NutraWomen Wednesday: Susan Mitmesser, PhD, VP, Science & Technology at Pharmavite

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“I have a real passion for understanding how compounds from foods impact our health,”​ she said. 

Mitmesser said her interest in science nutrition started back when she was a collegiate swimmer. 

“When I was a freshman, I recognized very early on, in my first semester of undergrad, that what I put into my body impacted my performance. So talk about early personalization, I really used myself as an N-of-1 to figure out, okay, if I manipulated my diet one way or another, I could impact how I performed—and that really led to me wanting to research it in the end.”

Over the years, Mitmesser said she has seen the proliferation of research on women. 

“I still am impressed by the fact that early research really just eliminated studying females for the fact that the researchers didn’t want to deal with hormonal fluctuation. And what’s interesting about that is historically, from a research perspective, is it actually started in rodent models,” ​said Mitmesser. “Researchers would only use male rodents to do research so that they didn’t have to deal with the female endocrine system. So instead of that causing a question in their mind, like, how does the endocrine system really impact an outcome? They just ignored it, which as a researcher, that’s probably not the best place to start. So I do think that research has become more inclusive of females, in addition to the fact that there is an interest in understanding how females may or may be similar but also may be different than the male counterpart.” 

Mitmesser added that as far as female researchers go, she has also witnessed a big improvement over the course of her career. “However, there are still some gaps,”​ she said. 

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