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UT Obesity Research Center

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David R. Bassett, Ph.D., Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies

Mission Statement

The UT Obesity Research Center is dedicated to developing interdisciplinary approaches for the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity that will decrease obesity-related complications, and help people achieve long-term maintenance of a healthy weight.

Center Funding

In August of 2007, the UT Obesity Research Center was established.  Formation of a center had been discussed for some time, with administrators and faculty having considerable involvement in the process.  Various units on campus contributing funding for the center, including:

Steering Committee

Ken Bielak, MD (UT Medical Center in Knoxville), Bonnie Callen (College of Nursing), Mary Evans (Department of Economics), Eugene Fitzhugh (Department of Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies), Timothy Ford (Oak Ridge Associated Universities), Nicholas Frank (College of Veterinary Medicine), Shirley Hastings (UT Extension), Betsy Haughton (Department of Nutrition), Vincent Pantalone (Department of Plant Sciences), Cynthia Peterson (Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology), Gina Pighetti (Department of Animal Science), Hollie Raynor (Department of Nutrition), Arnold Saxton (Department of Animal Science), Karen Sowers (College of Social Work), Dixie Thompson (Department of Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies), Brynn Voy (Department of Animal Science), Jane White (UT Medical Center in Knoxville),

Purpose and Goals

Left Float PhotoThe main purpose of the center is to foster collaborations and provide a mechanism for developing program projects in obesity research and place University of Tennessee faculty in a better position to be able to compete for external funding. 

Specific goals of the center are to:

                • Conduct research on genetic and environmental factors leading to obesity
                • Compile a complete and up-to-date listing of obesity research resources on campus
                • Develop effective interventions for long-term prevention and treatment of obesity
                • Develop and implement public policies to combat obesity
                • Educate UT students about obesity and associated problems
                • Translate and disseminate findings to benefit individuals, families and communities

The center brings together faculty members from many disciplines, to generate ideas for large research projects in order to better position them to compete for funding.  The center also facilitates sharing of resources, acquiring and implementing centralized resources on campus. Through organized symposia and graduate colloquia, the center works to promote scientific exchanges in obesity research and develop a strong and nationally recognized research in obesity.  These activities would not have been possible if individual faculty had been left on their own to develop their research programs.

The center will play an active role in training both undergraduate and graduate students in obesity research. This is an important function, since prior to its inception there were no graduate courses on campus devoted entirely to the study of obesity. Faculty members in the center offer colloquia and an interdisciplinary seminar, allowing students to be exposed to various issues in obesity research.