ODS Update - Fall 2015

ODS Update: A Newsletter for Professionals from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health
Fall 2015

Table of Contents

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ODS Invites Public Comment on Dietary Supplement Label Database

Supplements spilling from a green bottle

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) welcomes public comment on the Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD). Established in June 2013 in partnership with the National Library of Medicine, the DSLD now provides all the information from the labels of more than 50,000 dietary supplement products marketed in the United States. ODS requests input from academic researchers, government agencies, the dietary supplement industry, and other interested parties, including consumers.ODS is particularly interested in receiving comments about new features to add and other possible improvements that would make the DSLD a more useful tool to users. A federal stakeholder panel for the DSLD will consider all comments received.

For further information, see the Federal Register noticeexternal link disclaimer. To ensure full consideration, all comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. eastern time, December 31, 2015. Interested individuals and organizations should submit their responses to ODS@nih.gov.

NIH Awards Nearly $35 Million to Research Natural Products


On September 1, five research centers received grants to develop new research approaches and technologies that are expected to have significant impact on the chemical and biological investigation of natural products. The grants, jointly funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ODS and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), include three Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Centers (BDSRC) and two centers spearheading a new initiative, the Centers for the Advancement of Natural Product Innovation and Technology (CANPIT). The program encompassing both complementary groups of centers will be called the Centers for Advancing Research on Botanical and Other Natural Products (CARBON) Program.

The three BDSRC each received competitive awards of approximately $2 million per year for 5 years, pending available funds. The two CANPIT were awarded a combined budget of approximately $1.25 million per year for 5 years, pending available funds.

“These research centers, individually and in collaboration with each other, have the potential to advance our understanding of the ways that different chemical components of a botanical dietary supplement interact with each other to contribute to a product’s overall bioactivity,” said Barbara C. Sorkin, Ph.D., Director of the CARBON Program at ODS.

“Our botanical research program has been a unique driver of research on natural products for 16 years,” said Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., ODS Director. “These centers will provide leadership in coordinating scientific discourse and disseminating innovative methodology and good research practices to the research community on natural products.”
For more information about the 2015–2020 grantees and the CARBON Program, visit https://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/Dietary_Supplement_Research_Centers.aspx.

New ODS Initiatives

Iron Status of Pregnant Women and Infants: Research Needs for Screening and Supplementation Strategies in the United States

NIH has a role in helping to close the research gaps identified by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Recently, the USPSTF determined that there was insufficient evidence to clarify the benefits and harms associated with screening pregnant women and infants (age 6–24 months) for iron deficiency as well as routine iron supplementation for pregnant women. ODS’ Scientific Consultant (contractor) Christine L. Taylor, Ph.D., will lead the project in collaboration with outside experts as well as representatives from interested government groups. The goal is to hold a workshop that will overview the current understandings and issues, and in turn identify the specific research needs related to screening and supplementation. Pending approval, the 1½-day workshop will include a range of experts as presenters and panelists, and will take place on the NIH main campus July 11–12, 2016.


John A. Milner Fellowship Program

Haiqiu (Jason) Huang, Ph.D.

The John A. Milner Fellowship Program—a new joint activity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC) and ODS—creates opportunities for early-career nutrition scientists to strengthen their skills through 2 years of postdoctoral research, supplemented by training programs, peer-networking, and field-learning experiences. The fellows will work in world-class laboratories at the BHNRC in close collaboration with scientists at ODS to improve and expand their research skills and learn about the translation of nutrition science into nutrition policy.

The first Milner Fellow, Haiqiu (Jason) Huang, Ph.D., began work in February 2015. Dr. Huang received his Ph.D. in nutrition and food science from the University of Maryland–College Park in 2014. His current research focuses on the effect of diet on the gut microbiome and its impact on human health—specifically on the role that small RNAs and phytochemicals in plants may play in the regulation of the human gut microbiome. The Milner Fellowship Program is inspired by the life and work of Dr. John A. Milner, who, until his untimely death in 2013, was the Director of the BHNRC. Dr. Milner devoted his career to expanding knowledge about the mechanisms of action and the health effects of bioactive components of foods while in academia, at NIH, and most recently at the BHNRC. A second fellowship will be awarded in the beginning of 2016.

News You Can Use
Vitamin D Conference

Vitamin D Meeting Summary Now Available

A summary of the presentations and discussions at the ODS conference, “Vitamin D: Moving Toward Evidence-Based Decision Making in Primary Care,” (December 2–3, 2014) can be found on the ODS website on the conference webpage.


ODS Fact Sheets

Vitamin D Conference

New ODS Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets are now available on these topics:

Funding Opportunities

Administrative Supplements for Iodine Nutrition Studies:

ODS Staff News

Christopher T. Sempos, Ph.D., a Nutritional Epidemiologist who joined ODS in 2008 as Program Director for the ODS Population Studies Program, retired in July 2015 after more than 27 years of federal government service. Dr. Sempos is now a part-time consultant with ODS, continuing to serve as Coordinator of the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP). VDSP is an international collaborative effort to standardize the laboratory measurement of vitamin D status. To learn more about Dr. Sempos, see his bio on the ODS website.

