Christopher Gardner PhD

Dr. Gardner, Professor of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, has extensive experience in successful study design, recruitment and retention. He also directs a NIH/NHLBI T32 fellow training program, and has advised national organizations, including the AHA Nutrition Scientific Advisory committee and the Obesity Society Education Committee. He will direct the CTC and the CTC Clinical Trials Support hub.

For the past 20 years most of my research has been focused on investigating the potential health benefits of various dietary components or food patterns, which have been explored in the context of randomized controlled trials in free-living adult populations. Some of the interventions have involved vegetarian diets, soy foods and soy food components, garlic, omega-3 fats/fish oil/flax oil, antioxidants, Ginkgo biloba, and popular weight loss diets. These trials have ranged in duration from 8 weeks to a year, with study outcomes that have included weight, blood lipids and lipoproteins, inflammatory markers, glucose, insulin, blood pressure and body composition. Most of these trials have been NIH-funded. In 2012 we were funded by NIH to conduct a 5-year low-carb vs. low-fat weight loss study among overweight and obese adults after genotyping them and assigning them to a diet that we believe they are more vs. less likely to succeed on based on potential genetic predisposition. One of the secondary hypotheses is that insulin resistance will be a moderator of success on the two diets. The original NIH study was generously augmented by the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) and a group of donors, allowing us to increase the sample size from 400 to 600 individuals, to add analyses of the microbiome in a subset of participants, and to bring in additional collaborators. As of June 2015 recruitment and enrollment was completed, with a final sample of n=609 randomized. The 12-month diet protocol for the the final participants enrolled will be completed by spring of 2016, and we expect main results by the end of 2016 or early 2017. As of 2015 our nutrition research team is also participating in two multisite studies, one on sodium intake, and another on Vitamin D supplementation.

In the past few years my long-term research interests have shifted to include a second line of inquiry that falls more under the umbrella of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). This shift came from the recent realization and appreciation that focusing on "health" as a motivator for changing and improving human food behaviors can drastically limit the potential impact for change. This realization led me to initiate the first annual Stanford Food Summit in 2010. The first Stanford Food Summit in 2010 was attended by hundreds of scholars from across all seven of Stanford's undergraduate and graduate schools (Medicine, Earth Sciences, Humanities and Sciences, Engineering, Law, Business and Education). The subsequent four Stanford Food Summit (2011, 2012 2013, 2014) have provided forums to present the work and findings of several new community-academic partnerships (e.g., Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, CA, and Second Harvest Food Bank in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties). The partnerships have been formed through CBPR pilot project funding that we were able to provide due to several generous donors who attended our Food Summits and were inspired by our vision for solution-oriented approaches to food system problems. My long-term vision in this area is to create a world-class Stanford Food Systems Initiative, and build on the idea that Stanford is uniquely positioned geographically, culturally, and academically, to address national and global crises in the areas of obesity and diabetes that are directly related to our broken food systems.