Introducing Felix Nwafor

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by Timea Polgar/ on 15 Jul 2019

Introducing Felix Nwafor

I am an Ethnobotanist, Field Plant Taxonomist, Data Curator and Consultant. I am with the Department of Pharmacognosy and Environmental Medicines, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. My research interests are based on Plant Taxonomy (including Chemotaxonomy and Molecular Systematics), Bioprospecting of novel bioactive compounds, Ethnomedicine, Herbal formulations and Indigenous Science Knowledge.

What made you do research on natural products?

I grew up learning African Traditional Medicine as an apprentice and its efficacy, contribution and potential in healthcare delivery instigated my interest in Natural Products. I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany in 2012 and later an M.Sc. in Plant Taxonomy and Biosystematics from the University of Nigeria. Prior to my M.Sc. degree I started my career formally as a trainee in Ethnomedicine and Field Plant Taxonomy at the International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development (InterCEDD)/Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP) – a leading institution in ethnomedicine and natural products research in Nigeria, where I acquired special skills in Plant Identification and ethnomedicinal research. I was further trained on:

Good Agricultural and Wild Collection Practices for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (GACP‐MAP), and Development and Commercialization of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

Who were your famous professors?

I would say that my famous professors in Ethnomedicine/Natural Products are Prof. Maurice Iwu and Late Prof. Sofowora. Prof. Iwu is a distinguished Natural Products Scientist. He is the Chairman of Bioresourcs Development Group – that includes InterCEDD Health Products (a leading natural products research and development company in Nigeria, where I started my career).

Why do you think there is a future for NPs?

The world is gearing towards natural products use as awareness now shifts away from synthetic products. On daily basis, more institutions, NGOs and corporate organizations come up with visions on natural products. However, the potential in natural products research is unlimited as there is still much to be discovered and harnessed in nature. post thumb

Tell us about your current work more, what your goals are?

Documentation of West African medicinal plants, techniques for their proper identification/authentication, their ethnomedicinal uses (including their method of preparation, administration and possible side effects). Bioprospecting of novel bioactive compounds through gathering of indigenous knowledge systems and ethnomedicinal uses.

My services are

  1. Consulting for natural products developers and users (individuals, non-profits, companies) on West African medicinal plants – advising on the REGULATIONS governing the cultivation, wild collection, exportation and commercialization of raw materials for natural products research and development.
  2. Supply of raw materials and plant extracts to individuals, non-profits, companies working on natural products R&D.
  3. Survey of ethnobotanical knowledge of indigenous people.
  4. Market survey and analysis on natural products and their usage. post thumb

My goals and achievements are

  1. To develop a database of complete information on identification and collection of West African medicinal plants and their ethnomedicinal uses.
  2. To bridge the gap between the local traditional healers and natural products scientist towards achieving better utilization of West African medicinal plants.
  3. To develop a system through bioprospecting that will discover the potential of the numerous untapped bioresources (medicinal plants/natural resources). post thumb

My works both on field and in the labs have yielded lots of achievements. I have documented several hundreds of medicinal plants and their uses, some published in journals, books and presented at scientific conferences. Based on novel knowledge acquired from ethnobotanical surveys, I and my team have developed natural products both for local consumption and commercialization. I have also been invited as Speaker to talk on Indigenous Science Knowledge in relation to traditional medicine practices and medicinal plants use. I also have existing business relationships with natural products R&D firms in South Africa, Europe and the United States of America. post thumb