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The Mary Frances Picciano Dietary Supplement Research Practicum

Speaker Information

Joe Betz

Joseph M. Betz, Ph.D., is the acting director of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). He earned a B.Sc. in biology at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCP&S) in 1976 and an M.Sc. in marine and environmental science at C.W. Post/Long Island University. Mentored by Ara Der Marderosian, Dr. Betz earned a Ph.D. in pharmacognosy at PCP&S. He joined the Division of Natural Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for postdoctoral work under Sam Page. After 2 years, he accepted a full-time job as a research chemist at FDA, where he remained for 12 years. Following his work at FDA, he moved on to become vice president for scientific and technical affairs at the American Herbal Products Association. He joined the NIH ODS as the director of the newly created Analytical Methods and Reference Materials Program in 2002. In that capacity, he oversees several large intra- and extra-governmental initiatives with the goal of providing stakeholders with rugged, validated analytical methods for measuring natural products in research, industrial, and regulatory settings. Dr. Betz is also an adjunct associate professor in the Pharmacology Department at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and in the Department of Cell Biology and Biotechnology at his alma mater in Philadelphia (now called the University of the Sciences).

Dr. Betz has been an active member of the American Society of Pharmacognosy (ASP) since 1979 and has served the Society in a number of ways, including membership on the organizing committee for the 2006 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, and as past chair of the ASP Job Service Committee. He is a member and fellow of AOAC International and is a member of ACS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Economic Botany, and the Society of Toxicology. He is a reviewer for the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of AOAC International. He is also a member of the United States Pharmacopeia’s Expert Committee on Dietary Supplements. Dr. Betz is an internationally recognized scientist, serving on expert scientific advisory committees for the governments of Canada and Hong Kong. He author or co-author of over 85 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. He is also the recipient of the American Botanical Council’s first Norman R. Farnsworth award for excellence in Botanical Research, the American Herbal Product Association’s Herbal Insight Award for contributions to the Botanical Sciences, AOAC International’s Technical Division on Reference Materials Reference Material Achievement Award, and ASP’s Varro E. Tyler Prize for outstanding scientific contributions to the broad field of dietary supplements, with special emphasis on botanicals. He was recently recognized by the NIH Office of the Director with an Honor Award for his contributions to the establishment and development of the ODS Vitamin D Standardization Program.

Tod Cooperman

Tod Cooperman, M.D., is a noted researcher, writer, and commentator on consumer health care issues and is the president and founder of and

Recognizing a lack of quality standards and oversight in the U.S. dietary supplement industry, Dr. Cooperman founded in 1999 along with an FDA scientist. has become the leading independent evaluator of dietary supplements, publishing reports for consumers and health professionals at Dr. Cooperman has been called as an expert witness by committees of both U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to give testimony regarding the quality and regulation of dietary supplements.

In 2002, responding to the rapid growth in online pharmacies, Dr. Cooperman founded, which independently evaluates online pharmacies in the United States, Canada, and worldwide. The company’s website,, is also a popular drug price comparison site for consumers seeking affordable medication from independently verified pharmacies.

Prior to starting his current companies, Dr. Cooperman was president of CareData Reports, which he founded in 1994. CareData was a leading managed care consumer research company later acquired by J.D. Power and Associates.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Cooperman was involved in the assessment and development of products in the healthcare field, first as Business Analyst with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, then as Director of Business Development for the biotechnology company Synaptic Pharmaceuticals, and then as a Consultant with the pharmaceutical and medical device consulting firm, The Wilkerson Group.

Cindy D. Davis

Cindy D. Davis, Ph.D., is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) director of grants and extramural activities, encouraging partnerships with other NIH Institutes and Centers to facilitate funding of important research on dietary supplements. Before coming to ODS, she was a program director in the Nutritional Sciences Research Group for 9 years at the NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Davis received her B.S. from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a minor in human cancer biology, and completed postdoctoral training at NCI. Prior to joining NIH, she was a research nutritionist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.

Tawana E. Davis

Tawana E. Davis, J.D., is an attorney in the Division of Advertising Practices in the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. Since joining the Commission in 2002, Ms. Davis has worked primarily on health-related advertising matters. Ms. Davis has been a member of litigation teams in several federal district court and administrative cases including, FTC v. NPB Advertising, Inc. et al., 8:14-CV-01155 (M.D. FL.), FTC v. Russell Dalbey, 11-CV-1396 (D. Colo.), In the Matter of POM Wonderful, Docket. No. 9344, and FTC v. National Urological Group, No. 1:04-CV-3294 (N.D. Ga.). From 2007 to 2010, Ms. Davis served as an Attorney-Advisor to Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour working on consumer protection matters.

