The People Behind the Science

Learn how the work they do assures the safety of Colgate-Palmolive products used every day.

Learn how the work they do assures the safety of Colgate-Palmolive products used every day.

Dan Roman

Product Compliance Engineer

As an engineer specializing in product compliance, Dan Roman knows that an everyday item like a toothbrush is far more complex that it initially seems. A graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology, Dan joined Colgate-Palmolive to work on compliance systems for household products. So he looks at which regulatory standards, say, a toothbrush must meet. “At Colgate-Palmolive, we are committed to always meeting and often exceeding the requirements established for our products,” he says.

For electromechanical products, Dan thinks about more than adherence to safety regulations. How is the product affected by static electricity—or by radio waves? What materials make up the product? How energy efficient is it? Has it passed assembly line inspections? Even though he has more than 30 years of experience in the field of compliance, Dan describes his line of work as “a college you can never graduate from”—there are always new products to learn about and regulations to be reviewed, understood and applied. Product compliance engineers like Dan must consider all of these questions and many more—sometimes asking questions that others have not. In some instances, Colgate-Palmolive has voluntarily adopted rigorous standards beyond what regulations require. For example, for the manual toothbrush, Colgate-Palmolive looks at not just toothbrush requirements and regulations, but also considers some requirements from standards for children’s toys, all towards the commitment to increase product safety. Dan understands that emphasizing product safety is crucial to making products that people can trust. “We’re not just thinking about the safety of the person holding the toothbrush, but also the safety of their toddlers and pets,” he says. “Together, we at Colgate-Palmolive have a lot of experience, knowledge and collected data about how our products are used, and we use all of our learning to make robust, safe products. Our families and friends buy Colgate products, and we have a responsibility to protect them and everyone else who uses our products.” Certifications: iNARTE, CERTIFIED PRODUCT SAFETY ENGINEER (certificate # PS-000014-NCE) Professional Affiliations: Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Senior Member IEEE Consumer Electronics Society member IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society member IEEE Product Safety Engineering Society member, past VP of Communication Services (and other positions)

Dr. Brian Slezak

Director of Toxicology & Dermal Clinical Research

One of Colgate-Palmolive’s top toxicologists, Brian Slezak loves the variety of what he does. “It’s a different job with new challenges every day, and that makes it really thought-provoking and exciting,” he says. “With the short attention spans that characterize today’s social media climate, it’s difficult to show people the depth and breadth of the science that goes into our products. But when we have the opportunity to explain the important work we do, the people who purchase our products understand just how committed we truly are to making them safe and effective.

“When I see my family using our products, I know that they are depending on me and my colleagues to do our jobs well to protect their safety,” Brian says. “That dedication to safety and thoroughness is deeply embedded in the culture here at Colgate.” It is the responsibility of Colgate-Palmolive scientists like Brian to ensure product safety. This requires a formalized assessment of each product, including analysis of all available data, examinations of the product’s effects on the human body, and evaluations based on how the product is to be used. This work helps determine ingredient levels and margins of safety to ensure that products are both safe and effective. Staying up to date on current research is essential to Brian’s job. Colgate-Palmolive’s toxicologists pursue and maintain Board Certification by the American Board of Toxicology, and work as a team to stay current on the latest toxicology information, including holding internal seminars to stay up to date. According to Brian, “Colgate-Palmolive scientists work as a team, sharing each other’s unique strengths and expertise to make us all better scientists.” This careful, considered approach to product safety makes Brian confident in Colgate-Palmolive’s brands. “We combine and apply expertise regarding existing and emerging science and engage in thoughtful risk assessment analyses, so people can be assured that our products are safe.” Certifications: Ph.D. in Toxicology, State University of New York at Buffalo Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. Completed certification requirements in 2003 and recertification in 2008 and 2013.

