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The Mary Frances Picciano Dietary Supplement Research Practicum

2017 Speaker Information

Speaker information for the 2017 Practicum will be updated in the near future. For your information, we have included biographical sketches for several of the speakers at this year’s Practicum. Additional bios will be added in the upcoming weeks.

Regan Bailey

Regan Lucas Bailey, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., CPH, is an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University. Prior to academic life, Dr. Bailey was a nutritional epidemiologist and director of career development and outreach at the Office of Dietary Supplements, Office of Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health. The overarching goal of her research program is to prevent or lessen the risk of chronic disease through nutrition. Dr. Bailey’s specific research interests include nutritional epidemiology; one-carbon metabolism, particularly the role of B vitamins; dietary assessment methods and measurement error; dietary patterns; dietary supplements; nutrition screening; and nutrition and aging, particularly as it relates to reducing the risk of cognitive impairment and osteoporosis. She has considerable expertise working with the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Dr. Bailey is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, American Public Health Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is on the executive board of the Nutrition Epidemiology Research Interest Section of the American Society for Nutrition. She serves as an advisor to the International Life Sciences Institute-North America both on the Fortification Committee and the Food, Nutrition & Safety Program.

Dr. Bailey received her Ph.D. in nutrition science from The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Bailey completed an M.P.H. from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and is certified in public health. Dr. Bailey is a registered dietitian who completed a dietetic internship and M.S. in food and nutrition at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Coates

Paul Coates, Ph.D., has directed the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1999 in its mission to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements. He oversees a range of initiatives and programs that support research and the training of investigators, as well as the development of research tools and information resources; through these, he has established ODS as a strong and authoritative voice for rigorous science in dietary supplements and related areas of nutrition. In 2011, he received the prestigious Conrad A. Elvehjem Award from the American Society for Nutrition for public service in nutrition. He is lead editor of the authoritative Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, now in its second edition, and associate editor of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. He also currently serves as acting associate director of the NIH Office of Disease Prevention. From 1975 to 1993, prior to his career at NIH, Dr. Coates was on the faculty of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine as research professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry/Biophysics. His Ph.D. in human genetics was awarded by Queen’s University in Canada, followed by postdoctoral training in the Department of Human Genetics and Biometry at University College London.

Patricia A. Deuster

Patricia A. Deuster, Ph.D., M.P.H., CNS, FACSM, is a professor and director for the Defense Center of Excellence: Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) School of Medicine in the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine; she is also faculty for the Neuroscience program. She obtained an A.B. in mathematics and computer science and an M.A. in physical education from the College of William and Mary, a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences and physiology from the University of Maryland, and an M.P.H. with an emphasis in epidemiology from USU.

Dr. Deuster chairs the Department of Defense (DoD) Dietary Supplement Subcommittee, is a member of the DoD Food and Nutrition Subcommittee, and serves on the DoD Human Performance Optimization Health Sciences Advisory Committee. She is one of the leads on the DoD Operational Supplement Safety Initiative.

Dr. Deuster is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a Certified Nutrition Specialist with over 150 peer-reviewed papers and numerous book chapters and books relating to nutrition, dietary supplements, and physical performance. In addition to peer-reviewed publications, she has developed multiple educational materials related to nutrition, dietary supplements, physical training, human performance, and total force fitness; many are posted on the CHAMP Human Performance Resource Center website (

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 and is a faculty member in the Medical School. She is currently 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 Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. She also served as an assistant administrator for human nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (2001–2002) and 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 consultant at ODS and a senior nutrition scientist at the Tufts Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. 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 also served as a member of the Council of the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Dwyer has written over 475 research and review articles in scientific journals and books. She has been 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. 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); and Institute of Food Technologists Trailblazer Award and Lectureship (2014). 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 her mentor, Jean Mayer, the late president of Tufts University, that nutrition is not a discipline, but an agenda of problems that must be solved.