Prior to joining the Commission, Ms. Davis worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. and an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore, Maryland. She also served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in Brooklyn, New York and as a litigation associate at the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel. Ms. Davis received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University.

Johanna Dwyer

Johanna Dwyer, D.Sc., R.D., attended Cornell University and received her M.S. from the University of Wisconsin and her M.Sc. and D.Sc. from the Harvard School of Public Health. After several years on the faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health, she moved to Tufts University and New England Medical Center (now Tufts Medical Center), where she serves as director of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at the Medical Center. She is a professor of medicine and community health at Tufts University School of Medicine and also at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, as well as a senior scientist at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts. She served as an assistant administrator for human nutrition at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (2001–2002) and later as a senior nutrition scientist at the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (2003–2011) while on the Tufts faculty through the interagency personnel acquisition program. She is now a senior nutrition scientist as a contractor at ODS. Dr. Dwyer was a member of the year 2000 Dietary Guidelines Committee and a member of the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. She is also a member of and served on the Council of the Institute of Medicine (now Health and Medicine Division), National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Dwyer has written over 500 research and review articles in scientific journals and books. She is the editor of Nutrition Today, a comprehensive review journal, since 1995. The goal of Nutrition Today is to provide authoritative coverage of developments in nutrition science, nutrition policy, and the cultural aspects of food and nutrition to nutrition practitioners in all sectors. She is visiting faculty at the University of Maryland; was external examiner at the Irish National University, Dublin, Ireland (2015-18); and on the scientific review committee for A*STAR at the University of Singapore, Singapore (2016-18). Dr. Dwyer’s honors include membership in the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences (elected 1998); the W.O. Atwater Award (1995); the Harvard School of Public Health Distinguished Alumnae Award (2004); the C.A. Elvehjem Award of the American Society of Nutrition (2005); fellow, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (2012); fellow, American Society for Nutrition (2004) and Institute of Food Technologists Trailblazer Award and Lectureship (2014); and the American Society for Nutrition’s Excellence in Nutrition Education Award in 2015. She is past president of both the American Society of Nutrition (formerly the American Institute of Nutrition) and the Society for Nutrition Education, and a fellow of both organizations. She also served in Congress as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow.

Dr. Dwyer’s career has been devoted to expanding the scientific basis for clinical and public health interventions related to diet, especially in obesity, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, and to ensuring that public policy fosters such efforts. She agrees with the view of her mentor, Jean Mayer, the late president of Tufts University, that nutrition is not only a discipline but an agenda of problems that must be solved.

Abby Ershow

Abby G. Ershow, Sc.D., R.D., FAHA, has served as a senior nutrition scientist at the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements since December 2014. She served as an extramural program director (nutrition) at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute from 1989 to 2014. Prior to that, she was a staff fellow in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program of the National Cancer Institute from 1982 to 1989. She completed a detail assignment as a visiting analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2007.

Dr. Ershow was awarded the Sc.D. in nutrition, physiology, and biostatistics from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1979. She received a B.A. from Cornell University in biological sciences (physiology) in 1973. In 2006, she earned the Certificate in Public Leadership from the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC. Dr. Ershow also received certificates from the Balanced Scorecard Institute, Cary, NC, in strategic planning (2011) and performance measure development (2013).

A registered and Maryland-licensed dietitian, she is a member of the American Society for Nutrition and the American Chemical Society. In 2007, she was elected a fellow of the American Heart Association. She is the author or co-author of 9 book chapters and over 50 peer-reviewed articles and monographs. She also was a coordinating editor for the only full-length text on conducting controlled diet studies in humans.

Dr. Ershow’s areas of interest include maternal and child health, cardiovascular nutrition, exercise physiology, preventive medicine, vascular biology, public health, nutritional epidemiology, nutrition and developmental disabilities, food chemistry, and metrics for evaluation of program effectiveness. A recent focus is assessment of iodine status and databases on the iodine content of foods and dietary supplements. Other longstanding interest areas include heart failure, diabetes, obesity, peripheral arterial disease, chronic kidney disease, and the use of biomedical engineering approaches to address nutrition research issues. She has particular expertise with interagency agreements and other collaborative funding mechanisms.

