Studying Biodiversity in Lebanon and the Region
|Participants at the conference
The IBSAR team held a conference in College Hall in May to create awareness
on campus about the value of biodiversity to human life, and to inform
the university community on how IBSAR is contributing to active research
at AUB. IBSAR, which stands for the Initiative for Biodiversity Studies
in Arid Regions, was founded in January 2003 by a group of faculty members
to address the issue of how humans can sustain, conserve, and utilize
biodiversity (a term used to describe all living organisms). In 2005,
IBSAR formed an interfaculty biodiversity center at AUB to develop interest
and involvement in its work by more members of the faculty.
The lunch that was served at the conference consisted of dishes made with
wild edible plants to emphasis the value of dietary diversity in poor
communities. A video film projection was also similarly enlightening;
it showed people in rural areas generating income by cooking and selling
foods made from wild plants.
The video also showed regions in Lebanon where wild plants are found and
grown for their medicinal properties-some, for example, are antimicrobiatic
and others can fight cancer. IBSAR is conducting clinical research to
determine which plants have preventive properties against disease. According
to Dr. Othman Mohamad, the research is undertaken in three stages. In
the first, "in vivo" stage, the naturally occurring herbs are
tested on rats and other animals. In the second, "in vitro"
stage, where the core scientific work occurs, the herbs are tested on
tissues and cells. In the final stage, the herbs are tried on humans,
if they are found to be safe.
A study currently being worked on at the clinic is concentrated on treating
diabetes, mainly in men who are obese and have high levels of insulin.
The goal is to determine which herbs can decrease the levels of insulin,
glucose, and lipids in the blood. Another study being conducted is on
the use of herbs to prevent the recurrence of warts after initial excision
of the warts.