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USP Emeritus Professor receives Life time Research Award

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USP Emeritus Professor Subramaniam Sotheeswaran

Emeritus Professor at The University of the South Pacific (USP) Subramaniam Sotheeswaran recently received a Life Time Research Award from the Asian Symposium for Medicinal Plants, Spices and other Natural Products (ASOMPS XVI) at its International Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Professor Sotheeswaran joined the USP in January 1986 and worked on the plant, kava (Piper methysticum), used by the local people to make a relaxing drink. Kava was also an export crop in great demand in Western Europe. Germany banned the import of kava because of claims that liver toxicity was caused by kava. This affected the economy of many South Pacific Island nations.

Professor Sotheeswaran made representations in Europe pointing out that research had revealed that the kava pills used by the Germans as a sedative had a higher content of active kava compounds because of the potent solutions used during extraction. The kava consumed in the South Pacific for millennia is a water extract.

Professor Sotheeswaran was invited to co-author a World Health Organization (WHO) publication titled “Assessment of the Risk of Hepatotoxicity with Kava Products”, which helped ease the kava import ban in Europe.

He also collaborated with a Professor in Canada and published his work on the anti-HIV properties of the seed oils of a tropical plant. Professor Sotheeswaran’s work was also included in the preparation of noni beer with the help of some students from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE).

Whilst at USP, Professor Sotheeswaran supervised the postgraduate research work of many students who obtained their postgraduate degrees before retiring from USP in April 2009.

Before joining USP, Professor Sotheeswaran was a collaborator in two research programmes funded by the WHO in Geneva, on antifertility agents from tropical plants and also on the synthesis of male antifertility agents.

In recognition of his research work during 1979-2015, the Asian Symposium for Medicinal Plants, Spices and other Natural Products (ASOMPS XVI) awarded him the Life Time Research Award in December 2018.

This news item was published on 21 Jan 2019 09:33:24 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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