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UF/IFAS Spotlights: Lynn Bailey, groundbreaking researcher for folic acid intake

Lynn BaileyDr. Lynn Bailey joined the UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition faculty in 1977. Over the course of more than 30 years, Dr. Bailey became internationally recognized for her research related to the role of the vitamin folic acid in ensuring normal fetal and maternal health.  She served on FDA’s prestigious Folic Acid Advisory Committee whose recommendation that folic acid be added to cereal grains to prevent neural tube (brain and spinal cord) defects became federal law.

Dr. Bailey’s controlled feeding studies in individuals, including pregnant women and the elderly, provided the scientific basis for the establishment of intake recommendations for folic acid.

She served as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee that revised the dietary intake recommendations used globally for folic acid and other B vitamins. Her long-standing collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enabled her to contribute to efforts to assess folate status as a basis for international folic acid fortification programs to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.  Dr. Bailey chaired the NIH Biomarkers for Nutrition and Development (BOND) Folate Panel and has authored nearly 200 journal publications in addition to serving as editor of multiple editions of the book “Folate in Health and Disease.”   She is currently serving as chair of the Nutrition International Global Task Force on Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defect prevention.

Dr. Bailey’s research and teaching accomplishments led to her selection as the recipient of many prestigious awards including the USDA Superior Achievement Award, and the March of Dimes Agnes Higgins Award for accomplishments in fetal and maternal medicine. In addition, the American Society for Nutrition selected Dr. Bailey as the recipient of the Centrum Science Award for research accomplishments in human nutrition and she was selected as an American Society of Nutrition (ASN) Fellow, the most prestigious ASN award based on superior professional accomplishments. The University of Florida recognized Dr. Bailey for both her research and teaching accomplishments with several awards including Teacher-Scholar of the Year, the highest award given to a faculty member.

Following her retirement from UF in 2011, Dr. Bailey was named head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia where she is initiating new collaborative folate-related studies and public health endeavors.

About this Series: The year 2020 commemorates the centennial year of the passage of the 19th Amendment, a crucial achievement in the women’s suffrage movement. This milestone reminds us of the collective spirit marshaled to enact this change. Throughout the year, UF/IFAS is highlighting female researchers, educators, staff members, students, and innovators who embodied a similar trailblazing spirit during their engagement with the university. These trailblazers left an indelible mark on both the university and the state of Florida. The 19th Amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” although some women were still denied the right to vote until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. We hope this series inspires others to ignite their own trailblazing spirit and effect change in our world.

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