The nutrition community and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA suffered a profound loss with the unexpected death of John A. Milner, Director of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland on December 31, 2013. Dr. Milner was an internationally respected scientist in the nutrition and health community, known for his broad understanding and championing of the role of nutrition and diet from the molecular level to its use in nutrition policy development and implementation. Dr. Milner joined ARS as Director in July, 2012. Prior to joining USDA, he was at the National Institutes of Health as the Chief of the Nutritional Science Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention of the National Cancer Institute. He joined the federal government in 2000, after serving as head of the Department of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University where he was Professor of Nutrition, a title he also held previously at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where he had served as Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences and as an Assistant Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
Dr. Milner was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University in nutrition, with minors in biochemistry and physiology and a B.S. in Animal Sciences from Oklahoma State University. He enjoyed a fulfilling 35 year marriage to Mary Frances Picciano, who passed in 2010, and is survived by their two children, Kristina Milner and Matthew Milner; along with a legion of loyal friends. Dr. Milner was a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society for Nutrition (having served as President of the Society in 1995), American Chemical Society's Food and Chemistry Division, the Institute of Food Technologists (named a fellow of IFT in 2009), and the International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics, where he was a member of the Board. He was a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Honorary Member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly, the American Dietetic Association).
Dr. Milner published more than 250 book chapters, monographs, and journal articles, and served on the editorial boards for a number of journals, and was currently serving as a senior editor for the Journal of Cancer Prevention Research. Over the years, Dr. Milner served in a number of roles, including as a member of USDA's Human Nutrition Board of Scientific Counselors, the Joint USDA/HSS Dietary Guidelines Committee, and most recently as incoming Chair of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Global Board of Trustees, where he had been serving as a Trustee. He served as a member of committees of the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. Olympic Committee Dietary Guidelines Task Force, and as chair of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research Working Group on Cancer Research Mechanisms. In 2008, he received the David A. Kritchevsky Career Achievement Award in Nutrition from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and was named the recipient of the Conrad Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition from ASN for 2013.
Dr. Milner will be remembered by the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center for his national and international leadership in fostering the role and research opportunities of food and health, including promoting the Center's mission and scientific collaborations. In order to honor his memory and recognize his contributions to the discipline of nutrition, the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center established the John A. Milner Lectureship in 2014. This Lecture will be presented annually at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center to an outstanding leader in the discipline of nutrition.