Roles and Responsibilities
The Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR) team completes projects in a collaborative manner. The roles and responsibilities of the NESR team, scientific expert groups, Federal Stakeholders, the Research Community, and the Public are described below.
Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR) projects are completed in a collaborative manner.
Our projects involve a number of key groups and/or individuals who work together to ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the final products we deliver.
Collaborators include expert groups, Federal stakeholders, the research community, and the public. The roles and responsibilities of those who are involved in the work of NESR, and how NESR addresses potential conflicts of interest (COI), are described below.
Each NESR project is implemented by a team of staff who are scientists with expertise in systematic review methodology.
This team handles all aspects of planning, facilitating, conducting, and documenting the work necessary for timely execution of the reviews in accordance with NESR methodology. All staff has advanced degrees in nutrition, public health, epidemiology, psychology, library science, or a related field. Staff also receives extensive hands-on training, which occurs over a period of months and continues with ongoing professional development, to be able to independently perform each step involved in NESR methodology.
These experts include nutrition scientists, physicians, dietitians, epidemiologists, methodologists, and/or end users of a review. Two examples of these expert groups are a Federal Advisory Committee and a Technical Expert Collaborative.
Federal Advisory Committee (FAC)
Prior to developing an updated edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) convene a Federal advisory committee called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This external, independent committee consists of nationally recognized nutrition, public health, and medical researchers, academics, and practitioners.
By law, a Federal advisory committee is established and governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee) undergoes training to support its work, including use of the NESR methodology. Once training is complete, the NESR team and the Committee conduct systematic reviews as one of multiple approaches to examine the state of current scientific evidence related to diet and health.
The Committee summarizes the state of the science it reviewed, along with its scientific advice and rationale in a Scientific Advisory Report that it submits to the Secretaries of USDA and HHS. The Scientific Advisory Report is considered by the Secretaries as they oversee development of and approve the Departments’ next edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For more information about the process for developing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Committee, visit: www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.
Technical Expert Collaborative (TEC)
A Technical Expert Collaborative (TEC) is a group of six to eight recognized experts, brought together to participate in a NESR project on a specific topic. TEC members may be internal or external to the Federal government. They work with NESR staff to review and provide feedback to refine systematic review materials, and synthesize the body of evidence to answer important diet-related questions. A TEC is not a Federal advisory committee; therefore, it does not provide advice or recommendations to the government. Instead, the TEC completes systematic reviews that define the state of science on a specific topic, and do not advise the government based on the systematic reviews’ conclusions.
NESR projects that involve Technical Expert Collaboratives (TECs) also may convene a group of Federal nutrition and health stakeholders who represent subject matter experts and potential end-users.
This group of stakeholders may help identify high-priority topic areas for Federal programs and questions to be answered using NESR methodology. The group may recommend potential experts to serve on TECs. They also may provide input on the systematic review protocol, such as analytic frameworks and inclusion and exclusion criteria.
In addition, Federal stakeholders may serve as peer reviewers of the final systematic reviews to ensure the reviews’ utility for informing Federal nutrition-related programs and policies.
The Research Community
Researchers and Federal agencies may utilize research recommendations that are identified in the NESR review process to conduct or support research that informs Federal guidance and programs and advances nutrition science.
NESR seeks to make activities transparent to the public and ensure that input from the public is considered.
The public includes individuals, such as consumers, researchers, academics, industry professionals, members of the media, students, community partners, and others interested in diet and health. The public may also include organizations, such as consumer agencies, research institutes, academic institutions, food industry boards, scientific societies, and community programs.
When working with a Federal advisory committee, such as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee), FACA requires the Committee to function in an open and public process.
The public is encouraged to engage throughout the process in a variety of ways:
- Attend public meetings
- Submit written comments during the open public comment period throughout the Committee’s two-year term,
- Provide oral testimony at one of the public meetings, and
- Check out updates and new materials at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.
Public comments are considered as the Committee gathers background information, understands public and professional perspectives, and/or examines emerging evidence or issues to consider when reviewing the evidence.
NESR is committed to transparency and accessibility, and therefore will seek to expand opportunities for public engagement in future projects.
Conflict of Interest
All individuals with a substantive role in a NESR systematic review project, including NESR staff and external experts, submit a curriculum vitae and disclose potential conflicts of interest (COI).
All individuals with a substantive role in a NESR systematic review project, including NESR staff and external experts, submit a curriculum vitae and disclose potential conflicts of interest (COI). Any potential COIs are reviewed with the USDA Office of Ethics.
- For Federal advisory committee members, such as those on a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, review of COI is conducted by USDA or HHS Federal ethics staff as part of each member’s vetting process using guidance provided by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. More information can be found at www.Dietaryguidelines.gov.
- For Technical Expert Collaborative (TEC) members, prior to the approval of individuals for participation in a NESR project, NESR staff review completed COI disclosure forms from each potential TEC member to determine whether any disclosures could potentially bias the technical contributions of an individual or give the appearance of bias. Potential COI are reviewed in consultation with the USDA Office of Ethics. If such potential conflicts are found, they are managed by: 1) not inviting the individual to participate, or, 2) leveraging the input of other TEC members to ensure that a range of diverse viewpoints and subject matter expertise were considered and balanced when evaluating the evidence. Disclosures are reassessed biannually during the course of a project to ensure that COIs do not arise.
The Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR) team specializes in conducting food- and nutrition-related systematic reviews.
Roles and Responsibilities
NESR projects are completed in a collaborative manner. Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of the NESR team, scientific expert groups, Federal Stakeholders, the Research Community, and the Public.
Advancing NESR Methodology
NESR works to ensure that our methodology remains state-of-the-art. Learn more about how we continuously advance our methodology.