NIH Office of Dietary Supplements is seeking a permanent director after Acting Director Joseph Betz retired


David Murray, the director of the Office of Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health, is currently serving as the acting director of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) until a new, permanent ODS director is selected.

Photo © Sapryhin

Photo © Sapryhin

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) is searching for a new, permanent director. Joseph M. Betz, PhD, who served as acting director of ODS for 4.5 years, retired at the end of December 2022. As ODS works to select a new, permanent leader, David M. Murray, PhD, who is director of the Office of Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health, is temporarily serving as acting director of the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Murray has previous experience working with ODS, as he oversaw the office’s activities from 2012 to 2020 back when ODS was still a part of the NIH Office of Disease Prevention.

Betz was a longtime presence in the Office of Dietary Supplements, having served at ODS for 20 years. In an ODS Special Supplement, Robert W. Eisinger, PhD, acting director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, and senior advisor to the National Institutes of Health Director, said he “would like to acknowledge and express my appreciation for the outstanding leadership that Joe has provided to ODS.”

Betz was an esteemed pharmacognosist with expertise in botanical identification and phytochemistry. He initially joined the Office of Dietary Supplements in 2022 as the first director of the Analytical Methods and Reference Materials (AMRM) Program, where he oversaw initiatives to create “robust validated analytical methods and reference materials for accurately and reliably measuring the composition of natural products in research, industry, and regulatory settings,” the supplement states.

It adds: “After earning his doctorate in pharmacognosy, [Dr. Betz] spent 12 years as a research chemist in the Division of Natural Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. While at FDA, Dr. Betz led a team that worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify a dangerous contaminant in L-tryptophan supplements. In addition, after FDA identified serious adverse events associated with Ephedra supplements, Dr. Betz developed analytical methods to be used for enforcement actions on products containing ephedrine. He created and directed FDA’s Natural Toxicants in Food Plants Program and expanded the program to include development of analytical methods for bioactive substances in dietary supplements. Before joining ODS, he was Vice President for Scientific and Technical Affairs at the American Herbal Products Association, where he worked to improve industry supply chain transparency and traceability.”

“When Congress mandated that ODS support collaborative efforts to validate analytical methods and develop reference materials for dietary supplement ingredients, Dr. Betz joined ODS to build and manage the AMRM Program. As AMRM Director, he developed needs statements, requests for proposals, interagency agreements, statements of work, funding opportunities, and program announcements.”

Betz is an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He has received numerous awards during his career, including “the Norman R. Farnsworth Award for Excellence in Botanical Research, the Varro E. Tyler Prize for outstanding scientific contributions to the field of dietary supplements, the Herbal Insight Award for contributions to the botanical sciences, the AOAC International Harvey W. Wiley Award for Excellence and Development of Analytical Methods, and the G.H. Neil Towers Award," the supplement states.

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