African Research Network

Background and General Information

The African continent features areas with extremely high biodiversity and high levels of endemism, indicating that many of the continent’s plant resources are uniquely African. African traditional medicine is therefore based on a broad ethnomedicinal knowledge and represents a major socio-cultural heritage, which has accumulated during the last millennia and features valuable and unique ethnomedicinal information.

The GA aims to foster the scientific development of African research pursuits by establishing an African Research Network among members of the GA and thus expanding and improving research capacity. Therefore, a working group was established to stimulate and facilitate the interaction of African researchers within the GA.

As a working group of the GA we provide a regular platform for scientific exchange by establishing a sustainable communication channel between the members of the network and organizing regular scientific symposia during the annual conference.

Mission statement and goals of the Working Group

The Mission of the African Research Network Working Group of the GA is to stimulate and facilitate the interaction of African researchers within the GA with the intention to foster the regional scientific development of the continent by expanding and improving research capacity via networking between African researchers and thus improving the quality and relevance of the continent’s scientific output.

To achieve the mission of the working group, the following specific goals are pursued:

  1. Implementation of a member’s profile collection with an index of all interested African GA-members (including information such as name, location, research interests, lab equipment etc.).
  2. Providing a regular platform for scientific exchange by organizing regular symposia during the annual conference where African researchers can present their recent research results.
  3. Training workshops organized by different African scientists/research institutions for young researchers taking place in varying regions of Africa
  4. Joint proposals for collaborative research projects initiated by network members

Join the Network

Join our LinkedIn group African Research Network on Medicinal Plants and Natural Products Research by GA and ISE.

Upcoming Events

Next Pre-Congress Workshop of the GA African Research Network 13th July 2024 in Kraków, Poland

The 5th edition of the African Research Workshop will take place in Kraków, Poland on Saturday, 13th July 2024, prior to the International Congress on Natural Products Research 72nd International Congress and Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA).

A Keynote Lecture is presented by Prof. David Katerere (Tshwane University of Technology, Dept of Pharmaceutical Science, South Africa). His lecture will focus on

“African herbal medicines – opportunities and challenges of developing herbal medicinal products in Africa”.

Afterwards, African researchers can present their research findings in short talks during the on-site event and discuss the findings with colleagues and peers.

Submit your abstract for a short talk (12 min) here. Research topics should focus on Traditional African Medicine in the areas:

Contributions should focus on natural products research of Traditional African Medicine in the areas:
•    Ethnopharmacology
•    Clinical research
•    Pharmacological and toxicological mechanisms
•    Phytochemistry

Contributions reporting clinical research conducted on African natural products are especially welcome!

Past Events

e-Seminar: Medicinal plants and industry: An African bench to shelf perspective

In collaboration with the International Society for Ethnopharmacology (ISE) and the newly-formed African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS), the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA) has organized an eSeminar on the African perspective of the role of the medicinal plant industry in the commercialization of natural products.

On November 17th, 2023, Mrs Gill Whittington Banda (CEO of Zuplex Botanicals), Mrs Portia Matamela (Founder of Letago pharmaceuticals) and Mrs Bianca Payne Fibrich (Co-founder of Blyde Botanics) have presented their approach to the promotion of medicinal plant science and the challenges and opportunities facing those who are interested in exploring the realm of natural product commercialization.

Summer School on “Ethnopharmacological relevance: from bench to shelf, including intellectual property and bioprospecting acts“

The summer school on “Ethnopharmacological relevance: from bench to shelf, including intellectual property and bioprospecting acts“ took place from 15-19th May 2023 at the Future Africa Campus, University of Pretoria in South Africa.

The summer school was hosted by the University of Pretoria and the Leipzig University with financial support from the Volkswagen Foundation. The Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA), in addition, sponsored the participation of four African early career researchers via travel grants.

Aim of this training session was to equip young scientists from Europe and Africa with the knowledge and know-how of steering their natural product research towards successful commercialization.

Lectures covered aspects of field studies, in vitro/pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. In addition, lectures on Intellectual property rights, bioprospecting acts and sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants were included as essential considerations in the commercialization process.


A special focus was laid on the importance of quality control and standardization of medicinal plant products as regulations on herbal products have recently gained more awareness.


