Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., was appointed Director of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the NIH effective October 25, 1999. Dr. Coates directs an office whose purpose and responsibilities were defined in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994:
- to explore more fully the potential role of dietary supplements as a significant part of the efforts of the United States to improve health care;
- to promote scientific study of the benefits of dietary supplements in maintaining health and preventing chronic disease and other health-related conditions;
- to conduct and coordinate scientific research within NIH relating to dietary supplements;
- to collect and compile the results of scientific research relating to dietary supplements, including scientific data from foreign sources; and
- to serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary and to the Assistant Secretary for Health and provide advice to the Director of NIH, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration on issues relating to dietary supplements.
Dr. Coates served as Acting Director of the NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) from December 2010 through September 2012. Dr. Coates also served from 1996–1999 as Deputy Director of the Division of Nutrition Research Coordination (DNRC) at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In that role, Dr. Coates helped to coordinate human nutrition research efforts, both at the NIH and between the NIH and other government agencies. Dr. Coates acted as Co-Chair of the joint DHHS/USDA Steering Committee overseeing plans for the National Nutrition Summit that was held in Washington in May 2000. He also is a member of the Federal Steering Committee that oversees the development of the Dietary Reference Intakes. Prior to joining the DNRC, Dr. Coates was NIDDK's Program Director for the Type 2 Diabetes Research Program (1993–1996) and Project Officer for the multi-center clinical study called Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (1994–1996). From 1994 until his departure from NIDDK, he maintained an active role in career development and fellowship training in the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases.
Before coming to the NIH, Dr. Coates was on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (1975–1993), where he was Research Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry/Biophysics. His Ph.D. degree in human genetics was from Queen's University in Canada (1972) and his postdoctoral training took place in the Department of Human Genetics and Biometry at University College London (1972–1974). His major research interests for many years focused on inborn errors of human lipid metabolism. Dr. Coates conducted some of the early studies of fatty acid oxidation disorders in infants and children. With an international team of collaborators, he was responsible for defining many of the genetic defects of human mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. He also has studied the metabolism of intestinal and hepatic lipoproteins in people, to identify the metabolic defects in inherited hyperlipidemias. These studies have led to a new understanding of the role of environmental factors, such as diet, in the manifestation of genetic disease. He has written more than 100 publications, and has edited two books in these areas of research.
In 2011, he received the prestigious Conrad A. Elvehjem Award from the American Society for Nutrition for public service in nutrition. In 2013, he was made a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition and was elected to serve a two-year term as At-Large Director of the Society. 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.