AFTER receiving a prestigious award for her study on the medicinal use of pandan leaves, the University’s vice rector for research and innovation seeks to develop pharmaceutical products out of the plant.
Maribel Nonato was given the Gregorio Y. Zara Award for Basic Science Research last Sept. 23 in a joint symposium by the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology and the Asian Heads of Research Councils.
Her study focused on the different structures of alkaloids, a common chemical compound used for pharmaceuticals, in the pandan plant.
“We discovered a novel structure of alkaloid so we are now trying to establish its medicinal use,” Nonato told the Varsitarian.
Nonato, dubbed the “Pandan Queen,” also said she wanted to pursue a taxonomical classification of the pandan plant to contribute to the field of botany.
There are about 450 species of Pandanus. Fifty-two are found in the Philippines, 20 of them endemic, Nonato said.
“There is no botanist in the Philippines kaya ‘yung identification ng pandan is very difficult,” she said, adding that there would be no proper botanical research if plants were not identified properly.
Nonato’s study has prompted more research on the pandan species native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.