T. Colin Campbell

T. Colin Campbell

Campbell speaking in 2013
Born (1934-01-01) January 1, 1934
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

T. Colin Campbell (born, January 1, 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.

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 education

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 Project, 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] [broken link] The implications are: that animal-derived proteins can "turn on" cancer cells carcinogenesis at the cellular level [8] and that plant foods (including plant derived proteins) can "turn off" cancer cells, also at the cellular level.

Campbell has followed a "99% vegan" diet since around 1990.[9] He does not identify himself as a vegetarian or vegan because, he said, "they often infer something other than what I espouse".[9] 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."[10]

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, and featuring Dr. Campbell and others, is currently touring theaters in the United States. 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.

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



  1. Interview with T. Colin Campbell, author of "Whole", philly.com.
  2. "Chinese ecological studies" at the Wayback Machine (archived July 25, 2011), Clinical Trial Service Unit, University of Oxford, accessed December 3, 2010.
  3. The China Study, p. 4.
  4. 1 2 "T. Colin Campbell" at the Wayback Machine (archived May 18, 2008), Cornell University, accessed December 3, 2010.
  5. "About PCRM", Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, accessed December 3, 2010.
  6. 1 2 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, Google Videos, 20:24 mins, accessed December 3, 2010.
  8. Lectures: eCornell 3-course sequence in plant-based nutrition, privately accessed December 3, 2010
  9. 1 2 "Interview with T. Colin Campbell", 2007
  10. "Nutrition Advice From the China Study". The New York Times, January 7, 2011.
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