Jaime J. Gahche

Jaime J. Gahche, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) in January 2017 as a Nutritional Epidemiologist in the ODS Population Studies Program. Her work focuses on assessing the use of dietary supplements in the U.S. and investigating the role of dietary supplements in disease prevention and health promotion, using data from health surveys and epidemiologic studies.

Prior to joining ODS, Dr. Gahche worked as a nutritional epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics, in the Division of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). From 2005 to 2016, she directed the effort to collect and process dietary supplement data collected in NHANES. Throughout those years, Dr. Gahche also worked closely with colleagues at ODS to characterize dietary supplement usage in the U.S. population.

Dr. Gahche received her B.S. in nutritional sciences from Cornell University, her M.P.H. degree from The George Washington University, and her Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Bill J. Gurley

Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D., is Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy, Director of the UAMS Clinical Pharmacokinetics Research Laboratory, Chair of the UAMS Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. He is a member of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, as well as the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention's Expert Panel on Dietary Supplements. He has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, abstracts, and book chapters in the areas of pharmacokinetics, analytical method development, therapeutic drug monitoring, herbal dietary supplements, and herb-drug interactions. His research interests include mechanisms of herb-drug interactions, toxicity of multiple-component herbal dietary supplements, phytochemical modulation of human drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug transport proteins, pharmacokinetics of phytochemcials in humans, and botanical supplement use in special populations. Dr. Gurley has been conducting pre-clinical and clinical research on botanical dietary supplements for more than 20 years. He received his B.S. in chemistry from Tennessee Technological University and his B.S. in pharmacy and Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Carol Haggans

Carol Haggans, M.S., R.D., is a scientific and health communications consultant with the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this role, she handles a variety of health communications activities including writing and updating the ODS dietary supplement fact sheets and the consumer-focused e-newsletter, The Scoop. She also leads the ODS public inquiry program, and researches and responds to inquiries from consumers, health professionals, and the media about dietary supplements. In addition, Ms. Haggans is a member of the NIH Nutrition Education Subcommittee, a group that reviews federally developed nutrition education materials written for the public to ensure consistency with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Ms. Haggans is a member of the American Society for Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received an M.S. in nutrition from the University of Minnesota where she conducted clinical research on the effects of flaxseed consumption on estrogen metabolism and breast cancer risk. Prior to that, Ms. Haggans worked in the information technology field as a manufacturing and technical service engineer after receiving a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Mary Hardy

Mary Hardy, M.D., board certified in internal medicine and a specialist in botanical and integrative medicine, has actively combined complementary and alternative therapies with traditional Western medicine for over twenty-five years in both her clinical practice and research projects. After completing her undergraduate studies at Vassar College, she returned to her hometown, New Orleans, to attend medical school at Louisiana State University. She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Tufts New England Medical Center.

In 1998, Dr. Hardy founded the Integrative Medicine Clinic at Cedars-Sinai and participated in a National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded research project that evaluated the barriers and facilitators of Integrative Medicine practice based on her clinic. She also has extensive experience in evaluating the evidence base for the efficacy and safety of complementary/integrative medicine as part of her work as a research associate at the RAND Corporation.

Over her five years at RAND, Dr. Hardy was the co-principle investigator in a number of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics conducted in the Evidence Based Practice Center at RAND. Her projects there, sponsored by NCCAM, included assessing data for the safety of ephedra as well as the efficacy and safety of alternative cancer practices. She has served on and chaired several United States Pharmacopeia (USP) expert committees examining the safety of selected dietary supplements and chaired the USP committee, Dietary Supplements Safety Modeling Expert Panel. The panel is tasked with developing methodology to assess risk in multi-component dietary supplements (including botanical products). She has also served for years on the External Advisory Council for the Natural Product Directorate for the Canadian Ministry of Health assessing scientific issues pertinent to regulatory issues and serving as an expert in natural products risk assessment and clinical trial design.

Additionally, Dr. Hardy served for two and half years as the Associate Director of the UCLA Botanical Research Center, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Her duties there included identifying high quality botanical extracts to be used in human and animal studies on the efficacy of herbal products to interrupt carcinogenesis. She was responsible for the identification of the plants, education of the fellows and researchers on the principles of botanical medicine and direction of the research projects as well as the assurance that tested samples were free of contaminants.

Dr. Hardy, the recent past Medical Director of the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, is a recognized leader in the field of Integrative Oncology. She has served as a board member of the Society for Integrative Oncology and as co-leader of the Oncology Interest Group in the Consortium of Academic Health Centers of Integrative Medicine. She has been a member of the Stiles Integrative Oncology Center at UCLA and has been co-director of a fourth year elective in Integrative Oncology.

