MARK J. PLOTKIN: Rainforest Conservation & The Search for New Jungle Medicine, September 16, 2011, 7:30PM, The Hotchkiss School, Walker Auditorium, Lakeville, CT.

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Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. Ethnobotanist, Author and President of the Amazon Coservation Team.

Profile writers compare Mark Plotkin to Indiana Jones and some colleagues call him the Carl Sagan of the rain forest. Plotkin has followed tribal medicine men or shamans into the deep forests to learn about the herbs and vines they use. He has witnessed their amazing cures derived from bark, sap, and trail-side herbs. He is convinced the major threat to our species is from drug resistant bacteria, and that the source of almost all classes of antibiotics has been from natural resources.

Plotkin says we have to protect biodiversity and cultural diversity because we have a lot to learn from the thousands of years of experience passed on by the shamans. He talks about potential pain killers that may be developed from cone snails, snake venom, or frog skin poison, as well as treatments for cancer derived from marine organisms and new antibiotics from natural resources.

Mark Plotkin earned his academic credits at Harvard, Yale and Tufts. His books Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice and Medicine Quest make fascinating reading about the search for new medicines in the jungles, coral reefs, deserts and deep sea vents of the world.