Dr. Laurence Du-Thumm

Director, Early Research Personal Care

Since the time Dr. Laurence Du-Thumm studied biology and biochemistry as a graduate student in France, she has been drawn to the intersection of academics and its practical application. This challenge drives her approach to research and development, which she has put into action during her 16 years at Colgate-Palmolive. “To me, innovation is the ability to bring new benefits to the people who use our products,” she says. “I am passionate about delivering new and better products backed by science.”

For more than three years, Laurence has managed Colgate-Palmolive’s Personal Care Early Research team focused on innovations for personal care products, a dedicated group that includes about a dozen experts in physical chemistry, lipid chemistry (organic molecules that are insoluble in water, but soluble in fats, oils or other organic compounds), cell biology, biochemistry and microbiology. This team conducts early research for new ingredients in personal care products from shower gels to lotions to soaps, while also working to validate or improve current product formulations. It’s not an easy job, Laurence says: “Personal care is a particularly complex and challenging area, because it covers a lot of different product forms sold in many different countries with differing regulatory standards, consumer preferences and expectations.” Laurence and her team are tasked with incorporating new active ingredients into personal care products, working with the product development team to create prototypes, conducting lab and early clinical testing to confirm the effects, and helping the business team to ensure marketing accurately reflects the benefits and science behind new product innovations. It can be a very lengthy process—often taking up to three to five years to go from initial ideation discussions to the appearance of a new product on store shelves. Throughout this process, Laurence and her team keep the user in mind while striving to deliver products that perform. But Laurence says her team is up to the task. “My team is very dynamic,” she explains. “Each member has a strong academic background, and each person is also incredibly passionate about applying that background to the world in order to create products that help people.” The passion that Laurence and her team bring to the area of personal care products was recently honored with the company’s Technology Excellence Award for its use of DNA techniques to map the skin flora, a variety of bacteria which helps to keep the skin healthy. The team’s initial research was funded by the Colgate Innovation Fund, which allows Colgate-Palmolive scientists to pursue work of their own personal interest in hopes of making new discoveries. A deep commitment to science and technology is what first attracted Laurence to Colgate-Palmolive, along with the company’s respect for academic knowledge and dedication to developing products through scientific investigation and support. Now, Laurence credits this commitment to science-based innovation as the main thing that continues to drive her career at Colgate-Palmolive. “I’m a mom of three, and so when I’m working on a new product, I’m thinking of them. They’re really my first consumers, and I owe it to them to always work on elevating our products.” Certifications: Ph. D. in Biology, Health Sciences, University of Rennes, France (1997) Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Diploma in Advanced Studies in “Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology and Health Sciences” University of Rennens, France (1994) Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry

Dr. Lauren Hutchison

Personal Care Team Leader

Lauren Hutchison says her passion for toxicology stems from a curiosity about how our bodies work. She explains that, for many ingredients, finding the right balance—not too little and not too much—is key. “I fell in love with product safety because I believe protecting the people who use our products is the most important thing we can do.” Lauren’s work as a Colgate-Palmolive scientist melds a devotion to product safety with a commitment to ethical testing practices.

As the personal care team leader for Global Product Safety at Colgate-Palmolive, Lauren says ensuring user safety starts with reviewing literature and staying aware of industry gold standards. But Lauren and her fellow scientists are not only looking out for the people who use Colgate-Palmolive products. In fact, they have also developed their own set of best practices to assure the safety of the Company’s personal care products to the fullest extent possible without using animals. Lauren explains that identified alternatives to animal testing should only be used if they are the product of sound science: “We want to find alternatives to animal testing wherever possible, but the alternatives also need to be grounded in science to provide the data needed to validate safety.” For many years, Colgate-Palmolive scientists have been on the lookout for new research on alternatives to animal testing. In 1983, far before the industry-wide animal welfare movement began, Colgate-Palmolive began sponsoring research on alternatives to animal testing alternatives. Each year, the company also releases an animal welfare report, openly detailing its progress in finding new testing alternatives. These initiatives are examples of what Lauren describes as Colgate-Palmolive’s “caring culture.” She adds, “I can tell you that we care about animals because we believe it’s the right thing to do.” Because of the way Colgate-Palmolive tests for safety and looks for reliable alternatives to animal testing, Lauren also says, “I stand behind Colgate-Palmolive products and feel good about using them.” And, as a mother of two, Lauren takes safety personally. She constantly asks, “Is this product something I would give my children?” When it comes to Colgate-Palmolive products, she is able to confidently answer, “I reviewed that formula—it’s safe.” Certifications/Professional Organizations: Ph.D. New York University Member of the Society of Toxicology Member of Mid-Atlantic Society of Toxicology Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology

Dr. LaTonya Kilpatrick-Liverman

Director of Technology, Early Research Oral Care, Hard Tissue Group

A commitment to science runs through LaTonya Kilpatrick-Liverman’s veins. “My father always encouraged me to pursue science because he believed it would open up so many doors.” For LaTonya, it definitely has. A chemist by training, LaTonya has been with Colgate-Palmolive ever since finishing graduate school at Princeton University in 1992. She draws daily from her graduate student training where she learned the value of having a curious mind and the importance of being persistent. LaTonya believes these traits support the skills needed to solve complex problems.

With more than 20 years of experience under her belt, LaTonya currently leads a diverse team of chemists and biologists within the Early Research Oral Care department. She and her team are responsible for developing testing methods, identifying technologies, and defining modes of action that best address oral conditions related to “hard tissue”, that is, the teeth. The efforts of LaTonya and her team ensure that Colgate-Palmolive has a robust pipeline of opportunities and breakthrough technologies available to develop into more effective oral care products. For instance, the team continues to bring new science to support the benefits of Colgate Superior Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer, an anti-cavity toothpaste containing arginine, which is a natural cavity fighting amino acid found in saliva. They also demonstrate the potential of new, innovative technologies that elevate product performance within the tooth whitening space. LaTonya began her Colgate-Palmolive career in Product Development - Personal Care working on designing the next-generation Palmolive bar soap. She soon made the transition to a cross-category research assignment focused on understanding the relationship between the structure and performance properties of bar soaps and underarm products. Throughout LaTonya’s Colgate career, she has been afforded the opportunity to work in different departments, learning and sharing knowledge along the way. LaTonya says that the process of developing breakthrough technologies takes time, with many technologies never making it past the assessment phase. She believes, however, that with every failure, there is tremendous learning that often spurs new ideas and pathways to explore. Her team works to design and put in place methods and models to test technologies in the lab and ultimately in proof of concept clinical trials. Much work is invested in designing the appropriate laboratory models that mimic real-world conditions to optimize a positive clinical outcome. The entire process is a collaborative one, explains LaTonya, as her team works with other areas of the company, including Product Development, Safety and Regulatory, Clinical and Legal teams. “At Colgate-Palmolive, we’re forever learning,” she says. “Because we’re always working with cross-functional teams with a variety of expertise, we’re always sharing information and discovering new and different things from each other. Our products are truly the result of numerous contributions from many people.” LaTonya says that this spirit of collaboration is innate at Colgate-Palmolive: “What we’re trying to do is build a culture where working together is valued.” And as someone who works to understand breakthrough technologies, she believes that this collegiality leads to creativity and great products. “I tell my team to never be afraid of failure,” LaTonya explains. “If you learn something from your failure, that’s great. Our team’s creativity, our exploration of new ideas, is how we add value to Colgate-Palmolive products.”

Dr. Leonard Humel

Director, Global Pharmacovigilance (GPV)

Dr. Leonard Humel compares the safety and risk management work at Colgate-Palmolive to a complex system—with each team having its own specialized function to ensure the safety of products for people around the world. He heads the Global Pharmacovigilance (GPV) team, which is tasked with monitoring the safety of Colgate-Palmolive products throughout their lifecycle.

Pharmacovigilance is an industry term meaning the continual monitoring of a product’s safety profile, which Len says is a part of making sure that complex safety and risk management system is functioning properly.

