2 July 2021
Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes
Senior Research Leader
Phytochemistry including chemical analysis of useful plants and their constituents, especially those used as medicines, food and for health
I currently lead Kew’s Science Strategy Initiative ‘Biointeractions and Bioactive Molecules’ (Priority 2) which aims to explore biological interactions and bioactive molecules to unlock the useful properties in plants and fungi.
My own research is focused on investigating the chemistry and bioactive constituents of plants and fungi to understand the scientific basis for their uses, especially as medicines including for drug discovery.
My research also includes scientific studies on edible plants to explore their uses as food and to understand how they may benefit human health, for example, their potential role in reducing dementia risk.
I use techniques in natural product and analytical chemistry (including liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) to chemically characterise plants and fungi. This includes the comparative analysis of specimens in Kew’s extensive living and preserved collections to provide new insights into the chemical diversity of plants and fungi and further understanding of their potential sustainable uses.
- BPharm (1st Class Hons), King’s College London
- PhD, King’s College London
- CChem, Chartered Chemist
- MRPharmS, Registered Pharmacist with the General Pharmaceutical Council (Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society)
- MRSC, Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
- Visiting Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King’s College London
- Management Committee Member, Museum of Life Sciences, King’s College London
Cantwell-Jones, A., Ball, J., Collar, D., Diazgranados, M., Douglas, R., Forest, F., Hawkins, J., Howes, M.-J.R., Ulian, T., Vaitla, B., Pironon, S. (2022).
Global plant diversity as a reservoir of micronutrients for humanity.
Nature Plants. 8: 225-232.
Khoja, K.K., Howes, M.-J.R., Hider, R., Sharp, P.A., Farrell, I.W., Latunde-Dada, G.O. (2022).
Cytotoxicity of fenugreek sprout and seed extracts and their bioactive constituents in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
Nutrients. 14: 784.
Tamrat, S., Borrell, J.S., Biswas, M.K., Gashu, D., Wondimu, T., Vásquez-Londoño, C.A., Heslop-Harrison, P.J.S., Demissew, S., Wilkin, P., Howes, M.-J.R. (2020).
Micronutrient composition and microbial community analysis across diverse landraces of the Ethiopian orphan crop enset.
Food Research International. 137: 109636.
Howes, M.-J.R., Quave, C.L., Collemare, J., Tatsis, E.C., Twilley, D., Lulekal, E., Farlow, A., Li, L., Cazar, M.-E., Leaman, D.J., Prescott, T.A.K., Milliken, W., Martin, C., De Canha, M.N., Lall, N., Qin, H., Walker, B.E., Vásquez-Londoño, C., Allkin, B., Rivers, M., Simmonds, M.S.J., Bell, E., Battison, A., Felix, J., Forest, F., Leon, C., Williams, C., Nic Lughadha, E. (2020).
Molecules from Nature: Reconciling biodiversity conservation and global healthcare imperatives for sustainable use of medicinal plants and fungi.
Plants, People, Planet. 2: 463-481.
Howes, M.-J.R. (2018).
The evolution of anticancer drug discovery from plants.
The Lancet Oncology 19: 293–294.
Perry, N.S.L., Menzies, R., Hodgson, F., Wedgewood, P., Howes, M.-J.R., Brooker, H.J., Wesnes, K.A. & Perry, E.K. (2018).
A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of a combined extract of rosemary, sage and melissa, traditional herbal medicines, on the enhancement of memory in normal healthy subjects, including influence of age.
Phytomedicine. 39: 42–48.
Lobine, D., Cummins, I., Govinden-Soulange, J., Ranghoo-Sanmukhiya, M., Lindsey, K., Chazot, P.L., Ambler, C.A., Grellscheid, S., Sharples, G., Lall, N., Lambrechts, I. & Howes. M.-J.R. (2018).
Medicinal Mascarene Aloes: An audit of their phytotherapeutic potential.
Fitoterapia 124: 120–126.
Williams, P., Sorribas, A., Howes, M.-J.R. (2011).
Natural products as a source of Alzheimer’s drug leads.
Natural Product Reports 28: 48-77.
Howes, M.-J.R., Kite, G.C., Simmonds, M.S.J. (2009)
Distinguishing Chinese star anise from Japanese star anise using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57: 5783-5789.
Restoring the traditional Mediterranean diet through the conservation of wild edible plants
Promoting the sustainable use of the traditional Eastern Mediterranean diet, through the preservation of traditional knowledge and science-based conservation of wild edible plants in Jordan and Lebanon.
Remote sensing for the Caatinga of Brazil
Learning to live with the forest: remote sensing for sustainable use of seasonally dry tropical forests.