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Prof Michael Heinrich
Room 204
UCL Scool of Pharmacy
29-39 Brunswick Square
Prof Michael Heinrich profile picture
  • Professor of Ethnopharmacology and Pharmacognosy
  • Pharma & Bio Chemistry
  • UCL School of Pharmacy
  • Faculty of Life Sciences

Pharmaceutical biologist (Dr. rer nat.habil, Univ. Freiburg 1989, 1997, Dipl. Biol, 1985) / pharmacognosist, and anthropologist (M.A., Wayne State Univ, 1982), with a many years of research experience in a multitude of generally transdisciplinary aspects of medicinal and food plant research (esp. bioactive natural products), as well as at the interface of cultural and natural sciences especially on the traditional use of food and medicinal plants for example in Mexico and the Mediterranean.


•Since 2012 Head and Professor at the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, UCL School of Pharmacy, London (UK)

•2011 - 2012 Founding director Southern Cross Plant Science, Southern Cross University, Australia (on Leave of Absence from The School of Pharmacy, Univ. London)

•1999 - 2011 Head and Professor at the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, The School of Pharmacy, London (UK)

•1993 -1999 Hochschulassistent (C1; lecturer 1993 - 1997) and Privatdozent (‘associate professor’, 1997 – 1999) and researcher at the School of Chemistry and Pharmacy (Inst. of Pharmaceutical Biology), University of Freiburg. 

Research Summary

The group's research is based on a transdisciplinary perspective integrating approaches from the natural and social sciences with an overall aim of tackling the fast changing global health needs focusing on the use of plant derived products as ‘medicinal plants’, ‘health foods’ or nutraceuticals, botanicals and the like. It integrated methodological approaches from ethnopharmacology, medicinal plant research, pharmacy practice, and anthropology.

Specific scientific interests:

• Bioactive natural products / pharmacognosy / and ethnobotany): metabolomic approaches in medicinal plant research , anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant natural products focusing on the transcription factor NF-kB and its pathway as molecular targets of natural product research, quality and safety of herbal medical products, intervention studies with herbal medicines

• Sociocultural sciences: Food and medicinal plant usage in the Mediterranean, México/ Central America/ migrant communities in London, history of medicinal plant use in Europe, value and supply chain of medicinal plants.

Teaching Summary

My teaching covers undergraduate and postgraduate aspects of medicinal plant and natural product research with a strong focus on applied aspects especially as they relate to everyday practice in community pharmacy and to patients' use of herbal medical products. This is centered around the molecular pharmacology of natural products and plant extracts and also incorporates global health perspectives, most notably the use of herbal medicines in migrant groups and the impact of functional foods and local medicines on population health.

 Healthcare professionals, including doctors, pharmacists and nurses, are often confronted with patients who use over-the-counter (OTC) herbal medicinal products and food supplements. While taking responsibility for one’s own health and treatment options is encouraged, many patients use these products based on limited (and sometimes inaccurate) information from non-scientific sources, such as the popular press and internet.  A recent textbook is both a teaching aid and serves as a guide on herbal medicinal products for pharmacists and other health-care professionals:

Edwards, S., I. Rocha da Costa, E.M. Williamson and M. Heinrich 2005. Phytopharmacy - an evidence-based guide to herbal medicines. Wiley Chichester.

Our textbook 'Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy' (Heinrich, M., J. Barnes, S. Gibbons and E.M. Williamson, 2013,  Edinburgh & London. Churchill Livingston -Elsevier) is now in its second edition.

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