Participants in the Summer School

African Research Pre-Congress Symposium (ARS): “Traditional Nature-based African Medicine” on the 28th August 2022

The 4th edition of the African Research Workshop was held in Thessaloniki, Greece on 28th August 2022 as a hybrid pre-congress of the 70th International Congress and Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA).

The symposium was chaired by Dr. Cica vissiennon (Leipzig University), Prof. Namrita Lall (University of Pretoria) and Dr. Emelia Oppong Bekoe (University of Ghana). The pre-conference kicked off with an impulse lecture on the development of Apivirine, an antiviral phytomedicine used in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients without signs of severity. Findings provide scientific evidence that apivirine can contribute to remission in patients with covid without severe symptoms. This impulse lecture was followed by a series of six shorts lectures which provided the audience with a wide range of scientific studies on African medicinal plants (South African, Guinean, Ghanaian, Angolan etc.), which enriched the session. During this session, awareness was raised on the importance of properly documenting popular medicinal plants, through their botanical description, their use, quality control and especially the provision of scientific evidence of their effect. Then, a series of five virtual “flash talks” revealed the research outcomes of young African scientists. The session was concluded after future perspectives for the African Research Network were discussed.


Participants in the Pre-Congress Symposium 2022

Panel discussion: Key Challenges for Natural Products Research – Perspectives from African Scientists.

 Date: 07 September 2021, 12:00- 13:30 CEST, zoom meeting

Moderators: Prof. Namrita Lall (University of Pretoria, South Africa) and Dr. Cica Vissiennon (Leipzig University, Germany)

The main purpose of this panel discussion relating to

(1) intellectual property, bioprospecting and

(2) funding was to gain different perspectives and opinions.

The session was opened with an impulse lecture from Dr. K. K. Nyirenda on the “Nutraceutical Potential of Fadogia ancylantha, Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights”. The panellists then proceeded to provide their statements and shared insights on bioprospecting permits and intellectual property, this also included some discussions on challenges experienced by African Researchers such as funding, equipment, and skills shortages.

Expert panel:

  • Emelia Oppong Bekoe (University of Ghana School of Pharmacy)
  • Prof Sami Khalid (University of Science and Technology, Sudan)
  • Namrita Lall (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
  • Alyce Ntabanzi (Makerere University, Uganda)
  • Prof Learnmore Kambizi (Cape Pennsula University of Technology, South Africa)
  • Will Coetsee (Botanica, South Africa)
  • Portia Matamela (Letago Pharmaceuticals, South Africa)
  • Prof Naglaa Saad (Ain Shams University, Egypt & City University College of Ajman, United Arab Emirates)
  • Godwin Anywar (Makerere University, Uganda)

The discussions created the possibility for takeaways and possible solutions to questions posed during interaction with the audience and viewers. Please click the button for a summary on the main takeaways.


Panel Discussion 2022

Workshop 2021

Our second African Research Workshop took place on 18 April 2021, during the 20th International Congress of the International Society of Ethnopharmacology as a virtual event.

At the beginning of the workshop an impulse lecture by Dr. Bertrand Graz, Fondation Antenna, Switzerland, introduced the concept of “Reverse Pharmacology as an approach to scientifically validate traditional medicine”.

The following short lecture session provided an overview on diverse topics related to natural products research

After a coffee break Dr. Emerson F. Queiroz, University of Geneva, Switzerland) highlighted the potential of interdisciplinary collaborations in his keynote lectures on “Innovative strategies for the efficient isolation of natural products and discovery of potential new leads” where he demonstrated three examples of successful of international collaborative projects.

Prof. Namrita Lall (University of Pretoria, South Africa) concluded the event with an inspiring lecture on “Regulatory aspects and challenges for the commercialization of natural products”.

The workshop was organized jointly by the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Products Research (GA) and the International Society of Ethnopharmacology (ISE).

One of our participants, Dr. Anna-Mari Reid (University of Pretoria, South Africa) has summarized her impressions on the workshop here.

African Research Workshop 2021

The second African Research Workshop took place online.

First African Research Workshop

The First African Research Workshop on medicinal plant and natural products research took place in Innsbruck on 01 September 2019.

African Research Network