David Heber, MD, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Heber is the founding director of the Center for Human Nutrition and founding Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition in the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine of UCLA. He has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine since 1978 and is currently Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Public Health. He directed both the National Cancer Institute-funded clinical nutrition research unit and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) nutrition and obesity training grants at UCLA for over 15 years. For five years, he also directed the NIH-funded UCLA Center for dietary supplement research in botanicals. He is the former chair of the Medical Nutrition Council of the American Society for Nutrition, the largest scientific society in nutrition globally, and currently serves as Chairman of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board and the Herbalife Nutrition Institute, an online resource promoting excellence in the field of nutrition. Dr. Heber’s main research interests are on obesity treatment and prevention, and the role of nutrition, phytochemicals, and botanical dietary supplements in the prevention and treatment of common forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. He has been repeatedly included in “The Best Doctors in America” and “Who’s Who in America.” In addition to authoring over 225 peer-reviewed scientific articles and several professional texts, he has also written four books, including “Natural Remedies for a Healthy Heart,” “The Resolution Diet,” “What Color is Your Diet?” and “The L.A. Shape Diet.”
Rob Knight, PhD (UC San Diego)
Dr. Knight is the founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation, an Agile Center in the Jacobs School of Engineering with the School of Medicine and the Division of Biological Sciences as founding partners, and is a Professor in UC San Diego’s Departments of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering. His work has linked microbes to a range of health conditions including obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, has enhanced our understanding of microbes in environments ranging from the oceans to the tundra, and has made high-throughput sequencing techniques accessible to thousands of researchers around the world. His lab has produced many of the software tools and laboratory techniques that enabled high-throughput microbiome science, including the QIIME pipeline and UniFrac. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Microbiology, as well as co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project, the American Gut Project, and the company Biota, Inc., which uses DNA from microbes in the subsurface to guide oilfield decisions. In 2015 he received the Vilceck Prize in Creative Promise for the Life Sciences. He is the author of “Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes” (Simon & Schuster, 2015) and spoke at TED in 2014.
Plenary Session Speakers:
Sean Adams, PhD (UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center)
Dr. Adams is Director of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC), a partnership of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service. He is also Professor and Section Chief of Developmental Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Dr. Adams’ research interests are in the area of metabolic physiology, where his group studies how obesity, pre-diabetes, and dysfunctional metabolic states associate with perturbations in normal fuel metabolism pathways. Metabolomics has been a valuable tool to examine these questions, and more recently to consider how the gut microbiome influences blood borne metabolic profiles. Future work will examine how changes in metabolism are involved in maternal and childhood health outcomes.
Hooman Allayee, PhD (USC)
Dr. Allayee’s main research interests are to identify the genes and pathways that contribute to phenotypes with a complex etiology, with a particular emphasis on cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Such endeavors have historically been difficult due to a variety of factors, including the genetic complexity of these diseases and/or the influence of environmental factors. However, over the last few years, complex trait genetics has been revolutionized by the ability to carry out association studies on a genome-wide basis (GWAS) with hundreds of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in very large populations. For example, such GWAS studies have resulted in the identification of hundreds of novel genetic variants for traits such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, cancer, various inflammatory conditions, and quantitative phenotypes associated with such disease states. Despite this success, these susceptibility alleles still only explain a small fraction of the overall genetic heritability for any particular disease, which implies either 1) the existence of additional genes with smaller effect sizes that are not detected in a typical GWAS study, 2) higher order interactions between genes and environmental factors, 3) and/or rare susceptibility alleles that are not included on current genotyping platforms. Moreover, even for those validated genes, an understanding of the underlying pathophysiological mechanism through which they contribute to disease processes is still lacking and awaits more detailed functional experiments. As part of our contribution towards advancing the field and addressing these issues, we employ a variety of complementary approaches to elucidate complex diseases at the epidemiological, genetic, and molecular level.
Jimmy Bell, PhD (Imperial College London)
Professor Bell completed his PhD in Biochemistry in 1987 (London) where he developed MR techniques to assess biological processes, and went on to work as a post-doctoral researcher in metabolism and obesity. He has worked extensively on the development and application of in vivo techniques for the study of disease development, where he demonstrated for the first time the importance of gene-environment interaction in obesity. Professor Bell joined the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (Imperial College London) in the mid-1990s, where he was appointed Group Head. He joined the University of Westminster in 2014 with the goal of creating a new Research Centre for Optimal Health (ReCOH). He continues to define the influence(s) of candidate genes and specific environmental factors on optimal health and chronic diseases, particularly those associated with adipose tissue metabolism and function. Professor Bell has published over 220 peer-reviewed papers and authored over a dozen chapters for scientific books.
