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My dishwashing duties quickly expanded to include assisting with research projects, and, when I graduated, I was the laboratory technician. A master’s degree at Penn State and dual Ph.D. in Human Nutrition/Environmental Toxicology at MSU followed, opening the door to a two-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

During my post-Doctoral training, the NCI announced a commitment of $20 million for research on the role of plant foods in cancer prevention. To compete for funding, the University of Illinois (UI) announced it was launching a new initiative on “functional foods.” The Functional Foods for Health Program would coordinate the research efforts of dozens of professors across the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses. In 1992, I was hired as the Founding Executive Director.

For the next 11 years, I spoke to audiences around the world about the importance of functional foods in health and well-being, served on numerous scientific advisory boards, engaged with regulatory agencies, and wrote policy papers on the topic for several national organizations.

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