The Center for Natural Products celebrates the 20th Botanical Forum

James McChesney, CEO of Cloaked Therapeutics LLC, discusses his company’s development of new drugs to target cancer cells during the McChesney Inaugural Lecture at the 20th ICSB. Photo by Whitney Tarpy/UM School of Pharmacy

OXFORD, Mississippi – For the first time since 2019, the botanical industry traveled to Oxford this spring for the International Conference on the Science of Botany.

The conference, organized each year by the National Natural Products Research Center within the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacybrought together leading figures from industry, government officials and academics for a week of discussion and sharing of ideas on the ancient, but evolving, study of medicinal plants.

This year’s conference was the 20th edition of the ICSB, but has been on hiatus since 2020, due to COVID-19 creating travel difficulties. Being able to hold the conference in person after the delay only increased the excitement, said Ikhlas KhanDirector of NCNPR and Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy.

“It was great to be together after a long break,” Khan said. “People were enthusiastic and energized on the level you can feel. Everyone felt that the agenda was filled with exciting discussions and that the discussions during the breaks were very stimulating. »

This enthusiasm showed as the conference was well attended with 238 in-person attendees. Presentations included speakers from companies and organizations such as the American Botanical Council, United Natural Products Alliance and the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Mahmoud ElSohly, professor of pharmacy and drug administration at UM and director of the Marijuana Project, receives the award for outstanding contribution to natural products during the 20th ICSB. Photo by Whitney Tarpy/UM School of Pharmacy

Tieraona LowDog, an internationally recognized figure in the botanical industry and founding member of the American Board of Integrative Medicine, delivered the keynote address.

In addition to lively discussions, the conference also provided an opportunity to recognize the achievements of participants.

Such a person was Mahmoud El Sohly, a research professor at NCNPR and professor of pharmacy and drug administration, who received the Outstanding Contribution to Natural Products Award sponsored by Waters Corp. Since 1981, ElSohly has led the UM Marijuana Project and is one of the world’s leading authorities on cannabis research. His work has received wide recognition, including from mainstream media such as NBC’s “Today” show.

This year’s conference also saw the inaugural McChesney Lecture. Named for James D. McChesney, a former UM professor of pharmacy who was instrumental in founding NCNPR, the conference will serve as a platform for botanical industry players to share new research. innovative.

“I am very honored by this prestigious conference creating a conference in my name,” McChesney said. “I hope it can be a venue for communicating significant advances in research and development in botanical and natural product efforts.”

It was only fitting that the first speaker be McChesney himself, who is President and CEO of Cloaked Therapeutics LLC. His talk detailed his company’s efforts to improve the safety and effectiveness of cytotoxic chemotherapies, drugs that target cancer cells.

McChesney hopes future speakers will follow his lead in bringing new and innovative ideas to the table.

“I hope to see reports of innovative progress in understanding how plants and natural product substances can benefit humanity by thinking ‘outside the box,'” McChesney said.

As the conference reaches such a milestone, Khan reflected on how important the ICSB has become over the past two decades.

“It’s an important step to take,” Khan said. “ICSB has become a community of stakeholder meetings and plays an important role in bringing together academia, industry and government.”

Melvin B. Baillie