Dr. Muhammed Majeed, Founder and Chairman of Sami-Sabinsa Group, passed away peacefully on March 13, 2024, following complications from surgery. He is survived by his daughters Anju and Sami, his son Shaheen, and grandchildren Rizwan, Johara, Nasneen, Ramses, Sunayna, Rajah, and Maximo. Dr. Majeed is succeeded as Chairperson of the Sami-Sabinsa Group by his daughter Dr. Anju Majeed, Director and Senior Scientist.

Dr. Majeed was a researcher, scientist, entrepreneur, and business leader who pioneered the development of standardized herbal extracts from India’s Ayurvedic plants and created a global market for Ayurvedic ingredients. He founded and, for 36 years, led the Sami-Sabinsa Group as it became a leading multinational health and life sciences company. 

Upon his passing, Sami-Sabinsa Group shared: "It is with profound sorrow and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of a true visionary and our beloved Founder & Chairman, Dr. Muhammed Majeed, of the Sami-Sabinsa Group. Dr. Majeed, a pioneer in the nutraceutical industry, passed away peacefully on March 13th, surrounded by his family and close friends. His departure marks the end of an era, but his legacy will forever illuminate the path of innovation and excellence he has laid before us. He was a strong leader and mentor to many and will be remembered for his strength, courage, intellect, and kind nature."

Dr. Majeed's Early Life

Dr. Majeed was born on September 25, 1948. He grew up in Kollam, in Kerala, India, with his five siblings, but lost his father when he was just 12. Sami-Sabinsa Group shared that his mother, Fathima, did everything in her power to see that her son be highly educated. Her efforts paid off, as he earned an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College in 1973, then worked as a teacher before emigrating to the United States in 1975 with eight dollars in his pocket.

In the U.S., Muhammed Majeed worked in a pharmacy and pursued his master’s in industrial pharmacy from Long Island University in New York. In 1986, he completed his doctorate in industrial pharmacy from St. John’s University in New York. He then worked in the Pharma industry, at Pfizer, Carter Wallace, and as Head of Research at Paco Pharmaceuticals in New Jersey.  

Pioneering Ayurveda in America

Dr. Majeed in the lab.While working in Pharma, Dr. Majeed saw the potential of India’s Ayurvedic system of medicine—and an opportunity to provide Ayurveda-based products to the developed world. As phase one of his vision, he started operation of the Sabinsa Corporation in New Jersey in 1988, and introduced ingredients based on traditional Ayurvedic knowledge backed by modern science. As Sami-Sabinsa Group shared in a tribute to Dr. Majeed, he developed evidence-based plant products through innovation, standardization, and value-addition at every step. 

The timing was rightAmericans were turning towards natural health care options, and brands were looking to meet consumer demand. To educate American brands on Ayurvedic offerings, Dr. Majeed pioneered a concept in the U.S. called ‘Sabinsa on Wheels,’ inviting dietary supplement companies to attend detailed scientific presentations about the company’s offerings. 

Sami-Sabinsa Expands

  • In 1991, Dr. Majeed set up Sami Labs Limited, a research and manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, India.
  • In 1992, Dr. Majeed founded America’s Finest, Inc., a dietary supplement company specializing in ingredient-specific and condition-specific formulations with the company’s ingredients.
  • In 1999, Sami Labs started a division called Sami Spices in Cochin, India, to promote procurement and marketing of spices.
  • In 1999, Organica Aromatics was launched to serve the flavor and fragrance industry by developing high-quality aromatic chemicals and perfumery compounds.
  • In 2001, Sabinsa Cosmetics was formed to market specialized ingredients for the personal care and cosmetics industries.
  • In 2010, when the wellness wave hit India, Dr. Majeed seized upon the direct-to-consumer business model and started Sami Direct to market his company’s ingredients in consumer product goods. Sami Direct now offers 20 products, ranging from weight management, joint health, bone strength, detox supplements, and skincare and cosmetics. 

Over 36 years, the Sami-Sabinsa Group expanded its operations in the U.S. and India, and established operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan,  Poland, South Africa, South Korea, UAE, and Vietnam,  in addition to satellite offices in France, Hungary, Spain, Taiwan and the UK.

