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The Mary Frances Picciano Dietary Supplement Research Practicum

2018 Agenda (2019 Agenda will be similar)

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers this intensive practicum to provide fundamental knowledge of dietary supplements to faculty, Ph.D. students, and postdocs at academic institutions; health care practitioners; and other professionals with advanced biomedical degrees. Its three main goals are to:

  1. Provide participants with a thorough overview and grounding about issues, concepts, controversies, and unknowns about dietary supplements and supplement ingredients. A cross-cutting theme will be the importance of scientific investigations to evaluate the safety and efficacy of these products for health promotion and disease prevention and treatment.
  2. Provide participants with information, ideas, and resources to provide instruction about dietary supplements at their academic institutions.
  3. Instill interest among students and investigators attending the practicum to consider undertaking research in the field of dietary supplements.


Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Day 1

7:30 a.m.


9:00 a.m.

Welcome and Setting the Stage: What ODS Does

Paul Coates, Ph.D., ODS, NIH

9:30 a.m.

Overview of Dietary Supplement Use

Regan Bailey, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., ODS, NIH; Purdue University

10:00 a.m.




10:15 a.m.

What the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Does

Sibyl Swift, Ph.D., FDA

Objectives: (1) Describe FDA’s supplement-related responsibilities and how its regulation of these products differs from those covering conventional foods and medicines; (2) explain FDA’s role in regulating supplements versus the manufacturer’s responsibility for marketing them; (3) discuss FDA’s post-marketing responsibilities for supplements, including safety monitoring and the provision of product information; and (4) provide information about when supplements require an Investigational New Drug (IND) application.

11:00 a.m.

Food vs. Drugs vs. Dietary Supplements

Joe Betz, Ph.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Provide information on the principles on how food, drugs, and dietary supplements are regulated; (2) explain the differences in labeling requirements for foods and dietary supplements; and (3) provide real-life examples encountered by companies that inadvertently crossed the lines between conventional foods, dietary supplements, and drugs when they introduced new products to the market.

11:45 a.m.

Panel Discussion

12:00 p.m.

Lunch (on own)

1:15 p.m.

What the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Does

Tawana Davis, J.D., FTC

Objectives: (1) Explain FTC’s supplement-related responsibilities and how its regulation of these products differs from conventional foods; and (2) describe several FTC activities related to ensuring that supplement advertising is truthful and not misleading, and regulatory actions it has taken against offenders.

2:00 p.m.

NIH Support for Research and Training on Nutrition and Dietary Supplements

Abby Ershow, Sc.D., R.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Describe the NIH extramural funding system and what are the funding opportunities for research on nutrition and dietary supplements; (2) summarize what the funding mechanisms include; (3) describe which federal agencies provide funding for nutrition research and training.

2:45 p.m.




3:00 p.m.

Analytical Characterization of Dietary Supplements: Overview of Methods, Standards, and Quality Assurance

Adam Kuszak, Ph.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Introduce the principles of dietary supplement characterization by introducing the concepts of identity, purity, quality, and composition; (2) provide an overview of the analytical challenges and needs in dietary supplement research, and the importance of standards and reference materials; (3) describe the work of federal agencies and non-government organizations to develop analytical methods and reference materials to enhance dietary supplement research and assess product quality.

3:45 p.m.

Challenges in Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements

Barbara Sorkin, Ph.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Illustrate how concepts of efficacy, safety, and identity/quality are addressed in studying botanicals and plant-derived ingredients; and (2) provide an overview of the NIH Centers for Advancing Research on Botanicals and Other Natural Products (CARBON) Program, research emphases, and examples of research activity.

4:30 p.m.


Day 2



8:45 a.m.

Motivations for Dietary Supplement Use

Johanna Dwyer, D.Sc., R.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Provide follow-up to a previous presentation with a focus on why people report they take supplements; (2) discuss the strengths and weaknesses of methodologies to collect this information; (3) explore whether reasons for use differ depending on number and types of supplements taken; and (4) describe results from the National Health Interview Survey on motivations for supplement use.

9:30 a.m.

Efficacy and Effectiveness: Lines of Evidence in Supplement Research

Howard Sesso, Sc.D., M.P.H., Harvard Medical School

Objectives: (1) Explain the concepts of efficacy and effectiveness, and how they are defined, measured, studied, and reported in regard to dietary supplements; (2) provide examples of research with dietary supplements to try to evaluate these concepts; and (3) describe the different types of research studies used to determine efficacy and effectiveness.

