Kelly Swanson, Ph.D.


Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in Human Nutrition and Scientific Advisory Board member of Gnubiotics Sciences


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Panel discussion:

Fresh/human-grade pet food research and executive panel: Why digestibility, the microbiome and other factors differ — Fresh and human-grade pet food, and similar formats and formulations, keep gaining in sales and popularity with pet owners, with more companies continuing to enter the category. This growth has spurred new research on nutritional aspects of such pet foods, showing that digestibility, microbial populations, nutrient:calorie ratios, energy estimates and other factors differ; they are not better or worse, just different. This has implications for ingredient sourcing, testing, feeding guidelines and other issues related to product development. Leading researchers will present highlights of their latest studies, then be joined by executives of fresh pet food companies for discussion and Q&A. Topics and experts include:

  • Recent data on fresh and human-grade diets related to nutrient digestibility, fecal output and the microbiome — Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., professor of animal nutrition, University of Illinois
  • Pet food categorization: not all calories are the same — Donna Raditic, DVM, CVA, DACVN, Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Consultants
  • Implications of accurate energy estimates/feeding guidelines with veterinarians, pet owners in mind — Martha Cline, DVM, DACVN, Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals
  • Executives joining the panel discussion include Gerardo Perez-Camargo, DVM, PhD., Freshpet; Oscar Chavez, BVetMed, MRCVS, JustFoodForDogs; and Justin Shmalberg, DVM, DACVN, DAVSMR, NomNomNow


Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., is the Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has established an internationally recognized research program that uses genomic biology to study nutritional effects on host health and the microbiome, with primary emphasis on gastrointestinal health and obesity in dogs and cats. His laboratory has garnered approximately $18 million in research funding and has published over 205 peer-reviewed journal articles. Swanson has given over 135 invited lectures at scientific and professional meetings and received 15 research and teaching awards. He teaches 2-3 nutrition courses each year and has trained over 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, hosted 15 international visiting scholars, and mentored over 30 undergraduate research projects. He serves on advisory boards for many companies in the human and pet food industries as well as non-profit organizations, including the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences and the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.