Today, Sami, a division of Sami-Sabinsa Group Limited alongside Sabinsa, operates 11 manufacturing facilities and employs more than 1,400 people, with a focus on specialized research and product development across Phytochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Tissue Culture, and Plant Biotechnology. The team includes more than120 senior scientists who dig into the mechanisms of action and physiological effects of herbs, then share that knowledge through publication in peer-reviewed journals. The Sami-Sabinsa Group commercially markets more than 120 standardized botanical extracts in 17 countries.

Dr. Majeed has been granted over 500 U.S. and international patents. Regarding patents, Dr. Majeed previously shared with WholeFoods Magazine: "It was back in 1995 I learned a lesson the hard way. If you are in the natural product ingredients business, you really should have patent protection. My first blockbuster product 'Garcinia' was copied and sold at extremely low prices by competitors in the U.S. market. That is the time that I learned that it is a patent that will protect you from people putting your brand name on their ingredients. That protection helps you support innovation with continued research."

Dr. Majeed himself as a long list of scientific literature contributions, including more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers, with four book chapters in leading scientific journals. He also authored or co-authored 15 books describing the history and benefits of multiple herbal extracts and the research into their beneficial compounds. 

Giving Back 

Dr. Majeed's company is committed to sustainability, from the environmental considerations incorporated into all the company’s manufacturing facilities to the award-winning Kino tree reforestation program. As Sami-Sabinsa shared, Dr. Majeed believed that a good supplement begins with quality ingredients sustainably supplied. The company identified small and marginal farmers in Salem and surrounding districts in the state of Tamil Nadu, India to cultivate key Ayurvedic herbs. Beginning in 2006, Dr. Majeed provided training, planting materials, and ongoing support to these farmers and their communities. The company is committed to fair trade practices, and its contracts call for paying a guaranteed price even if crop fails due to weather extremes, as well as paying more for a harvest when market prices dictate.  

Dr. Majeed also gave back through the Dr. Majeed Foundation, which was launched 20 years ago. Sami-Sabinsa shared: "To give children and women the opportunity to play a vital role in the socio-economic growth of the world, the Foundation facilitates a support base for children from poor families in India for their education, irrespective of their caste, creed, or religion and women shelters. Among other charitable programs, the Foundation made significant financial contributions to State and Central Government aid programs, and funded and organized food deliveries to underserved communities in India during the Covid pandemic, and natural disasters."

Dr. Majeed in the fields.As WholeFoods Magazine has reported, Dr. Majeed was quick to take action when the pandemic arrived in India. With the objective of helping to alleviate food insecurity, the Dr. Majeed Foundation gave 5,500 bags of 10 kilo each of rice to the people of Magadi, Karnataka. More than 5,000 people benefitted from the event.The Dr. Majeed Foundation also channeled significant support to people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through contributions to organizations, as well as to its own community outreach programs to vulnerable communities in Bengaluru and in Hyderabad, India. Financial contributions included US $1.32 million to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund), and over $250,000 to the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority. The funds were used for combating, containment, and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar situations that may occur in the future.

Dr. Majeed also made sure Sami-Sabinsa did its part in combating climate change and reducing the carbon footprint. The company invests in clean energy to make a significant contribution to India’s transition towards more sustainable energy. In adddition to caring for the planet, the initiative creates jobs for local communities, improves energy efficiency at the company's manufacturing facilities, and provides savings on energy costs.

Related: Sami-Sabinsa Announces Leadership Following Passing of Company Founder

Leading by Example, Lighting the Way

In an interview in 2022, Dr. Majeed told WholeFoods Magazine:

"I believe if you bring ordinary people into leadership positions and give them the opportunity to fail, they will make much better leaders of the future. If you don’t make mistakes, you are not doing anything."

The mentorship he offered had a lasting impact on so many in the industry, who honor him in this tribute.

"It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime honor and privilege that we had the opportunity to have worked with Dr. Majeed and to have known him personally. He was truly an outstanding, inspirational leader. Collectively, we hope to continue to grow his legacy in the same path of innovation and excellence he has laid before us." —Asha Ramesh, CEO, Sabinsa USA.

