Advisors

Gary Fraser, MD, PhD

Gary Fraser, MD, PhD is the associate dean of research and Professor of Cardiology at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health. Professor Fraser received his medical degree from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Funded by the NZ Medical Research Council and NZ National Heart Foundation Fellowships, he received his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1979. Dr. Fraser received his PhD from the University of Auckland. He became board certified in California in internal medicine in 1981 and cardiovascular medicine in 1983.

Dr. Fraser is the author/coauthor of over 100 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, and the author of two books Preventive Cardiology (1986) and Diet, Life Expectancy, and Chronic Disease (2003), both which were published by Oxford University Press.

Ryan T. Howell, PhD

Dr. Howell’s work focuses on understanding the factors that affect human happiness and the benefits of happiness. He also collaborated in creating the Blue Zones True Happiness Test™. Ryan is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University and founded a website where adults can take short consumer psychology surveys and consumer psychology quizzes to receive personalized feedback about their spending habits.

Robert W. Jeffery, PhD

Dr. Jeffery is widely known for his innovative work in obesity prevention. Bob received a BA in Economics from Stanford University and a PhD in Psychology. Obesity has been his primary area of study throughout his career with special focuses in the areas of health behaviors, diabetes, cancer and smoking. Bob is the Director at the University of Minnesota Obesity Prevention Center and is a Professor in the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Leslie A Lytle, PhD, RD

An expert in children’s health promotion and childhood obesity prevention, Dr. Lytle has successfully worked with schools and communities to improve food and activity offerings. She works with Blue Zones to improve eating and activity behaviors in schools, families and employers. A researcher and professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, she is a Registered Dietitian and holds a BS in Biological Health and Medical Dietetics from Pennsylvania State University, a MS in Education from Purdue University and a PhD in Health Behavior/Health Education from the University of Michigan.

Dean Ornish, MD

Dr. Ornish is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and the founder and President of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. His pioneering research was the first to prove that lifestyle changes may stop or even reverse the progression of heart disease and early-stage prostate cancer and even change gene expression, “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer, heart disease and premature aging. Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for his program, the first time that Medicare has covered an integrative medicine program.

He is the author of six bestselling books and was appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. The Ornish diet was rated #1 for heart health by U.S. News & World Report in 2011 and 2012. He was selected as one of the “TIME 100” in integrative medicine, honored as “one of the 125 most extraordinary University of Texas alumni in the past 125 years,” recognized by LIFE as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation” and by Forbes as “one of the 7 most powerful teachers in the world.”

Gianni Pes, MD, PhD

Dr. Pes is a Senior Researcher in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at the University of Sassari, Italy. He graduated in Medicine and received a PhD in Medical Statistics from the University of Pavia, Italy. He started to study Sardinian longevity in 1996 and was the first to report in 1999 on the exceptional longevity of the population living in the mountains of Sardinia. The region was later determined to be one of the original Blue Zones regions.

Since 2000, he has been working in collaboration with the demographer Professor Michel Poulain of the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium. His work focuses on nutritional and lifestyle factors associated with a long life. Dr. Pes has published more than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, and is co-author with Professor Poulain of the book Longevity and Identity in Sardinia. The Discovery of the Sardinian Blue Zone (2014), published by Franco Angeli Press.

Gregory A. Plotnikoff, MD, MTS

Dr. Plotnikoff first became connected with Blue Zones when he traveled with the team to Okinawa in 2005. He is the Medical Director for the Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, an Associate Professor in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and a leading expert on Kampo – Japanese traditional herbal medicine. He received his master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Michel Poulain, PhD

Dr. Michel Poulain is a Senior Researcher at the Estonian Institute for Population Studies at Tallinn University in Estonia. He earned his PhD in demography from Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, where he currently serves as Emeritus Professor.

Since 1999, Dr. Poulain has studied supercentenarians (people reaching extreme old ages) for the International Database on Longevity. Among his findings, Michel discovered that centenarians in Sardinia were not randomly distributed on the island; instead they were concentrated in an area that he named a ‘Blue Zone’. From there he began a quest to validate age and centenarians worldwide.

In 2005, he began working with Dan Buettner to identify other “Blue Zones” such as Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Ikaria (Greece). Since 2004, he has worked in collaboration with Dr. Gianni Pes of Sassari University to publish scientific papers summarizing the characteristics of four out of the five Blue Zones identified to date. His research focuses primarily on longevity determinants with special emphasis on demographic, socio-cultural and anthropological perspectives.

Walter Willett, MD, DrPH

Walter Willett is a Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard University School of Public Health, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Chair of the Worlds of Healthy Flavors Scientific Advisory Committee. He studied food science at Michigan State University, and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School before obtaining a Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard University School of Public Health.

Dr. Willett studies the effects of diet on the occurrence of major diseases. He has developed specific methods to study this topic and applied them to 300,000 men and women starting in 1980 in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II and the Health Professionals Follow‐up Study providing the most detailed information on the long‐term health consequences of food choices.

Dr. Willett is the most cited nutritionist internationally, and is among the five most cited persons in all fields of clinical science. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, has published more than 1,500 articles, primarily on lifestyle risk factors for heart disease and cancer, and has written the textbook, Nutritional Epidemiology, published by Oxford University Press. He also published the bestselling Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, along with Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less, co‐authored with Mollie Katzen; and most recently, The Fertility Diet, co‐authored with Jorge Chavarro and Pat Skerrett.