The second of eight children, Haile (pronounced HI-le) Mehansho grew up in Africa, in rural Eritrea, where nutritional deficiencies were a daily part of life. "My goal has always been to study science and apply it in improving people’s lives. When I was hired by Procter & Gamble Co. to develop products that solve world problems—such as stunted growth and impaired mental development—through the elimination of conditions related to nutrition like iron and vitamin deficiencies, it was like a dream come true."
For the last 15 years, Haile has worked to pursue his vision. "As a chemist, I try to understand the physical and chemical properties of nutrients and how Mother Nature packages them in the foods that we enjoy every day."
Today, Haile has eight patents for his unique science, and some of these patents have been translated into products that are already making a difference in people’s lives. These include a powder fruit drink fortified with iron, vitamin A, and iodine called "NutriStar" in Venezuela. Haile’s work has received recognition and support from international organizations like UNICEF and USAID.
Haile knows firsthand the relationship between nutrition and the human body. "I am 5’ 5” and my wife also from Eritrea is even shorter than I am. But my son," he says proudly, "born here in the United States, is six feet tall and is built like a football player."
Haile was named an ACS Hero of Chemistry in 2000 and is recognized worldwide for solving the incompatibility of nutrients in several food forms. "I appreciate the recognition," he admits readily. "It helps me accomplish my dream to make a difference in people’s lives." His work is his passion, his purpose in life. "When I retire, I will beg Procter & Gamble to let me continue doing what I do now for free."
"I was born and brought up in a developing country called Eritrea. I understand what a nutritional deficiency means. I have experienced it."