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Prescott, Tom A.K.

Job title: 

Research biochemist / assay specialist

Jodrell Laboratory
Sustainable Uses
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Neo-Melanesian (fluent), Spanish (conversational), Indonesian (basic conversational), French (basic conversational)

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc Hons Biochemistry University of Edinburgh 1999
  • PhD Biomedical Sciences University of Edinburgh 2005

Diversity of Biologically Active Plants and Plant-Derived Compounds

How do we identify plants with potent and selective biological activity? I test plant extracts on human cell lines to measure changes in cell signalling according to the requirements of our commercial collaborators. I then isolate the chemical compounds responsible for the activity. A second area of interest is chemical genetic profiling to investigate the antifungal mode of action of plant compounds. I use an array of 1152 yeast strains each deleted for a different gene to identify potential protein targets. I also undertake ethnobotanical fieldwork in Papua New Guinea to record the variation in traditional medicinal plant use between small rainforest dwelling communities.

Selected publications: 

Prescott , T. A., Rigby, L. P., Veitch, N. C. & Simmonds, M. S. J. (2014). The haploinsufficiency profile of a-hederin suggests a caspofungin-like antifungal mode of action. Phytochemistry 101: 116-120.

Prescott, T. A., Panaretou, B., Veitch, N. C. & Simmonds, M. S. (2014). A yeast chemical genetics approach identifies the compound 3,4,5-trimethoxybenzyl isothiocyanate as a calcineurin inhibitor. FEBS letters 588: 455-458. 

Prescott, T. A., Kite, G. C., Porter, E. A., Veitch, N. C. (2013). Highly glycosylated flavonols with an O-linked branched pentasaccharide from Iberis saxatilis (Brassicaceae). Phytochemistry 88: 85-91.  

Prescott, T. A., Arino, J., Kite, G. C., Simmonds, M .S. (2012). Inhibition of human calcineurin and yeast calcineurin-dependent gene expression by Jasminum humile leaf and root extracts. Journal of ethnopharmacology 140: 293-297. 

Prescott, T. A., Kiapranis, R., Maciver, S. K., (2012). Comparative ethnobotany and in-the-field antibacterial testing of medicinal plants used by the Bulu and inland Kaulong of Papua New Guinea. Journal of ethnopharmacology 139: 497-503.