In an effort to improve oncology care for cancer patients, she serves as the medical director for Novateur, a startup company formed to facilitate the development and commercialization of a novel technique for sentinel lymph node identification. This project has completed the end of phase II meeting at the FDA and is preparing for stage III clinical trials.

She has also helped to establish the Integrative Medicine Health and Wellness Program at the Venice Family Clinic, the largest free clinic in the United States and served as the Co-director of that program. Dr. Hardy was co-director for the successful multi-disciplinary clinical program for the management of chronic pain that has been established as a result of her team’s efforts.

Dr. Hardy has recently completed a popular book for Readers Digest entitled Best Remedies and serves on a number of editorial and scientific advisory boards including the American Botanical Council, Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Phytomedicine and Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal.

Dr. Hardy is recognized as an authority on integrative medicine and herbal/natural products by organizations such as the Office of Dietary Supplements, the California Medical Board, the Canadian government, the United States Pharmacopeia, American Medical Association, the American Pharmaceutical Association, National Geographic, CBS, NBC, Discovery Channel and the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Hardy’s current research interests include reviewing the evidence for the safety and efficacy of natural therapies, especially botanicals as well as conducting clinical trials of dietary supplements and lifestyle choices to reduce toxicity and to improve outcomes of conventional cancer treatment. She also has a long-standing interest in patients who have shown exceptional responses during cancer care.

Laura Harkness

Laura Harkness, Ph.D., R.D., FACN, is the Global Research and Development (R&D) Vice President for Health & Wellbeing and Personal Care at Church & Dwight, leading the Nutritional Products, Sexual Health, Women’s Health, Oral Care, Beauty Care, and OTC/ Pharma R&D teams. Prior to joining Church & Dwight, Laura was a Senior Director in Global R&D Nutrition Sciences at PepsiCo, where she led the Nutrition Science team for the Global Snacking, Beverage, and Nutrition Product Groups. Preceding PepsiCo, she worked at Nestlé with a focus on innovation and research program development and clinical trial management for the chilled and frozen foods businesses. Earlier in her career, she was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland with a research focus on nutrients that are important in bone health. In addition, her career in science and clinical care has encompassed research and providing care for patients in adult and pediatric intensive care, adolescent medicine, gastroenterology, and surgical units.

Laura received her Bachelor of Science, Master’s of Science, and Doctoral degrees in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. She has authored numerous scientific papers as well as book chapters. Laura is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and is currently an active member of several professional organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society of Nutrition, and Personal Care Products Association, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Adam J. Kuszak

Adam J. Kuszak, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist Administrator in the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and Director of the ODS Analytical Methods and Reference Materials Program (AMRM). Through AMRM, Dr. Kuszak works with stakeholders involved in research, industry, and regulatory affairs to support scientific resource development and promote biomedical research on the mechanisms and health effects of dietary supplements and natural products. In addition, Dr. Kuszak provides scientific expertise and analyses to facilitate ODS initiative development, program management, strategic planning, and evaluation. His primary research interests are in elucidating the mechanisms of action and effects on cellular signaling networks of natural products and drugs, and their chemical and biological characterization. Dr. Kuszak earned his B.S. in the Pharmacology-Toxicology Program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and his Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kuszak completed his postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and joined the ODS as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow in 2014.

Andrea T. Lindsey

Andrea T. Lindsey, M.S., serves as Director of Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) and Senior Nutrition Scientist with the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University (USU). At CHAMP her work encompasses the topic of dietary supplements, which involves reviewing, evaluating, and interpreting the scientific literature; translating the evidence into usable information for consumers; writing; and overseeing the Operation Supplement Safety website, products, and resources. Andrea also works closely with Federal partners, and other health professionals in and outside the military to exchange relevant and pertinent information about dietary supplement topics and issues.