Brian Bennett, PhD (USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center and UC Davis)
Dr. Bennett completed his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 1995. He then earned his Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences at University of New Hampshire in 1997. After earning his PhD in Nutritional Sciences at University of Washington in 2006, Dr. Bennett carried out post-doctoral work at UCLA where developed a focus on genetics based on his prior academic accomplishments and experience in the professional environment with Pfizer Animal Health. Subsequently, Dr. Bennett was an Assistant Professor of Genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and then joined the Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) in 2016 as the Research Leader for the Obesity and Metabolism Unit. Dr. Bennett researches the role of the human diet and nutrition as it relates to genetics, now known as the formal study of “nutrigenomics”. His primary focus is on understanding chronic metabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity, using integrative “systems genetics” studies. Dr. Bennett’s studies examine the relationship among many types of data such as genetic variants, gene expression levels and metabolite levels and how these interact to increase susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. In 2010, Dr, Bennett earned a prestigious K99/R00 “Pathways to Independence Award” from the NIH. This grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute enabled him to further study how genes and diet affect atherosclerosis. Prior to that, he was awarded various American Heart Association Grants.
Jonathan Braun, MD, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Braun is a physician-scientist devoted to the roles of the immune system in resistance and susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. He is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Braun was raised in Los Angeles, where he focused on violin performance. He was an undergraduate at Stanford University (BS, chemistry and biology), and did his MD and PhD studies at Harvard Medical School with Emil Unanue. After residency in Pathology at Brigham and Womens Hospital, and a postdoctoral fellowship with David Baltimore at the Whitehead Institute, he joined the faculty at the UCLA School of Medicine in 1985. At UCLA, he directs the clinical programs in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of UCLA Healthcare, and is co-director of the Instititute of Molecular Medicine (IMED) and the UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Through an integrated approach of molecular microbial ecology and metaproteomic and metabolite analysis, and human genetics, his research centers on the biology of mucosal interaction of host immunity with the local microbial community, and its impact on chronic mucosal inflammatory disease and cancer. He has published more than 140 primary research studies, 14 issued patents, and co-founded three biopharma companies. His recent national service includes Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Committee of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, and President of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies.
Charles Brenner, PhD (University of Iowa)
Dr. Brenner is the Roy J. Carver Chair of Biochemistry and a director of the Obesity Initiative at the University of Iowa. Dr. Brenner is a graduate of Wesleyan University and a veteran of biotechnology companies, having worked at Chiron Corporation and DNAX Research Institute, prior to graduate school at Stanford University School of Medicine. Brenner conducted post-doctoral research at Brandeis University with Gregory Petsko and then took his first academic position at Thomas Jefferson University in 1996, moving to Dartmouth Medical School in 2003, where he served as Associate Director for Basic Sciences at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. He was recruited to chair biochemistry at Iowa in 2009. Dr. Brenner has made multiple contributions to molecular biology and biochemistry, beginning his discovery of the eukaryotic nicotinamide riboside kinase pathway. In addition to gene discovery and characterization in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide metabolism, Dr. Brenner has developed targeted, quantitative analysis of the NAD+ metabolome and is active in translating nicotinamide riboside technologies to treat and prevent human conditions including diabetes mellitus type 2 and peripheral neuropathy. This work includes the first human trial of nicotinamide riboside, which demonstrated safe oral availability as an NAD+ precursor. Dr. Brenner has authored over 115 publications and his work has been funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the March of Dimes, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Beckman Foundation, the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
Pinchas (Hassy) Cohen, MD (USC)
Dr. Cohen is the Dean of USC Davis School of Gerontology, Executive Director of Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center and William and Sylvia Kugel Dean’s Chair in Gerontology. Dr. Cohen trained in Stanford and held his first faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania from 1992 to 1999. Until 2012, he was a professor and Vice Chair for Research at the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, as well as the Co-Director of the UCSD/UCLA Diabetes Research Center. He received numerous awards for his research, including a National Institute of Aging “EUREKA”-Award, the NIH-Director-Transformative R01-Grant, and the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging. He holds several patents for novel peptides and is the Cofounder of CohBar, a biotechnology company developing mitochondrial peptides for diseases of aging. Dr. Cohen has published over 300 papers in top scientific journals focusing on aging, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, growth hormone/IGF-biology and the emerging science of mitochondrial-derived peptides, which he pioneered. Dr. Cohen is president of the Growth Hormone Society and served on the Endocrine Society Steering Committee. He sits on multiple NIH study sections and on several editorial boards as well as on the American Federation of Aging Research Board. He is leading several new initiatives at the Davis School of Gerontology, including the development of a center for digital aging, and a major focus on the creation of tools for “personalized aging”, an approach he has been spearheading for the purpose of garnering the latest technologies such as genomics towards individualizing healthy aging strategies, that has been featured in the Milken Global Conference and in the Bloomberg Longevity Economy Conference. His laboratory focuses on unraveling processes related to aging, diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer. In particular, they focus on the emerging science of mitochondrial-derived peptides including, 1) humanin, a peptide encoded from the mt-16S-rRNA which is a novel, centrally acting, insulin sensitizer and metaboloprotective factor representing a new therapeutic and diagnostic target in aging, diabetes and related disease and 2) MOTS-c, a second peptide encoded from a small ORF in the 12S region of the mitochondrial chromosome, that has potent anti-diabetes and anti-obesity effect, acting as an exercise-mimetic.
