Ironically, he succumbed to the very disease against which he devoted his entire academic career and intellectual forces -- cancer. He worked hard in many laboratory situations involving the most potent experimental carcinogens and radioactive phosphorus. His death marks the passing of one of the great scientific contributors to the understanding and furtherance of the movement to encourage Americans to eat healthier diets and utilize foods to their utmost benefit in terms of disease prevention and amelioration, particularly cancer.
Dr. Pierson began his career at Stockton State University, moving on to Montana State, Idaho State, and finishing his Ph.D. at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. At Idaho State University he identified teratogenic abortifacient natural product compounds which were causing cattle fetus loss. His work benefited the local ranchers greatly.
At Washington State University his melanoma research entailed tyrosine/phenylalanine deficient diets augmented with dehydroascorbate and absorbic acid, and made for a marked understanding of this factor in terms of melanoma treatment. He was one of only thirteen applicants granted positions in the PRAT (Pharmacology Research Associate Training program) at the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He later assumed positions with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) via NIGMS working on homocysteine analog and copper chelate anticancer drugs, and subsequently at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Later at the NNCI DCPC (Division for Cancer Prevention and Control) in the Chemoprevention and the Diet and Cancer Branches, he was involved in work leading to the NCI recommendation for Americans to consume a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. After leaving NCI to take a position as he ad of Research and Development for Preventative Nutrition Consultants, Inc., he lectured worldwide and was interviewed by countless journalists on TV, radio and in the printed media -- all to the effect of delivering the message of what was in foods which could help prevent disease, and encouraging people to incorporate these into what he termed a "total healthier diet."
He developed and oversaw many clinical intervention trials involving food ingredient manufacturers intended to scientifically prove out and specify parameters of dosage and safety of purified food fractions incorporated into supplements or as fortified food ingredients. He was world-recognized in this role as scientific commentator. His work continues and will continue at PNC, Inc. regarding disease preventing capacities of dietary incorporation of beneficial natural product constituents.
Dr. Herbert Pierson is survived by his wife Suzanne Janine Paxton Pierson, P.D., his son Colin Herbert Pierson, 12, daughters Caitlin Suzanne and Calivia Janine Pierson, ages 10 and 4 respectively.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.
By Suzanne Janine Paxton Pierson