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Nutraceuticals, women, and the science that drives innovation

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Nutritional Outlook recently sat down with three esteemed panelists to discuss the importance of women's representation in science, both as scientists, and as research subjects. What followed was an insightful conversation highlighting the progress the nutraceuticals industry has made in being inclusive to women, but more importantly, the great deal of work that remains to create equity in the field.

Produced by Nutritional Outlook, this roundtable was created in association with Women In Nutraceuticals (WIN), a new nonprofit group spearheaded by global nutraceutical leaders whose mission is to build support for women in the nutraceuticals industry, to help increase the percentage of women holding leadership roles in the C-suite and across the dietary supplement supply chain, to increase funding for female-led businesses, and to increase women’s participation in nutraceuticals research.

As a founding media partner of WIN, Nutritional Outlook, a brand of MJH Life Sciences™, is spearheading online events and editorial coverage to further WIN’s mission of encouraging representation of women in the nutraceuticals industry and in nutrition research.

Enjoy the full roundtable discussion here:

More bite-size highlights of our discussion can be viewed here:

Meet the panelists:

Holly E. Johnson, PhD, Chief Science Officer, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA; Silver Spring, MD)

Holly E. Johnson, Ph.D., is the Chief Science Officer at the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) where she is the primary scientific resource for the organization, providing individualized technical guidance to member organizations and helping the herbal industry use the latest science, technology, and research to ensure consumers continue to have informed access to innovative, safe, and effective herbal products. Before joining AHPA, Holly served as the Laboratory Director for Alkemist Labs, an ISO 17025–accredited natural products testing lab specializing in botanicals. Holly earned her PhD in pharmacognosy at the College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois–Chicago (UIC), under renowned pharmacognosist and researcher Dr. Norman Farnsworth. Holly was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) pre-doctoral fellowship and trained at the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at The Institute for EthnoMedicine, studying the etiology of neurodegenerative disease, and worked for Waters Corporation conducting technical training and regulatory consulting for pharmaceutical and supplements companies. She is currently a research associate with the National Tropical Botanical Garden and serves on AOAC Stakeholders Panels and Expert Review Panels for foods and dietary supplements. She is a member of the United States Pharmacopeia’s (USP) Expert Panel on Medical Cannabis, the Editorial Board of the Journal of AOAC International, and also serves on the advisory boards of the American Botanical Council and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Holly has over 20 years of experience in natural products chemistry with botanicals and spent many happy years conducting research on medicinal plants and teaching courses at the University of Hawaii.

Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, vice president, Science and Technology Pharmavite, LLC (West Hills, CA)

Dr. Mitmesser provides scientific leadership at Pharmavite to advance innovation and new product development strategies, and to ensure the scientific integrity of all products made under its brand portfolio. She has a passion for nutrition and wellness and leverages her ability to communicate scientific findings to consumers and the marketplace.

She brings 20+ years of extensive experience in research and nutritional biochemistry across various industries and sectors, including food, dietary supplements, academia and clinical settings. She serves on the Editorial Board of four peer-reviewed journals: Advance Journal of Food Science and Technology, Journal of Pediatric Intensive Care, World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, and Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. In addition, she has published in many peer-reviewed journals and is a contributing author for book chapters relating to nutrition in adult and pediatric populations.

Dr. Mitmesser is an active member of the American Society of Nutrition, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the New York Academy of Sciences. She also serves on the Senior Scientific Advisory Council for the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Dr. Mitmesser is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Connecticut and in the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She holds a PhD in Nutrition Biochemistry from the University of Nebraska and a Master’s degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dawna Salter-Farfan PhD, RD, senior manager of Clinical Research at PLT Health Solutions (Morristown, NJ)

As senior manager of Clinical Research at PLT Health Solutions, Dr, Salter-Farfan is passionate about developing and supporting science-backed natural ingredients that improve health and well-being. Prior to her role at PLT, Dr. Salter-Farfan was a Principal Research Scientist at Amway Corporation where she helped guide product ideation, clinical design, and claim substantiation to support the Nutrilite™ global dietary supplement brand.

Dr. Salter-Farfan received her bachelor’s in science degree in Nutrition and Food Science and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience. After graduating, she served as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the USC University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Salter-Farfan has authored peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and serves as an expert speaker on topics related to health promotion, disease prevention, and nutrition supplementation research. She is most excited about mentoring and encouraging women and girls in science.

Dr. Salter-Farfan is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Society of Nutrition, the Society of Sports and Cardiovascular Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional and Integrative Nutrition, and Women in Nutraceuticals. 


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