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Dietary Supplement Research Practicum 2008, June 1-5, 2009, Natcher Conference Center, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland Office of Dietary Supplements


The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is offering a one-week educational opportunity to provide fundamental knowledge of dietary supplements to teachers and their doctoral or post-doctoral students/fellows with a serious interest in this subject. This 5-day intensive practicum will provide a thorough overview and grounding about issues, concepts, unknowns, and controversies about dietary supplements and supplement ingredients. It will also emphasize the importance of scientific investigations to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and value of these products for health promotion and disease prevention and treatment as well as how to carry out this type of research.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • supplement use in the United States and reasons for use;
  • the regulatory framework governing supplements;
  • differences in bringing foods, drugs, and supplements to market;
  • supplement quality;
  • assessing the health effects of foods and supplements; and
  • developing policies and advice about supplement use based on science.

Participants will also spend a day in Washington, DC, to meet with various stakeholders—Congressional representatives, the dietary supplement industry, consumer advocacy groups, and media—who study, advocate, regulate, or educate about dietary supplements. Participants will also learn about several databases that inform users about research on supplement ingredients, identify the contribution of supplements to total nutrient intakes, and provide data on nutrients and bioactive components in foods.


This practicum is open to faculty and doctoral-level students in all health-related disciplines such as nutrition, food science, pharmacology and pharmacognosy, exercise/kinetics, medicine, dentistry, nursing, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It is our hope that faculty will take the knowledge provided back to their institutions to provide more education on supplement issues, and that students and investigators attending the practicum might consider undertaking research on dietary supplements.

The practicum is limited to approximately 80 attendees so that we may provide a stellar environment for learning and interaction. We expect more than 80 applicants, so criteria have been developed for admission. See the page titled Application & Selection for instructions on applying to this practicum and criteria for the selection process. Students may also apply for a travel award of approximately $1,000.


The faculty consists of experts from NIH, academic institutions, and federal regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


The practicum will be held June 1 through June 5, 2009 (Monday through Friday) at the Natcher Building on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Sessions from Monday through Thursday will be held from approximately 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Friday’s session will run from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

There is no cost to attend the practicum itself. However, room, board, and transportation expenses are the responsibility of each participant. A Metro (subway) stop is conveniently located on the NIH campus. Limited parking for personal autos is available as well for $12.00 per day.

For your convenience, the Natcher Center has a full-services cafeteria open for breakfast and lunch.

Special note: Security on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus is very tight. All vehicles are inspected before entry onto the campus. All visitors must present picture identification (i.e., driver's license, passport, government or military identification) to enter the NIH Campus. Please allow plenty of time because inspection areas can be very congested early in the morning. For information regarding campus security procedures, entrance to the NIH campus, and parking, please click here: