Ask The Scientists was created to help individuals understand and master the science behind USANA’s top-quality products.

Founded in 1992, USANA Health Sciences (NYSE: USNA) is a U.S.-based nutritional company that manufactures high-quality supplements and personal care and energy products in its FDA-registered facility in Salt Lake City. Learn more about USANA by visiting the web site

Meet the Team

usana brian dixon

Brian Dixon, PhD: Executive Director of Health and Science Education

Background: Dr. Dixon earned his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Oregon State University where he focused his research on the underlying molecular and biochemical mechanisms of the aging process and the therapeutic potential of R-alpha lipoic acid.

Dr. Dixon went on to do his post-doctoral work at the Linus Pauling Institute evaluating the bioavailability of lipoic acid in young and elderly adults and its role in ameliorating deficits known to occur with age. He has authored scientific, peer-reviewed manuscripts on topics such as cancer, antioxidants, cellular signaling, gene regulation, stress coping mechanisms, weight management, sports nutrition, recovery following intense exercise, role of nutrition in recovery from surgery, inflammation, immunity, the aging process, and research on nutrients such as glutathione, vitamin D, plant polyphenols, and other phytonutrients. Dr. Dixon has also authored a book chapter examining the role of dietary antioxidants and cardiovascular disease in the elderly and has been a co-inventor on no fewer than seven patents submitted in his time at USANA.

Dr. Dixon joined USANA’s department of research of development in January of 2009. As an integral member of USANA’s scientific staff, Dr. Dixon’s main role was to facilitate and manage all human clinical studies conducted at, and funded by, USANA. In November of 2014, Dr. Dixon was asked to head up the newly formed Department of Health and Science Education as its executive director where he continues to speak internationally and grant regular media appearances educating on the importance of nutrition for optimal health.

“Nutrition has always been close to my heart. I’ve seen first-hand the power of proper nutrition—and even individual nutrients—in preventing, slowing, or even reversing detrimental changes that can occur in our cells. I joined the USANA scientific team for one reason and one reason only; their unyielding and uncompromising edict to produce the highest quality, science-based health products in the industry.”

usana toni mckinnon

Toni McKinnon, RN, CCRP: Director of Health and Science Education

Background: “Nurse Toni” is a Licensed Registered Nurse (RN) and a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP). She is also the creator of USANA’s Ask the Scientists and the weekly Essentials of Health eNewsletter. Before joining the Health and Science Education Department, Nurse Toni was a member of USANA’s Research and Development Team overseeing scientific product information and oversaw the research and clinical testing of various innovative nutritional compounds used in USANA’s products. Nurse Toni is also a co-author of several scientific, peer-reviewed manuscripts discussing these findings.

“Before joining USANA Health Sciences I spent many years taking care of individuals in a hospital setting who were suffering from chronic degenerative diseases. I knew that there had to be a better way to help people live healthy, active lives. Unfortunately, it is well-known that even people trying to eat a healthy diet may still be lacking in key vitamins/ minerals and other nutrients that are so important for maintaining health. I am excited to be a part of the Health and Science Education Department and I look forward to providing you with information to help you live a healthier lifestyle.”

Russ Barton, MS, CNS, CISSN: Senior Nutrition Scientist and Manager, Nutrition Spotlight, Health and Science Education

Background: Russ earned his MS in Nutritional Science from Brigham Young University in 1993 where his research emphasis was analysis of individuals who successfully maintain a significant weight loss. He has a BS degree in Zoology with a minor in chemistry also from Brigham Young University (1988).

Russ joined the USANA science team in 1997, after working with the government as a licensed environmental health specialist, a health consultant for an international weight management company, and teaching nutrition courses at a local state college.

In 2000, he was certified as a nutrition specialist (CNS) by the Certification Board of the American College of Nutrition. In 2003 and 2004 attended Harvard University continuing medical education in Practical Approaches to the Treatment of Obesity. In 2005, he was in the first group of people to be certified as a sports nutritionist (CISSN) by the International Society of Sports Nutrition. He regularly attends conferences and meetings to maintain his certification status and keep updated on the current issues related to nutrition research.

Russ has a strong background in research and has assisted in or co-authored several published scientific research papers. As part of his many roles at USANA over the years, he has written over 500 research-related articles and answered over 120,000 health and product related questions. A senior nutrition scientist in the Department of Health and Science Education, most people in USANA know him as the “Ask the Scientist Guy”.

Austin Winegar, BS: Ask The Scientists Content Coordinator

Background: Since joining USANA in 2011, Austin has played an integral role in organizing third-party published research, ensuring the safety and efficacy of USANA’s products, and reviewing all U.S. marketing materials for scientific accuracy.

His responsibilities also include researching new ingredients for potential new products, writing Ask the Scientist articles, answering Ask the Scientist questions, and providing science-based information for the True Health Assessment.

Austin graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in biology. In the field of science, his areas of interest focus on sports nutrition, weight loss/maintenance, anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry.

When he’s not in the lab, Austin enjoys mountain biking, skiing, hiking, and pretty much anything that gets him into the mountains.