Dr. Clare Hasler-Lewis, CEO
My desire to improve personal health through better nutrition goes back decades and is driven by family health challenges and professional commitment.
I chose to focus my academic career on the link between diet and health during my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University. Though a scholarship paid my tuition, I needed extra work to support living expenses. I found a position as an assistant in the laboratory of one of my nutrition professors and advisor, Dr. Maurice Bennink, who was conducting research on cruciferous vegetables and colon cancer prevention. Several of my uncles had died of colon cancer and my sister is a cancer survivor. During this time, my father died of prostate cancer, which is also diet-related, so the subject of diet and cancer became very personal to me. I expanded my role in the laboratory to take on research projects. By the time I completed my undergraduate degree, I was Dr. Bennink’s laboratory manager.
I moved to Penn State to complete a Master’s degree in Nutrition with Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton. My Master’s Thesis focused on a second topic of great interest to me: the role of diet and exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. After completing my Master’s degree, I returned to Michigan State to complete my Ph.D. My research introduced me to a professor in the medical school, Dr. James Trosko, who proposed a unifying theory for cancer and heart disease. After meeting with Dr. Trosko, I expanded my research focus to include both diet-related diseases. This allowed me to take advantage of a dual Ph.D. program in Human Nutrition and Environmental Toxicology. These efforts opened the door to a two-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
I completed my Post-Doctoral research at the National Cancer Institute just as they were announcing a groundbreaking Designer Foods Program that had committed $20 million for research on the role of “phytochemicals” (plant chemicals) in cancer prevention. The Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses of the University of Illinois planned to launch a Functional Foods for Health Program that would coordinate dozens of researchers studying the role of phytochemicals in cancer prevention. I was hired as the Founding Director. Functional foods are foods that provide health benefits that can prevent chronic diseases of aging (cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and others). For the next 10 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, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, and wrote policy papers on the topic for several organizations including the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Institute of Food Technologists. These activities made me aware of the importance of the business of nutrition, so I completed an MBA at the University of Illinois in 2003. In 2004, I accepted the position of Founding Executive Director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis.
UC Davis is one of the world’s leading agricultural universities. California’s Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Virtually all non-tropical crops are grown in the Central Valley, including olives, grapes and tomatoes. UC Davis is the top institution in the world for research on these foods and their health benefits. Olives, grapes and tomatoes, the key ingredients in Olivino™, are also foundational foods in the Mediterranean Diet.
My interest in the Mediterranean Diet is a continuation of my professional interest in functional foods. Since most North Americans don’t consume olives, tomatoes or grapes daily, Olivino™ was developed as the first dietary supplement to make the basics of the Mediterranean Diet convenient and accessible. I worked with a team of consulting scientists around the world for over 2 years to develop Olivino™. Each ingredient was carefully selected from the highest quality manufacturers and provided in doses based on published clinical research to ensure maximum health benefit. I am pleased to say that there is no other dietary supplement that provides the benefits of Olivino™.