Bill J. Gurley

Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D., is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy, director of the UAMS Clinical Pharmacokinetics Research Laboratory, and 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. 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 responds to inquiries from consumers, health professionals, and the media about dietary supplements, and she represents ODS at scientific conferences and expos. Ms. Haggans is also a member of the NIH Nutrition Education Subcommittee, a committee that reviews nutrition education materials written for the public to ensure that they are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Before becoming a consultant, Ms. Haggans was a program analyst with ODS from 1999 to 2004. During that time, she coordinated the development and implementation of the Computer Access to Research on Dietary Supplements database of federally funded research on dietary supplements and was involved with the design and maintenance of the ODS website.

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 in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. 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 in New York.

Mindy S. Kurzer

Mindy S. Kurzer, Ph.D., is professor of nutrition and director of the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute at the University of Minnesota. She has been at the University of Minnesota since 1989, where she has taught nutrition courses to over 4,000 students and performs research on the health effects of dietary compounds, such as soy and green tea, in addition to weight loss and physical activity. Dr. Kurzer has given 150 invited lectures and media interviews about her soy research in the United States, as well as 16 countries in Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America. She currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Soy Nutrition Institute in the United States. Dr. Kurzer has received the International Life Sciences Institute Future Leader Award; the Ruth Pike Lectureship, Pennsylvania State University; the University of Minnesota Distinguished Teaching Award; the University of Minnesota Excellence in Discovery Award; and the University of Minnesota Best Director of Graduate Studies Award. In 2006–2007, she was a Committee on Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Fellow, and in 2008, she received an award for contributions to soy research, given at the 8th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention and Treatment in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Kurzer received a Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1984. She was then awarded a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Postdoctoral Fellowship, for which she performed research at the National Nutrition Institute, Rome, Italy, and Odense University, Denmark. This was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kurzer has been a visiting scientist at the University of Helsinki, Finland, the National Nutrition Institute in Rome, Italy, and the International Agency for Cancer Research in Lyon, France. 

Adam J. Kuszak

Adam J. Kuszak, Ph.D., joined the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) in November 2015 as a health policy analyst after first serving ODS as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Science & Technology Policy Fellow in 2014. Dr. Kuszak supports the administration and oversight of the Dietary Supplements Analytical Materials and Reference Materials Program. In addition, he is assisting the development of ODS activities pertaining to mitochondrial disorders as part of the Nutrition and Dietary Supplement Interventions for Inborn Errors of Metabolism Program. Dr. Kuszak earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Joyce Merkel

Joyce Merkel, M.S., R.D., is an information specialist 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.

Steven M. Mister

Steven Mister, M.A., J.D., has been president & CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry, since 2005. Under his leadership, CRN has experienced increased membership, refined its strategic focus, and launched initiatives that center on increasing industry responsibility and consumer education. In addition to his role as president of CRN, he is also president of the CRN Foundation. Among the Foundation’s achievements are the creation of a highly successful consumer wellness education campaign (Life…supplemented), a program with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus to review supplement advertising, and a grant to Frost & Sullivan to produce an economic report on health care cost savings from the targeted use of specific supplements.

Prior to joining CRN, Mr. Mister served in several legal and legislative roles for over a decade at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, most recently as vice president and associate general counsel. Mr. Mister also worked as an attorney in the Washington, DC, law firm of Wiley, Rein & Fielding in general litigation, government ethics, and federal election law practice groups, and had a stint on Capitol Hill as a media relations assistant for former U.S. Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr. Mr. Mister holds a law degree from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in political communication from the University of Maryland, and a B.S. in speech communication from Towson University.

Anahad O’Connor

Anahad O’Connor is a consumer health reporter for The New York Times. He joined the paper in 2003 as a reporter for Science Times, the paper’s weekly science and health section.

Mr. O’Connor writes about nutrition, fitness, and medicine, covering everything from sleep to saturated fat and the science of weight loss. He has also worked as a staff reporter for the paper’s Metropolitan section and its breaking news desk. Mr. O’Connor joined the paper’s Well blog in 2011, covering a broad range of health news. His coverage of fraud in the dietary supplement industry prompted an investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office. Another series he wrote shed light on Coca-Cola’s funding of research that sought to downplay the role of sugary drinks in the obesity epidemic.

