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Investigators

Primary Project Investigators

Jamie Baum, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition
Division of Agriculture
University of Arkansas

Project:  "Breakfast, Energy Metabolism, and Skeletal Muscle Health in Children"

Dr. Baum is an Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and a member of the Department of Food Science at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She is an obesity researcher with a focus on the importance of regulation of energy expenditure in the development of obesity and the associated chronic diseases.  She is particularly interested in how diets higher in protein impact long-term energy metabolism, energy balance and muscle function during obesity using a molecule-to-man approach. She has a history of funding from the Egg Nutrition Center and Arkansas Biosciences Institute for studies addressing childhood obesity and chronic disease.  Dr. Baum obtained her BS in Dietetics and her PhD in Nutritional Sciences in 2004 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and completed her postdoctoral training in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey.

 

Eugenia Carvalho, PhD, MSc

Instructor
Department of Geriatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Assessment of Oxidative Capacity in Obese Children"

Dr. Carvalho is an Instructor in the Department of Geriatrics, in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her research focus is in insulin action and fat cell biology. Her work has been funded from several European Funding Agencies, including the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes and the Portuguese Science Foundation. More recently she secured funding from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions - Innovative Training Networks (ITN) from the European Commission, for studies addressing the effect of drugs on glucose and lipid metabolism. She is also funded through the Arkansas Biosciences Institute to assess oxidative capacity in obese children. Dr. Carvalho obtained her PhD in Molecular Medicine in 2000, from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She completed her post-doctoral training in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in 2005, at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

 

Mike Thomsen, PhD

Professor
Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness
University of Arkansas

Project:  "Informing Policies to Address Childhood Obesity: A Systems Approach"

Dr. Thomsen is a professor of Agricultural Economics in the University Arkansas Division of Agriculture and at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.  His research program emphasizes linkages between the food distribution system and human health.  Specific topic areas include market incentives for food safety, the economics of regionally produced horticultural crops with potential health benefits, determinants of healthy food choices, and the economics of childhood obesity.  As a COBRE investigator, Dr. Thomsen is examining environmental contributors to childhood obesity among Arkansas public schoolchildren.  This work is examining the commercial food environment around children’s homes and schools, features of the built environment conducive to physical activity, and benefits of nutrition education programs.  Dr. Thomsen’s earlier work on childhood obesity has been funded by US Department of Agriculture, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and the Arkansas Biosciences Institute.  Dr. Thomsen holds BS and MS degrees from Utah State University and earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1998. 

Pilot Study Investigators

Eva Diaz, MD, MSc

Instructor
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Probiotic Supplementation in Obese Pregnant Women – A Feasibility Study"

Dr. Díaz is an Instructor at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC) and Department of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). She has focused her research interest in studying metabolic disturbances in different populations including severely burned children and pregnant women with overweight and obesity. She has special interest in studying interventions aimed at decreasing offspring obesity risk through improvement of maternal health during gestation.  Dr. Díaz obtained her medical degree in 2004 and completed a residency in Pediatrics in 2008 from the University of El Salvador.  She is a registered physician with the Medical Council of Canada since 2011 and attained a Masters degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX in 2015.  She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in metabolism in 2017.

 

Taren Swindle, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Supporting Implementation of Obesity Prevention Practices in Childcare"

Dr. Swindle is an Assistant Professor in Family and Preventive Medicine within the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Broadly, her research program focuses on understanding and improving health and developmental outcomes for children impacted by poverty. She has a particular focus on obesity prevention and nutrition promotion for young children in low-income families. Her work to date has focused on the early childcare setting as a key context for obesity prevention and nutrition intervention. She is interested in increasing adoption of evidence-based practices and interventions in community settings such as this through application of Implementation Science. Dr. Swindle received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of Memphis.

 

Emir Tas, MD

Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "FGF-21: An Adjunct Biomarker for Early Detection of NAFLD in Children"

Dr. Tas is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He has specialized in the care of children with diabetes and endocrine disorders. Dr. Tas obtained his MD from the Hacettepe University of Turkey in 2006, completed his pediatric residency training at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012 where he also served as a chief resident one extra year, and completed his fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in 2016. Dr. Tas is particularly interested in the understanding of the mechanisms that lead to the development of the major metabolic complications of childhood obesity; insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. He was the recipient of the "Best Basic Research Award" from the Society for Pediatric Research in 2016.

 

Keshari Thakali, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics, Section of developmental Nutrition
College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Determining the Effect of Maternal Obesity on Offspring Cardiovascular Health"

Dr. Thakali is an Assistant Professor at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center and Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Thakali studies how maternal nutrition and physical activity during pregnancy program offspring vascular function. Dr. Thakali obtained her PhD in Cardiovascular Pharmacology in 2006 from Michigan State University, and completed her postdoctoral training in Pharmacology in 2011, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Affiliated Project Investigators

Chris Long, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus

Project:  "Relating Families’ History of Food Pantry Use to Children’s Obesity Status"

Dr. Long is an Assistant Professor of Health Services Research in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and he is Senior Director of Research and Evaluation for the Office of Community Health at the UAMS’s Northwest Campus. Dr. Long’s research is community-based, focusing on (1) increasing food pantry and community meal patrons’ access to healthy foods and (2) improving understanding of how best to share health research results with health research participants. Dr. Long serves as co-Investigator on two Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-funded comparative effectiveness trials related to Pacific Islander health and as evaluator for two Centers for Disease Control (CDC) programs involving improving access to healthy foods. Dr. Long obtained a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and completed post-doctoral training at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium in 2004.

 

Jon Oden, MD

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Type 1 Diabetes Summer Camp Effects on Energy Expenditure and Blood Glucose Control"

 

Shannon Rose, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Establishing the Presence of Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Stress in Childhood Obesity"

Dr. Rose received her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2012. Following a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Richard Frye in the Autism Research Program at ACRI, she joined the UAMS faculty in the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Clinical Pharmacology in 2017. Her research focuses on cellular bioenergetics and the effects that certain environmental exposures have on the mitochondria as well as how bioenergetic pathways are disrupted in children with obesity and type 2 diabetes and also in children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. A major goal of her research is to determine whether bioenergetics of circulating blood cells can be used as surrogate biomarkers for systemic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. Using an instrument called the Seahorse XF96, which is a multi-well extracellular flux analyzer to measure mitochondrial oxygen consumption in intact living cells, allows her to study the mitochondria in the context of the cellular microenvironment, rather than in isolation.

Support Core Investigators

Mallik Rettiganti, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Project:  "Methods to Detect and Eliminate Outliers in Childhood Obesity Data"

Dr. Rettiganti is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Rettiganti is a biostatistician and focuses on applications of statistical methods to a variety of research areas in pediatric medicine such as cardiology, allergy, endocrinology, etc. He is also interested in developing new statistical tests for analysing overdispersed count data. Dr. Rettiganti has previously worked as a biostatistician on National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded grant for studies addressing asthma in a rural environment. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications in major journals. Dr. Rettiganti obtained his Masters in Statistics (2005) from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and PhD in Statistics (2010) from the Ohio State University.

 

13 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202
501-364-3340 
CCOP@uams.edu
The Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM109096. The content of this website and research reported in publications resulting from work performed under this Award are solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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