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Director, Office of Nutrition Research, National Institutes of Health
In September 2023, Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appointed Andrew (Drew) A. Bremer, M.D., Ph.D., M.A.S., F.A.A.P., as Director of the NIH Office of Nutrition Research (ONR), part of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the NIH Office of the Director. His new role working collaboratively with the NIH Institutes and Centers to advance and coordinate nutrition research began on September 24, 2023.
Drew is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and pediatric endocrinologist, and has a Ph.D. in pharmacology. Prior to his appointment as the ONR Director, Drew was the Chief of the Pediatric Growth and Nutrition Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Drew's areas of expertise include endocrine disorders, obesity, developmental origins of health and disease, and the role of nutrition in health throughout the life cycle. He earned his B.S. at Yale University, completed his M.D./Ph.D. training at Boston University, his internal medicine and pediatric residencies at the Baylor College of Medicine, his pediatric endocrinology fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, and subsequently received an M.A.S. degree in clinical research from the University of California, Davis.
Drew joined the NIH in 2013, after holding academic positions at the University of California, Davis (2007-2010) and Vanderbilt University (2010-2013). He is currently a co-chair on the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research Steering Committee, a member of the Senior Leadership Group of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force, NIH liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition and Section on Obesity, and a member of the NIH Climate Change and Health Initiative’s Steering Committee. As a member of the ONR Senior Leadership Group (SLG), he helped develop the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research. Drew has received numerous honors, including election to the Society for Pediatric Research, multiple NIH Director’s Awards, and several teaching awards.
Drew is committed to the mission of ONR and wants all stakeholders to know they have an open invitation to reach out to him.
Professor, Animal Sciences, North Dakota State University
Joel Caton was born in central Missouri and raised on his parents’ livestock and grain farm. He received his B.S. from New Mexico State University (NMSU) and his M.S. from the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC). He received his Ph.D. in 1987 from NMSU. In 1988, he accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor at North Dakota State University (NDSU), with emphasis on ruminant nutrition and digestive physiology. He was promoted to Associate and Full Professor 1994 and 2000, respectively. In 2013, Joel received the Engberg Presidential Professorship at NDSU. Joel has conducted sabbatical leave research at the University of Reading, England and the Rowett Institute for Nutrition and Health in Aberdeen, Scotland. Topical areas during his sabbaticals included visceral protein metabolism and strategies to rescue pregnancies compromised by poor maternal nutrition. Joel has received NDSU’s Eugene R. Dahl Award and the Waldron Award for Excellence in Research, the ASAS-AFIA Ruminant Nutrition Research Award, and the ASAS Cromwell Award for Mineral Research. In 2013 Joel was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council’s subcommittee to revise the Beef NRC, which was subsequently published in 2016. Joel has served the ASAS in a variety of capacities including as National Board of Directors, ASAS National Program Committee, and as Associate Editor, Division Editor, and Associate Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Animal Science. He currently serves as President for ASAS. Joel also serves on the Coordinating Committee of the National Animal Nutrition Program. During his career, Joel’s highly collaborative research program has used methodologies from the whole animal to multi-omic approaches to understand nutritional, physiological, and metabolic principles that influence whole animal production responses. He has received over 9 million dollars in grant funds and published over 230 refereed manuscripts and book chapters. He has trained 50 graduate students (15 Ph.D. and 35 M.S.), 6 postdocs, and over 37 undergraduate research interns. He currently teaches the undergraduate course Fundamentals of Nutrition and a graduate course in Vitamins and Minerals. Joel and his wife, Kristina, live in Fargo, North Dakota.
Director, Office of the Chief Scientist, United States Department of Agriculture
Dr. Deirdra Chester serves as the Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). In this role, she leads OCS in delivering science and research that undergirds the policies and practices of the United States Department of Agriculture and its customers and stakeholders. Additionally, she steers collaboration activities for the United States Department of Agriculture science programs that support scientific excellence, innovation, and capacity to achieve the Department’s mission. Prior to this role, Dr. Chester was with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) were she served as the Division Director for the Division of Nutrition. In this role, she provided leadership and oversight for the Division’s research, education, and Extension activities across the nation through competitive grant programs.
Previously, Dr. Chester was the agency Science Advisor for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Before APHIS, she served as the National Program Leader for NIFA’s Applied Nutrition Research in the Division of Nutrition. Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Chester was a scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Additionally, Dr. Chester is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. She has spoken both nationally and internationally on nutrition topics and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Obesity and Chronic Disease.
