Dr. Amy B. Howell is an associate research scientist at the Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University, where she works on isolating natural products from cranberries and blueberries that benefit health. Since 1993, Dr. Howell 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.
Dr. Howell and her team isolated specific compounds from cranberry fruit, called condensed tannins or proanthocyanidins, which were found to be capable of preventing 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 potential role in preventing antibiotic resistant bacteria from colonizing the urinary tract. Her work on identification of the unique molecular structures of the beneficial cranberry tannins has been published in both Phytochemistry and the Journal of Natural Products. Other projects include studying the pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of the cranberry tannins in an effort to determine site(s) of action and dose-response. Recently, Dr. Howell received funding from NIH/NCCAM to determine the bioactive urinary metabolites following cranberry ingestion and to serve as a co-investigator on two clinical trials involving the use of cranberry for prevention of urinary tract infections. She has presented her research findings at numerous professional meetings in the U.S. and internationally.
Dr. Howell serves as a board member on both the US Highbush Blueberry Council and Tharos, Inc. She is a scientific expert and media liaison for the International Food Information Council on Food Safety and Nutrition, and a member of the Media Speakers Bureau for the Cranberry Marketing Committee.