John Courtney, PhD (American Society of Nutrition)
Dr. Courtney is Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) and has more than 20 years of executive level experience in leading organizations. In his role as CEO, Dr. Courtney partners with the elected Officers of the ASN in order to manage the programmatic and business affairs of the Society. During this time, Dr. Courtney has developed innovative programs in education and professional development, launched new nutrition publications, and expanded activities and services to 72 countries around the world. This unprecedented level of growth has more than tripled revenue for the ASN, increased its membership by more than 250%, and made the ASN a central resource where policymakers, government funders, and thought leaders interact to advance nutrition research and practice. ASN publishes the number one and number two ranked journals in the field, holds the largest nutrition science annual meeting in world, and is a leader in nutrition public policy and advocacy. Prior to his current position at ASN, Dr. Courtney was the President and CEO of the Clinical Research Forum and the Clinical Research Foundation, and Chief Financial and Administrative Officer with the American Diabetes Association and related affiliates of The American Diabetes Association Research Foundation. Dr. Courtney holds a PhD in Educational Administration from The American University where his academic study included strategy development and implementation and continuous quality improvement. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Business from Hood College.
Raffaele De Caterina, MD, PhD (G. d’Annunzio University)
Dr. De Caterina is Professor of Cardiology, Director, University Cardiology Division, and Experimental Cardiology Section, Center of Excellence on Aging, “G. d’Annunzio” University – Chieti-Pescara, and Scientific Advisor for the “G. Monasterio” Foundation, Pisa, Italy. He has been Vice-President of the European Society of Cardiology (2008-2010) and President (2009-2013) of the International Society on Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Vascular Pharmacology, and author of >600 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Major research interests: Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Atrial Fibrillation, Coronary Artery Disease, Cardiovascular Thrombosis, Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics.
Ahmed El-Sohemy, PhD (University of Toronto)
Dr. Ahmed El-Sohemy is a Professor at the University of Toronto and has held a Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics. He earned his PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He returned to Toronto in 2000 to establish a research program in nutritional genomics. The goal of his research is to elucidate the genetic basis for variability in nutrient response on health and performance. Dr. El-Sohemy has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles and has given over 200 invited talks around the world. He is on the editorial board of 10 scientific and medical journals and served as an expert reviewer for more than 30 other journals and 12 granting agencies. He has over 4,200 citations with an H-index of 38. Dr. El-Sohemy has served on Health Canada’s Scientific Advisory Board and several international expert advisory panels. He has made numerous appearances on TV, radio and in print media, and was voted one of the top 10 people to watch in 2004 by the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper, and in 2007 was nominated for Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 award. In 2013, Dr. El-Sohemy was named one of the top 10 inventors of the year by UofT and the following year he was awarded the Centrum Foundation New Scientist Award for Outstanding Research by the Canadian Nutrition Society. Last year he was awarded the Mark Bieber Professional Award by the American College of Nutrition. He is the founder of Nutrigenomix Inc. and Chair’s the company’s International Science Advisory Board.
William Evans, PhD (Duke University)
William J. Evans, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine in the Geriatrics Program at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. From 2014 – 2016 he was the President of the Muscle and Health Division at KineMed, Inc and from 2009-2014 he was a Vice President and Head of the Muscle Metabolism Discovery Performance Unit at GlaxoSmithKline a group dedicated to developing new medicines to treat muscle wasting, frailty, and sarcopenia. From 1997 – 2009 he was the Warmack Chair of Nutritional Longevity and director of the Nutrition, Metabolism, and Exercise Laboratory in the Reynolds Institute on Aging at the U of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. From 1993 to 1997 he was the director of the Noll Physiological Research Center at Penn State and from 1982 to 1993 he served as the Chief of the Human Physiology Lab at the U.S.D.A. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, The American College of Nutrition, and an honorary member of the American Dietetic Association. He is the author or co-author of more than 250 publications in scientific journals with an H-index of 100. His research has examined the functional and metabolic consequences of physical activity in elderly people as well as dietary protein needs of older men and women. He is the author of Biomarkers (Simon & Schuster) and AstroFit (Simon & Schuster, 2002). His studies have demonstrated the ability of older men and women to improve strength, fitness, and health through exercise, even into the 10th decade of life. His work has been featured on CBS evening news, 20/20, Good Morning America, NOVA, the New York Times, and a variety of media outlets. In 2005, he was invited to testify before the Senate Special Com. on Aging on strategies to save Medicare through prevention of chronic diseases associated with aging.
Michael Goran, PhD (USC)
Dr. Goran holds appointments as Professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine, Physiology & Biophysics and Pediatrics in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He is the founding Director of the USC Childhood Obesity Research Center and holds the Dr Robert C and Veronica Atkins Endowed Chair in Childhood Obesity and Diabetes. Dr Goran also serves as Co-Director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. Dr Goran is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, UK (1986) prior to postdoctoral training in the US (1987 to 1991). He previously served on the faculty of Medicine at the University of Vermont (1991 to 1994), and the Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB (1994 to 1999) prior to joining USC in 1999. Dr. Goran has published over 300 professional peer-reviewed articles and reviews. He is the co-editor of the “Handbook of Pediatric Obesity” published in 2006 (2nd edition is in press), co-editor of “Dietary Sugars and Health” published in late 2014, and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Pediatric Obesity. He has been the recipient of a number of scientific awards for his research and teaching, including: The Nutrition Society Medal for Research (1996), The Lilly Award for Scientific Achievement from The Obesity Society (2006), The Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research, from The Obesity Society (2009), and the TOPS award for contributions to obesity research from The Obesity Society (2014). Michael Goran’s research has focused on the causes of consequences of childhood obesity. His goals are to understand the metabolic factors linking obesity to increased disease risk during growth and development and using this information as a basis for developing new behavioral and community approaches for prevention and risk reduction. He is also especially interested in ethnic disparities in obesity and obesity related diseases with a special interest on the effects of dietary sugar on obesity and metabolic diseases among Hispanic populations.
Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD (Cleveland Clinic)
Dr. Hazen is the Jan Bleeksma Chair in Vascular Cell Biology and Atherosclerosis The Leonard Krieger Chair in Preventive Cardiology. A long term goal of his laboratory is to understand mechanisms through which inflammation contributes to diseases like atherosclerosis and asthma. Several major research programs are currently under investigation. One research program focuses on the role of myeloperoxidase, a leukocyte heme protein, in promoting oxidant stress in vivo, and its participation in cardiovascular diseases. A second area focuses on HDL structure and function. A final area of research interest focuses on the role of intestinal microbiota in cardiometabolic disease. All research projects rely heavily on chemical and analytical methods to identify specific reactions/products, their mechanisms of formation, and their use as probes to elaborate pathways responsible for disease. Research efforts in each program span from bench-to-bedside, including basic/genetic, cellular, animal model, and human clinical investigations.
Kurt Hong, MD, PhD (USC)
Dr. Hong is the Founding Director of USC Center for Clinical Nutrition and Applied Health Research. He is on faculty at both USC Keck School of Medicine and Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Hong received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Hong has been involved in obesity and metabolic disease research over the past 15 years. His research interests include the study of macro and micronutrients affecting energy metabolism, weight status and related complications, including metabolic syndrome. Dr. Hong has served on multiple editorial boards and national committees, including the Obesity Society, Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the American Society for Nutrition. He is dual board-certified in internal medicine and clinical nutrition. Dr. Hong contributes regularly to national magazines and other media outlets, and has been voted three times by his peers to Best Doctors in AmericaTM.
Elaine Hsiao, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Elaine Y. Hsiao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology at UCLA, where she leads a laboratory studying fundamental interactions between the microbiome, brain and behavior, and their applications to neurological disorders. Her previous work on neuroimmune contributions to neurodevelopment and behavior led to the finding that postnatal modification of the microbiota improves gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms in mouse models of genetic and environmental risk factors for autism. In addition, her laboratory identified select bacteria from the healthy human microbiome that promote host serotonin biosynthesis in the gut. Inspired by this interplay between the microbiota and nervous system, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. Our work in this area, and on neuroimmune interactions in autism, has led to several honors, including the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Neuroscience, Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in Neuroscience, National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science and Healthcare and National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer Award. Elaine received her PhD in Neurobiology from Caltech, and her BS in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics form UCLA.