Christopher T. Sempos, Ph.D..
Regan Bailey, Ph.D., R.D.

Regan L. Bailey, Ph.D., R.D., Nutritional Epidemiologist at ODS since 2009, has left the federal workforce to join the faculty of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University as an Associate Professor. She continues her work with ODS as a part-time consultant, including serving as Coordinator of the 2016 Mary Frances Picciano Dietary Supplement Research Practicum scheduled for June 7–10, pending approval.

Luisa Rios-Avila, Ph.D., joined ODS in August 2015 as a Nutrition Scientist (contractor). Dr. Rios-Avila is developing fact sheets to provide health care professionals and consumers with information about the use of dietary supplements in the therapy of primary mitochondrial disorders (PMD). In related work, she will be assisting with the development of a road map to study nutritional interventions in PMD. Dr. Rios-Avila received her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from the University of Florida, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department. She is passionate about nutrition and recognizes the value of translating science for the general public to make a positive impact on people’s health.


Luisa Rios-Avila, Ph.D.
Cindy Davis, Ph.D. and Richard Bailen, M.B.A., M.H.A.

ODS Staff Honored

Cindy D. Davis, Ph.D., Director of Grants and Extramural Activities, and Richard A. Bailen, M.B.A., M.H.A., Senior Program Analyst, received individual Honor Awards from the Office of the Director (OD) at NIH on October 22. Dr. Davis was honored for developing ODS collaborations with intramural scientists through the ODS Intramural Research Scholars Program and the NIH Bench-to-Bedside Program. Mr. Bailen was honored for developing the Conference Forecast Tracking System to monitor conference travel requests across the OD.


Recent ODS Staff Publications

ODS staff members have published papers that address key issues in dietary supplement and related research. Three are found below. For a complete list, see the ODS website: Staff Publications.


Recent ODS Staff Presentations

For a complete list, see the ODS website: Staff Presentations.

  • United Natural Products Alliance Dietary supplement Analytical Summit
    November 5, 2015, Salt Lake City, UT
    Joseph M. Betz, Ph.D., gave a presentation titled A Review of Organizations and Programs Setting Standards, Creating Reference Materials and Methods for Dietary Supplements.
  • 8th Shanghai International Conference on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Natural Medicine
    October 22, 2015, Shanghai, PRC
    Joseph M. Betz, Ph.D., gave an invited Keynote lecture titled Certified Reference Materials for Natural Products.
  • USDA Human Nutrition Research Center Seminar Series
    September 15, 2015, Beltsville, MD
    Cindy D. Davis, Ph.D., gave a presentation titled Diet, Supplements, and the Microbiome: Past, Present, and Future.
  • American Society for Pharmacognosy 2015 Annual Meeting
    July 25, 2015, Copper Mountain, CO
    Barbara C.Sorkin gave a talk titled NIH Grantsmanship and NIH Office of Dietary Supplements Research Support, and Joseph M. Betz presented two posters.
  • Japan Vitamin Society
    June 6, 2015, Nara, Japan
    Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., gave a presentation titled Challenges and Resources in Dietary Supplement Research.


ODS Media Appearances

Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., appeared in a 1-hour documentary on dietary supplements titled The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s documentary series The Nature of Things, which aired on October 22 in Canada. Dr. Coates also was quoted in a CQ Researcher in-depth report on dietary supplements on October 30 and in the November 9 issue of Prevention magazine in an article titled 5 Things Omega-3s Can Do for Your Health, and 3 They Can’t.

Paul R. Thomas, Ed.D., RDN, was quoted in an article in Grandparents.com titled 5 Everyday Supplements That Can Hurt Your Health, July 30, and in The Washington Post in an article titled Fish Oil Pills: A 1.2 Billion Industry Built, So Far, on Empty Promises, published on July 8.

Carol J. Haggans, M.S., R.D., was quoted in an article titled Important Nutrition Tips for Endurance Athletes in the Denver Post, June 12.

Upcoming Events

Twitter Chat on Vitamins and Other Dietary Supplements

December 8, 1 p.m., Eastern Time
NCCIH and ODS will host a Twitter chat on vitamins and other dietary supplements with ABC News’ Dr. Richard Besser serving as moderator, using #abcDrBchat. Dr. Besser will address the topic of dietary supplements by focusing on what they are, what the research shows, and whether they are safe. ODS Director Dr. Paul Coates and Scientific Consultant Dr. Paul Thomas will be spokespersons from ODS. NCCIH spokespersons will include Director Dr. Josephine Briggs; Dr. John Williamson, Branch Chief, Division of Extramural Research; and Dr. Craig Hopp, Program Director, Division of Extramural Research.

Twitter Chat on Vitamins and Other Dietary Supplements - December 8, 1 p.m., Eastern Time

ODS Update provides information on news, activities, and resources from the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). ODS is a program office within the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mission of ODS is to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, stimulating and supporting research, disseminating research results, and educating the public to foster an enhanced quality of life and health for the U.S. population.

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About ODS

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact Us

Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Blvd., Room 3B01
Bethesda, MD 20892-7517

Email: ods@nih.gov
Web site: https://ods.od.nih.gov