Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Photo of Graham, James G.

James G. Graham

Research Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences | Institute Affiliate, Pharmacognosy Institute

About Heading link

Overview:
As Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, my work has been primarily focused on curation and maintenance of the NAPRALERT database. NAPRALERT, the world’s first computerized database on bioactive natural products, contains extensive data (>200,000 CITATIONS documenting over 800,000 scientific experiments) on the chemistry and pharmacological activity of natural products, including the folkloric use of plants and other naturally-occurring organisms as medicinal agents.

My work is currently focused on sustaining the integrity of NAPRALERT through articulation of the knowledgebase into the Pharmacognosy/Natural Product ontology (PHO). Interoperability across a wider range of scientific disciplines is supported through a basic formal ontology and the potential of a human-annotaded dataset of ~200,000 citations to expand acquisition of data through machine-assisted learning holds promise to improve automated capture from the ever-burgeoning corpus of natural product (NP) scientific literature

Through the Pharmacognosy Institute (formerly Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences), I help coordinate a number of programs and activities that represent notable resources unique to UIC-COP among US Colleges of Pharmacy. The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden at UIC-COP offers a rare venue for both trainees and visitors to learn about medicinal plants and their historic and current uses.. NAPRALERT provides data that supports ongoing recognition of our College as one of a handful of World Health Organization Collaborating Centres for Traditional Medicine worldwide. Together we celebrate progress in NP research with the annual Norman Farnsworth memorial lecture series.

Research Interests:
Developing new tools in Biomedical informatics- The Pharmacognosy Ontology

Migrate the NAPRALERT database, with its specialized human-annotated dataset derived over five decades, into an interoperative ontology platform. Natural language processing tools will enhance the annotation of data from the NP literature into the dataset and will also expand potential to query and integrate data from across the entire knowledge base, within and between its specialized domains. Capability to exchange information with formal ontologies representing other domains of knowledge (proteomics, genetics, chemistry, taxonomy, biochemistry, etc.) greatly enhances potential for transdiciplinary integration.

Enhancing Translational Research in Natural Products for Pain

The NAPRALERT knowledge base maintains a unique dataset of NP information- currently covering more than 62,000 species, >200,000 chemical isolates, biological experiments across more than 4,000 different pharmacological activities, as well as 100,000 records of folkloric uses of NP in therapy. We are currently involved in exploring the NAPRALERT dataset for development of a prioritized set of lead compounds and extracts with potential for translational research in modulation of chronic pain conditions. This process includes evaluating and filtering primary data from experiments reporting bioactivity in clinical, in vivo, in vitro studies, utilizing a variety of pain models, as well as of NP extracts used traditionally in the treatment of a diversity of pain conditions. In addition to primary data (results reported for original published research), any NP isolate or extract can be further mined for ancillary data (associated chemistries, bioactivities, reported toxicities, etc.) from across the knowledge base.

Developing Clinical Research Models in Traditional Medicine

I had the opportunity to serve as a technical officer with the Traditional Medicine team at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on a pilot project to evaluate the safety and efficacy of traditional medicines used in the treatment of malaria. Much of my work involved providing technical assistance in the design and implementation of pilot clinical investigations of promising traditional anti-malarial herbal therapies being carried out at research institutes in the African nations of Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. Such pilot investigations are a precursor to, and provide critical information for, the development of larger and more detailed clinical trials. During my time as part of the Traditional Medicine Team, I also helped to draft the first WHO Global Traditional Medicines Strategy.

Botany and Biological Exploration

I hold research appointments at the Forestry Herbarium, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima Peru, and at the Institute for Economic Botany, New York Botanical Garden, as well as a Research Associate in Botany at my home institution- the Field Museum in Chicago. These affiliations provide the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse array of world-class scientists, as well as curatorial support for 25 years of botanical collections made in Peru. Currently, 16 species new to science have been described based on my collections. Over the past decade, my research in Peru has focused on multi-taxa inventory and collections (liverworts, vascular plants, understory birds, native bees, amphibians and reptiles, as well as small mammals, including rats and bats) and ecological studies in the remote Cordillera El Sira.

Ethnobiology

My fieldwork in Peru has remained deeply rooted in exploration of remote forests and close collaboration with the native communities that live in them. From 1997 to 2009, I worked with Dr. Fernando Cabieses at the Universidad Cientifica del Sur, and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine of Peru, documenting the plant knowledge of one of the last remaining herbal specialists among the Cashinahua tribe of eastern Peru.

The Institute for Biological Exploration

In 2006 I established the Institute for Biological Exploration with the objective of increasing scientific knowledge of the earth’s biological diversity through the promotion of field-based biological research. The Institute is committed to conducting and promoting multidisciplinary field-based exploration, collections and inventory, with a major focus on baseline studies of remote and poorly-collected areas. Since 2007 we have been conducting research in the remote highlands of the El Sira Communal Reserve.

In the face of unprecedented levels of habitat disruption and destruction, coupled with extremely low collection densities found in large sections of the tropics- in areas distant from road networks and away from established parks and field stations- I felt that it was important to promote research efforts in order to help to “fill in the gaps” of our knowledge of the diversity of life on earth. Much of the Institute’s work is focused on biological inventory in some of the last remaining roadless areas of the eastern Andes and adjacent Amazon regions, documenting its incredible biological diversity.

Work in such areas brings with it a unique set of challenges and rewards. The Institute aims to increase biodiversity exploration in the wild places of the world, and by enhancing our awareness and appreciation of them, to foster their conservation.

