimicrobial activities discovered from them. I will provide examples from our work on the 16th Century Chinese text Ben Cao Gang Mu, and how it led us to look at Ginkgo biloba under a different light. I’ll discuss our work on the 17th Century text, Historia Naturalis Brasiliae, which informed our investigation of the anti-virulence properties of Schinus terebinthifolia against the skin pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus. Lastly, I’ll provide examples of our advances in understanding how plants used to treat skin disease under local systems of traditional medicine in the Mediterranean and Balkans today.