April 20, 2009

Fantegrossi, Bill
Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Department


Project Summary

The major challenge which presented itself during development of this course was not knowing which department would ultimately offer the class. Being a faculty member of the Yerkes center gives me little interaction with main campus, and though we are working towards an Emory Assistant Professor appointment for the coming Spring semester, it has not yet been decided whether this appointment will be in the department of Pharmacology or Psychology. The content of this course depends in large part on where I end up. For example, I have planned to spend two classes talking about basic principles of pharmacology, but this will be unnecessary if pharmacology graduate students are enrolled! Likewise, there is a fairly heavy reliance on primary scientific literature, which may prove too much for psychology undergraduates.

A somewhat lesser obstacle was choice of textbook. The field of pharmacognosy remains relatively fractured, so books are either too chemistry-based or too sociology oriented for my intended purposes. Furthermore, many of these texts retain the ancient herbalist tradition of including color plates illustrating the various plants. This is visually pleasing, but increases the cost of these books quite a bit. As the purchase of textbooks is an economic decision, I prefer to find inexpensive texts, where possible. In the end I decided on two books. Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy by M. Heinrich et al. is especially strong in the history and scientific rationale of natural products, but The Constituents of Medicinal Plants by A. Pengelly excells in explaining the chemistry of these compounds in an easy to understand manner.

The coursepack readings were relatively easy to assemble. One of my goals for this course is to engage the students in primary scientific literature. I chose natural plant products which I believe are familiar or interesting – some articles are scientific reviews, while others are research reports. These articles will be used to bolster more discussion-based class sessions, where students will have the opportunity to consider real world applications of the principles they will be exploring throughout the semester.

Course Syllabus attached.

Download: Fantegrossi_2005.pdf (169.2 KB)

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