David James, PhD (University of Sydney)
Dr. James currently holds the Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Molecular Systems Biology and he is the Domain Leader for Biology at the Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney University. He received his PhD in 1985 in Physiology and Biochemistry from UNSW. During this period, together with colleagues at the Garvan Institute, he developed novel methodologies for studying in vivo glucose metabolism in small animals leading to a number of important discoveries about the role of tissue specificity of insulin action at the whole body level. In 1985 he was awarded a Fogarty fellowship and later a Juvenile Diabetes Foundation fellowship to undertake postdoctoral training at Boston University with Paul Pilch and subsequently at Washington University in St Louis. During this period he provided cellular and molecular evidence to document the identity and behaviour of the insulin responsive glucose transporter GLUT4. In 1989 he established his own independent career as Assist/Professor at Washington University in St Louis funded by a Career Development Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. During this period he mapped many of the molecules and pathways that are known to be involved in the cell biology of insulin regulated glucose transport in muscle and fat cells. In 1993 he returned to Australia on a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship taking up a position at the IMB in Brisbane. During this period his laboratory discovered a number of key proteins and mechanisms that regulate the docking and fusion of vesicles with the plasma membrane. In 2002 he moved to Sydney to head up the Diabetes and Obesity Research Program at the Garvan Institute as an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow where he remained until February 2014. Since returning to Australia he has won several awards including the Glaxo Wellcome Medal for Medical Research and the Kellion medal for outstanding contributions to Diabetes research. In 2007 he was elected as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. He is currently on the editorial boards of Cell Metabolism, Molecular Cell Biology, Traffic and Journal Clinical Investigation. He was the founding member of the Asia Pacific Diabetes and Obesity study group with Professor Masato Kasuga and he is currently the President of the Hunter Meeting Inc.
Ray Jiao, MD (Tarcine BioMed, Inc.)
Dr. Jiao is President & CEO of Tarcine BioMed, Inc. (Beijing, Hong Kong, USA) and holds a Professorship at the Capital Medical University in Beijing, China. He graduated from Beijing Second Medical College and received postdoctoral training in the Department of Biology, University of Montreal, Canada. He then worked in the Department of Human Anatomy and Neuroscience, in the Capital Institute of Medicine for 17 years. He has 10 years of experience at Amgen on preclinical research for R&D projects using animal and non-human monkey models for various diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and acute/chronic pain. In 2005, he and several American scientists set up Tarcine BioMed Inc., a biotech company in Beijing Zhongguancun Life Science Park, to develop novel non-invasive diagnostic agents for early diagnosis of major human diseases. Among his many accomplishments at Tarcine, are the discovery its first blockbuster biomarker Rta and the development of a novel assay kit for clinical screening and diagnosis of the nasopharyngeal carcinoma, which occurs mainly in China and Southeast Asia with a high mortality rate. His company is also a pioneer in China to launch a series of early warning systems into health screening programs for risk level evaluation of cancer or stroke. Dr. Jiao is a regular member of American Society for Neuroscience and International Brain Research Organization.
Martin Kohlmeier, MD, PhD (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
After medical school and residency training, Dr. Kohlmeier completed graduate studies in bioinformatics, clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine at Heidelberg University, at the Max-Planck-Institute for Nutrition Research in Dortmund, and later at the Free University in Berlin. He holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, is principal investigator at the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis, and visiting fellow of Wolfson College at Cambridge University, UK. He has initiated the Train Nutrition Trainers (TNT) network of medical nutrition educators at the American Society for Nutrition and is director of the Nutrition in Medicine project at UNC. He has contributed to the development, implementation and evaluation of numerous computer-based multimedia programs, which are used by most US medical schools. For more than forty years he has developed innovative software tools for personalized nutrition guidance. Current versions operate on computers as well as mobile devices. He investigates what inherited differences mean for nutrient metabolism and how genetic information can support better nutrition decisions. Current work focuses on tailored nutrition for improving muscle performance.