"The people who knew Dr. Majeed admired his ability to be a successful technocrat, leader, and mentor to drive the organization supporting close to 4,000 families directly and indirectly."Madhu Subramanian, President, Global Business Operations & Expansion, Sabinsa Corporation

"Dr. Majeed’s wisdom, guidance, and mentorship have been invaluable to me. He taught not only the intricacies of the natural industry but also the importance of resilience, adaptability, and a positive outlook. As we move on to fulfill his vision, we will miss his inspirational leadership and guidance."Ahmed Khan, VP Sales and Marketing, Sabinsa

"I first met Dr. Majeed in 1999 in New Jersey at the headquarters of Sabinsa Corporation and I was very impressed by his clearness in our discussion and how he built up his company based on science and his ideas. I have very good memories of our business trips that we took together. His great support and trust in me when I started my own company as a partner of Sabinsa is something I will never forget in my life. To me, Dr. Majeed was an outstanding personality, entrepreneur, and a friend." Dr.Jürgen Liedek / MIVALIED

"Over my decades working with Sabinsa, Dr. Majeed’s brilliance as a scientist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist consistently impressed me. I first met Dr. Majeed over 30 years ago when he contacted me to develop a press release about the first published clinical study on a Sabinsa ingredient. At the time branded ingredients supported by published clinical studies were unheard of, and proved to be a definite marketing advantage. His success has helped shape the industry today, we’re better for his many years of influence."Suzanne Shelton, The Shelton Group

"I am so saddened to hear the news. Dr. Majeed was one of the smartest and most fascinating men I have known. When I was first starting in the industry, so was he in the U.S. Their office was close to ours, and we would meet to put together small ads, and he would educate on Ayurveda and more. In 2017 I had the privilege to go to India and spend some time with Dr. Majeed. I treasure that time we had."—Heather Wainer, WholeFoods Magazine Publisher and VP of Media. Dr. Majeed discussed the industry with Wainer in a 2017 interview that is trending on our channel now.

"Dr Majeed was a visionary in terms of the importance of both scientific substantiation and intellectual property in the nutraceutical ingredient space. While we connected many times through the years, I had the opportunity to spend time with Dr Majeed in India during the celebration of Sabinsa's 30-year anniversary. He was passionate about applying modern thinking and science to traditional Ayurvedic ingredients, and making them available for human health worldwide. I'm hopeful that Sabinsa will continue to be a global leader in ingredient innovation, fulfilling Dr Majeed's vision." —Heather Granato, President, Nutrachievement

"I am thankful for having met Dr. Majeed over two decades ago. It was his passion for science, research, precision and use of traditional knowledge, his embracing of exploring Ayurvedic principles and more that for me, made me so interested in talking with him, learning from him, watching from afar too while he grew Sabinsa and Sami Labs. The deeper pleasure was in getting to spend time with Dr Majeed in a personal way, visiting him and his family in both the United States and in Bangalore, India. I found Dr. Majeed to be practical, insightful, and thoughtful, and yet he liked being challenged too when discussing science...perhaps though not when it came to discussing cricket. Admiration of Dr. Majeed too came to be in the way I watched him interact with employees at the offices and in a variety of departments. He was always respectful, conversive, and demonstrated a vision. Through Dr. Majeed and most certainly Shaheen, I am humbled and thankful for having met the family. Dr. Majeed leaves an indelible print on the nutrition industry within the United States and on much more globally. May he rest in peace. Love and condolences always to the family." —Douglas Kalman PhD, RD, FACN, FISSN

Awards and Honors

Dr. Majeed accepts award.Dr. Majeed and the companies he created were often recognized for his achievements. Among Dr. Majeed's honors:

  • Two-time recipient of the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award. 
  • National Award for Quality and Innovation by the President of India in 1995, 1997, and 2008, and in 2002, the prestigious Department of Scientific & Industrial Research award.
  • The Ellis Island Medal of Honor for Distinguished Americans in 2004 in recognition of his leadership, commitment, and service to his heritage and the American community.
  • Inducted into the New Hope Network Hall of Legends in 2016 for his pioneering role in building the U.S. nutraceuticals industry.
  • Shield of Honor by ASSOCHAM India at the 2018 National Symposium for his Pioneering Research and Outstanding Achievements in the Nutraceutical Space.
  • American Herbal Products Association’s Herbal Industry Leader Award
  • American Botanical Council’s Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research award.

Remembering industry leaders