Overcoming some of the most painful, common, and deadly human diseases is at the core of Howard Grimes’ innovative research on plants. His efforts in plant biochemistry and human health offer new hope for predicting, treating, and preventing such debilitating illnesses as arthritis, obesity, and malnutrition and more pernicious killers, including cancer, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and starvation.

Dean of the Graduate School and professor of molecular plant science, Dr. Grimes has found potential plant sources for new drugs to block viruses and infections, alleviate pain, and heal wounds. His studies on enzymes involved in plant metabolism and nutrient transport could lead to more effective treatments for inflammation-related diseases in humans. Aspects of his research also directly impact plant productivity and are important targets for genetic manipulation.

From apples to grapes to flax seeds and creosote bushes, a variety of plants hold secrets to improving human health on a global scale.

So how many apples a day will keep the doctor away? And is a daily glass of wine really heart-healthy advice?

What we eat can put us at serious risk for disease when common plant-derived molecules in our food act on our DNA in certain ways, says Dr. Grimes. But specialized diets based on a potent combination of “personalized medicine” with plant metabolomics could soon be used to treat, mitigate, and even prevent our most feared ailments.


Featuring: Howard Grimes, Ph.D.

Howard Grimes is dean of the Graduate School, professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences, and co-chair of the plant physiology program at WSU. His research is focused on the biochemistry of membrane transport proteins and the structure, function, and regulation of lipoxygenases–enzymes involved in lipid metabolism and in the generation of a wide array of signaling molecules. Dr. Grimes is a member of the training faculty for an interdisciplinary program in protein chemistry funded by the National Institutes of Health and maintains an active, funded laboratory at WSU Pullman. His current research is aimed at genomic and metabolomic probing of the nutrient mobilization pathways in plants and discovery of new drugs for lipoxygenase inhibition and treatment of inflammation-related diseases.