Ronald M. Krauss, MD (CHORI)
Dr. Krauss is Senior Scientist and Dorothy Jordan Endowed Chair at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Professor of Medicine at UCSF, and Adjunct Professor of Nutritional Sciences at UC Berkeley. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University with honors and served his internship and residency on the Harvard Medical Service of Boston City Hospital. He then joined the staff of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, first as Clinical Associate and then as Senior Investigator in the Molecular Disease Branch. Dr. Krauss is board-certified in internal medicine, endocrinology and metabolism, and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, a Fellow of the American Society of Nutrition and the American Heart Association (AHA), and a Distinguished Fellow of the International Atherosclerosis Society. He has served on the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults, was the founding chair of the AHA Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism, and is a National Spokesperson for the AHA. Dr. Krauss has also served on both the Committee on Dietary Recommended Intakes for Macronutrients and the Committee on Biomarkers of Chronic Disease of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards including the AHA Scientific Councils Distinguished Achievement Award, the Centrum Center For Nutrition Science Award of the American Society for Nutrition, the Distinguished Leader in Insulin Resistance from the International Committee for Insulin Resistance, and the AHA Award of Meritorious Achievement. In addition he has been been the Robert I. Levy Lecturer of the AHA, the Edwin Bierman Lecturer for the American Diabetes Association, and the Margaret Albrink Lecturer at West Virginia University School of Medicine. Dr. Krauss is on the editorial boards of a number of journals, and has been Associate Editor of Obesity, the Journal of Lipid Research, and the Journal of Clinical Lipidology. He has published nearly 500 research articles and reviews on genetic, dietary, and drug effects on plasma lipoproteins and coronary artery disease. Among his accomplishments is the identification of atherogenic dyslipidemia, a prevalent lipoprotein trait (high triglyceride, low HDL, and increase in small, dense LDL particles) that is associated with risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In recent years Dr. Krauss’ work has focused on interactions of genes with dietary and drug treatments that affect metabolic phenotypes and cardiovascular disease risk.
Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Li completed her MD and PhD in physiology at Beijing University, China, and is board certified in internal medicine and a physician nutrition specialist. Dr. Li is the Director of the Center for Human Nutrition, Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition, and holds the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Endowed Chair in Human Nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She leads vigorous research programs in nutrition, microbiome, and metabolism at the Center for Human Nutrition; provides mentorship and didactic and informal training for young scientists, premed, medical students, medical residents, fellows, and clinicians; and directs clinical programs that specialize in metabolic diseases, bariatric medicine, gastrointestinal diseases, and cancer prevention/treatment. For nearly three decades, Dr Li’s research interest has focused on translational research in the role of macronutrients and phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of obesity-related chronic diseases. She has been a principal investigator for over 50 investigator-initiated National Institutes of Health– and industry-sponsored clinical trials and published over 150 peer-reviewed papers in journals such as JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and Journal of American Dietetic Association. Currently, she is the vice president of National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, the president of the World Association of Chinese Doctors in Clinical Nutrition, and a member of American Society for Nutrition Medical Nutrition Council.
Xu Lin, PhD (Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Dr. Lin received her MD in China followed by her PhD from the Division of Nutritional Science at Cornell University. She then trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Dr. Lin has been a Professor and Principal Investigator in the Institute for Nutritional Sciences at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences since 2003 and served as the Director for Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism in the Chinese Academy of Sciences from 2008-2016). Dr. Lin’s current research focuses on the effects of gene-gene, gene-environment factors (diet/lifestyle) and gene-phenotype associations, and their interactions on the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes; the predictive roles of omic-based biomarkers for metabolic diseases; nutrition intervention trials for individuals with metabolic disorders; and the effects of genetic and non-genetic factors on vitamin D requirement. She led the Chinese national genome-wide association study for type 2 diabetes and established a multiple omics-based prospective cohort. In addition, Dr. Lin also conducted several nutrition intervention trials for high risk individuals and published over 100 papers in internationally reputable journals, such as Circulation, J Am Coll Cardiol, Diabetes, Am J Clin Nutr, Nature, and Nature Genetics. Dr. Lin currently sits on the editorial board of a number of scientific journals and is the co-Editor-in-Chief of Nutrition & Metabolism.
Aldons Jake Lusis, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Lusis received his PhD in Biophysics from Oregon State University. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Kenneth Paigen in the Molecular Biology Department, Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo, NY. Since 1979, he has been on the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is presently Professor of Microbiology and Medicine, Human Genetics, and Medicine. He has served on multiple advisory panels for the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and various private companies and organizations. Presently, he serves on the NHLBI Board of Scientific Counselors. Dr. Lusis’ research is focused on understanding common forms of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, using population-based approaches in both animal models and humans. He is particularly interested in complex interactions, such as gene-by-gene, gene-by-environment, and gene-by-sex interactions, that are difficult to investigate directly in humans. To dissect such interactions, his laboratory analyzes common disease traits using a systems biology perspective, integrating clinical trait phenotypes with genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic and other high-throughput data. Dr. Lusis has authored over 575 publications and is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Research, the American Heart Association Duff Award, and the NAVBO Benditt Award.
