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Dr. Nadja Cech

photo of CechDr. Nadja Cech (Chemistry and Biochemistry) received additional funding from the National Institutes of Health for the project “Strategies to Investigate Synergy in Botanical Medicines.”

The central challenge that impedes research on botanical dietary supplements is how to address their complexity and variability. Practitioners of herbal medicine argue that this complexity results in beneficial synergistic interactions. However, the specific constituents responsible for synergistic activity, and the mechanisms by which these constituents interact, are rarely known.

The goal of this project is to apply an innovative two-pronged approach to study synergy in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Goldenseal is among the top 20 best-selling herbal supplements in the United States, and shows promise of effectiveness against multidrug resistant Staphyolcoccus aureus. As an outcome of the experiments, the expectation is to provide a comprehensive list of the array of compounds that are responsible for the antimicrobial activity of goldenseal, including details about their mechanism of action. The long-term goal is to support clinical trials of goldenseal and to enable effective quality control of commercially available goldenseal preparations. In addition, the project seeks more broadly to demonstrate new methods by which the multiple constituents responsible for the activity of botanical dietary supplements can be identified. These methods are expected to prove useful to other investigators who must account for the synergistic interactions that play a role in the activity of many complementary and alternative medicines.

Cech received her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of New Mexico. She supervises a group of 12 undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral research associates. Cech has been recognized for both her teaching and her research.