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Amy Howell
Associate Research Scientist
ahowell@aesop.rutgers.edu

Amy is an associate research scientist at the Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center, where she works on isolating natural products from cranberries and blueberries that benefit health. Since 1993, Amy has been engaged in research aimed at identifying the active compounds in cranberries that prevent urinary tract infections and determining their role in maintenance of urinary tract health.

Amy and her team isolated specific compounds from cranberry fruit, called condensed tannins or proanthocyanidins (PACs), which were found to prevent E. coli bacteria from attaching to cells from the urinary tract.  This work was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1998.  In a subsequent publication in The Journal of the American Medical Association, she reported on cranberry’s role in preventing antibiotic resistant bacteria from colonizing the urinary tract.  Her work on identification of the unique molecular structures of the beneficial cranberry PACs has been published in both Phytochemistry and the Journal of Natural Products. Other projects include studying the pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of the cranberry PACs in an effort to determine site(s) of action and dose-response. 

Amy currently receives funding from NIH/NCCAM to determine the bioactive urinary metabolites following cranberry ingestion and serves as a co-investigator on two clinical trials involving the use of cranberry for prevention of urinary tract infections. She is also funded through CSREES to identify antimicrobial compounds in blueberries and cranberries that contribute to host-resistance and human medicinal activity. Amy serves as a board member on the US Highbush Blueberry Council.