Christopher J. Lynch, PhD (Office of Nutrition Research, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
As director of the Office of Nutrition Research, Dr. Lynch is responsible for leadership of nutrition research in NIDDK and collaboratively, across NIH institutes and centers. He participates in strategic planning, portfolio analysis, budget and resource allocation, and assessment of research needs and opportunities that fall within the mission of NIDDK and the NIH. He also develops partnerships outside NIH to further nutrition research goals. These partnerships are aimed at furthering our nutrition research goals and include both other federal agencies (for example, USDA, CDC and FDA) and private industries that fund nutrition research. As chief of a new Nutrition Research Branch of the NIDDK Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDDN), DR. Lynch also leads and coordinates nutrition research and training programs funded by NIDDK. In this role, he directly manages and supervises complex programs in nutrition research, and participates in the development of new funding initiatives. Dr. Lynch joined NIH after 27 years at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, most recently serving as Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology. His research focuses on how what we eat and drink influences processes leading to obesity and type 2 diabetes. He has also investigated the relationship between antipsychotic therapy and obesity and type 2 diabetes and how gastric bypass surgery changes metabolism. Dr. Lynch also led efforts to increase nutrition education in the medical school curriculum. Dr. received his PhD from Northeastern University and carried out post-doctoral training at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Vanderbilt University School of Medical.
Ari Mayer Mackler, PhD, MBA (The Wonderful Company)
Dr. Mackler is the Vice President of Clinical Development at The Wonderful Company, a privately held global company dedicated to harvesting health and happiness around the world through its iconic consumer brands. We grow, harvest, bottle, package, and market a diverse range of healthy products, including pistachios, almonds, water, wines, citrus, and pomegranates. A basic scientist by training, Ari obtained his PhD in reproductive physiology and immunology from Loma Linda University’s Center for Perinatal Biology and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in developmental and molecular biology. He completed his MBA at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Upon completion of his scientific training, Ari joined the pharmaceutical industry, focusing attention on reproductive medicine, contraception, and oncology. His decade long tenure in pharma began with the Dutch pharmaceutical Organon Biosciences, then transitioned to Schering Plough Corporation, and concluded at Merck & Co. In 2011, Ari joined The Wonderful Company to explore the biomedical potential of phytonutrients. Leading a robust research program, focus primarily resides with investigating the potential benefits of pomegranate and tree nuts. Ari serves as the chair of the Almond Board of California’s Nutrition Research Committee and on the Nutrition Advisory Committee of the non-profit group INC-NREF.
J. Alfredo Martinez, MD, PhD (University of Navarra)
Dr. Martinez reeceived his BS in Pharmacy and PhD in Nutrition from the University of Navarra, followed by his MD from the University of Zaragoza, both in Spain. He is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Physiology and Nutrition and Co-director of the Institute of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Navarra in Pamplona Spain. Dr. Martinez’s main research interests are in the role of nutrition in the control of metabolism and immunity, the nutritional utilization of functional foods, the evaluation of nutritional status in different populations, and cell, animal and human intervention and epidemiological studies in obesity. He has also developed a particular interest in personalized genomics and precision nutritional omics. He is co-author/PI or has been involved in several landmark intervention trials such as DIOGENES, NUGENOB, FOOD4ME, RESMENA, PREDIMED and PREVIEW, whose results and achievements have been published in leading medical/scientific journals, such as NEJM, Lancet; Nature, BMJ, AJCN, and Circulation. He is currently President of the ISNN and President-elect of the International Union of Nutriotional Sciences (IUNS), and has been the recipient of several important awards, including the Hipocrates and Dupont prizes.
Karin Michels, ScD, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Michels received her BS from the Freiburg Medical School in Freiburg, Germany, followed by her ScD and PhD from the Harvard School of Public Health and University of Cambridge, respectively. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health where continues to work on her long-standing interest in the role of nutrition in maintaining health. Dr. Michels is one of the co-founders of the area of epigenetic epidemiology and has made seminal contributions to the methods used in this field. Her research addresses the role of epigenetics in the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). In the context of DOHaD, Dr. Michels’ studies the impact of events during perinatal life on the establishment of the epigenome and the importance of the pre-pubertal and pubertal phases for breast cancer etiology. Dr. Michels leads one of the coveted BCERP (Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program) Centers as part of an NIH initiative to study the role of environmental toxins of breast cancer risk across the lifespan.
