Courtney Gaine, Ph.D., was named interim president and chief executive officer of The Sugar Association, the sugar industry’s chief lobbying group, the organization’s board of directors said Jan. 13.

“The guiding principle at The Sugar Association has always been centered on making informed decisions based on sound scientific research and Courtney Gaine, with her strong credentials in food nutrition, reinforces this continued commitment,” said Brian O’Malley, chairman of the Association.

Ms. Gaine previously was vice-president of scientific affairs at the organization. Prior to that she was senior science program manager at The North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute, a public, non-profit scientific foundation that advances the understanding and application of science related to the nutritional quality and safety of the food supply. She obtained her Ph.D. in nutritional sciences and biochemistry and bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Connecticut, where she was co-captain of the women’s basketball team in 1998-99.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead The Sugar Association and our members at such a critical period for the industry,” Ms. Gaine said. “During a time when misunderstandings about sugar are commonplace, there is both a great need and an excellent opportunity to educate consumers on the decades of scientific research regarding sugar. Sugar plays a critical role in our food supply and has for thousands of years. This is a fact in need of reinforcing.”

Ms. Gaine replaces Andy Briscoe, who led the organization for 13 years and announced his departure on Jan. 12.

“As we begin a new year, it is an appropriate time for me to begin a new chapter,” Mr. Briscoe said in a note to industry members dated Jan. 12 and seen by Reuters, adding that he was stepping down to pursue “new opportunities.” Prior to The Sugar Association, he was director of public policy and vice-president of the Salt Institute.