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Christine A. Swanson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D. - Senior Nutrition Scientist

In 1998, Dr. Swanson joined the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) to develop a botanical research initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The U.S. Congress provided the funds to launch this research program to improve the science of botanical research relevant to dietary supplements. NIH currently funds 6 multidisciplinary research centers, collectively known as the NIH Botanical Research Centers Program (BRCP). The program has advanced the scientific base of knowledge about botanicals, including issues of their safety, efficacy, and biological action. After serving as the director of the NIH BRCP for 10 years, Dr. Swanson currently works on developing projects more directly related to nutritional sciences. Along with ODS and NIH colleagues, she is developing initiatives to address research gaps and to better inform consumers, research scientists, allied health professionals, industry, and nutrition policymakers.

Prior to joining ODS, Dr. Swanson served as a nutritional epidemiologist at the NIH National Cancer Institute for 12 years, conducting a variety of observational epidemiologic studies to evaluate the relation of nutritional status and cancer risk. She focused on improving exposure assessment of modifiable risk factors such as diet, body weight, and alcohol consumption. She also continued to pursue her research interest in selenium, developing the first kinetic model of selenomethionine metabolism in humans.

Dr. Swanson received her undergraduate degree in dietetics from Montana State University in Bozeman. She received her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences in 1980 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied human zinc metabolism. Subsequently, she accepted a postdoctoral position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, MD, to study selenium metabolism using stable isotope methodology. Her studies of zinc and selenium metabolism of pregnant women provided the first human data for revising the RDAs (DRIs) for pregnancy. In 1983, Dr. Swanson received a fellowship from NIH and returned to Berkeley’s School of Public Health to obtain training in epidemiology and statistics. She also worked as a nutritionist and clinical chemist at the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland.

Dr. Swanson was born in Butte, MT, and was raised and educated through high school in Anaconda, MT. Both cities were thriving copper mining towns for nearly 100 years and boast colorful histories.