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Obesity Research Strategic Core (ORSC): Members

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Select a name below to view a member’s biosketch, or view the full membership list by NICHD component.

ORSC Members in the Child Development and Behavior (CDB) Branch

Lisa Freund, Ph.D. , is a developmental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist who is known for her neuroimaging studies of children from different clinical populations. Dr. Freund received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in applied developmental psychology and was an associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Kennedy Krieger Institute. Dr. Freund’s program promotes basic and applied research among genes, the developing brain, and behavior.

Lynne Haverkos, M.D., M.P.H.* , a board-certified pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, directs the Behavioral Pediatrics and Health Promotion Program in the CDB Branch. Her interests include obesity prevention and treatment in pediatric office settings, behavioral and developmental aspects of physical activity in children and adolescents, risk behaviors (including eating disorders), developmental aspects of eating behaviors in children and adolescents, and the influence of family and context (e.g., schools, day care, after-school programs, electronic media) on physical activity and nutrition.

ORSC Members in the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences (DBS) Branch

Regina Bures, Ph.D. , trained in social demography at Brown University and received a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems from the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Bures' research interests include families and health, health disparities and inequality, and public policy. She currently manages research programs in health and environment and health disparities with a particular interest in obesity. Dr. Bures serves as the program scientist for the Envision Project.

Michael Spittel, Ph.D., brings to the ORSC his experience in methodology and statistics pertaining to multilevel studies. In addition, he has knowledge and a special interest in health disparities and migrant health.

ORSC Members in the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research (DESPR)

Mary Hediger, Ph.D. , has expertise in the areas of perinatal and pediatric epidemiology and physical growth and development, including body composition and markers of maturation. She has done work in adolescent chronic disease epidemiology, fetal development (fetal origins) and chronic disease, adolescent pregnancy and its effects on obesity development.

Ronald J. Iannotti, Ph.D. , received his PhD in Developmental Psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His research interests include social and environmental influences on the development of children's eating and exercise patterns and their relationship to obesity and cardiovascular risk factors and improving management of childhood chronic illnesses.

Tonja R. Nansel, Ph.D. , is a behavioral researcher in the DESPR Prevention Research Branch. Areas of expertise include prevention and health behavior change, and its relationship to individual, social, and ecological factors, with a focus on nutrition/diet/eating behaviors. Her current research focuses on the development of healthcare-based interventions to promote healthful dietary behavior among families of youth with diabetes.

Cuilin Zhang Ph.D., M.D. , is an epidemiologist in the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research. Dr. Zhang’s current research is at the interface of genetic and non-genetic biological markers and lifestyle factors, focusing on their interplay in relation to the development of and health consequences of gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Dr. Zhang also has long-standing research interests in modifications of diet and lifestyle to improve reproductive outcomes and child health among overweight/obese women at reproductive age.

ORSC Members in the Division of Intramural Research (DIR)

Jack Yanovski, M.D., Ph.D. ,is head of the Unit on Growth and Obesity within the DIR Program in Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics. Dr. Yanovski is a world-renowned expert on pediatric obesity and related metabolic issues.

ORSC Members in the Division of Scientific Review

Rita Anand, Ph.D. , is the scientific review officer for the Pediatrics Review Subcommittee. She manages the review of applications on clinical pediatric obesity and related topics, including several past RFAs.

Michele Hindi-Alexander, Ph.D. , is the scientific review officer for the Health Behavior and Context Subcommittee. Dr. Hindi-Alexander has a strong interest in international health.

Marita Hopmann, Ph.D. , is a developmental psychologist who focuses on the need for insight from the tools that dominate developmental psychology in obesity research. Such tools include: age-related norms; universal versus culture-specific aspects; genetic versus environmental contributions (both social and physical, especially options for inner-city kids); gender differences; variations in children who are developing typically versus atypically.

ORSC Members in the Division of Special Populations (DSP)

Regina James, M.D.* , is a pediatric psychiatrist with clinical and research experience in disordered eating in the pediatric population. Dr. James has conducted and published clinical research in the areas of health disparities and pediatric mental health disorders.

