NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Senior Nutrition Scientist Ershow Retires After 39 Years at NIH

Dr. Ershow portrait
Dr. Abby Ershow

Dr. Abby Ershow, senior nutrition scientist in the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), retired in December after 39 years at NIH. She led the ODS iodine initiative from 2014 to 2021 to strengthen research on and develop data resources for studies of iodine nutrition. 

Ershow was particularly involved with interagency collaborations with the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to develop databases of the iodine content of foods and dietary supplements. She also participated in an analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey program data to determine the proportion of U.S. pregnant women advised by their physicians to take supplements containing iodine, which underscored concerns about whether iodine intake is adequate in this population.

ODS acting director Dr. Joseph Betz said, “Dr. Ershow is a peerless nutritionist and an expert health science administrator. She has been a mentor to me in both areas during my time as acting ODS director. Abby has been a great colleague and a better friend to ODS.”

Before joining ODS, Ershow managed an extramural portfolio in lipid metabolism, atherogenesis and cardiovascular nutrition at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute from 1989 to 2014, where she helped investigators understand the NIH grants system. 

At NHLBI, Ershow set up the Dietary Effects on Lipoproteins and Thrombogenic Activity (DELTA) multicenter diet intervention trial and developed the plan for the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program, an interagency food composition project involving USDA, NHLBI and other NIH institutes along with many other federal partners.

Prior to working at NHLBI, Ershow was a staff fellow in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program of the National Cancer Institute from 1982 to 1989, where she worked on projects in China and Japan. 

She is the author or coauthor of 9 book chapters and more than 75 peer-reviewed articles and monographs. She also was a coordinating editor for Well-Controlled Diet Studies in Humans: A Practical Guide to Design and Management, the only full-length text on conducting controlled diet studies in humans.

Ershow received certificates in strategic planning (2011) and performance measure development (2013) from the Balanced Scorecard Institute in Cary, N.C. In 2007 she was elected a fellow of the American Heart Association and also completed a detail assignment as a visiting analyst at the Government Accountability Office. In 2006 she earned a certificate in public leadership from the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

Ershow earned a Sc.D. degree in nutrition, physiology and biostatistics from Harvard School of Public Health in 1979. She received a B.A. degree in biological sciences (physiology) from Cornell University in 1973. She also is a registered dietitian.

Ershow will continue to contribute to ODS projects as a consultant. She will also serve as a volunteer Maryland master naturalist docent at several local nature centers and wildlife refuges, compete for blue ribbons in county and state fair jam and jelly contests, sing with a local choral group and travel with her husband.

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