10:15 a.m.


10:30 a.m.

Safety: The Concept of Safety, Its Measurement, and Reporting

Mary Hardy, M.D., George Washington University Medical School

Objectives: (1) Explain the concept of safety and how it is defined, measured, studied, and reported in regard to dietary supplements; (2) provide examples to illustrate the ways in which the safety of various supplement ingredients have been evaluated; and (3) discuss the patchwork of systems in place to monitor for adverse effects of supplements and how safety concerns vary by population subgroups.

11:15 a.m.

Interactions between Supplements and Drugs

Bill Gurley, Ph.D., University of Arkansas
for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy

Objectives: (1) Describe some major means and mechanisms by which ingredients in supplements and medicines may interact and the potential clinical implications of these interactions; (2) illustrate these concepts with examples; and (3) discuss the extent to which interactions between supplements and drugs are studied, reported by health professionals, pose clinically relevant risks to consumers, and are catalogued in places accessible to health professionals and consumers.

12:00 p.m.

Lunch (on own)

1:15 p.m.

Dietary Supplements and the U.S. Department of Defense

Patricia Deuster, Ph.D., M.P.H., CNS, FACSM,
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Objectives: (1) Describe dietary supplement use in the Department of Defense (DoD); (2) identify issues associated with dietary supplement use within the DoD; (3) introduce ongoing DoD dietary supplement research initiatives; and (4) introduce Operation Supplement Safety.



Attendees will hear from those who study, advocate, regulate, or educate on dietary supplements. Topics for speakers to address include: (1) Describe the purposes of your organization in relation to dietary supplements and what its perspectives and views are regarding these products; and (2) describe your activities in matters related to supplements (including manufacture, marketing, and regulation) and in providing information/education about these products.


Panel 1: A Conversation With the Industry

2:00 p.m.

Laura Harkness, Ph.D., R.D., FACN, Church
& Dwight Co., Inc.

2:15 p.m.

Merle Zimmermann, Ph.D., American Herbal
Products Association

2:30 p.m.

Douglas ‘Duffy’ MacKay, N.D., Council for Responsible

2:45 p.m.

Panel Discussion

3:00 p.m.



Panel 2: Meet the Watchdogs

3:15 p.m.

Laura MacCleery, J.D., Center for Science in the
Public Interest

3:30 p.m.

Tod Cooperman, M.D.,

3:45 p.m.

James Hamblin, M.D., The Atlantic

4:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion

4:15 p.m.

Panel Discussion: Panel 1 and Panel 2

4:45 p.m.


Day 3



8:45 a.m.

Emerging Science: The Microbiome and Nutrition

Cindy D. Davis, Ph.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Define the human microbiome; (2) describe the evidence that diet and dietary supplements con modulate the gastrointestinal microbial community structure; (3) describe the evidence that the gastrointestinal microbiome can influence the response to dietary components; (4) describe the relationship between dietary components and the microbiome and chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

9:30 a.m.

Dietary Supplement Databases

Joyce Merkel, M.S., R.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Describe the purpose and value of several databases that provide information on dietary supplement ingredients; (2) illustrate the content and navigation of these databases; and (3) comment on the value and limitations of these resources.

10:15 a.m.


10:30 a.m.

Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss

Carol Haggans, M.S., R.D., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Provide an overview of the weight-loss supplement market and the types of products available; (2) summarize the scientific evidence for selected ingredients in these products and the quality of that evidence; and (3) using ephedra as a case study, discuss potential safety issues for weight-loss supplement ingredients, including possible interactions with drugs and other supplements.

11:15 a.m.

Analysis of the Evidence

Paul Thomas, Ed.D., R.D.N., ODS, NIH

Objectives: (1) Illustrate the state of the science on the value or lack of value of selected dietary supplement ingredients to promote health and manage problems; (2) provide examples from the published literature of good versus poor research on supplement ingredients; and (3) emphasize the use of evidence-based approaches in recommending and using dietary supplements.

12:00 p.m.

Final Wrap-up to Practicum

Luisa Rios-Avila, Ph.D., Practicum Director,

Paul Coates, Ph.D., Director of ODS, NIH

Paul Thomas, Ed.D., R.D., ODS, NIH

12:30 p.m.


1:30 p.m.

Tours of NIH facilities (optional)