Potential of Colombian Biodiversity for the Discovery of New Molecules with Medicinal and Cosmetic Applications

About the speaker

Dr. Federico Padilla PhD is a researcher at the Commercial Phytochemistry Unit (CPU) of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, his role involves the identification and authentication of plant extracts used in a range of products commercialized by multinational companies. As world authority in plants and fungi, Kew plays an essential role in setting the authentication standards of plant-based products, ensuring the trade of the correct species with the right chemistry that support their use. He obtained a BS degree in Biology at the Javeriana University in Colombia (2010), and a master’s and doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences with emphasis in natural products chemistry from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, among others. During his master’s and PhD studies he studied the chemical diversity of a group of Colombian plants commonly known as frailejones (Espeletiinae, Asteraceae). Despite being listed as one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Colombia and its biodiversity is still a largely unexplored territory.

The diversity of chemical compounds of natural origin fulfil a series of key functions for plants, which due to their diverse functions find application in human medicine, nutrition and cosmetics. For example, in the area of cancer alone, close to 50% of the new drugs approved by the FDA between the years 1940s and 2014 are of natural origin or directly derived from them. Studies suggest that the enormous diversity of life forms found in Colombia is also reflected in the diversity of chemical compounds they produce. This potential, often ignored by national and international authorities, can contribute to the sustainable development of the country and its transition to a “green” economy.