Professor Peter Houghton

Peter Houghton

Professor Peter Houghton

It was with great regret that we learnt of the recent, untimely death of Peter Houghton, latterly an Emeritus Professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London.

Peter was extremely well known both in the UK and world-wide as an expert in pharmacognosy and, in particular, ethnopharmacology. While Peter was himself very well-travelled, frequently visiting remote parts of the world in pursuit of his research, there were countless PhD students and other more senior researchers who travelled to the UK to benefit from his expertise and undertake research with him. Peter was well known for the supportive, cheerful and enthusiastic manner in which he interacted with everyone from students to the most senior colleagues. Indeed, by means of his evident but unassuming scholarship – mixed with a rye wit and humour – he managed to enthuse undergraduate Pharmacy students about the subject pharmacognosy at a time when it was no longer trendy.

Peter had great scientific integrity and was a brilliant communicator. He not only inspired students to follow careers in phytochemistry and pharmacognosy, but also continued to mentor them as their careers developed, becoming a valued friend to many. After retiring from King’s College London, Peter became an Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where his enthusiasm and knowledge of natural products was respected and appreciated by colleagues and students.

Before Peter took early retirement from his academic position at King’s College London in 2008 to become active in the Christian Ministry, he was a very active supporter of pharmaceutical science in the UK, and of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences (APS), in particular. He was a long-serving member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Conference Science Committee and for many years organized a pharmacognosy workshop at the British Pharmaceutical Conference. He was also widely involved in the organization of many other meetings and symposia both here and abroad. When the APS was formed in 2001, he leant great support to the initiative and became a Founding Board Member, joining the same year as the APS was formed. Peter was also the first chair of the APS’s Drugs from Natural Products Focus Group, a role he approached with the same enthusiasm as with every other enterprise that he undertook, regularly organising stand-alone meetings and always contributing to the APS’s annual conference.

While the Pharmacy profession has lost one of its greatest proponents, Peter leaves an outstanding legacy, not only in terms of his many research findings and the huge body of his written scientific output, but also the sheer number of individuals that he has taught, trained, encouraged, and mentored.

– Jayne Lawrence on behalf of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences –