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HRF co-sponsors Purdue International Training Program

HRF was pleased to co-sponsor this year's International Training Program in New Crops: Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, held June 19-30 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Purdue Horticulture Department's Center for New Crops and Plant Products has hosted the intensive two-week workshop each year since 1993, offering instruction to scientists, natural products industry representatives, graduate students, health care professionals, and government officers from around the world. Students participate in lectures, discussions, field trips, and laboratory sessions that focus on medicinal, aromatic, and spice plants and their extractable products. This year, highlights included a tour of the laboratories at a large wholesale botanical trading company and a visit to the Hoosier National Forest to view native populations of goldenseal and ginseng. Participants also traveled to Chicago to attend classes at the University of Illinois School of Pharmacy, which also co-sponsors the event.

The program's founder and director, James Simon, PhD of Purdue University, works to give attendees an interdisciplinary perspective on the industry and the research behind it. This approach allows participants with different backgrounds - for example, an essential oil quality control specialist, a manufacturer wanting to step up medicinal plant production, or a researcher engaged in "bioprospecting" for new medicinal plant compounds - to gain a broader understanding of various aspects of the industry. The opportunity to network with other industry members is especially valuable to participants from developing nations, where commercialization of natural products is often a fledgling industry. Of this year's 37 participants, 27 were from foreign countries, including Madagascar, South Africa, Tanzania, New Zealand, France, Egypt, China, and Brazil.

As part of the program, HRF President Rob McCaleb presented classes on the international marketplace, marketing and product development, and the future of herbs and medicinal plants in American and European healthcare. Other instructors included Dr. Steve Weller of Purdue University, who taught a class on the role of bioengineering in the industry's future, and Drs. Mario Morales and Roberto Vieira, who directed a plant-breeding practicum. McCaleb has been involved for several years in the Purdue program, which he asserts is "the most diverse education program for international students and business people in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants." Attendees at this year's course were especially impressed with Purdue's new state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities. Conditions inside the greenhouses are controlled and monitored by computer, allowing researchers to adjust temperature, light, or moisture settings via an Internet connection anywhere in the world.

Beginning in 2001, the training program will move with Dr. Simon to Rutgers University in New Jersey. For information on next year's program, contact Jim Simon at Rutgers University: (732) 932-9711, ext. 355. - Nancy Hoegler, HRF

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