Healthy Weight Initiative re-launches

Diana Fernandez, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Public Health Sciences and Pediatrics, is now heading the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Healthy Weight Initiative.

Diana Fernandez, M.D., Ph.D.

Diana Fernandez, M.D., Ph.D.

Fernandez, a nutritional epidemiologist who has spent much of her career studying obesity and weight gain, will soon begin visiting departments within the Medical Center and River Campus. The Healthy Weight Initiative will facilitate collaboration among researchers from seemingly disparate disciplines throughout the University.

“There are so many factors that affect energy balance – there’s physical activity, what we eat, DNA, culture, the economy, and so on,” said Fernandez. “we’re hoping to get people connected so we can start writing proposals that will ultimately translate into improving weight on a population level.”

The Healthy Weight Initiative is guided by three overarching concepts.

  1. Action-oriented research: The research which emerges from the initiative will be translational, and can be applied to individuals or populations.
  2. Team science: Transdisciplinary teams will collaborate to work together on projects from the very onset to develop a shared conceptual framework that integrates multiple perspectives allowing for research ‘outside the box’ that can translate more quickly to clinical practice.
  3. System thinking: The initiative will look at the interconnection of the myriad factors that contribute to a person’s weight. While complex, understanding the entire system that affects weight is vital to future breakthroughs.

The Healthy Weight Initiative grew out of a group started two years ago that organized the Obesity Research Roundtable in May 2014. That roundtable included dozens of investigators and community members, and served as the genesis for several projects including a currently-funded CTSI Incubator related to the impact of obesity and diabetes on musculoskeletal disease.

The initiative is part of the CTSI’s overarching goal of improving population health and encouraging team science. For more information, contact Diana_Fernandez@urmc.rochester.edu.

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