Dr. Chester is an American University Key Executive Leadership program graduate and is SES certified through the United States Department of Agriculture Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. Dr. Chester holds a Ph.D. in Nutrition from Florida International University, where she was awarded the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship and was in the inaugural class of the Gates Millennial Scholars. She also holds a master’s degree in food and nutrition science and a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Florida State University. Dr. Chester is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. The American Public Health Association Food and Nutrition Section awarded her the Mary C. Egan Award and she was recognized by Florida State University’s College of Human Science with the Circle of Excellence Alumni Award.
Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida
Richard Hill MA VetMB PhD DACVIM (medicine, nutrition) MRCVS is a board-certified specialist in small animal internal medicine and nutrition. After veterinary school at Cambridge University, he worked for five years at a small animal veterinary practice in the UK before completing an internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania and a nutrition residency combined with a PhD at the University of Florida. He has been a faculty member at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine since 1993, teaching small animal internal medicine and nutrition to veterinary students and supervising house officers in the teaching hospital. His research has primarily focused on the nutrient and energy requirements and physiology of activity in working and pet dogs and in cats. He was a member of the National Research Council committee that authored the current Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats published by the National Academies with primary responsibility for the chapter on activity and climate and secondary author of the chapter on energy requirements. More recently, his laboratory has been evaluating the diet of marine mammals to better understand why mammals in collections develop uroliths more commonly than in the wild. As part of this work, he has collaborated with Dr Tim Garrett’s laboratory at UF to develop a novel assay to measure purines in fish fed to dolphins and in dog foods.
Program Director and Coordinator, Office of Nutrition Research, National Institutes of Health
Dr. Nicastro serves as a Coordinator for Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program. In this role, she is responsible for overall management of the Nutrition for Precision Health consortium, progress toward the program’s goals, and monitoring of interactions between the consortium and the external community. She also serves as co-chair of the Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research Implementation Working Group on Implementation of Nutrition-related Programs, Practices, and Behaviors.
Professor at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Université Laval
Frédéric Raymond obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology at Université Laval in 2002, his Master’s in Microbiology-Immunology in 2004 and his PhD in Physiology-Endocrinology in 2011. His postdoctoral work revealed key factors that influence the impact of antibiotics on the gut microbiome. Indeed, his work showed that the initial composition of the gut microbiome affected the impact of the antibiotic on resulting microbiome composition. Frédéric Raymond is assistant professor at École de Nutrition de l’Université Laval since 2018. He is associated to the NUTRISS centre (Nutrition, santé et société) and is a member of the Institut sur la nutrition et les aliments fonctionnels (INAF).
Professor Raymond is both a microbiologist and a bioinformatician. His research aims to understand the relationship between the gut microbiome and the host through the study of microorganisms and the metabolites they produce, with special attention given to the endocannabinoid system and metabolic health. His team combines genomics to artificial intelligence to better understand these complex systems.
Nutritionist, Manager for Nutritional Biochemistry, Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences, Johnson Space Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Scott M. Smith leads the Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center. This group is charged with keeping crews healthy with respect to nutrition, including using nutrition to optimize astronaut health and safety. This work includes ground-based and spaceflight research to understand how nutrition can mitigate the risks of spaceflight.
Smith has ongoing research projects on the International Space Station. His past projects have been flown on the space station, space shuttle, and the Russian space station Mir. Smith has also led several ground-based research projects to better understand astronaut health in space, including studies of vitamin D in crews in Antarctica, studies of crews living on the bottom of the ocean, and studies of test subjects spending weeks to months in bed. While Smith’s research centers on the role of nutrition in astronaut health, specific efforts have evaluated how diet influences bone loss in astronauts and the role vitamins play in regulating changes to some astronauts’ eyes in space. His team identified that these ocular changes were genetically predisposed. Smith is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the American Physiological Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics. He holds a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Nutrition, both from the Pennsylvania State University.
Professor of Mathematics, U.S Military Academy, West Point, U.S. Army
Diana Thomas received her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1996. She then completed a National Research Council funded post-doctoral fellowship at the United States Military Academy and the Army Research Laboratory. In 2000, she joined the faculty of the Montclair State University where she was a professor of mathematics for 17 years. She also served as the director of the Montclair State University Center for Quantitative Obesity Research. Dr. Thomas is currently a professor of discipline at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She holds joint research appointments at the Columbia University New York Obesity Research Center and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and serves on the editorial board for the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, PloS One, and Nutrition and Diabetes. She has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles in exercise, fitness, nutrition, and body weight regulation relying on diverse mathematical methods ranging from differential equations to machine learning. Some of the questions she is investigating are “Why do individuals not lose weight during exercise?”, “How can we objectively monitor diet in humans?”, and “Does body shape and posture predict injury?” Her work has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fitness Magazine, Good Housekeeping, CBS News, and ABC News.
