Austin, TX—The American Botanical Council (ABC) has announced the winners of several of its awards.

The winners announced so far:
  • The Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award: Max Zeller Söhne AG
  • The Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award: United Plant Savers
  • Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award: Professor Guido Pauli

Varro E. Tyler Award This award was created to honor Professor Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., an early trustee of ABC and VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Purdue University. He encouraged scientific and product integrity, and envisioned a rational phytomedicinal healthcare sector that valued the proper evaluation of a phytomedicinal product’s quality, safety, and efficacy.

Zeller is a family-owned company that has been based in Romanshorn, Switzerland, for five generations. Its nonprescription phytomedicinal products are available in drugstores and pharmacies in Switzerland, and its subsidiary Zeller Medical AG produces prescription herbal medicines for healthcare professionals. Zeller is committed to investigating its products in human clinical trials, and produces products with consistent quality and efficacy.

“Zeller is a truly research-based company, and I am quite certain that Prof. Tyler would heartily approve of their receiving this award,” said Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of ABC.

Stefan Gafner, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of ABC, said: “I had the privilege to visit Zeller on two occasions and was always impressed by their dedication to produce the highest quality phytomedicines. Zeller’s quality control practices are among the best in the industry, and with over 30 clinical studies, the efficacy and safety of their products is scientifically documented. This certainly makes Zeller a worthy recipient of the ABC Varro E. Tyler award.”

Dr. Georg Boonen, Ph.D., CEO of Zeller, who has been with the company for more than 22 years, commented: “We are delighted and very grateful that the American Botanical Council has awarded Max Zeller Söhne AG the renowned ABC Tyler Award for 2022. This international award acknowledges our central company mission statement: the continuous evidence-based research of herbal medicines in order to confirm with reliable scientific evidence the efficacy of our established phytopharmaceuticals, which have been used for decades with good results."


Steven Foster Award This awardwas named in honor of botanist, author, and photographer Steven Foster,who died on January 15, 2022. Each year, this award will be given to an individual, nonprofit organization, or commercial herb company that is committed to sustainable and regenerative practices. Recipients will be taking action to address botanical sustainability issues, and will be contributing to a broader understanding of cultural and biological diversity, soil health, climate change, economic justice, and more. They will also demonstrate appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.

Foster had more than 40 years of experience with sustainability and conservation in the world of herbs and medicinal plants. He served on ABC’s Board of Trustees for more than two decades, was a key consultant and content contributor for ABC’s Sustainable Herbs Program, advocated for industry trade resolutions to protect threatened botanicals, and was a founding member of the United Plant Savers (UpS) advisory board.

UpS was founded in 1994. Its mission, according to its website: “to protect native medicinal plants, fungi, and their habitats while ensuring renewable populations for use by generations to come.” It owns a 379-acre botanical and wildlife sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio, which is home to hundreds of plant species, many of which are native Appalachian plants. Its sanctuary is the center of its Botanical Sanctuary Network, in which UpS members designate private land to be used for the conservation of medicinal and other plants.

In 2019, for UpS’ 25thanniversary, the organization opened its Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation, a facility dedicated to ethnobotanist and ABC Co-founder James Duke, Ph.D., and his wife, Peggy, a botanical artist. The building, located at the entrance of the sanctuary, includes a classroom for educational programs, a commercial kitchen for use as a teaching apothecary, a library of books about medicinal plants, a museum, an herbarium cabinet, and more.

In an email to ABC, Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist, author, and Founder of UpS, wrote:

“It is such a special and fitting honor for UpS to be selected as the first recipient of the ABC Steven Foster Award. I know Steven would be pleased. He was an avid supporter of UpS and served on the UpS Board of Directors from 2000 to 2003. Steven brought his many skills and talents, and also his wit and wonderful sense of humor, to the board meetings. I remember thinking how much more fun, and productive, those long board meetings were when Steven was present.

“Steven was incredibly generous in sharing his many skills and talents with UpS. He not only contributed his time and expertise to the board meetings, but also taught at several UpS events and conferences. He was a contributing author of the UpS book Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs [Inner Traditions, 2000], wrote several articles for the Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation, and contributed many of his beautiful plant photographs for UpS’ At-Risk and To-Watch lists. These are lasting gifts to UpS.

