The complexities of biological, behavioral, social and environmental risk factors for obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD) necessitate team science, capable of crossing the boundaries of disciplinary-specific silos to conduct and evaluate research from a transdisciplinary approach to prevent and treat obesity and CVD across the lifespan.

Efforts to facilitate greater collaboration among scientists trained across many fields and levels of training are not only valuable but essential to solving such complex problems. Accordingly the Nutrition-Behavioral Cardiovascular Disease Prevention training grant supports innovative, transdisciplinary pre- and postdoctoral training program in obesity and CVD at Washington University in St. Louis.

This program will provide trainees with collaborative, transdisciplinary mentorship teams and training in the ethical and socially responsible conduct of obesity/CVD research. International authorities on obesity, Denise Wilfley, PhD (Director) and Samuel Klein, MD (Co-Director), are supported by highly qualified, primary and co-mentors spanning 15 departments in the biomedical, cognitive and behavioral, and population health sciences.

The aims of the program are to

  1. Train talented transdisciplinary pre- and postdoctoral trainees to become independent scientists in obesity and CVD who are capable of working within and leading transdisciplinary research teams.
  2. Provide trainees with primary mentoring from highly-qualified, senior obesity/CVD researchers and augment the trainees’ experiences with training from senior co-mentors with renowned translational research programs that can extend and inform the traditional scope of obesity/CVD research, junior co-mentors with developing expertise in obesity/CVD, and clinical co-mentors with relevant expertise translating approaches from “bench to bedside” in the treatment or assessment of obesity/CVD. Junior co-mentors will in turn develop their own mentoring skills under the guidance of the primary mentors. Trainees establish a collaborative mentorship team of two or more faculty (including at least one primary mentor) from at least two of the three disciplines represented in our program faculty: biomedical, cognitive and behavioral, and population health sciences.
  3. Increase diversity in our future scientific workforce through effective multi-level recruitment and retention efforts to attract underrepresented minorities (URM), individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to our program.
  4. Provide training in the ethical and socially responsible conduct of obesity and CVD research across the lifespan including with vulnerable populations (e.g. children, mental health populations).

Obesity and Metabolism Seminar Series

The Nutrition and Obesity Research Center and the Veronica and Robert Atkins Center of Excellence in Obesity Medicine have developed a weekly research seminar series, which focuses on basic or clinical obesity-related research, but also includes clinical obesity presentations.

Many of the seminars are focused on junior investigators who present data from their own research or a topic that they are considering for future research and receive feedback from their peers and more experienced faculty.

In addition, senior Washington University investigators and visiting faculty are invited to present at this conference, which provides additional exposure for trainees and stimulates interactions between established investigators.

Center for Human Nutrition (CHN) Seminar Series

The Center for Human Nutrition research group meets regularly to discuss new research with journal clubs, trainee presentations, and labs who present their latest work.  It is an opportunity for researchers to connect with trainees and collaborators.  These meetings occur bi-weekly and typically begin in the Fall.

The new schedule will be posted when it’s available.

Methods in Human Metabolic Research Course

The NORC Clinical Science Research Core offers a weekly “Methods in Human Metabolic Research”  lecture series each year that focuses on tracer and non-tracer methods to evaluate substrate kinetics and metabolic function in vivo (e.g., the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp technique to evaluate insulin sensitivity, meal and intravenous and oral glucose tolerance tests to evaluate β-cell function and intestinal nutrient absorption rates,  lipoprotein turnover and adipose tissue lipolysis, etc.). The course is free of charge and open to NORC members and their trainees and staff. It runs for ~20 weeks.

The general curriculum of this course covers the following topics:

  • Kinetic parameters & tracer protocols
  • Stable isotope tracers
  • Instrumentation
  • Measurement of isotopic enrichment
  • Lipolysis
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Insulin and β-cell sensitivity
  • VLDL-apoB metabolism
  • VLDL-TG metabolism
  • Mass isotopomer distribution analysis
  • Compartmental modeling
  • Amino acid and protein metabolism
  • Body composition
  • Energy expenditure

The schedule for the Fall 2021 Methods in Human Metabolic Research course series will be posted when it is available.

Additional information

Other training opportunities at Washington University School of Medicine are available to young investigators.

In particular, the Clinical Research Training Center (CRTC) provides a cohesive and supportive infrastructure to foster clinical research training and career development for predoctoral students, house-staff, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. Active mentoring, hands on research experiences and formal didactic programs in clinical research methods leading to a certificate or master’s degree in Clinical Investigation are core components of the CRTC program.

Traineeships in nutrition and obesity related projects are available through a large number of NIH-funded training grants in cardiology, cell biology, diabetes, epidemiology, gastroenterology and gerontology. In addition, mentored research fellowships are available through conventional investigator-initiated grant sources.