Fabien Schultz
Field study in rural Uganda Author: Inken Dworak-Schultz
2022

Fabien Schultz

Zoopharmacognosist

Natural medicines in humans and animals

meet fabien

Dr. Fabien Schultz, a zoopharmacognosist, is studying self-medication in wild mountain gorillas and chimpanzees at five sites in the Uganda rainforest. He also seeks to investigate the medicinal use of natural materials by humans and animals through pharmacological, anthropological, and socio-cultural research methods in Burkina Faso, India, Morocco, and Germany. His work includes pharmacological analyses of some species that have never been studied in a lab. Results may reveal novel natural remedies and drug leads that are effective in humans, addressing the worldwide need for new anti-malarials, anti-virals, anti-inflammatories, anti-parasitics and antibiotics.

Natural medicines in humans and animals
Nominated by: Dr. Kira Vinke MI'16
Class of 2022 Location USA
Filtration work in the laboratory
Filtration work in the laboratory Author: Inken Dworak-Schultz

My interest in the most remote regions of the world is combined with my highly interdisciplinary, holistic, participatory and sustainable approach to science. This has brought me into contact with outstanding human beings, such as local traditional healers, experienced birth attendants, spiritualists, conservationists, and human rights activists. The worldwide loss of traditional knowledge is alarming, while the conservation of cultural heritage is vital for future generations on a local and global scale in facing the need for novel, more effective drugs. In the past, these drugs have often been discovered from natural products.

“The location and research analysis is brought full circle by transferring the results from all stages of a project back to the indigenous people who helped me to begin the process.”

- Fabien Schultz
Flag expedition photo with Fabien, Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, and a wild mountain gorilla
Flag expedition photo with Fabien, Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, and a wild mountain gorilla Author: Inken Dworak-Schultz

Scientists, especially ethnopharmacologists, rarely return to the local communities to share their research results from samples and ethnopharmacological information collected from traditional healers and other community members. This often marks the end point of a one-sided collaboration. Laboratory studies leading to unique and significant discoveries would certainly be of interest to the local study participants. Results could empower local communities while fostering an equal partnership. However, the intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples have not been recognized throughout history.

I have developed an innovative approach to the science of ethnopharmacology that could become a model of best practice. The location and research analysis is brought full circle by transferring the results from all stages of a project back to the indigenous people who helped me to begin the process. This can also lead to the initiation of community projects. Local study participants should be treated as equals and benefit from the research. This involves helping to save local herbal drug use, caring and advocating for local communities, and creating and maintaining good relationships for future collaborations.

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