Skip to main content

Network Pharmacology and Natural Products

Date: December 2, 2015 - 1:00 p.m. ET to 3:45 p.m. ET


Event Description

NCCIH will hold a webinar on the topic of network pharmacology and natural products.  The purpose of the webinar is to discuss new technology that has the potential to elucidate how natural products impact biological networks. The Center is seeking input on focus areas to strengthen NCCIH’s natural products research portfolio.


People consume a wide variety of natural products daily either through their diet or via dietary supplements. Individually and collectively, these compounds act on a wide range of biological targets with varying degrees of potency. Recent literature suggests that pharmaceuticals designed to be highly selective toward single targets may sometimes be less effective than multitarget drugs due to the phenotypic robustness of many biological systems. Because of this phenotypic robustness, it may be necessary to perturb multiple points in a biological pathway in order to elicit the desired response. The term “network pharmacology” has been coined to describe the web of biologic targets for any bioactive substance and has emerged as a new transdisciplinary field of research in the omics era.

Webinar Discussion Points

  1. How can the strategies of network pharmacology applied to natural products provide:
    • Better understanding of the overlapping biologic pathways and targets that result in development and persistence of chronic conditions (especially pain)?
    • Characterization of natural products, either known or novel, singly or in combination, with potential to modulate biological networks?
  2. What are the factors to consider when applying this approach to specific conditions versus more agnostic and “exploratory” topics including developing broader data sets of bio-activity for a large array of natural products (e.g. LINCS)?
  3. Tools to unravel complex mechanisms of action for natural products.
  4. How can these techniques help identify “biologic signatures” that might ultimately be helpful in clinical studies of natural products?
  5. Barriers for implementation in the natural products community.
  6. Considering the requirements of expertise and resources along the continuum from single omics to multi omics through multi-scale, systems level modeling, where is the field of natural products research best positioned to make significant advances as it relates to network pharmacology?

Expected Outcome

NCCIH seeks input from experts in the field and stakeholders to determine how new tools and approaches allow for better understanding of network pharmacology, and with potentially greater sensitivity to detect the subtle effects often attributed to natural products. NCCIH has an interest in learning how these powerful bioinformatic tools can be applied to the study of natural products. The expectation is that leveraging these tools towards research on natural products will provide a more complete picture regarding their mechanism of action (i.e., a biological signature) than is achieved through the more standard practice of studying natural products in single target assays


Guido F. Pauli, Pharm.D., Ph.D. (Meeting Chair)
Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago

Peter Sorger, Ph.D.
Otto Krayer Professor, Department of Systems Pharmacology
Head of the Harvard Program in Therapeutic Sciences - HiTS
Harvard Medical School

John MacMillan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Chilton/Bell Scholar in Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry 
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Roger Linington, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Canada Research Chair in High-Throughput Screening and Chemical Biology
Department of Chemistry
Simon Fraser University (Canada)


Please register to participate via Webex on December 2, 2015. After your request has been approved, you'll receive instructions for joining the webinar. If you already registered for this meeting, you do not need to register again.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Julia Berzhanskaya