Spices and Medicine


2024 Annual Spices Symposium and UCL Frank Fish Lecture

2024 3 logos

Join us in person and online on 21 February 2024 for an afternoon of back-to-back events, the Annual UCL Spices and Medicine symposium and UCL Frank Fish Memorial Lecture.

  • Venue: John Hanbury Lecture Theatre, UCL School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, London, UK
  • Time: Spices Symposium 2-5 PM; Frank Fish Memorial Lecture 5-6 PM with reception immediately following

In-Person Registration (free):

Online Zoom Registration (free):

This event is co-hosted by the UCL School of Pharmacy, the International Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA) and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences.



2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Organisers: Banaz Jalil, Michael Heinrich

Click here for the Provisional Programme and Speakers.

The 2024 UCL Spices and Medicine annual symposium, Botanical Medicines Across Cultures and Contexts, will be held this year on 21 February 2024 at the UCL School of Pharmacy, Brunswick Square, London. Please join us in person or via Zoom for a lively afternoon of talks, poster presentations, and Q&As, with networking/discussion in the Square Lounge. This year's symposium aims to provide a taste of botanical historical traditions and scientific research from around the world. Talks will include works on Cameroon, the Philippines, Chile, and Vietnam, as well as new insights for plant genera of more familiar herbal products like Hypericum (the genus including St. John’s Wort) and Lavendula (lavender). 

UCL 10th Annual Frank Fish Lecture

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM, Reception to immediately follow

Title: ‘Are herbal medicines just Placebos? Or could they help to overcome the UK's major health challenges?’

Speaker: Dr. Merlin Willcox, Clinical Lecturer, Primary Care Research Centre, University of Southampton

Abstract: In his presentation, Dr Willcox will reflect on his experiences in research and practice on herbal medicines. Are they just placebos? A core challenge today is antibiotic resistance. Can herbal medicines help in reducing the risk of resistance spreading further and what is needed to achieve this? Similarly, can herbal medicines help in the prevention or treatment of chronic life-style related diseases? What roles should medical doctors, pharmacists and nurses play? More general, this presentation will focus on the potential of herbal medicines and on the bottlenecks for a more systematic use of these complex mixtures. Herbal medicines continue to be widely used by many from the seriously ill to the ‘’worried well’’ and it is therefore essential that these products, like all medicines, are a focus of research within the UK and that health care professionals can provide informed evidence-based advice on their use.

About the Speaker: Dr Willcox is both a clinical lecturer at the University of Southampton and a practicing GP. Since 2003 he has worked as a GP in the NHS and currently works in a practice in Oxford as well as in the Out of Hours service. He is particularly well known for research on traditional (esp. herbal) medicines in Africa focussing on clinical developments of antimalarial agents derived from plants, and for his research on diverse aspects of herbal medicines and their efficacy in the UK. His research interests include global health, clinical trials of herbal medicines, and improving care for vulnerable people. Dr Willcox has researched different aspects of primary health care in low-income countries, with a particular focus on child health, malaria and traditional medicines. He has been involved in several clinical trials of herbal medicines in Uganda, Madagascar, Mali, China and the UK. In the UK, these include trials of herbal medicines for urinary tract infections, acute bronchitis and acute exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.