Campus News Georgia Impact

New series will examine the science behind obesity


Visiting professors will discuss the latest ideas about why we eat what we do and why the fat goes where it does as part of a speaker series kicked off this fall by the UGA Obesity Initiative, in partnership with colleges and departments at the university. The series will bring experts from beyond the UGA campus to shed light on the science of obesity.

“We are planning on having both U.S. and international obesity specialists visit the campus to discuss current research and policies, and we look forward to having both meetings and seminars covering a range of topics with these visitors over the next year,” said Clifton Baile, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Agricultural Biotechnology, Distinguished Professor of Animal Science and Food and Nutrition, and director of the Obesity Initiative. “UGA is also recruiting candidates for four new faculty positions that are associated with the initiative.”

The obesity series will include:

• Oct. 25, 3-4 p.m. in 481 Tate Student Center: “When Nature Meets Nurture: Epigenetic Effects of Prenatal Exposures”  by Alicia Smith, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. Smith studies the role of genetic and environmental factors in the development and symptoms of stress-related disorders across the lifespan.

• Oct. 31, 12:20-1:10 p.m. in 110 Dawson Hall: “Factors that Influence the Developing Controls of Food Intake from Infancy through Adolescence” by  Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State -University. Birch’s research focuses on both predictors and consequences of eating behavior.

• Nov. 1, 2-3 p.m. in 137 Tate Student Center: “Relationships and Cardiovascular Health” by Timothy Smith, professor of psychology at the University of Utah. Smith’s research addresses personality and social risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

• Nov. 7, 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Coverdell Center 175: “What’s Between Fat and Bone?” by Clifford J. Rosen, director of clinical and translational research and a senior scientist at Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute. Rosen is the founder and former director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education.  

• Feb. 6, 12:20- 1:10 in Room 104 Conner Hall: “Regulation of Excess Fat Deposition During Growth and Development: Novel Strategies for Prevention and Treatment” by Michael Goran, director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center and University of Southern California Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer, as well as the co-director of the USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and professor of preventative medicine, physiology and biophysics, and pediatrics. Goran’s research is focused on understanding the metabolic factors linking obesity to increased disease risk during growth and development and using this information as a basis for developing new behavioral and community approaches for prevention and risk reduction.