Gail Mahady Receives ABC Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award

AUSTIN, Texas, April 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Botanical Council (ABC) has presented its 2022 Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award to Gail Mahady, PhD, an associate professor and director of the Clinical Pharmacognosy Laboratories in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and an expert in botanical dietary supplements and phytomedicines for women’s health and other conditions.

The ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award was created in 2018 and named in honor of distinguished researcher, educator, and longtime ABC Board of Trustees member Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, who died in April 2017. Kronenberg dedicated her professional life to the study of medicinal plants and phytomedicines for women’s health conditions. She particularly was interested in botanicals such as black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.

Kronenberg was a champion of integrative medicine and co-founded the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Columbia University — the first CAM program at an Ivy League school and the first government-funded CAM research and educational center. For 10 years, she also co-directed an onsite five-day continuing education course for physicians and other health care providers interested in botanical medicine.

Mahady earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical chemistry from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and a doctorate in pharmacognosy at UIC. At UIC, she is on the faculty of the Department of Pharmacy Practice in the College of Pharmacy. Previously, she was co-investigator at the UIC Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, a US National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded center that investigates the safety and mechanisms of action of botanical dietary supplements used by menopausal women as alternatives to hormone therapy.

Mahady focuses on the chemistry and pharmacology of natural products, dietary supplements, and traditional medicines and their applications for women’s reproductive health conditions (including premenstrual syndrome [PMS]), infectious diseases (including Chlamydia and Helicobacter pylori infections), cancer, and menopausal symptoms. Like Kronenberg, she has conducted research on black cohosh. She also studies the association between vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamins A and D, and the development and metastasis of epithelial cancers. Her current interests include transcriptomics (the study of the RNA molecules in a cell or tissue) and proteomics (the large-scale study of proteins) of natural products in cancer, sarcopenia (muscle loss due to aging), and osteoporosis. Much of her research has been funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), NIH, the Regenstein Foundation, the First Analysis Institute, the Wrigley Foundation, and other funding sources.

Mahady is a member of several organizations, including the American Society of Pharmacognosy, and served on the United States Pharmacopeia’s Botanical Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines Expert Committee. She has consulted for the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Programme and US Federal Trade Commission. She is, or has been, an associate editor of UIC’s NAPRALERT database (which includes data from thousands of scientific papers on natural products), associate editor of Pharmaceutical Biology, contributing editor of Nutrition Reviews, and on the editorial board of Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Mahady also has co-authored four editions of WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants (which include extensive reviews of widely used medicinal plants), as well as more than 100 abstracts, book chapters, and journal articles, and has given many presentations.

“I deeply appreciate and am honored to receive the ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award for 2022,” Mahady wrote (email, March 23, 2022). “Fredi was a dear friend and colleague, and I always appreciated her passion for the work and her joie de vivre, as she was great fun to be around. I am still saddened that she is no longer with us.

“I would like to thank all of my graduate students and postdocs who worked on all of the projects over the years, as well as my collaborators Dr. Alice Perez at the University of Costa Rica in San José, Dr. Armando Caceres at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala in Guatemala City, and Dr. Daniel Liu in China, and all the other people who have helped with the research,” Mahady added. “I also would like to thank Dr. Harry Fong and the late Dr. Norman Farnsworth, my mentors and advisors for many years.

“Finally, hundreds of millions of women worldwide still rely daily on traditional medicine and medicinal plants for their basic health care needs,” Mahady continued. “Medicinal plants are used to treat everything from anxiety and depression, to PMS, pregnancy, menopausal symptoms, and much more. Still, only a fraction of these plants have been investigated scientifically, so plenty of work still is left to be done in the field.”

Tieraona Low Dog, MD, who received the inaugural ABC Kronenberg Award for 2017, endorsed Mahady for the award. “Dr. Mahady’s work in the field of natural products and botanical medicine is extensive and distinguished,” Low Dog wrote. “From her research on the use of mushrooms for cancer to the use of medicinal plants during pregnancy by Indigenous women in Central America and the evidence for botanicals during the menopause transition, Dr. Mahady brings rigor and real-world experience to all that she does. She is a beloved educator at UIC and lectures to audiences around the world about the potential for medicinal plants to improve health. She is a role model for many, and I am delighted that she is being honored with this award. It is so well deserved.”

Mary Hardy, MD, who received the ABC Kronenberg Award for 2019, also expressed approval that Mahady was selected. “It is wonderful that botanical scientist Dr. Gail Mahady is being honored with the 2022 ABC Kronenberg Award,” Hardy wrote. “Her scholarship and research represent outstanding contributions to the fields of women’s health and botanical medicine in the best tradition of the award’s namesake, Dr. Fredi Kronenberg. Dr. Mahady’s collegial spirit and can-do attitude make her a leader in the field of botanical research.”

ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, wrote: “I see a lot of parallels between Dr. Mahady’s career and Dr. Kronenberg’s career, both with regards to their contributions to scientific knowledge of herbs for women’s conditions and their educational efforts to bring rational herbal medicine closer to health care professionals. She was involved early on in UIC’s Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, which may be the most successful academic program ever initiated that focuses on the benefits of herbs for women’s health. She has made exceptional and exceptionally practical contributions in this field. I congratulate her for receiving ABC’s award, and I salute the entirety of her academic work.”

Previous recipients of the ABC Fredi Kronenberg Award are Tori Hudson, ND (2021), Mary Hardy, MD (2019), Aviva Romm, MD (2018), and Tieraona Low Dog, MD (2017).

The 2022 ABC Fredi Kronenberg Excellence in Research and Education in Botanicals for Women’s Health Award was presented at the 17th Annual ABC Celebration and Botanical Excellence Awards Ceremony on March 9, 2022, in Anaheim, California, during Natural Products Expo West. The ABC awards process and ceremony were underwritten by these ABC Sponsor Members in the United States and international herb industry: Alkemist Labs, Amin Talati Wasserman LLP, Applied Food Sciences, Brassica Protection Products, ChromaDex, Euromed, EuroPharma, Herbalife, Horphag Research, Indena USA, Informa, MegaFood, Natural Factors, New Chapter, NOW Foods, PlusPharma Inc., RFI, RT Specialty, United Natural Products Alliance, and Verdure Sciences.

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