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About ACES

Participating  Universities
& Institutes

Frostburg State University

West Virginia University


University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute

Tai Sophia Institute

The mission of the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies was to study native plants with medicinal or other useful properties, to promote the conservation of these plants and Appalachian ecosystems as a whole, to preserve Appalachian culture as it relates to wild plant harvesting and traditional use, and to promote the economic benefit to the region that may be derived from managed development of botanical resources.

Project Milestones (pdf)


  • Identify Appalachian plants with potential medicinal or other useful properties with the aim of discovering novel molecules that have therapeutic or other applications.
  • Encourage natural resource conservation by working with local families and communities to manage commercial harvesting of wild plants, cultivate economically important plants whenever possible, and create an awareness of the critical need to insure sustainability by avoiding extractive harvesting practices.
  • Preserve Appalachian culture by exploring the relationship of individuals, families, and communities to the harvesting of wild plants and documenting their traditional use of botanicals.
  • Integrate the indigenous knowledge of Central Appalachians with modern molecular tools and technologies developed at UMBI's Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, plant ecology and physiology studies at Frostburg State University and the West Virginia University Center for Wildlife Habitat and Medical School's Department of Alternative Medicine.
  • Foster economic development by collaborating with pharmaceutical companies to explore the potential for developing compounds derived from Appalachian plants for therapeutic or nutraceutical purposes, emphasizing equitable financial return to the region.
  • Validate use of herbal medicine by collaborating with federal agencies who are already attempting to elucidate the biochemistry of medicinal plants such as the NIH, NIC, NIST and NSF.
  • Facilitate the establishment of a manufacturing plant for herbal medicines and nutriceutical products in Western Maryland.
  • Involve university undergraduate and graduate students in program related research in biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, sociology, and anthropology.
  • Develop K-12 science curricula for Appalachian schools that teach scientific principles and concepts and achieve mandated learning objectives through use of regionally familiar materials and scenarios.
  • Develop online, web based education modules for public outreach and distance learning.