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Thomas Colin Campbell (born March 14, 1934) is an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long-term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University.

T. Colin Campbell
Campbell speaking in 2013
Born (1934-03-14) March 14, 1934 (age 83)
United States
Education B.S. (1956), pre-veterinary medicine, Pennsylvania State University
Veterinary school, one year, University of Georgia
M.S. (1958), nutrition and biochemistry, Cornell University
Ph.D. (1961), biochemistry, nutrition, and microbiology, Cornell University
Occupation Nutritional biochemist
Notable work The China Study (2005)
Relatives Thomas M. Campbell, Keith E. Campbell, Nelson Campbell (sons)
Website T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

Campbell has become known for his advocacy of a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet. He is the author of over 300 research papers and three books, The China Study (2005, co-authored with his son, Thomas M. Campbell II, which became one of America's best-selling books about nutrition), Whole (2013) and The Low-Carb Fraud (2014).[1] Campbell featured in the 2011 American documentary Forks Over Knives.

Campbell was one of the lead scientists of the China–Cornell–Oxford Project on diet and disease, set up in 1983 by Cornell University, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine to explore the relationship between nutrition and cancer, heart, and metabolic diseases. The study was described by The New York Times as "the Grand Prix of epidemiology".[2]


Early life and educationEdit

Campbell grew up on a dairy farm. He studied pre-veterinary medicine at Pennsylvania State University, where he obtained his B.S. in 1956, then attended veterinary school at the University of Georgia for a year.[3] He completed his M.S. in nutrition and biochemistry at Cornell in 1958, where he studied under Clive McCay (known for his research on nutrition and aging), and his Ph.D. in nutrition, biochemistry, and microbiology in 1961, also at Cornell.


Campbell joined MIT as a research associate, then worked for 10 years in the Virginia Tech Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, before returning to Cornell in 1975 to join its Division of Nutritional Sciences. He has worked as a senior science adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research,[4] and sits on the advisory board of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.[5] He is known in particular for research, derived in part from the China study, that appears to link the consumption of animal protein with the development of cancer and heart disease.[6] He argues that casein, a protein found in milk from mammals, is "the most significant carcinogen we consume".[7]

Campbell has followed a "99% vegan" diet since around 1990.[8][unreliable source?] He does not identify himself as a vegetarian or vegan because, he said, "they often infer something other than what I espouse".[8][unreliable source?] He told the New York Times: "The idea is that we should be consuming whole foods. We should not be relying on the idea that genes are determinants of our health. We should not be relying on the idea that nutrient supplementation is the way to get nutrition, because it's not. I'm talking about whole, plant-based foods."[9]

He has been a member since 1978 of several United States National Academy of Sciences expert panels on food safety, and holds an honorary professorship at the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.[4] He is featured in the documentaries, Forks Over Knives, Planeat, Vegucated, and PlantPure Nation, a film produced by Campbell's son, Nelson Campbell. Campbell is also on the advisory board of Naked Food Magazine, for which he is also a regular contributor of articles espousing a plant-based diet.[citation needed]

In 2010, after cardiac surgery, former U.S. president Bill Clinton mostly adopted the plant-based diet recommended by Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Campbell.[6][10][improper synthesis?]


Campbell's h-index according to Web of Science using core collection author search for "Campbell TC*" and "Cornell University" as of February 2017 is 28 with total citation count without self-citations being 2504.


  1. ^ Interview with T. Colin Campbell, author of "Whole",
  2. ^ ""Chinese ecological studies"". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-03. , Clinical Trial Service Unit, University of Oxford, accessed December 3, 2010.
  3. ^ The China Study, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b ""T. Colin Campbell"". Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved 2017-04-15.  , Cornell University, accessed December 3, 2010.
  5. ^ "About PCRM" Archived 2010-11-26 at the Wayback Machine., Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, accessed December 3, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Sherwell, Philip. "Bill Clinton's new diet: nothing but beans, vegetables and fruit to combat heart disease", The Daily Telegraph, October 3, 2010.
  7. ^ Talk by T. Colin Campbell Archived 2011-04-17 at the Wayback Machine., Google Videos, 20:24 mins, accessed December 3, 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Interview with T. Colin Campbell", 2007
  9. ^ "Nutrition Advice From the China Study". The New York Times, January 7, 2011.
  10. ^ Conason, Joe. "Bill Clinton Reveals How He Became a Vegan - AARP". AARP. Retrieved 2017-07-02. 

External linksEdit