Bionorica Phytoneering Award to Dr. Nadja B. Cech

The prestigious Bionorica Phytoneering Award 2021 is bestowed to Prof. Dr. Nadja B. Cech in recognition of her excellent research focussing on metabolomic analysis of medicinal plants and their active constituents. The Bionorica Phytoneering Award acknowledges outstanding research in the field of development and application of phytopharmaceutical products. It is a pleasure to award Prof. Dr. Nadja B. Cech, a young, outstanding researcher from the US working in the field of botanical natural products.

Prof. Dr. Nadja B. Cech is Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, USA. The overall goal of her research is principally focused on metabolomic analysis of widely used herbal ingredients such as green tea (Camellia sinensis), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).

Nadja Cech´s group has developed an approach combining biological and mass spectrometric data sets and uses an “activity index” to predict mixture interactions. E.g., tan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) was used as a case study in one of her papers. Of the four constituents that were found to contribute to antimicrobial activity of tan shen, dihydrotanshinone 1, tanshinone IIA, and 1-oxocryptotanshinone showed additive effects, while sugiol had synergistic properties. The approach enabled identification of unknown synergists prior to isolating them and predicting key contributors to the biological effect of a complex mixture. Her papers are highly relevant for industrial and academic research when carrying out mechanistic studies in order to explain the potency of an herbal extract and to determine the constituents responsible for its therapeutic benefits.

It is a great honour for the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research and our personal pleasure to bestow Prof. Dr. Nadja B. Cech with the Bionorica Phytoneering Award 2021.

On behalf of the entire Board of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research – Judith M. Rollinger (president), Anna-Rita Bilia and Michael Heinrich (vice presidents), Olaf Kelber and Bernd Roether (ExCo members).


The award ceremony will take place in the opening session at the annual GA conference on September 6, 2021. All GA members as well as guests from all societies and people dedicated to natural product research are highly welcome. For more information please visit the conference homepage.



Nadja Cech got her BS in Chemistry Summa Cum Laude in 1997 at the Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR, USA. In 2001, she obtained her PhD in Chemistry University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA, under the supervision of Dr. Christie G. Enke. The title of the thesis was “Fundamental Studies of Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry”.

She has been assistant professor (2001 to 2007), associate professor (2007 to 2016) and since 2016 Patricia A. Sullivan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina. She has received many awards: The University of North Carolina Greensboro Teaching Excellence Award in 2009, The University of North Carolina Greensboro Junior Research Excellence Award in 2010, the Jack L. Beal Award for Best Journal of Natural Products Paper by a Young Investigator in 2011, the Rogue Community College Outstanding Alumni Award in 2015, the Thomas Norwood Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award in 2017, and the McNair Program Star Award for Mentorship of Underrepresented Students in 2019. Since 2015 she established the first NIH training grant program at UNC Greensboro, a Minority Serving Institution. She is involved in (activity-guided) isolation of natural products using, for example, column chromatography, (semi-) preparative HPLC, preparative thin layer chromatography, FCPC, phytochemical analyses and fingerprints, analysis of research data using several statistical methods. Since 2001 she has been the mentor of 29 MS and PhD students, 5 Postdoctoral Research Associates and 56 undergraduates.



Dr Olaf Kelber: