Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes

Research Leader


Trait Diversity and Function


Biological Chemistry


Phytochemistry including chemical analysis of useful plants and their constituents, especially those used as medicines, food and for health

Knowledge about the chemistry of plants and fungi helps us understand how they function and adapt to their environment and can help us find solutions to global challenges. Natural products are a vital source of food, medicines and other resources. I use analytical techniques (including high resolution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry and thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) to chemically characterise plants and fungi, which involves the comparative analysis of species in Kew’s extensive Collections, and I discover new sources of known and novel compounds. I use my knowledge of natural product chemicals and their biological activities to assess the scientific basis for the uses of plants, fungi and their constituents, as medicines, foods and for health; and their economic value for the sustainable uses of natural resources.

  • 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
  • Visiting Lecturer, School of Pharmacy, University College London
  • Management Committee Member, Museum of Life Sciences, King’s College London
  • Co-Director, North East Medicinal Plant Research Group, UK
  • Dilston Physic Garden Ethical Committee Member, UK

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.

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Melanie-Jayne Howes

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Melanie-Jayne Howes