Aurélie de Rus Jacquet - Ethnopharmacologist

Harnessing the Power of Plants to Prevent, Heal and Cure Diseases.

Aurelie1.jpegWhen Aurélie de Rus Jacquet was 14 years old, she knew she wanted to study how people across the world used plants in their culture to cure illness and heal injuries. She didn’t know the name of this career until her father gave her an article about pioneering ethnopharmacologist Pierre Cabalion – and she never could have imagined she would one day intern in the same institute.

Aurélie is fascinated by the connection between people and plants. She knows that for centuries humans have turned to the plant world to solve some of the most challenging issues – including the spread of illness and the onslaught of disease. Her current work focuses specifically on finding plant-based cures for Parkinson’s disease.

“Throughout history, cultures and tribes have identified plants that help them cure illness. As we tackle modern health issues, we can learn a lot by studying their methods and botanicals, and hopefully find plant based-cures for the diseases that are plaguing us today.”

Raised in France, Aurélie pursued her education first at the Ecole d'Ingenieurs de Purpan in Toulouse. When seeking out a graduate program, she found her way to Purdue University in Indiana. Her studies allowed her to travel the world to interview people about the medicinal plants they use in their culture -  then return to school to study those findings in the lab. When asked about her career path, she notes that it is a multi-disciplinary field requiring training and education in the life sciences, botany, chemistry, anthropology, and laboratory methods.

 “Ethnomedicine is the study of the traditional medicine based on bioactive compounds in plants and practiced by various ethnic groups, especially those with little access to western medicines. Ethnopharmacologists are scientists who study plant-based medicines, while ethnobotanists study a broader use of plants (culinary, cosmetic, to make tools etc.) .”

Aurelie4.jpgAfter receiving her Ph.D. (her dissertation was on Nepalese and Native American traditional medicine), she enjoyed post-doctoral fellowships in Washington and Virginia. She is now beginning work in a new lab at Laval University in Québec City, Canada.

When asked why horticulture is important to the world, she spoke to us with great passion that plants connect everyone. “Everyone needs to eat, everyone needs plants – we simply cannot live without plants.”  She said that people have used plants for thousands of years to help soothe, heal and cure – with non-plant-based pharmaceuticals being a fairly new development. She believes that by learning from native cultures around the world, then testing and validating in the lab, we can find the answers to many of the issues plaguing human health.

Aurélie’s favorite plant shows her commitment to this concept. She is a fan of red clover, Trifolium pratense - a herbaceous species of flowering plant in the bean family. She says that people around the world are eradicating it from their lawns, but it has some proven medicinal properties similar to soybean compounds that may well hold the key to a myriad of medical issues – all of which need to be studied and validated in the lab. This is the work of an ethnopharmacologist.

We here at Seed Your Future are fortunate to have Aurélie as a member of our Advisory Council. Her commitment to solving the world’s health issues is clear. We need more people working on these solutions. It is for these reasons that Aurélie de Rus Jacquet, Ph.D. is our latest horticulture hero!   


- Every day, the plant world is quietly led by horticulture heroes and plant champions who make an enormous impact on our lives and the future of the planet. Seed Your Future aims to share their stories, promote horticulture, and inspire more people to pursue careers working with plants. If you would like to recommend someone to be featured, submit their story!
-Interested in other Horticulture Heroes and Plant Champions?  Read all of their stories on our Seed Your Future Horticulture Heroes and Plant Champions Page.
Photo Credits: Aurélie de Rus Jacquet, Ph.D.