Andrea has extensive experience in the field of dietary supplements, and she has considerable knowledge and understanding regarding the content, safety, labeling, regulation, and marketing of these products. Prior to joining USU in 2010, Andrea worked for more than 16 years on a cooperative project with the Food and Nutrition Information Center, National Agricultural Library, and the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Prior to this work, Andrea worked in politics on Capitol Hill. Andrea received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from University of Maryland, College Park, and she currently maintains membership in the American Society for Nutrition and the Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Laura MacCleery

Laura MacCleery, J.D., Policy Director, is a seasoned legislative and regulatory campaigner for improvements to public health and democracy. A strategic thinker with the skills to maximize the legal and political opportunities presented in working with Congress, the regulatory agencies, courts, public and media, she is the author or editor of more than 100 comments to regulatory dockets and 30 major research-based reports, and has testified in state legislatures, the U.S. Congress, and Brussels. She has appeared on national and local television and radio, published dozens of opinion editorials and blog posts, spoken at numerous conferences, rallies and other events, and been quoted frequently in the press.

Joyce Merkel

Joyce Merkel, M.S., R.D., is a science and health communications consultant contractor at the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), primarily working on dietary supplement literature databases, and in communication and promotion activities for the Office. Prior to coming to ODS, she was a nutrition information specialist for the Food and Nutrition Information Center at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library, working on the website; an assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University in Minnesota; a nutrition specialist for the North Dakota State University Extension Service; a Medicare and Medicaid surveyor for the North Dakota State Health Department; and a hospital clinical dietitian. She received her B.S. and M.S. in nutrition from North Dakota State University and performed doctoral work in nutrition at Syracuse University.

Jonathan Matthew Scott

Jonathan Matthew Scott, Ph.D., CSSD., R.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine at the Uniformed Services University. Prior to academic life, Dr. Scott was a sports dietitian at The Ohio State University, where he provided individualized and group counseling to athletes across 10 varsity sports teams. He conducts research and produces educational materials on a variety of topics related to performance nutrition and dietary supplements for the Department of Defense. He has worked in various capacities supporting the military for nearly 7 years. Dr. Scott is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Scott received his Ph.D. in health and rehabilitation sciences from The Ohio State University. Dr. Scott is a registered dietitian who completed a dietetic internship and M.S. in clinical nutrition at the Ohio State University. He has advanced training in sports nutrition and holds the distinction of being a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

Howard D. Sesso

Howard D. Sesso, Sc.D., M.P.H., FAHA, is an associate epidemiologist at the Divisions of Preventive Medicine and Aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. He received his B.A. in human biology from Stanford University, an M.P.H. in epidemiology from The George Washington University, and an Sc.D. in epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Sesso specializes in the epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including hypertension and obesity as major risk factors, as well as cancer. His research focuses on the role of vitamin and mineral supplements, along with nutritional biomarkers, on the prevention of chronic disease. Dr. Sesso is the associate director of the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH, as well as director of nutrition research and co-director of hypertension research.

Dr. Sesso is also an expert in the design, methodology, and conduct of epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials. He led the Physicians’ Health Study II, a trial that tested a multivitamin, vitamin E, and vitamin C supplements on cardiovascular disease, cancer, eye disease, and other chronic diseases in 14,641 men with more than a decade of treatment and follow-up. Dr. Sesso is also testing vitamin D and fish oil supplements on 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure and risk of developing hypertension in an ancillary study of the VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL) trial. Dr. Sesso is co-principal investigator of the ongoing COcoa Supplement and Multivitamins Outcomes Study (COSMOS), a randomized, 2x2 factorial trial testing cocoa flavanol and multivitamin supplements in the prevention of CVD and cancer in more than 21,000 women and men with 4 years of treatment and follow-up. Dr. Sesso has published more than 250 papers to date and enjoys teaching as part of a secondary appointment at Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as mentoring new investigators.

Jay Edward Sirois

Jay Edward Sirois, Ph.D., is Senior Director of Regulatory & Scientific Affairs at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the 138-year-old national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Dr. Sirois is responsible for regulatory and scientific affairs activities, including cooperative programs with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ingredient safety, and dietary supplement programs at CHPA. He is experienced in pharmaceutical, medical device, and dietary supplement regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance, Rx-to-OTC switch, product safety, and clinical research.

Dr. Sirois is the current Chair of the steering committee for the Dietary Supplement Quality Collaborative, a multi-stakeholder and cross sector collaborative aimed at improving the quality and safety of products marketed as dietary supplements. He is also a participating member in the Botanical Safety Consortium, a public-private partnership that of industry, academia and government that will promote scientific advances in evaluating the safety of botanical ingredients and mixtures in dietary supplements. He is a member of the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society and is an ad hoc reviewer for the Journal of Dietary Supplements and Neurotoxicology. Dr. Sirois received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology (with a minor in Environmental Toxicology) from Michigan State University. Prior to his current role, Dr. Sirois worked at the University of Virginia and at a consulting firm in Tampa, FL.