Teaching Statement:
Since 2013 I coordinated the PMPG 569-Predictive Strategies in Pharmacognosy- graduate-level elective course for students in the Pharmacognosy Ph.D. program, now under the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate program. This elective course takes into consideration the methods employed for the selection of plants and other organisms that are most likely to yield biologically active compounds.

For the last several years I have contribute lectures and enhanced discussion in HON201-Plant Medicine from Rainforest to Metropolis. This is an undergraduate seminar series offered in the Honors College at UIC, The course is team-taught, with instructors from
different disciplines, made up of affiliates of the Pharmacognosy Institute ethnobotany collaborative group( Ecog), and describes how medical ethnobotany and contemporary healthcare are often intertwined.

Teaching and Supervision Heading link

Plant Medicine from Rainforest to Metropolis – A Legacy for the Future (HON 201), 4/23/2021 – 11/29/2021
Research Techniques in Pharmacognosy (PSCI 520), 8/24/2020 – 12/9/2020

Selected Grants Heading link

“Identification of Natural Products with Translational Potential for Management of Chronic Pain”, NIH/NCCIH (ODS)., 9/20/2019 – 6/30/2020, Obligated Amount: $191.393; No Anticipated Amount Set

“Identification of Natural Products with Translational Potential for Management of Chronic Pain”, NIH/NCCIH (ODS)., 9/20/2019 – 6/30/2020, Obligated Amount: $191.393; No Anticipated Amount Set

“Medicinal Plants of Laos: Discoveries, conservation, and community engagement: Phase II (2019-2020, California Community Foundation., 7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020, Obligated Amount: $219000; No Anticipated Amount Set

“Medicinal Plants of Laos: Discoveries, conservation, and community engagement: Phase II (2019-2020, California Community Foundation., 7/1/2019 – 6/30/2020, Obligated Amount: $219000; No Anticipated Amount Set

Center for Natural Product Technologies at UIC, National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)., 9/1/2015 – 6/30/2020, Obligated Amount: $1456875; Anticipated Amount: $1456875

Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)., 9/1/2015 – 6/30/2022, Obligated Amount: $9708015; Anticipated Amount: $12588944

Selected Publications Heading link

Pócs, T, Graham, JG, von Konrat, M, Larraín, J. (2022). New liverwort records from the Peruvian Andes. Acta Botanica Hungarica64, (1-2), 187-200. doi:10.1556/034.64.2022.1-2.10.

Nelson, Kathryn M, Bisson, Jonathan, Singh, Gurpreet, Graham, James G, Chen, Shao-Nong, Friesen, J Brent, Dahlin, Jayme L, Niemitz, Matthias, Walters, Michael A, Pauli, Guido F. (2020). The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Cannabidiol (CBD). Journal of Medicinal Chemistry63, (21), 12137-12155. doi:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c00724.

Niessner, Armin, Küppers, Manfred, Graham, James, Valenzuela, Luis, Güney, Aylin, Remmele, Sabine, Zimmermann, Reiner. (2020). Climate and seasonal rainfall anomalies along an elevational gradient in the El Sira Mountains, Peru, and their impacts on tree radial growth. Journal of Forestry Research31, (5), 1521-1538. doi:10.1007/s11676-019-00985-y.

Tang, Yu, Friesen, J Brent, Lankin, David C, McAlpine, James B, Nikolić, Dejan S, Niemitz, Matthias, Seigler, David S, Graham, James G, Chen, Shao-Nong, Pauli, Guido F. (2020). Quantum Mechanics-Based Structure Analysis of Cyclic Monoterpene Glycosides from Rhodiola rosea. Journal of Natural Products83, (6), 1950-1959. doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c00212.

Tang, Yu, Friesen, J Brent, Lankin, David C, McAlpine, James, Nikolić, Dejan, Niemitz, Matthias, Seigler, David, Graham, James, Chen, Shao-Nong, Pauli, Guido. (2020). Quantum Mechanics-Based Structure Analysis of Cyclic Monoterpene Glycosides from Rhodiola Rosea. . doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c00212.

Malca-Garcia, Gonzalo R, Zagal, Daniel, Graham, James, Nikolić, Dejan, Friesen, J Brent, Lankin, David C, Chen, Shao-Nong, Pauli, Guido F. (2019). Dynamics of the isoflavone metabolome of traditional preparations of Trifolium pratense L.. Journal of Ethnopharmacology238, 111865. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2019.111865.

Simmler, Charlotte, Graham, James G, Chen, Shao-Nong, Pauli, Guido F. (2018). Integrated analytical assets aid botanical authenticity and adulteration management. Fitoterapia129, 401-414. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2017.11.017.

Nelson, Kathryn M, Dahlin, Jayme L, Bisson, Jonathan, Graham, James, Pauli, Guido F, Walters, Michael A. (2017). Curcumin May (Not) Defy Science. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters8, (5), 467-470. doi:10.1021/acsmedchemlett.7b00139.

Nelson, Kathryn M, Dahlin, Jayme L, Bisson, Jonathan, Graham, James, Pauli, Guido F, Walters, Michael A. (2017). The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry60, (5), 1620-1637. doi:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00975.

Professional Leadership Heading link

Ethnobotany Collaborative Group, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1/1/2021 – 4/30/2021

Pharmacognosy Institute Organizing Committee, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1/1/2021 – 4/30/2021

PCRPS organizing committee, University of Illinois at Chicago, 8/16/2017 – 12/31/2020

Education

Degrees:
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, United States, 2001
B.S., University of Pittsburgh, United States, 1994

Postgraduate Training:
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Florida International University, United States, 2004