Botanical Experts Gather in Oxford for International Conference

UM School of Pharmacy and NCNPR welcome 280 conference attendees

Attendees at the 18th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals had more than 75 presentations from which to choose, on topics ranging from the history of cannabis as medicine to dietary supplements’ effect on the liver. UM photo by Whitney Tarpy

OXFORD, Miss. – Scientists and visitors from around the globe gathered in Oxford this week (April 9-12) for the 18th annual International Conference on the Science of Botanicals.

Organized and hosted by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, the conference welcomed 280 registrants from universities, government and business institutions who explored the topic of synergy between natural products and human health. Participants discussed current research topics related to natural products research, development, safety, quality and regulations.

“With the NCNPR being internationally known for its botanical products expertise, the conference is a great opportunity to bring natural products experts to Oxford,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director. “ICSB continues to be instrumental in facilitating conversation related to botanicals among scientists and industry leaders.”

Steven Tave, director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, served as a special guest speaker at the conference’s opening session. John Finley, the national program leader for human nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, followed Tave with the keynote address.

Numerous internationally recognized experts and researchers in the field of botanicals presented at the conference, including attendees from Australia, Central America and Africa, as well as representatives from U.S. Pharmacopeia, Procter & Gamble, DuPont and Waters Corp.

“Over the past 18 years, this conference has really evolved into a symposium on basic medical research and botanicals,” said Joseph Betz, director of the Dietary Supplements Methods and Reference Materials Program at the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. “The scope has increased, the quality of presentations from international researchers has increased, the distance people are willing to travel has increased, so it’s just gotten better every year.”

Steven Tave, director of the FDA Office of Dietary Supplement Programs, speaks during the conference’s opening session. UM photo by Whitney Tarpy

Attendees had a chance to socialize and explore the Ole Miss campus and Oxford community. Events included dinner each evening with different local and international cuisines, an afternoon picnic with competitive field games and tours of NCNPR facilities and the School of Pharmacy’s medicinal plant garden.

“This is my favorite conference,” said Wendy Applequist from the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. “It has a diverse attendance that keeps it interesting, but it’s small enough that you can see most of the talks that interest you and meet most of the people you’d like to meet. It’s simultaneously international and intimate.”

The National Center for Natural Products Research was founded in 1995 to research, develop and commercialize potentially useful natural products. NCNPR collaborates with academia, government and the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries to create natural products that can be used to improve human health and agriculture as crops, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and agrochemicals.

For more information on programs at NCNPR, visit