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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

My research is multi-disciplinary, including ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, anallytical chemistry, microbiology and cell biology. In my project ethnopharmacological data, in other words knowledge of the traditional medicinal uses of plants in African countries, is used for increasing the possibilities of finding extracts and compounds with antimicrobial activities from the studied plants. At the moment, various human pathogenic strains of bacteria and yeasts are used for the screenings of plant extracts and compounds for their antimicrobial effects.

My first years as a teacher at the university I spent teaching systematic-ecologic botany in Department of Botany, University of Helsinki from 1993-2001. Later, starting from 2000, I have taught pharmaceutical biology, ethnopharmacology and phytotherapy at Division of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, University of Helsinki. Moreover, I have also taught about higher plants as producers of antimicrobial compounds at University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu.

Curriculum vitae

I studied systematical-ecological botany at the Botany department, University of Helsinki. At an early stage I was introduced to work on medicinal plants in Division of Pharmacognosy, University of Helsinki together with prof. Raimo Hiltunen and prof. Heikki Vuorela. Later I specialized on an African medicinal plant family, Combretaceae. For my doctoral thesis work I made an ethnopharmacological expedition to Tanzania to collect Combretum and Terminalia trees. During this trip herbalists were interviewed on traditional medicinal uses of Terminalia and Combretum species we showed them. Later, back in the laboratories in Division of Pharmaceutical Biology, University of Helsinki as well as in Folkhälsan research institute, Biomedicum the plant material was analyzed for antimicrobial effects (with my supervisors Prof. Pia Vuorela and Prof. Raimo Hiltunen) as well as for antiproliferative effects on cancer cell lines (with prof. Herman Adlercreutz). I got my doctoral degree in January 2008. In september 2008 I decided to continue this work as my postdoctoral project with the aim to characterize new antibacterial, antifungal and anti-cancer compounds from selected species of Terminalia and Combretum in collaboration with prof. Raimo Hiltunen and prof. Heikki Vuorela. Later, in 2012, I started to collaborate with prof. Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto from University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu in order to investigate extract fingerprints and molecular masses of compounds in these extracts using HPLC-DAD and HPLC-QTOF-MS. This collaboration has resulted in a number of publications on polyhenols in Combretaceae and on piperamide alkaloids in Piper guineense. During my research and teaching career in University of Helsinki I have been supervising several undergraduate students for their Master`s theses and two students for their doctoral theses. Of these doctoral students, Eunice Mgbeahuruike defended her thesis 7.6.2019 and Enass Salih defended her thesis 27.9.2019. Currently new work is planned for the project and new collaboration will start with Professor Jouko Vepsäläinen at School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio.

Fields of Science

  • 317 Pharmacy
  • Terminalia, Combretum, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, ellagitannins, stilbenes

International and National Collaboration Publications and projects within past five years.


An ethnobotanical survey and antifungal activity of Piper guineense used for the treatment of fungal infections in West-African traditional medicine

Mgbeahuruike, E. E., Holm, Y., Vuorela, H., Amandikwa, C. & Fyhrquist, P., 30 Jan 2019, In : Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 229, p. 157-166 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access

Alkaloid-Rich Crude Extracts, Fractions and Piperamide Alkaloids of Piper guineense Possess Promising Antibacterial Effects

Mgbeahuruike, E. E., Fyhrquist, P., Vuorela, H., Julkunen-Tiitto, R. & Holm, Y., Dec 2018, In : Antibiotics. 7, 4, 18 p., 98.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access


Isolation and characterization of antimicrobial compounds from African medicinal plants

Fyhrquist, P. J., Laakso, I., Vuorela, H., Julkunen-Tiitto, R., Salih, E. & Mgbeahuruike, E. E.


Project: Research project


66th Annual Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural product research

Pia Johanna Fyhrquist (Poster Presentation), Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto (Attendee), Enass Y A Salih (Poster Presentation), Eunice Mgbeahuruike (Poster Presentation)
26 Aug 201830 Aug 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

1,6-dehydropinidiinin antibakteerisuuden testaaminen hevosen pääntautia aiheuttavalla bakteerilla Streptococcus equi subsp. equi

Pia Johanna Fyhrquist (Supervisor)
Apr 2018Jun 2019

Activity: Examination typesSupervision of other thesis (Master's, Licentiate)

Evaluation of the Medicinal Uses and Antimicrobial Activity of Piper guineense (Schumach & Thonn)

Pia Johanna Fyhrquist (Co-supervisor), Heikki Vuorela (Supervisor), Yvonne Holm (Supervisor)
May 2017Dec 2018

Activity: Examination typesSupervisor or co-supervisor of doctoral thesis

XXVIII International Conference on Polyphenols

Pia Johanna Fyhrqvist (Poster Presentation), Enass Salih (Poster Presentation), Into Johannes Laakso (Attendee), Heikki Juhani Vuorela (Attendee), Riitta Julkunen-Tiitto (Attendee)
11 Jul 201615 Jul 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars