We will miss Holly, but Congratulations to AHPA on a Fantastic New Chief Science Officer!



Holly E. Johnson Ph.D., Laboratory Director for Alkemist Labs, joined the company in 2014 as Senior Analytical Chemist, leading project teams in analytical testing and R&D as well as performing specialized research. We had a brief chat with her as she left Alkemist to join AHPA as the Chief Science Officer this month.


How have you seen the industry’s approach to testing evolve over your three years with Alkemist Labs?

Well, the industry has 21 CFR part 111 in place for a decade now, it’s no longer new, so I was actually a bit surprised to find some companies still struggling with compliance. After threat of enforcement beyond the FDA became apparent with the actions of various state Attorneys General, I saw sweeping changes in manufacturers’ testing regimens. Many companies that were previously allocating perhaps 1-3% of budgets to Quality & testing have now increased that investment to more in the 8-12% range, which is obviously a significant change. I have also seen the general attitude toward Quality shift from viewing rigorous testing programs as unnecessary or just an annoying expense, to many companies now proudly showcasing their strong Quality policies as a badge of honor in marketing and outreach initiatives.


Much of your background is on the academic side of herbs – how did that inform your work at Alkemist? What will it bring to AHPA?

About 20 years ago I was one of the first students to receive a pre-doctoral fellowship to train in the Norman Farnsworth-led University of Illinois Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements, from what at the time was a newly created NIH Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine. My involvement with academic medicinal plant research continued through my postdoc at the Institute for Ethnomedicine and on to my years at the University of Hawaii, so entering the business side of the herbal industry four years ago has definitely been an enlightening experience. Scientific innovation is rife in our industry and informs strategy, formulation, as well as sales and marketing, so I see my academic experience as a boon to the (potentially outlier) perspectives on the supplements industry I bring to working with Alkemist and AHPA.


What will you be doing at AHPA? What do you hope to accomplish?

My role as CSO with AHPA will include providing direct service to members on scientific and technical issues, managing AHPA’s educational & scientific programs and publications, reviewing and developing policies and guidance on technical issues, and also engaging with government, academic, and industry organizations in promoting the interests of AHPA’s members and the natural health products industry.  I will continue contributing to standards setting and other industry activities furthering the rational and responsible use of herbs, working in collaboration with AOAC, AHP, ABC, USP and other industry groups.


Any final thoughts on your way out the door to join the AHPA team?

I am beyond grateful to Elan & Sid as well as the whole Alkemist family, including our ace staff and our clients for the opportunity to serve. It is no surprise to me that Alkemist continues to thrive and grow. The company offers a unique value proposition to clients seeking transparency, scientific integrity, and a true partner in Quality. I look forward to visiting the new lab facility opening soon and collaborating with Alkemist on industry initiatives and education in the future. It has been an honor and my pleasure to work in a small family business environment with a diverse, talented staff and nimble, dedicated leaders!

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