Barbara C. Sorkin

Barbara C. Sorkin, Ph.D., is the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers for Advancing Research on Botanicals and Other Natural Products Program, an effort to advance the scientific base of knowledge about safety, efficacy, and biological activities of botanicals and other natural products relevant to dietary supplements. Dr. Sorkin administered extramural research efforts in the areas of healthy aging, cancer, and sleep at the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) for 9 years before moving to the Office of Dietary Supplements. While at NCCAM she also coordinated programs to enhance clinical and translational research on complementary and alternative medicine. Dr. Sorkin received her B.S. and M.S. from the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department at Yale University, and her Ph.D. for research completed in the Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Biology at Rockefeller University. Prior to joining NIH, she was a faculty member at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

Sally Squires

Sally Squires, M.S., wears many professional hats. She is a senior vice president at Powell Tate, the Washington, DC division of Weber Shandwick, a weekly contributor to the leading all-news radio station in Washington, DC and an adjunct professor at the Tufts Friedman School. She spent 24 years as an award-winning health writer at the Washington Post, where she also created the Lean Plate Club, a nationally syndicated nutrition column and online community that now resides at her website,

Ms. Squires is an author, keynote speaker, documentary filmmaker and has written for a wide range of publications, including Parade and Reader’s Digest. She holds two master’s degrees from Columbia University; one in nutrition, the other in journalism. She is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the American Public Health Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Institute of Food Technologists, among others, and serves on the editorial boards of Nutrition Today and the Nation’s Health, published by the American Public Health Association.

Sibyl Swift

Sibyl Swift, Ph.D., is a special assistant within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Dietary Supplement Programs. In this role, Dr. Swift works on special projects related to dietary supplements, including coordinating the Office’s research agenda. She also uses her research experience to review dietary ingredient safety. Dr. Swift is a co-chair of the Botanical Safety Consortium, a collaboration between scientists from government agencies, such as FDA and the National Toxicology Program, as well as from academia and industry.

Before joining FDA, Dr. Swift was a research biochemist in the Department of Defense at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute. While at this facility, she collaborated with fellow investigators to create a novel model of polytrauma and also explored the efficacy of vitamin E isomers as radiation countermeasures. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in a neuroendocrinology laboratory where she directed a Defense Medical Research and Development Program-funded grant exploring a novel method of inducing traumatic brain injury and its effect on stress response. Dr. Swift earned her Ph.D. in nutrition and M.S. in physiology at Texas A&M University. She is currently a member of the American Society for Nutrition and served as an adjunct faculty member at USUHS in the Department of Military Emergency Medicine.

Paul R. Thomas

Paul R. Thomas, Ed.D., R.D.N., is a full-time scientific consultant at the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). In that capacity he contributes to various projects with most of the ODS scientific staff. Dr. Thomas works primarily in ODS communications, where he prepares dietary supplement fact sheets and other educational materials and interacts with the media. Dr. Thomas also manages the Federal Working Group on Dietary Supplements, which serves as a means of communication between ODS and its Federal partners to co-fund research, expand opportunities for research-investigator training, and strengthen collaborative efforts involving dietary supplement research, education, and communication. He is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a member of the American Society for Nutrition. Previous positions include project director at the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, fellow and research assistant professor in the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Georgetown University, expert consultant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, senior staff scientist with the Life Sciences Research Office, and founder of The Dietary Supplement newsletter. He received his Ed.D. in nutrition from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Merle Zimmermann

Merle Zimmermann, Ph.D., the American Herbal Products Association’s (AHPA) chief information analyst, maintains and updates several online resources that serve the herbal products industry, including an online searchable database of new dietary ingredients submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the online version of AHPA's Botanical Safety Handbook.

Dr. Zimmermann is currently working to expand the Botanical Identity References Compendium, a centralized source of information containing examples and techniques that have been successfully applied to authenticate and qualify selected botanical materials, and on revisions for a new edition of AHPA’s Herbs of Commerce, the standard for all common and scientific plant names used for products containing herbs in the United States today.

Dr. Zimmermann earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Maryland. Dr. Zimmermann’s field of expertise is in applied computational chemistry—a cross-disciplinary field between physical chemistry and applied quantum physics. Dr. Zimmermann was awarded an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation fellowship recognizing his excellence as a student in 2008 and was considered as a finalist for a Ford Diversity Scholarship in 2005.

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