A Collaborative Program Between the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Traditional Medicine Research Center of Laos in the Study of Lao Medical Plants
Djaja D. Soejarto
*,**, Bounhong Southavong***, Kongmany Sydara***, Somsanith Bouamanivong***, Mary C. Riley*, Amey Libman*, Marian R. Kadushin**, Charlotte Gyllenhaal*

*Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (PCRPS), College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 833 S. Wood St., Chicago, IL 60612 and **Department of Botany, Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
Traditional Medicine Research Center, Ministry of Health, Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic


In 1996, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) initiated an informal scientific cooperation in the study of medicinal plants of Laos with the Traditional Medicine Research Center (TMRC), Vientiane. This cooperation was strengthened in 1998, when TMRC joined the UIC-based International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) consortium to undertake "Studies on Biodiversity of Vietnam and Laos". The ICBG is a program administered by the Fogarty International Center, through funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (FAS USDA). The ICBG Program is an experiment by the US government in the implementation of the terms of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), whereby researchers in developed countries collaborate in the studies of the biological diversity of biodiversity-rich countries, sharing the benefits in the process and, in the event of the commercialization of a product(s), in an equitable manner. As a member of the UIC-based ICBG consortium, TMRC has been able to strengthen its human and institutional resources, to allow this institution to (1) establish the Lao Biodiversity Fund (LBF), (2) continue to provide infrastructure support to communities throughout Laos, (3) continue country-wide survey to inventory Lao medicinal plants through interviews with village healers and members of the communities at large, (4) establish a Lao Medicinal Plant Database in conjunction with the strengthening of its herbarium collection holding as a material documentation, (5) develop education outreach programs at the village level, (6) inventory and protect Lao traditional medicinal knowledge, (7) establish a Medicinal Plant Preserve (in situ medicinal plant conservation site), and (8) continue collaboration in the laboratory analysis and bioassay of medicinal plants collected in Laos. Support of NIH Grant 1 UO1 TW01015 01, 1998-2003, is gratefully acknowledged.