“His crowning contribution, however, was at UpS’ 25th Anniversary Celebration and grand opening of its Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation. Steven, who was a close friend of the Dukes, gave a stunning keynote presentation that highlighted the life and work of [Jim and Peggy]. It seems a fitting legacy that we are now honoring Steven Foster for his numerous contributions to herbalism, his long-term love affair with the plants, his work with UpS and other plant conservation organizations, and the many gifts he shared with the herbal community over the past several decades.”

Blumenthal commented: “While there are many organizations, companies, and individuals that are doing excellent work in the areas of medicinal and aromatic plant conservation, sustainability development, and regenerative farming, in the United States and internationally, it was clear to all of us involved with the inaugural ABC Steven Foster award that Steven would have wanted us to recognize UpS for its laudable mission and vital work. UpS is really deserving of this recognition and is the obvious organization to receive it.”

The award was presented to Susan Leopold, Ph.D., Executive Director of UpS, by Ann Armbrecht, Ph.D., Director of the Sustainable Herbs Program, at the 17thAnnual ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards Ceremony on March 9, 2022, in Anaheim, CA.

In an email to ABC, Dr. Leopold commented: “We are honored to be the recipient of the inaugural ABC Steven Foster Botanical Conservation and Sustainability Award. A huge thanks to our members, Board of Directors, and staff for their dedication to the plants. We couldn’t do what we do without them. Steven leaves a legacy for us all to carry on, as we advocate for the beauty and wisdom medicinal herbs provide. Steven was incredibly supportive of UpS’ most recent project: the Duke Ethnobotanical Archives. Jim and Steven were both mentors to so many. The conservation and sustainability of medicinal herbs depend on the continued mentorship of the next generation. ABC’s Steven Foster Award will elevate the work of those who carry on his spirit of mentorship, research, and advocacy.”

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Norman R. Farnsworth Award This award was named in honor of Professor Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D., a widely published and internationally renowned research professor of pharmacognosy, a senior university scholar in the UIC College of Pharmacy, and one of the founding members of ABC’s Board of Trustees. The award is given to an individual who has made significant research contributions in the fields of pharmacognosy, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, or other scientific disciplines related to medicinal plants.

Guido F. Pauli, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and the Norman R. Farnsworth Professor of Pharmacognosy at the UIC College of Pharmacy. He has belonged to that college since 2001, when he joined the faculty as a Research Associate Professor in the Institute for Tuberculosis Research. He has since advanced to the Associate Director of that Institute, and been named the Director of the UIC Pharmacognosy Institute. He was named Norman R. Farnsworth Professor of Pharmagocnosy in 2017 and became a UIC Distinguished Professor in 2019.

“Receiving the ABC Farnsworth research award is particularly special, as ABC and its community share the same passion for plants that has driven and continues to drive my research,” Dr. Pauli said in a press release from ABC. “The joint goal of enhancing the quality of botanicals for the benefit of human health is another connection that makes this award special for me. Having worked closely and developed a very friendly personal relationship with Norman Farnsworth during my first decade at UIC, being connected to him and his legacy through this award is just wonderful.”

Dr. Pauli has several impactful research activities, chief among them being investigations into the usefulness of quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance, a laboratory method used to analyze natural products such as botanical extracts. He also has assessed the residual complexity of plant extracts and isolated compounds by chemical and biological methods, as well as the usefulness of centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC) as a separation technique for natural products. As Co-director and later Director of the UIC Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, he was instrumental in the identification of the constituents responsible for the estrogenic (and other) activities of hops (Humulus lupulus), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra,G. uralensis). His most recent publication, co-authored with a group of fellow researchers from UIC and the University of Chicago, investigated the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in human lung cells and mice and found that CBD had a significant negative effect on the virus’s replication. The results of this widely reported research collaboration were published in the reputable scientific journalScience Advances.

Dr. Gafner commented: “I have always been impressed by the high quality of Guido Pauli’s scientific research. His hard work, passion for medicinal plants, and commitment to scientific excellence have made him one of the most prominent natural products researchers in North America at this time.”

Blumenthal added: “There is no question in my mind that, if Prof. Farnsworth were still alive today, he would wholeheartedly support ABC’s decision to grant this eponymous award to Prof. Pauli.”