CENAPT - University of Illinois at Chicago

Center for Natural Products Technologies

The Center for Natural Products Technologies (CENAPT) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) serves as a national resource and provides leadership for the advancement of innovative technologies and methods used in natural product (NP) research.

Under the U41 program, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the CENAPT at UIC aims at coordinating and disseminating modern methodologies and developing best practices for interdisciplinary NP research. CENAPT research activities support this mission by developing, adapting, and sharing cutting edge approaches for the characterization of botanical and other NPs.

This integrated program is dedicated to be a unique resource maintained within the highly interdisciplinary pharmacognosy research environment at UIC, and will be made broadly available for translational clinical research involving botanicals and other natural products such as in mechanistic studies, pharmacology/toxicology, and drug discovery program.

Structure of the center

What are our objectives?

The main objective of the CENAPT activities is to provide access to advanced technologies and resources that can help the NP research communities in finding solutions, overcoming methodological obstacles, and connecting scientists studying NPs in interdisciplinary programs with state-of-the-art methodologies.

For that purpose, the CENAPT seeks to establish synergistic interactions, through collaborations with the research teams of the U41 Centers, NP investigators of the Botanical Research Centers (P50) and other NIH-funded NP research programs, as well as external experts.

How is our center organized?

Our Center is focused on the coordination and dissemination of NP research and technologies in line with our three research themes, as described below: (1) separation technologies for NPs, (2) structural and purity analysis of NPs, and (3) biomedical mass spectrometry of NPs.

Scientific coordination and dissemination (C&D):

  • The scientific dissemination aims at supporting the communication and diffusion of information on NP research and innovative technologies, broadly as well as in line with our three research themes. The dissemination will be performed both through our website and via organization of and active participation in scientific events. To this end, this website will offer a list of international conferences, workshops, and research articles published by our team.

  • The scientific coordination aims at encouraging a synergistic interaction between the collaborative NP research centers, in line with our three research themes, through efficient communication and technology sharing.

Objectives of the research theme 1: Separation technologies for NPs

  • To develop countercurrent separation (CS) methods for the production of characterized knock-out NP extracts

  • To develop standardized protocols for the extraction and fractionation of botanicals and other NPs

Objectives of the research theme 2: Structural and purity analysis of NPs

  • To develop a new class of inorganic metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for the crystallization and X-ray structure determination of NPs that otherwise are difficult to crystallize

  • To determine the purity profile of purified NPs by quantitative NMR (qNMR) and, to the extent possible, identify residual complexity.

Objectives of the research theme 3: Biomedical mass spectrometry for NPs

  • To provide a means of fast dereplication of NPs using high resolution UHPLC-MS/MS.

Natural Product Research Challenges

Who are our collaborators?

The Botanical Research Centers (BRCs) under the NIH/NCCIH and ODS P50 program:

  • Louisiana State University (LSU)/Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC), Baton Rouge (LA)

    • PI: William T. Cefalu
    • Project title: Botanicals and Metabolic Resiliency
    • Center website
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mont Sinai, New York (NY)

    • PI: Giulio M. Pasinetti
    • Project title: Dietary Botanicals in the Preservation of Cognitive and Psychological Resilience
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago (IL)

    • PI: Richard van Breemen
    • Project title: Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women’s Health
    • Center website:

The Center for Advancing Natural Products Innovation and Technology under the NIH/NCCIH and ODS U41 program:

  • University of Texas Southwestern (UTS) Medical Center

    • PI: John B. MacMillan
    • Project title: Center for High-Throughput Functional Annotation of Natural Products
    • Center website: