August 30, 2019

Nature Exposed to Our Method of Questioning—Reliability of Measurements Made on Natural Products

AOAC INTERNATIONAL is pleased to announce Joseph M. Betz as the recipient of the 2019 Harvey W. Wiley Award, the Association’s highest honor for lifetime scientific achievement. He is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to the development of analytical methods and reference materials for dietary supplements. Betz is acting director of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

“Dr. Betz is recognized as a leading authority on dietary supplements by natural product chemists worldwide,” said AOAC President Brad Goskowicz of Microbiologics. “I’m honored to recognie this exceptional and longtime member of AOAC with our most prestigious award.”

Betz will deliver the Wiley Award Address and lead the Wiley Award Symposium at this fall’s AOAC Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA. In his address, “Nature Exposed to Our Method of Questioning—Reliability of Measurements Made on Natural Products,” Betz will examine the principles of assuring data integrity and provide an overview of approaches to demonstrating method performance. He will stress the importance of demonstrating integrity and reproducibility in natural products research.

Natural product research encompasses a spectrum of biomedical and chemical investigations ranging from new compound discovery to pharmacokinetic and other clinical studies. Common to such investigations is the need to demonstrate integrity and reproducibility of interventions and data collected about the interventions and clinical data. Data quality efforts include assuring that biomass is properly identified, herbarium specimens are kept and cataloged, quantitative chemical measurements are accurate and precise, and analytical methods are transferrable to other laboratories.

Modern research on botanicals may include discovery of bioactive phytochemicals, including investigations of synergistic effects of complex mixtures in the botanical matrix. In the phytomedicine field, botanicals and their contained mixtures are considered the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), and natural product scientists are increasingly called upon to supplement their molecular discovery work by assisting in the development of analytical tools for assessing complex products.

Unlike single-chemical API, botanicals are variable because their composition depends on genotypic and phenotypic variation, geographical origin, weather exposure, harvesting practices, and processing. Inherent variability in raw materials and proprietary manufacturing processes can result in inconsistent research materials and commercial products that are under-potent, over-potent, and/or contaminated.

Natural product chemists have routinely developed quantitative methods for phytochemicals of interest as part their overall investigations. Publication of such methods occurs at the discretion of individual investigators, but when published, the methods described often serve as starting points for methods used by researchers and regulatory and quality control scientists. Ideally, published methods should be accurate, precise, and reproducible. Accordingly, the Wiley Award Address will focus on data quality efforts to ensure integrity of results and approaches to demonstrating method performance.

The Harvey W. Wiley Award Address will be delivered on September 9, 2019, during the 133rd AOAC Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver.

About Joseph M. Betz

Joseph M. Betz is acting director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health-Office of Dietary Supplements (NIH-ODS). He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCP&S), an M.Sc. in marine and environmental science from C.W. Post/Long Island University, and a Ph.D. in pharmacognosy from PCP&S. Betz spent 12 years as a research chemist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Following his work at FDA, he moved on to become vice president for scientific and technical affairs at the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). He joined NIH-ODS as the director of the newly created Analytical Methods and Reference Materials Program in 2002. In that capacity, he oversaw several large intra- and extra-governmental initiatives with the goal of providing stakeholders with rugged, validated analytical methods for measuring constituents of natural products in research, industrial, and regulatory settings.

Betz is a 30-year member of AOAC INTERNATIONAL and a Fellow of AOAC. He led NIH/ODS in a joint project with AOAC that was one of the most successful in AOAC’s history, generating more than 30 standards and as many validated methods for analyzing priority dietary supplement ingredients. Betz has been a member of the AOAC Editorial Board since 2009 and assumed the role of chairman in 2017.

Betz is author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. He has received a number of awards, including the AOAC Technical Division on Reference Materials (TDRM) Reference Material Achievement Award, the American Botanical Council’s Norman R. Farnsworth Award for excellence in botanical research, AHPA’s Herbal Insight Award for contributions to the botanical sciences, and the American Society of Pharmacognosy’s Varro E. Tyler Prize for outstanding scientific contributions to the field of dietary supplements. In 2013 he was recognized by the NIH Office of the Director with an Honor Award for his contributions to the establishment and development of the ODS Vitamin D Standardization Program.