Dr Edward Okello
Executive Director of the Medicinal Plant Research Group

Roles and Responsibilities

Degree Programme Director, MSc Medicinal Plants and Functional Foods
Member MSc Board of Studies, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Member MSc Board of Examiners, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Chair, Board of Examiners, BSc Food and Human Nutrition/ Food Marketing and Nutrition 

Qualifications

BSc (Hons.), MSc., PhD

Memberships

Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research
North East Dementias & Neurodegenerative Diseases Network (DeNDRoN)
UK Biobank Enhancement Subgroup (brain imaging) Network
Member of the North East Bionet Bioactive Chemistry Working Group

Academic member American Botanical Council

North East Universities Medicinal Plant Research Group 

Research Interests

Medicinal plants and natural product pharmacognosy/ pharmacology
Drug Discovery
Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and related issue
Phyto-chemicals and neurophysiological/ pharmacological effects
Food Quality & Health
Phytochemistry and Mechanistic enzymology
Medical and veterinary applications of natural plant products

Current Work

The isolation and chemical characterization of novel active components from natural products, particularly medicinal plants, and screening for key bioactivities in disease mechanisms – particularly those associated with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type -such as neuromodulation, neurotransmitter function, neuroprotection (antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytics and anti-amyloidal agents) and enzyme inhibition (cholinesterases, BACE) with a view to developing new strategies for the prevention of and/ or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research Roles

In addition to conduction my own research and supervising postgraduate (MSc and PhD) students, I am also Director of the North East Universities Medicinal Plant Research Group (MPRG). The MPRC) was founded in 1996. It is a research partnership between the Universities of Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham, in the North East of England (UK). Our mission is to develop a ‘centre of research excellence’ for interdisciplinary research in the pharmacology of medicinal plants and to apply the advances in knowledge that emanate from this to develop novel plant based bioactives for health and disease, particularly in areas of neuroscience, clinical brain ageing, psychology, oncology, diabetes and ageing and health.

I am also a member of the Institute of Neuroscience Natural Products Pharmacology research group: www.ncl.ac.uk/ion/research/themes/neuropharmacology/natural.htm.

Postgraduate Supervision

I am currently co-supervising  5 PhD students. Two other PhD’s to commence September 2011.

Esteem Indicators

Selected Invited Lectures
First International Conference about Pharmacology of natural Products and BLACPMA, Varadero, Cuba, 20-24 Novermber 2006

The 10th Shangai Internatiobnal Forum on Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industry (Bio-Forum) & 13th Annual Conference of Chinese Biopharmaceutical Association, 20-30th May 2008

The British Psychological Society Annual Conference, Brighton 1-3 April 2009

Vitafoods International Conference (Symposium Chair and Speaker), Geneva, 5-7 May 2009

Second International Symposium on Pharmacology of Natural Products, (FAPRONATURA) “OASIS VARADERO 1920” Hotel, Varadero Beach, Matanzas, Cuba. June 3-7, 2009

Brain Ageing and Dementia in Newcastle: Past, Present and Future. Medical School, Newcastle University, 19th May 2010

International Congress of Applied Psychology, 11-16 July, 2010, Melbourne Australia

Brain Ageing and Dementia in Developing Countries, 4-7 December, 2012, Nairobi, Kenya 

Reviewer of Academic Manuscript for:
Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Marine Biotechnology
Phytochemistry
Phytotherapy Research
Journal of the American College of Nutrition
European Journal of Neuroscience

Journal of Medicinal Food 

Human Psychopharmacology

Journal of Alternative and  Complementary Medicine

African Journal of Biotechnology 

Editorships

Associate editor, European Journal of Medicnal Plants

Guest Editor, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

 

Other invitations
PhD External Examiner, School of Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Durham University.
Independent assessor on a report for an application for transfer from MPhil to PhD – School of Science & Engineering, Teesside University.

Invited as an International Expert Panel Member by the Medical Council of South Africa to review and assess the progress and status of their Indigenous Knowledge System Unit (Cape Town) against its 5 year research mandate: September 2011.

Public Interviews
Dissemination of knowledge/ research to general public (National TV interviews, International/national / local radio interviews; International and Nations/ local newspaper articles – featuring my research on tea consumption and prevention of dementia (2006)

Funding

Norvatis, Rington’s Tea Company, Mental Health Foundation, Royal Society, DEFRA, KTP with Citrox Limited, Wellcome Trust Summer Studentship, BBSRC CASE Studentship,Wirz Herbs

Projects

Undergraduate Teaching

ACE 1023 IT and Numeracy Skills for Nutrition (Module Leader)
ACE 1030 Man’s use of plants

ACE 2050 Introduction to medicinal plants (Module Leader) 

Postgraduate Teaching

ACE 8051 Production of herbal medicines and functional foods (Module Leader)
ACE 8052 Traditional use of plants (including ethno-pharmacology) (Module Leader)
ACE 8053 Functional foods in nutrition and health

ACE8106 Effective Communication Skills for Postgraduate Research (Module Leader)