Mr. O’Connor has appeared on national news programs such as PBS News Hour, Good Morning America, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He is an avid fitness enthusiast and the author of four books, including the bestselling, Never Shower in a Thunderstorm and The 10 Things You Need to Eat. Mr. O’Connor graduated from Yale University in 2003 with a degree in psychology.

Michelle Rusk

Michelle Rusk, J.D., is a senior staff attorney in the Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Division is responsible for regulating national advertising matters, including claims about foods, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, cosmetics, alcohol, tobacco, and environmental products. Ms. Rusk has been responsible for coordination of FTC enforcement activities for food and dietary supplement advertising and involved in various policy matters related to food marketing during her 20-year career at the Commission. Following passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, she worked on developing an FTC policy on food advertising to harmonize with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. She was involved in writing the FTC’s 1994 Enforcement Policy Statement on Food Advertising. Ms. Rusk also developed the FTC’s 1998 Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry. She was the 1999 recipient of the Commission’s Paul Rand Dixon Award for her work in the dietary supplement area. She served as the FTC’s representative to the Interagency Working Group charged by Congress with developing recommendations for nutritional standards for foods marketed to children and most recently contributed to the FTC’s 2012 report, A Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents. Ms. Rusk joined the FTC from private practice in 1990. She graduated from Harvard University and received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

David G. Schardt

David G. Schardt, M.S., is a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group specializing in food, nutrition, and dietary supplement issues. He has been writing about nutrition for the general public and for professionals for more than 25 years. His articles covering most aspects of food, nutrition, and dietary supplements have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, newsletters, college textbooks, and websites. His reports on nutrition and dietary supplements are featured in the monthly Nutrition Action Healthletter, the Nation’s most popular nutrition newsletter. He helped to write and edit the landmark Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. His book, Eating Leaner and Lighter, published by Warner Books, was recommended for sensible nutrition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Information Center. He has served on panels advising the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the U.S. Pharmacopeia, and the Association of Official Analytical Chemists on dietary supplement issues. He received his graduate degrees in nutrition and biochemistry from Oregon State University and has graduate study and research experience with Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.

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. 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 director of nutrition research and co-director of hypertension research at the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH.

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 recently completed 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 recently initiated 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 18,000 women and men with 4 years of treatment and follow-up. Dr. Sesso has published more than 200 papers to date and enjoys teaching at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as mentoring new investigators.

Barbara C. Sorkin

Barbara C. Sorkin, Ph.D., is the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Botanical Research Centers Program, an effort to advance the scientific base of knowledge about botanical safety, efficacy, and biological action. Dr. Sorkin comes to the Office of Dietary Supplements from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), where for 9 years she administered extramural research efforts in the areas of healthy aging, cancer, and sleep. She also coordinated NCCAM 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. from the Department 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.

Christine L. Taylor

Christine L. Taylor, Ph.D., is a senior nutrition scientist at the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. She has held a number of nutrition science, policy, and management positions in Washington, DC, and overseas. She previously held a position at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where she worked in the foods area. In her last position with the Agency, she served as the director of FDA’s Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements. She oversaw four Divisions with a total of more than 60 staff including medical officers, biologists, biochemists, nutritionists, and lawyers; served as the Agency spokesperson for nutrition issues; and was responsible for the Office’s laboratory and nonlaboratory research. Dr. Taylor was initiated as a scholar in the Institute of Medicine at The National Academies in Washington, DC. She was the study director for four projects focused on an evaluation of the process for setting dietary reference intakes, consensus recommendations for the standards for school lunch, identification of strategies for reducing sodium in the diet, and an evaluation of the recommended intakes for vitamin D and calcium. Dr. Taylor has led international efforts to integrate nutrition science into public health policy. She also served as a visiting expert for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and headed the U.S. delegation to the Codex Committee on Food Labeling, an international organization responsible for setting food labeling standards.

Paul R. Thomas

Paul R. Thomas, Ed.D., R.D.N., is a 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.