EP 1111B - The Plant Hunter: A Scientists Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines

Ever taken an aspirin? Thank a willow tree for that. 
Air Date: 8/30/22
Duration: 17:27
Host: Michael Roizen, MD
Guest Bio: Cassandra Leah Quave, PhD
Cassandra Leah Quave, PhD, is the herbarium curator and an associate professor of dermatology and human health at Emory University. She is also 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. Dr. Quave is a fellow of the Explorers Club, a former president of the Society for Economic Botany, and a recipient of the Emory Williams Teaching Award and Charles Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award. She is the co-creator and host of the podcast Foodie Pharmacology. A leader in the field of medical botany, she has authored more than 100 scientific publications and has been featured in the New York Times Magazine and BBC Focus, as well as on PBS, NPR, and the National Geographic Channel.
  • Book Title: The Plant Hunter: A Scientists Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines
  • Guest Facebook Account: @QuaveMedicineWoman
  • Guest Twitter Account: @QuaveEthnobot
EP 1111B - The Plant Hunter: A Scientists Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines
Ever taken an aspirin? Thank a willow tree for that. Ever received a shot of numbing medication at the dentist’s office prior to a procedure? That was originally discovered in a plant too—the cocoa plant from the Andes. What about a painkiller for surgery? Morphine from opium poppy really takes the edge off the post-op pain. Plants are the basis for an array of lifesaving and health-improving medicines we all now take for granted. In her memoir THE PLANT HUNTER: A Scientist’s Quest for Nature’s Next Medicines ethnobotanist Dr. Cassandra Leah Quave shows us how important studying plants is while sharing her own incredible journey.

As a person born with multiple congenital defects of her skeletal system, Quave had to get her leg amputated at a young age. While other kids in her class were at football games or school dances, Quave was volunteering her time working at the local ER. Since then her research has brought her to the flooded forests of the remote Amazon, the murky swamps of southern Florida, isolated mountaintops in Albania and Kosovo, and volcanic isles arising out of the Mediterranean. Filled with grit, tragedy, triumph, awe, and scientific discovery, THE PLANT HUNTER illuminates how the path forward for medical discovery may be found in nature’s oldest remedies.

THE PLANT HUNTER weaves together Quave’s personal experiences in and with medicine, infection, disability, and scientific discovery with a fascinating and accessible description of how plants and microbes interact, how antibiotic resistance evolves, and how Quave is working to figure out how we may be able to overcome it by taking the focus away from synthetic compounds. An inspiring story of perseverance, THE PLANT HUNTER is an example of how one scientist is helping provide clues for the next generation of advanced medicines.
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