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Appalachian Student Research Forum

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Keynote Speaker


2013 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Ilya Raskin


Professor II and
President of the Global Institute for BioExploration

at Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey



 Dr. Ilya Raskin

Dr. Ilya Raskin has over 20 years of experience in academic research in plant biology and pharmacology, and 5 years of experience in industrial research in plant biotechnology.  Dr. Raskin received a Ph.D. in 1984 from Michigan State University and joined the faculty of the Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in 1989.  As Professor II of Plant Sciences, he directs scientific programs composed of over 50 researchers from more than 15 different countries.  He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Phytomedics Inc., a successful botanical therapeutics company, Director of the US NIH-NSF-USDA-funded biodiversity and pharmacological discovery program (ICBG) in Central Asia; Associate Director of the NIH Botanical Center for Metaboloic Syndrome; and Academic Director and Founder of the Global Institute for Bio-Exploration (GIBE).

Dr. Raskin achieved an international reputation through his work on salicylic acid, phytoremediation and, in the last decade, for his research in plant-derived therapeutics, molecular farming, and bio- and chemodiversity.  Dr. Raskin's research is featured in 120 major scientific publications and in numerous popular press articles.  Among his most cited scientifc publications are four cover articles in Science and Nature.  Dr. Raskin was also awarded 18 patents covering the discoveries made in his laboratory. 

Dr. Raskin has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Albert Shull Award for outstanding contributions to plant biology and the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Awards for revolutionary product innovation and scientific breakthrough.  Dr. Raskin was named the Century Innovator in Botany by the US News and World Report and has been listed as one of 108 most cited researchers in Plant and Animal Science (Institute of Scientific Information). 

Keynote Address Abstract

Pharmacologically active phytochemicals: Past and future 

Pharmacologically active phytochemicals (botanical therapeutics) have been used since the dawn of human civilization to treat and prevent diseases. Botanical therapeutics are still being developed and marketed as food additives, dietary supplements, cosmetic ingredients and drugs containing a single plant-derived bioactive or mixtures of bioactives (botanical drugs). Despite major contributions of phytochemicals to modern medicine, conventional approaches to a single-molecule drug discovery from plants, based on bioprospecting and high throughput screening have been gradually falling out of favor.  However, multi-component botanical therapeutics delivered as functional food and supplements and containing several photoactive compounds remain popular. Enabling technologies and favorable regulatory changes are making discovery and development of multi-component botanical therapeutics more efficient and less controversial. These technologies provide safe and efficacious approaches to the prevention and treatment of major human diseases, such as diabetes. For example, anti-diabetic extracts have been recently isolated from Russian tarragon(Artemisia dracunculus), blueberries, maqui berries and quinoa and their in vitro and in vivo effects and modes of action documented. The ability to explore the Earth's plant biodiversity while respecting international laws and local traditions and beliefs is a major challenge to botanical therapeutic discovery. Training local scientists and students in innovative, cost-effective, and portable drug-discovery technologies that can be directly deployed to the field may provide a solution to this challenge. Another challenge facing food and dietary supplement industries is how to concentrate and effectively deliver pharmacologically active phytochemicals. Binding and concentrating these phytoactives within food matrices may provide an acceptable solution to this challenge. While the future of most botanical therapeutics remain bright, only scientifically-validated, clinically-tested and ethically-developed products are likely to succeed in the marketplace.





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