Associate Director: Sustainable Development
James E. Simon is a Professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Plant Pathology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Simon also serves as the Director of the New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program, Rutgers University, which seeks to identify new crop opportunities, new applications of bioactive and nutritious plant compounds and new products from fruits, vegetables and herbs. He is a Member of both the Graduate Faculty in both Plant Biology and the Graduate Faculty in Medicinal Chemistry. Simon’s research and development efforts focus on plant genetics, genetic diversity, plant breeding, natural products discovery and characterization, sustainable development and new crop introduction, botanical standardization and quality control of botanicals and phytopharmaceuticals.
Since 1994, Simon has been conducting collaborative research in sub-Sahara Africa, initially under a National Cancer Institute Master Agreement Research License for the Large-Scale Production of Biomass for the Isolation of Agents from Natural Sources, and later in 1999 was a cofounder of Agri-Business in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP, www.asnapp.org). Today, Simon continues to serve in the ASNAPP initiative and as the PI for Partnerships in Food Industry Development for Natural Products, a USAID funded program. These efforts are to commercialize natural products in Africa for small African farmers and processors in sub-Sahara Africa using a market-driven and scientific model of development for which ASNAPP serves as the coordinating and implementing partner in Africa (www.pfidnp.org).
Simon also leads the botanical core in the NIH sponsored NCCAM National Botanical Center on Age Related Diseases (2000-2010) led by Purdue University and University of Alabama. Simon also co-leads the botanical core with Purdue University in the NIH sponsored Center of Excellence for Research (CERC) for Alzheimer’s disease with an emphasis on the protective role grape derived polyphenolic compounds that is led by Mt. Sinai Medical School (2007-2012).
Simon’s work and his team bring together in a holistic manner natural products from the woodlands and fields to final product development with a focus on natural products chemistry, compound isolation and identification, quality control and botanical authentication. Simon’s medicinal and aromatic plant breeding lines and genetic resources developed at Rutgers are being shared and evaluated in several African countries with the intent that developed new lines will be done in concert with collaborating African scientists and colleagues at their participating institutions and organizations.