Pharmacognosy is the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of crude extracts, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin. It also involves the search for new drugs from natural sources.
History of the Thematic Unit of Pharmacognosy
The thematic unit of Pharmacognosy is part of the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy which was created in 1995 when the Faculty of Pharmacy was created out of the then Faculty of Medicine. Prior to this time, it existed as a course unit under the Department of Pharmacy which was created in 1974.
Pharmacognosy is one of the core disciplines for undergraduate pharmacy students pursuing the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. These students are taught over a period of three years.
In addition, the thematic unit provides training to post graduate students pursuing the Master of Science in Pharmacognosy and Complementary Medicine.
Research and Projects
In the fourth year of undergraduate studies, students are expected to carry out a research project over a period of one year that leads to a dissertation. The thematic unit supports student’s research by providing facilities to carry out studies on effects of plant extracts and other natural products on physiological systems, isolated organs and whole laboratory animals.
Research and Consultancy
The thematic unit also runs the The Mitishamba Drug Research Center (MDRC), which provides consultancy services to Kenyan herbalists on the safety and effectiveness of their preparations.
All alumni of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics thematic unit can specialize (through post-graduate training) in:
- Complementary medicine
They may also pursue careers in academia and institutions involved in natural product research.