Joseph Pisegna, MD (Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System)
Dr. Pisegna is Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and Professor of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Pisegna is interested in the molecular pharmacology of hormones and receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, especially the diagnosis and management of islet cell tumors of the pancreas, including the Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. These research and clinical interests derive from research in the biochemistry and physiology of neuroendocrine tumors. While a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Pisegna first developed a clinical interest in the Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (ZES), where he discovered and cloned the receptor for gastrin and named it the cholecystokinin B receptor. More recently, Dr. Pisegna has demonstrated that receptors for gastrin are present in the kidney and mediate food-induced regulation of salt excretion. Dr. Pisegna was recruited to the faculty at UCLA and the Center for Ulcer Research and Education (CURE) in 1996. He is a recipient of the VA Career Development Award at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. His addition to the faculty of the UCLA Center for Pancreatic Diseases provides unsurpassed expertise in the diagnosis and medical management of pancreatic endocrine tumors.
Orian Shirihai, MD, PhD (UCLA)
Dr. Shirihai obtained his BS, MD, and PhD degrees from Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and is Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCLA Metabolism Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. His laboratory studies organellar biology with a focus on mitochondria, lysosomes and autophagosomes. In the past 15 years he has focused on mitochondrial quality control mechanisms including fusion, fission and autophagy. He is known for the development of key imaging approaches to quantify mitochondrial dynamics, motility, mitophagy, and turnover. Using these methodologies, Dr. Shirihai described the life cycle of the mitochondria and the role of continuous fusion and fission dynamics in the maintenance of bioenergetic capacity and efficiency. He also played a pivotal role in the development of cutting edge technology for high throughput respirometry in collaboration with Seahorse Bioscience, and has sustained active and fruitful collaborations with biotech and pharma over the years on projects involving drug discovery as well as research and medical device development. Dr. Shirihai has trained over 12 post doctoral fellows, of which four have been recruited as faculty in academic institutions, and two are founders of new biotech companies.
Mariana Stern, PhD (USC)
Dr. Stern is Professor of Preventive Medicine and Director for the Molecular Epidemiology MS/PhD Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She obtained her undergraduate training in Biology at the University of Buenos Aires, School of Sciences, in Argentina with a focus on molecular and evolutionary genetics. She obtained her PhD in Cancer Biology at the University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center and pursued postdoctoral training in molecular epidemiology at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Stern’s research is focused on the interplay between genes and environmental exposures and their role in cancer risk and prognosis. Using population-based strategies she tries to identify which combinations of genes and exposures put individuals at the highest risk for cancer. Her current studies are focused primarily on the analyses of dietary factors, such as meat, as potential sources of carcinogenic exposures relevant for cancer risk, taking into account variants in genes that play key roles in the mechanism of action of these carcinogens. Recently, she was the co-author of a World Health Organization monograph focused on the carcinogenic risk of consumption of red meat and processed meats, which lead to the classification of processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen. Dr. Stern is also involved in clinical epidemiological studies focusing on the identification of novel biomarkers of prognosis for localized prostate cancer, and the use of novel strategies for prostate cancer diagnosis.
Changhao Sun, MD, PhD (Harbin Medical University and Chinese Society of Nutrition)
Professor Sun is the vice president of Harbin Medical University and Professor and Chief of the Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene. He also serves as the vice president of the Chinese Society of Nutrition, the Chinese Environmental Mutagen Society, and the National Strategic Alliance for Food Nutrition and Health Industry Technology Innovation of China. Professor Sun is mainly engaged in the education and scientific research in the field of preventive medicine. His main research interests include research of chronic non-communicable diseases in epidemiology and molecular nutrition. He proposed the concept of molecular nutrition in China, developed the theory of molecular nutrition, proposed the hypothesis of high energy, high metabolism, and high demand, employed metabolism technology in the research of nutrition, and systematically investigated the effect of early life nutrition on the chronic diseases incidence in adulthood. The other focus of the team led by Professor Sun is achieving industrialization, such as developing functional foods and providing technical services for enterprises and policy and technical consultation for society and government. Professor Sun has published more than 200 papers, over half of which have been in international journals, such as Diabetes, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and Clinical Chemistry.
Vijaya Surampudi, MD (UCLA)
Dr. Surampudi received her medical degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine and completed residency training at UC Irvine, followed by a fellowship in Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Human Nutrition and works in the Center of Obesity and Metabolic Health (COMET). She is a Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and a Physician Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Surampudi is also currently the Assistant Director of the UCLA Weight Management program (RFO) and supports the multidisciplinary bariatric surgery group as a Bariatric Endocrinologist. Her work at UCLA and Los Angeles Department of Health Services is focused on developing large scale health care delivery across health systems by using personalized nutrition to help treat diabetes and obesity.