The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden
The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden is a garden oasis in the midst of the busy University of Illinois at Chicago medical center (west) campus situated in the Illinois Medical District located on the corner of Wood and Polk Streets next to the College of Pharmacy. During the spring and summer months, The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden provides a scenic backdrop for those enjoying a quiet break. Those lunching or reveling in the scents and colors of the Atkins garden may overlook the fact that the plants surrounding them have played a crucial role in the history of medicine. But thanks to the generosity of Dorothy’s husband, Dr. Robert A. Atkins, Dorothy’s life as a pharmacist and her interest in medicinal plants are honored and commemorated by the garden.
Dorothy Bradley Atkins earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois - College of Pharmacy in 1945. She met her future husband, Robert A. Atkins, a 1945 University of Illinois - College of Medicine graduate, while both were students. The couple married in 1946. Dorothy worked as a pharmacist while Bob served in the Army and later completed residency training in general surgery. They initially lived in Chicago before moving downstate to Champaign, Illinois in 1956 where they raised three children. The Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden was constructed and is maintained by a generous gift commitment made in 1999 by Dr. Robert A. Atkins to honor Dorothy who died in 1995.
Atkins Garden plants are researched by the UIC / NIH Botanical Center
Not just an island of beauty and calm on the University of Illinois campus, the Atkins Garden is also a rich resource for educational and research activities. Featured plants have a long history of use and prior to the advent of modern medicine with its emphasis on synthetic chemistry; these and other plants provided the primary source of organic chemical compounds used to treat illness. With an increase in the use of dietary supplements derived from plants today, there is a renewed emphasis on the study of these plants and their role in the modern health care armamentarium. Plants which are under study by the UIC /NIH Botanical Center are featured in the garden including red clover, hops, black cohosh and ginger among others. Both plants are featured in the garden. Other plants also include birch bark which is being studied for its betulinic acid – an anti-melanoma agent and may apple which is the source of the anticancer drugs etoposide and teniposide. There are over eighty different medicinal plant species in the garden.
Atkins Annual Garden Walk
During 2007 the Garden’s curator, botanist Dr. Doel Soejarto conducted the first annual Garden Walk providing tours and with Botanical Center researchers, explaining the medicinal uses of the garden’s many plant varieties. These are now annual events. For more information,
Click here for more information about the Atkins garden