ORSC Members in the Endocrinology, Nutrition, and Growth (ENG) Branch

Layla Esposito, Ph.D. , is a psychologist with broad expertise in child health and development. She currently oversees a portfolio of research on the social, environmental, and behavioral factors associated with childhood obesity.

Gilman Grave, M.D. , is board certified in internal medicine with subspecialty interests in endocrinology and metabolism of both adults and children. He has been active in extramural research programs that focus on the fetal and infant origins of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.He is a member of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force and the NIH Nutrition Coordinating Committee.

Dan Raiten, Ph.D. , is the program director for functional and developmental aspects of nutritional status in health and disease. This area includes the interface between diet (food), nutrition (biology), and health, including non-communicable diseases (e.g., adverse birth outcomes, obesity, diabetes, etc.) and infectious diseases (e.g., HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, diarrheal disease) in women, infants, and children, from both domestic and international perspectives.

Karen Winer, M.D. , is responsible for the pediatric endocrine portfolio of the ENG Branch, with particular expertise in bone health and diabetes.

ORSC Members in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Branch

Alice Kau, Ph.D. , is a clinical psychologist with an interest in the relation between psychopathology and obesity, risk factors (e.g., food selectivity and sensory issues, reduced physical activity) for obesity in individuals with autism, and evidence-based physical activity programs for individuals with disability.

Tina Urv, Ph.D. , is primarily interested in the impact of obesity on the health and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities across the lifespan.

ORSC Members in the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR)

Nancy L. Shinowara, Ph.D. , has been Program Director for Spinal Cord and Musculoskeletal Disorders and Assistive Devices in the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research at NICHD since 2003. This program includes research on rehabilitation from physical conditions, such as spinal cord injury, for which obesity, metabolic changes and level of exercise can exert large impacts on both medical and quality of life outcomes.

ORSC Members in the NICHD Office of the Director

Julia B. Anderson, Ph.D. , focuses on research on the disparities in health among minority populations, including all of the diseases for which disparities exist. Specifically related to obesity, she directly examines how attitudes and beliefs about food and nutrition affect behaviors related to health. These examinations have occurred directly with Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and Native Americans in settings in their own communities.

Danuta Krotoski, Ph.D. , has strong interest in creating greater global opportunities for chronic disease prevention and control.

ORSC Members in the NICHD Office of Global Health Research and International Activities

Daniel Singer, M.D., is associate director of prevention research and international programs and has strong interest in obesity and related chronic disease globally.

ORSC Members in the NICHD Office of Science Policy, Analysis, and Communication

John McGrath, Ph.D. , is a communications expert and chief of the Public Information and Communications Branch. Dr. McGrath also oversees the Media-Smart Youth Program, a component of the trans-NIH We Can (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) outreach program to address childhood obesity in a large number of communities in the United States.

ORSC Members in the Pregnancy and Perinatology (PP) Branch

Tonse Raju, M.D.*, is a board-certified neonatologist with special interest in infant feeding practices, neurological development, and the association between breastfeeding and health outcomes. Prior to joining the PP Branch, he was professor of pediatrics and associate director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Uma Reddy, M.D., M.P.H. , is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist, whose area of expertise is the effect of pre-pregnancy obesity on maternal health and adverse pregnancy outcomes. She supervises the clinical research portfolio on maternal obesity and the relationship to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as congenital birth defects, stillbirth, macrosomia, and cesarean delivery.

Caroline Signore, M.D., M.P.H. , is an obstetrician/gynecologist and medical officer in the PP Branch. She is interested in theinfluence of obesity on adverse pregnancy outcomes.

ORSC Members in the Reproductive Sciences (RS) Branch

Estella Parrott, M.D., M.P.H. , is primarily interested in the impact of obesity across the reproductive lifespan of women. This area involves elements of reduced reproductive performance, such as alterations in the hormonal milieu of adolescents and adults, impaired fertility, and poor reproductive outcomes associated with gynecologic conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition, she is interested in the impact of obesity on the oocyte, embryo, intrauterine environment, and long-term effects in adolescents and adults.

*Executive Committee member, fiscal year 2008-2009

Last Reviewed: 11/30/2012
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