Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Patient Oriented Research and Mentorship in Childhood Obesity Disparities


? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Despite recent progress in obesity prevention, the prevalence of childhood obesity remains at historically high levels. Racial and ethnic minorities and children from disadvantaged backgrounds suffer a disproportionate share of the national obesity burden and these disparities emerge as early as the first two years of life. Many factors contribute to the intractability of obesity but promising approaches for prevention and reduction of related health disparities are emerging including cross-sector strategies that support changes at the individual, family, and systems-levels and which begin in the earliest stages of life. The overall goals of this K24 application are to provide Dr. Elsie Taveras with protected time to perform research to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity particularly among racial and ethnic minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds and to train students, fellows, and junior faculty who wish to perform patient-oriented outcomes research in childhood obesity. Dr. Taveras is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Associate Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, and a Pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. She leads several large patient-oriented research studies including an epidemiologic study examining early life origins of childhood obesity disparities; a whole-of-community intervention to prevent obesity among disadvantaged children ages 2-12 years; and a clinical-community intervention to reduce obesity among school-age children. Dr. Taveras has already successfully served as a research mentor to more than a dozen MD and PhD candidates and clinicians in training. This K24 award would come at a critical time in Dr. Taveras's career as it will allow her to heighten research productivity in the area of childhood obesity disparities and help foster the careers of junior childhood obesity scientists through her mentorship. The proposed scientific aims of this K24 application will serve to strengthen Dr. Taveras's ability to provide mentorship to junior investigators in patient-oriented research, with an emphasis on: (a) understanding the early, contextual roots of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in obesity; (b) attaining broad insights into effective cross-sector strategies for preventing obesity in early life; and (c) translating observational epidemiology int interventions to reduce early life obesity risk factors.

Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.