Brian Doyle


Associate Professor of Biology and Biochemistry, Chair of Biotechnology


Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Pharmacognosy, University of Illinois at Chicago (2008)
  • B.S., Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2002)


Associate Professor

My career at Alma began in


My expertise:

1. Mid-Michigan medicinal plants. Over the past several years we have been collecting plants from the Alma College Ecological Station and building a library of plant extracts for biological and chemical analysis. Many of these plants have been used in Native American traditional medicine to treat a wide range of ailments, and some of them are sources of modern pharmaceutical drugs. We have been exploring the pharmacological effects of these plants related to inflammatory diseases, cancer, metabolic disorders, DNA damage, and others using molecular and cell-based assays.

2. Biosensors for medicinal plant research. In collaboration with the Mechanical Engineering Department at Bradley University, Peoria, IL, we are developing a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) biosensor for detecting biological activity in medicinal plants. We have also been using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) that operates on a similar principle to detect the interaction between plant extracts and drug target proteins.

3. Medical ethnobotany in the Amazon. Over the last several years we have been documenting the traditional medicine of a Kichwa community in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The community of San Jose de Payamino, like other vulnerable indigenous communities in the Amazon, depends on plants as its primary and often only source of medicine. As acculturation leads to loss of medicinal plant knowledge with successive generations, it is important that this knowledge is documented so that the community may continue to benefit from these time-honored remedies. In addition, documentation of ethnomedical data is the first step in the scientific investigation of traditional medicines, which may lead to the discovery of new pharmaceuticals or botanical drugs that may benefit people beyond the region where the plants are used traditionally.

Signature course(s):

Medical Botany, Biotechnology, Medical Ethnobotany of the Amazon, Superfoods

Recent publications:

1. Doyle BJ, Asiala CM, Fernández DM. Relative Importance and Knowledge Distribution of Medicinal Plants in a Kichwa Community in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Ethnobiology Letters 2017, 8(1):1-14.

2. Xicola RM, Bontu S, Doyle BJ, Rawson J, Garre P, Lee E, de la Hoya M, Bessa X, Clofent J, Bujanda L, Balaguer F, Castellví-Bel S, Alenda C, Jover R, Ruiz-Ponte C, Syngal S, Andreu M, Carracedo A, Castells A, Newcomb PA, Lindor N, Potter JD, Baron JA, Ellis NA, Caldes T, Llor X. Association of a let-7 miRNA binding region of TGFBR1 with hereditary mismatch repair proficient colorectal cancer (MSS HNPCC). Carcinogenesis 2016, 37(8):751-758.

3. Doyle BJ, Svobodny GS, Batallas R, Fernández D. Medical Ethnobotany of the Amazonian Kichwa Community of San José de Payamino, Ecuador: An Undergraduate-Level Field Course. Acta Horticulturae 2014, 1030:103-108.  

4. Thourson SB, Marsh CA, Doyle BJ, Timpe SJ. Quartz crystal microbalance study of bovine serum albumin adsorption onto self-assembled monolayer-functionalized gold with subsequent ligand binding. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 2013, 111:707-712. 

5. Lawal TO, Soni KK, Doyle BJ, Adeniyi BA, Mahady GB. Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to Natural Products: Can Past Research Direct Future Drug Development? Current Bioactive Compounds 2012 8(3):266-276.

6. Garre P, Briceño V, Xicola RM, Doyle BJ, de la Hoya M, Sanz J, Llovet P, Pescador P, Puente J, Díaz-Rubio E, Llor X, Caldés T.  Analysis of the oxidative damage repair genes NUDT1, OGG1, and MUTYH in patients from mismatch repair proficient HNPCC families (MSS-HNPCC). Clin Cancer Res 2011, 17(7):1701-12.