MedPlant is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) supporting a new generation of science researchers in biodiversity driven drug lead discovery. The network will be running for four years from October 2013 to 2017, and will enable 13 PhD and 2 postdoctoral researchers to work collaboratively across disciplines to develop new approaches and technologies for selection and sustainable use of biodiversity resources for lead discovery and to develop new plant derived leads.

The number of new drugs coming to the market is declining and interest in lead discovery from natural resources is seeing a revival. However, although methods for isolation and identification of natural products have advanced explosively in recent decades, methods for selection of potential leads have hardly developed. Hence, training of a new generation of researchers in the proposed innovative field of biodiversity driven lead discovery is both timely and relevant, as it will contribute directly to the economic development and future welfare of Europe and will significantly enhance the employment prospects of the participants.

Madeleine Ernst, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. 

-Talks about her PhD project on phylogenetic exploration of antitumor compounds in the giant genus Euphorbia L.


Karen Martinez-Swatson, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen –

-Talks about her PhD project on deadly carrots in the genus Thapsia and the potential for a new cancer drug.


Nathalie Iwanycki Ahlstrand, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen –

– Talks about her PhD project on drivers of chemical diversity in the worldwide weed Plantago major L.


The MedPlant network at Kick-off in Copenhagen – and what it’s all about…

MedPlant summerschool 2014

Key Research Areas - Work Packages 1-3

  • Evolution of Chemical Diversity (WP1). Lead: Nina Rønsted, University of Copenhagen 

    We explore the correlation between phylogenetic and chemical diversity in order to develop new tools for chemosystematics, prediction of biosynthetic pathways, drug lead discovery, as well as the appreciation and sustainable use of biodiversity resources.

  • Development of Pharmacopoeias (WP2). Lead: Marco Leonti, University of Cagliari

    Concepts and methodologies of pharmacognosy and pharmacology on one side and cultural and medicinal anthropology on the other side are used to understand the interface between human cognition and phylogeny and to develop new tools for selection of medicinal plants.

  • Sustainability and safety of medicinal plant use (WP3). Lead: Julie Hawkins, University of Reading

    We use comparative sequence data to characterise the distribution of medicinal plant diversity, and to provide new tools to plan for the protection of medicinal species with potential as drug leads.