Len, a pharmacist by training, works with a team of fellow health care and GPV professionals—including physicians, pharmacists, and a nurse—to collect safety information about all of Colgate-Palmolive’s products on the market around the world. The job of Len and his fellow Pharmacovigilance scientists is no small feat. “We monitor all product lines, everywhere, all the time, totaling close to 1,800 products.” In fact, based on the work of the Pharmacovigilance team, Colgate-Palmolive is at the forefront when it comes to implementing monitoring systems to understand the safety and quality of its products.

For Len and his team, it is vital that patients and users of Colgate-Palmolive products share their individual experiences. “All information is important information,” Len says. “We are able to leverage our education and experience to do a better job when we have more knowledge.” The Pharmacovigilance team receives data from more than 180 countries in which Colgate-Palmolive sells products and analyzes it, looking for observations, trends, and opportunities to improve our products’ safety, quality, packaging or formulas.

And according to Len, the work of the Pharmacovigilance team positively impacts society on a large scale. “You are able to advance product safety and quality and protect the well-being of millions of people,” he says. “By tracking observations and noticing trends, we work towards limiting users from experiencing adverse effects and develop insights that can make our products even better.”

As an example, the GPV team puts a sharp focus on childrens’ products. As a father, Len understands the responsibility that comes with his job. “I’ve watched my young son raise himself to the sink on his stool with his toothbrush in hand, and I know my team has a part in the responsibility to make sure that his toothbrush is designed in the best possible way,” he explains. “As parents, that’s what we wrestle with. That’s what we lose sleep over, protecting our children.”

Working in Pharmacovigilance is a calling, according to Len. “You need to have a good foundation of technical knowledge, and also be able to think critically and analyze global information quickly.” It is essential that the scientists on the Pharmacovigilance team at Colgate-Palmolive have the ability to work together, to challenge one another and to defend a position, even when it is not the most popular one. That’s what Len says allows his team to “get it right the first time.” Although the work is demanding, Len adds: “At the end of the day, you know you are doing something that has global impact for the good of society by ensuring people’s safety.”

We would like to hear about your experience with Colgate-Palmolive products. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please contact our Consumer Affairs team by clicking here or calling 1-800-468-6502.

Education, Doctorate of Pharmacy, University of Kansas, School of Pharmacy & Bachelors of Science in Pharmacy, LIU School of Pharmacy
Licensed & Registered Pharmacist in NY, NJ & Florida
Colgate Medical Emergency Response Team

Dr. Marie Johansson

Director, Global Product Sustainability

An avid sailor, Marie Johansson has an appreciation for the world around her. “Ever since I was a child growing up in Sweden, I’ve been an outdoors person,” she explains. “And when I see the natural beauty of the world around me, I’m always reminded that the safety of the environment is so important for humanity.”

A Colgate-Palmolive product sustainability scientist with nearly 20 years at the company, Marie has made a career of safeguarding the environment. As a member of the Product Sustainability team, she measures progress improvements in product sustainability using specific key performance indicators outlined in Colgate-Palmolive’s Sustainability Report, including ingredient sourcing and safety, water and energy use, and social benefits. Colgate-Palmolive also understands the importance of third-party validation, so Marie works with outside sustainability experts to validate Product Sustainability improvements.

Ensuring that products have as little effect on the environment as possible is something Marie believes is imperative for Colgate-Palmolive. “As a major global company, it’s our responsibility to deliver a great product that satisfies user needs, while also having the least impact on the earth. In order to do that, we’re always innovating. That’s the driver of what we do,” she explains. “We’re always working to improve; to preserve our environment for the next generation.”

Marie loves that her work directly impacts and betters the lives of the people who use Colgate-Palmolive products. Furthermore, working in product sustainability puts Marie and her colleagues at the forefront of efforts to reduce environmental impact. “Our work is truly cutting-edge, and it’s gratifying to know that because of our team’s diligent efforts, the people who use our products can be confident that the products they use seek to have a minimal impact on the environment.”

Ph.D. in Chemistry from Lehigh University
Won several YCMAD awards, in 2004 and 2011.