In Memoriam Prof Peter Houghton (London)

Fecha de publicación: 08/05/2024
Fuente: Society for Medicinal Plants Research
Lugar: News
On 25.04.2024 Prof Peter Houghton, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacognosy at Kings College London, passed away at the age of 77 following a stroke. He had recovered well from melanoma which had also spread to the brain, but then further health challenges developed.
As a pharmacist he was passionate about medicines especially everything related to plants, but he also had a great love for elephants. More importantly, he was one of the most caring and supportive academic teacher one can imagine. In 2008 he took early retirement and became a vicar of the Church of England, a role he fulfilled with as much love and dedication as he did previously as an academic. In the last years his wife Joan and he lived in Hereford in the East of England, where he continued to work as a vicar, until he retired from this position, too.
Peter came to London to study pharmacy at the Chelsea College (of Pharmacy), which was later merged into Kings College London and in 1968 graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) After his pre-registration training as a pharmacist in Cambridge, Peter returned Chelsea College and developed a career working at the college and later King’s College (and on planes to all remoter regions of the world). In 1973 he was awarded his PhD and since 1972 lectured and undertook research in pharmacognosy and specifically ethnopharmacology. He was made Professor in Pharmacognosy in 1999 and in December 1994 was designated a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) and became a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. For many years he served as an editor of the journals ‘Pharmaceutical Biology’ and the ‘Journal of Ethnopharmacology’ until 2008, he was a board member of the GA. He was a president and long-term treasurer of the International Society for Ethnopharmacology
A publication record says a lot and he supervised numerous PhD students who went to positions all over the world. With over 250 research papers and reviews on the chemistry and biological activity of plants and their metabolites, he is very widely recognised in the field, but at this moment we remember him as a wonderful person and colleague. Many of my former PhD. students remember him as a warm, meticulous and very supportive (external) examiner during their PhD viva.
In Amala Soumyanath’s (nee Raman) words (Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, USA): ‘Needless to say, Peter was a great mentor to me during my early days as a faculty member [at Kings College]. During the period 1990 to 2002, Peter and I worked to modernize the pharmacognosy curriculum to meet these pressures and adapt to the changing role of the pharmacist (including advising on botanical OTC products) and  pharmacy education (BPharm to MPharm).’
Here some further personal snippets and recollections:
Namrita Lall (University of Pretoria, South Africa): ‘I will always remember him for his kindness. His advice and insights have been instrumental for the career growth for many of us and I am deeply grateful for the time and effort he invested in mentoring myself and also my students.’
Pulok Mukherjee (Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development – IBSD, Imphal, India): ‘He was my mentor, guide and a very wonderful friend. I have known him for over 25 years- we first met at Leiden,  and later on I worked with him at Kings College Waterloo Campus as a Commonwealth Fellow. His company will be deeply missed , so inspiring always and helped a lot to many academics in India. We have very big groups of his students who are in different positions.’
Doug Kinghorn (Univ. Ohio, USA): ‘During his career, he made substantial phytochemical contributions to ethnopharmacology, and was an accomplished scientific writer. I had the pleasure of his company when returning to London from the joint GA-SIF Congress held in Florence, Italy, in 2005, and I found him to be a delightful traveling companion.’
Judith Rollinger (University of Vienna, Austria): ‘I remember well – some 17 years ago – he invited me for a lecture in his department at Kings College London. It was such a kind and warm-hearty meeting with an excellent scientist and lovely person.’
So many more personal recollections could be included, and I personally just want to add, that without this great generous and wonderful colleague, I presumably would not have moved to London with my family. I  will never forget, in late 1998 he told me that a position was opening at ‘The Square’ (School of Pharmacy, Univ. London, at the time) and a few weeks later he sent a fax with the advert writing: ‘Don’t be surprised if we meet at the interview, since it has been advertised at such a senior level, that, I, too, will apply.’ We both applied, and after I moved to London, we were close collaborators and friends until his untimely death
What a great heart, brain, and spirit. Not only elephants are recognized for their wisdom, strength, and great courage. Yes, we miss him.
Der Beitrag In Memoriam Prof Peter Houghton (London) erschien zuerst auf Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA).