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Ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave featured as CNN ‘Champion for Change’
cassandra quave

The CNN primetime special, airing May 18 at 9 p.m. ET, features footage of Cassandra Quave and her students gathering plants in south Georgia and in her labs on the Emory campus.

CNN named Emory University ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave one of its Champions for Change for 2024, citing her “state-of-the-art approach to the study of medicinal plants.”

For the past eight years, CNN has annually featured what the network describes as “the extraordinary stories of pioneers who are driving us towards a brighter future and changing the world.”

Hosted by Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, the primetime special event will air Saturday, May 18, at 9 p.m. ET.

Quave is the Thomas J. Lawley, MD Professor of Dermatology, with a joint appointment as associate professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology and Emory’s Center for the Study of Human Health. She serves as assistant dean of research cores for the School of Medicine and is curator of the Emory University Herbarium, a 75-year-old natural history museum.

As an ethnobotanist, Quave studies the traditional use of medicinal plants to discover antimicrobial compounds that could be developed for modern medicine.

“Over a million people die every year due to untreatable infections,” she explains. “So I’ve dedicated my life to searching for new medicines from nature to combat the worst of these drug-resistant infections.”

The segment includes scenes of Quave and her students at work in her labs on the Emory campus and collecting plants at a research field station in south Georgia.

The CNN crew traveled to Washington D.C. to gather insights from Craig Hopp, deputy director of the division of intramural research for the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

“We could see a scenario in 10, 20, 30 years where many infections are not responsive to any type of antibiotic,” Hopp says. “For that reason, Dr. Quave’s work is essential to help prevent that from happening.”

Quave is among 14 of this year’s Champions for Change, including leaders from across the nation in medicine, business, environmental science, the arts and nonprofit advocacy.

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