Amy Howell, PhD is an Associate Research Scientist (Emeritis) at the Marucci Center for Blueberry Cranberry Research. She has a background in plant science and pathology and her program targets utilizing cranberry for prevention and management of bacterial diseases, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), stomach ulcers, and periodontal disease. She is keen to have consumers utilize more natural alternative methods, such as cranberry for disease prevention in an effort to curb overuse of antibiotics and resistance development. Her primary research focus has been on isolating polyphenolic compounds from cranberry and determining their role in prevention of UTIs. She studies the pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of the structurally unique cranberry proanthocyanidins in an effort to determine site(s) of action and dose-response, as well as the influence of cranberry on enhancing the potency of antibiotics. She regularly collaborates in clinical trials on cranberry consumption and UTI prevention. Other projects include development of cranberry supplements for both human and canine urinary health, and anti-cancer, anti-viral and oral cavity health studies utilizing cranberry.
Howell is very involved in method development for powdered cranberry supplements, working closely with regulatory teams from AOAC and USP (US Pharmacopoeia) to determine standard methods for quantification of the bioactive compounds in cranberries. USP determines FDA-enforceable quality standards for drugs and dietary supplements. This is extremely important given the variability in efficacy and frequent adulteration of cranberry products.
Howell actively supports the cranberry and blueberry industries and trade associations by educating consumers and healthcare professionals through seminar presentations on health attributes of the fruits. She has travelled to over 20 countries on international trade missions to present the latest findings on health-related research. She regularly travels as part of a team to China and India under the Global Based Initiative (GBI), a program funded by USDA and the Foreign Agricultural Service to introduce cranberries overseas. She serves on the USDA-sanctioned US Highbush Blueberry Council as the Public Member, helping determine funding for health-related research on blueberries.