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ARS Recognizes Nutrition Researcher as Outstanding Early Career Scientist / February 7, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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ARS Recognizes Nutrition Researcher as Outstanding Early Career Scientist

By Judy McBride
February 7, 2001

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 7—Cindy D. Davis, a research nutritionist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), today will receive the agency’s highest honors for a young scientist--the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist award.

Davis, who conducts research at ARS’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N. D., is being recognized for new insights about nutritional determinants of cancer that may improve public health, said ARS administrator Floyd P. Horn. The agency is the chief scientific arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Davis and other ARS scientists of the year for 2000 will be honored today at a 1:00 p.m. ceremony at the agency's headquarters in Beltsville, Md. As outstanding early career research scientist, Davis will receive a plaque, a cash award and an additional $25,000 in support for her research program

“Dr. Davis has gained the attention of leading nutrition researchers and groups responsible for establishing mineral requirements that promote health for the American public. She has become recognized nationally and is gaining international recognition for her contributions on elucidating the role of mineral elements in preventing cancer, particularly colon cancer ” Horn remarked.

Davis came to the Grand Forks center in 1996 as a postdoctoral researcher and officially joined ARS in 1998 as a research nutritionist. Many of the 43 articles she has published in scientific journals help define the role of diet in cancer prevention. She has also published two invited book chapters on dietary components and cancer and has been asked to organize symposia and give national and international presentations on this topic.

Recently, Davis demonstrated that when cancer-susceptible mice are raised on diets lacking copper--an essential trace element--and then challenged with a carcinogen, they develop more tumors or precancerous lesions than mice getting adequate copper. She also collaborated on research to show that, in rats, selenium in broccoli that was specially grown to have high amounts of this essential trace element is more protective than other forms of selenium against chemically induced colon cancer.

Prior to joining ARS, Davis worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. There, she studied how humans metabolize heterocyclic amines-- potential cancer-causing compounds formed in food during cooking. Her findings that human metabolism can activate these compounds into carcinogens and that specific human tissues activate specific compounds are now being used by investigators internationally to design studies in humans and animals.

Davis also found that mother rats can pass heterocyclic amines to their pups through breast milk and that the pups can activate the compounds into carcinogens. These findings may have implications for human infants.

Davis received a baccalaureate in 1986 from Cornell University and a doctorate in 1991 from the University of Wisconsin, both in nutritional sciences. She is a member of the American Society for Nutritional Science, American Society for Clinical Nutrition, American Association for Cancer Research, and Women in Cancer Research.

She lives in Grand Forks, N. D. with her husband John and two children, Nicole and Mikayla.

Contact: Susan Sorum, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D., phone (701) 795-8358, fax (701) 795-8230,

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