Dr Tom A K Prescott

Research Leader


Trait Diversity and Function


Biological Chemistry


Bioactive plants and fungi

I'm a biochemist working on biologically active secondary metabolites from plants and fungi, focussing on clinical trials of plant medicines and applications of antimicrobial compounds for agriculture.

At Kew I isolate plant and fungal metabolites and test them on human cells, bacteria, fungi, and arrays of yeast gene deletion strains to understand their biological effects and investigate their mechanisms of action. We are also currently working with machine learning tools to help predict of mechanism of action.

In Papua New Guinea I work with communities living in remote areas that lack access to basic medicines to research their traditional medicines. The aim is to identify a traditional plant medicine that can be used as a zero-cost and highly accessible first-line treatment for tropical ulcers. We recently completed a clinical trial of one such plant medicine revealing promising results and are now planning further clinical trials.

  • PhD, Univ. Edinburgh, 2005
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. Edinburgh, 1999

Llewellyn T, Nowell RW, Aptroot A, Temina M, Prescott TAK, Barraclough TG, Gaya E. (2023)

Metagenomics Shines Light on the Evolution of "Sunscreen" Pigment Metabolism in the Teloschistales (Lichen-Forming Ascomycota).

Genome Biol Evol. Feb 3;15(2):evad002.

Prescott TAK, Anaissi-Afonso L, Fox KR, Maxwell A, Panaretou B, Machín F. (2022)

A simplified and easy-to-use HIP HOP assay provides insights into chalcone antifungal mechanisms of action.

FEBS Lett. Dec;596(23):3087-3102. 

Deli J, González-Beiras C, Guldan GS, Moses RL, Dally J, Moseley R, Lundy FT, Corbacho-Monne M, Walker SL, Cazorla MU, Ouchi D, Fang R, Briggs M, Kiapranis R, Yahimbu M, Mitjà O, Prescott TAK. (2022)

Ficus septica exudate, a traditional medicine used in Papua New Guinea for treating infected cutaneous ulcers: in vitro evaluation and clinical efficacy assessment by cluster randomised trial.

Phytomedicine. 2022 Mar 4;99:154026. 

Prescott T.A.K., Jaeg T, Hoepfner D. (2018).

Yeast Chemogenomic Profiling Reveals Iron Chelation To Be the Principle Cell Inhibitory Mode of Action of Gossypol.

Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 23:7381-7386. 

Prescott, T. A. K., Homot, P., Lundy, F.T., Fang, R., Patrick, S., Cámara-Leret, R., Kiapranis, R. (2017).

Tropical ulcer plant treatments used by Papua New Guinea's Apsokok nomads.

Journal of Ethnopharmacology 205: 240-245.

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