Senior Nutrition Scientist, Office of Nutrition Research, National Institutes of Health
Dr. Raiten has a BA in history and political science, BS/MS in animal science/agriculture and a PhD in Human Nutrition from Penn State University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Raiten has spent the majority of his career at the interface between research and translation to support evidence informed practice, programs and policies in food safety and nutrition. He began his career at NIH in 1999in the NICHD Office of Global Health, and served as the Program Director for Nutrition at NICHD/NIH where he was responsible for the portfolio of grants and related activities to support and advance the MCH nutrition agenda in the US and globally. He joined the NIH Office of Nutrition Research in October, 2023 where he serves as the Senior Nutrition Scientist. He is a recipient of the DHHS Secretary’s Award, 6 NIH Director’s Awards, and was elected as a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition in 2020.
Professor, Biomedical & Nutritional Sciences, University of Massachusetts
Katherine Tucker, Ph.D. is University Distinguished Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology in the Department of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences, and Director of the Center for Population Health, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She holds an adjunct appointment at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She received her PhD from Cornell University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut, both in nutritional sciences. Between these degrees, she spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. Before joining UMass Lowell, she was at the United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Northeastern University and McGill University. Dr. Tucker has contributed to more than 500 articles in scientific journals. Her research focuses on dietary intake and risk of chronic disease, including osteoporosis, cognitive decline, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, with an emphasis on health disparities. She is the PI of the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, a cohort study, to examine the roles of diet, health behaviors, stress, and genetic predisposition in relation to chronic conditions, including heart disease, cognitive decline, and bone health; and is actively involved as a scientific advisor for the NHLBI Jackson Heart Study. She served two terms on the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies of Science and Engineering and was the Editor in Chief of Advances in Nutrition, the international review journal of the ASN from 2013 - 2023. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Society for Bone Mineral Research, and senior editor of the forthcoming 12th edition of the textbook, Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease.
Interim SVP, Dean for Research and Director, Office of Dean for Research and the UF/IFAS FL Agricultural Experiment Station
Robert Gilbert is the UF/IFAS Dean for Research and Director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of UF/IFAS. He became dean in January 2019 and is responsible for overseeing the research mission and administration. His office manages more than $9 million in resources that are used to strengthen the capacity and innovation of UF/IFAS research.
Dr. Gilbert holds a B.A. in biology from Carleton College, an M.S. in agronomy from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in soil science from Texas A&M University. After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship with The Rockefeller Foundation in Malawi, he joined the agronomy faculty at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade, FL in 2000. He then became the Center Director until 2014 when he was appointed as the Agronomy Department Chair on UF’s main campus.
He is extremely supportive of international research collaborations and the depth and breadth they bring to faculty programs but realizes that these collaborations often have logistical challenges. He oversees the UF/IFAS International Support Team, an office conceived in September 2018 and housed within the research suite in McCarty Hall D. His past research experience has focused on breeding sugarcane varieties and working with stakeholders to improve one of South Florida’s signature crops. He has co-authored 88 refereed journal publications, developed 33 sugarcane cultivars, and presented at 17 international meetings.
In service to the profession, he has functioned in numerous roles within the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists and the Florida division of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. He has been honored with a United States Department of Agriculture/ARS Sustained Effort Technology Transfer Award, a UF/IFAS International Achievement Award, and several Denver T. Loupe Best Presentation Awards from the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists.
His administrative philosophy has always been to hire the best faculty and staff possible and then facilitate their success by providing straightforward annual metrics, devoting resources to promising initiatives, and supporting training and mentorship opportunities.
Eminent Scholar, Boston Family Professor of Nutrition, Director, Center for Nutritional Sciences, UF/IFAS Food Science & Human Nutrition
Dr. Cousins' research focuses on understanding the nutritional significance of zinc and how this micronutrient acts as a signaling molecule where specific zinc transporters target zinc to cellular sites to influence function. His laboratory makes extensive use of mutant mouse models and cell level experimentation and capitalizes on techniques of molecular biology and state-of-the-art analytical methods. He has trained over 75 doctoral students and postdoctoral associates. Dr. Cousins has been President of both FASEB and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). His numerous research awards include the Osborne & Mendel Award (ASN), MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, and Bristol Myers-Squibb Mead Johnson Award. He is a Fellow of the ASN and American Association for the Advancement of Science and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.