John Wilkinson (scientist)

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Dr John Wilkinson (born 1961) is an English scientist who led the first European degree course (Bachelor of Science with Honours) for herbal medicine, at Middlesex University in the United Kingdom in 1994.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Dr John Wilkinson was born in Croydon, Surrey in 1961. By the time he was 12 years old he had his own private laboratory and still does to this day. He went on to study Chemistry – by – thesis at Sussex University where he undertook a three year research program, remarkably as an undergraduate, on the chemistry of bioluminescence under the supervision of Professor Frank McCapra.

Dr Wilkinson then worked for Wellcome Research Laboratories and Beecham (pharmaceutical company) in the area of drug discovery (1985–1987). He was one of the first graduate scientists to be given 20% of his work time to develop his own research ideas.

Dr Wilkinson was awarded an SERC Instant award which was then later funded by ICI and obtained his PhD from Imperial College London (1987–1990) working with Professor William Motherwell.

Dr Wilkinson was then awarded the prestigious SERC-NATO post-doctoral fellowship to work with Nobel Prize–winning Professor George Olah in Los Angeles, California, USA (1991–1992), where he worked on, among other things, natural products chemistry, organic chemistry and Buckminsterfullerenes.

Following his post-doctoral work in the USA, Dr Wilkinson returned to the UK and became a visiting Research Fellow in Phytochemistry at the University of Exeter in 1993, with Professor Stan Roberts and was also a visiting lecturer at The School of Phytotherapy in East Sussex with the eminent medical herbalist and scientist, Hein Zeylstra (1928–2001).

Herbal Medicine and Middlesex University[edit]

In 1994, Dr Wilkinson programme led the first herbal medicine degree course in Europe, from its beginnings in 1994 at Middlesex University.[1][2] He was also appointed as a senior lecturer in Phytochemistry and Pharmacognosy, where he remained until 2004.

During his tenure at Middlesex University, Dr Wilkinson founded the Herbal Research Laboratories in 1996. He became Head of the Phytochemistry Discovery Group and led a team of 10 post-doctoral scientists, research assistants and other staff members. He was also a guest lecturer at Oxford University Medical School where he taught medical undergraduates the scientific aspects of herbal medicines.

The natural product research and regulatory consultancy company, Herbal Sciences International Limited[3] was set up by Dr Wilkinson in 2001. Despite leaving Middlesex University in 2004, he continues to run this company.

Herbal Sciences International Limited [3] obtained the first novel food approval in the European Union for a nutraceutical[4] based on a safe history of use rather than conventional toxicological studies. This approval effectively broke the trade barriers and opened up the European Union to new fruits, vegetables and nutraceuticals from developing countries. The company continues to work in the area of regulatory approval for health claims on food labels,[5] novel foods, herbal medicines and food supplements in the EU, the USA and elsewhere.

Other Achievements[edit]

Dr Wilkinson is a recognized leading authority on herbal medicine and related matters. He is regularly approached by TV, radio and newspapers for interviews and opinions concerning these types of food and medicinal based products.[6][7][8][9] Dr Wilkinson has published a number of articles during his academic career and continues to present at conferences and trade shows related to natural products.[10][11][12] He has also published material for inclusion in a number of books.[13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Dr Wilkinson has been practising meditation since 1987, particularly Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhism. He also teaches and conducts research into meditation.

Dr Wilkinson is a musician and composer, plays the alto, tenor and soprano saxophones and is also an electronica artist. He specialises in ballads, jazz improvisation, electronica, funk, and regularly plays at venues in the UK and abroad. He is also a recording artist and has composed and recorded songs in genres such as smooth jazz, sacred world music, chillout and other downtempo electronica formats.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Totnes man leads the first degree course in herbal medicine, Totnes News, No. 388, 2 September 1994
  2. ^ Unleashing Plant Power, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 9 January 1998
  3. ^ a b http://www.herbalsciencesinternational.com
  4. ^ Baobab Dried Fruit Pulp – Novel Food application submitted to the Food Standards Agency in August 2006 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20080603122942/http://www.acnfp.gov.uk/assess/fullapplics/baobab
  5. ^ http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/ScientificPanels/nda/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1178684448831.htm
  6. ^ "Herbal medicines undergo UK trials". BBC News Online. 2000. 
  7. ^ "Nature may well know best". BBC News Online. 2000. 
  8. ^ "Mushrooms: the new medicine". BBC News Online. 2001. 
  9. ^ "Insects boost the immune system". BBC News Online. 2002. 
  10. ^ Wilkinson, J.A. (2005): "Novel Foods – Substantial Equivalence Applications" presented at The 8th Food Authenticity and Safety International Symposium, Nantes Congress Centre, France 19–20 October
  11. ^ Wilkinson, J.A. (2005): "Kigelia – Anti inflammatory effects." presented at The Seminar Supply Sessions, Vitafoods International 2005 Conference, 6th International Exhibition and Conference on Nutraceuticals & Food for Vitality, Exhibition & Conference Centre, Geneva, Switzerland 10–12 May
  12. ^ Wilkinson, J.A. (2004): "AstaCran: A New Anti-Aging Ingredient Containing Astaxanthin and Cranberry Seed Oil Extracts" Lecture presented at The Vendor Works presentations, SupplySide West, Las Vegas, USA, Thursday, 30 September
  13. ^ Wilkinson, J.A. (2001) Chapter 3: Herbal medicines and Contraindications in: The Avery Complete Guide to Medicines, The only comprehensive guide to more than 6,000 prescription and over the counter drugs, herbs and supplements and their interactions. Editors: Ian Morton, Judith Hall. Paperback – 956 pages. Avery Press, USA. ISBN 1-58333-105-0
  14. ^ Wilkinson, J.A. (2003) Family Guide: Natural Medicine. Writer and Scientific consultant: Dr John Wilkinson. Hardback – 448 pages, 3rd Edition. Reader’s Digest, South Africa. ISBN 0-947008-87-X