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Simmonds, Monique

Aloe vera plant
Job title: 

Deputy Director of Science

Department: 
Science
Joined Kew: 

1985

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. Leeds
  • PhD, Birkbeck College, Univ. London
  • Fellow Royal Society of Entomology
  • Fellow World Innovation Foundation
  • Fellow of the Society of Biology
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society
  • Member of the College of Medicine
  • Member of Darwin Initiative Advisory Committee
  • Member of Science Advisory Board for the Forestry Commission
  • Member of Scientific Advisor Board for International Foundation of Science
  • Elected Director of the Association of Good Practise in traditional Chinese medicine
  • Editor-in-Chief, Biochemical Systematics and Ecology
  • Editorial Board, Phytotherapy Research, Physiological Entomology, Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants, Natural Product Communications
  • Awarded OBE for services to science, the environment, technological innovation and community
Role: 

I research the traditional and economic uses of plants and fungi, their potential as cosmetic, novel food, pharmaceutical and agrochemical leads, and as sources of sustainably-harvested products. The research also involves the authentication of plants entering the trade as well as assisting different enforcement authorities identify plants. 

I have a long-term interest in furthering our understanding of the role plant-derived compounds play in plant-animal interactions, especially their role in the host selection behaviour of insects. This fundamental knowledge can assist with the identification of plant-derived compounds that have use in pest control as well as in pharmaceutical research. As Deputy Director of Science I play a leading role in  the  co-ordination of  projects with different business sectors that promote and utilise plant and fungal-based solutions to meet current global challenges.

Furthering our knowledge about the historical uses and potential new uses of plants assists support plant conservation and it is vital that there is dissemination of this knowledge in ways that engage with the public, especially the young. The majority of the work of this group is funded through research grants and commercial contracts.

As Deputy Director of Science I am involved in the development and implementation of a new science strategy for Kew, to focus and enhance its world-leading science and conservation work, strengthen its position as a global resource for plant and fungal knowledge, and promote plant and fungal-based solutions to current global challenges.

Selected publications: 

Michl, J., Ingrouille, M. J., Simmonds, M. S. J. & Heinrich, M. (2014). Naturally occurring aristolochic acid analogues and their toxicities. Natural Product Reports 31: 676-693.

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

D’Costa, L., Simmonds, M.S.J., Straw, N. Castagneyrol, B. & Koricheva, J. (2014).  Leaf traits influencing oviposition preference and larval performance of Cameraria ohridella on native and novel host plants. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicate 152: 157-164.

Howes, M.-J.R. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2014) The role of phytochemicals as micronutrients in health and disease. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 17: 558-566. 

Chan, K., Shaw, D., Simmonds, M.S.J., Leon, C.J., Xu, Q., Lu, A., Sutherland, I., Ignatova, S., Zhu, Y-P.,Verpoorte, R., Williamson, E. M. & Duez, P. (2012). Good practice in reviewing and publishing studies on herbal medicine, with special emphasis on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese Materia Medica. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 140: 469-475.