Penn State, Pitt collaboration promoting innovative obesity research

Researchers from Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh are teaming up to find new ways to prevent and treat obesity. Thirty-five researchers convened on Penn State’s University Park campus on May 3 to plan the first steps of this new initiative. The network also is seeking to expand its expertise and is seeking to collaborate with researchers interested in obesity research.

Discussions at the meeting led to a sharing of ideas about how to tackle the problem of obesity, and also explored how future collaborations may take advantage of the resources available at the University of Pittsburgh Obesity Nutrition and Research Center (Pitt ONRC) and the Penn State Institute for Diabetes and Obesity (PSIDO). Shared training opportunities for students also were discussed.

“For translational research, it is important to link interdisciplinary connections. Pitt and Penn State have complementary strengths that will make this a successful collaboration,” said Robert Gabbay, director of the Penn State Institute for Diabetes and Obesity.

“Obesity is a complex condition that seems to be so simple to understand -- eat less and exercise more -- yet is quite difficult to put into practice," said John Jakicic, professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Health and Physical Activity. "Through this collaborative effort between researchers at both Pitt and Penn State, the state of Pennsylvania has the opportunity to take a leadership role nationally in the fight against obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer."

Researchers from each institution bring different backgrounds and expertise to the collaboration and together hope to obtain innovative, multidisciplinary research grants. Pitt ONRC was one of twelve obesity research centers in the nation originally funded by the National Institutes of Health, which led to Pitt being recognized as one of the leading institutions nationally in conducting basic and applied obesity-related research. Penn State faculty affiliated with PSIDO focus on various topics related to obesity -- from nutrition to integrative physiology to behavioral interventions.

The network is seeking to expand; researchers interested in becoming involved should contact Lorraine Mulfinger, associate director for research and academic training at PSIDO, at or 717-531-0003 ext. 285361.

Last Updated May 26, 2010