I am one of the first fellowship trained obesity medicine physician scientists and educators, and I specialize in the care of adults, adolescents, and children with overweight and obesity. After completing my fellowship in obesity medicine & nutrition at MGH and HMS, and a Zuckerman fellowship as a mid-career Master of Public Administration student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2015, I joined the faculty at MGH and HMS, where I provide clinical care, supervise trainees, and conduct research on obesity, health policy, and health disparities to enhance our knowledge and quality of patient care in the United States and throughout the world.
Area of Excellence: Clinical Expertise and Innovation
My clinical interests and expertise focus on the practice of obesity medicine and nutrition. Since 2007, I have been actively involved in clinical work, providing and innovating treatment for patients with obesity; I receive referrals from colleagues locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
In the MGH Weight Center, I have evaluated and treated more than two thousand patients; and I have taught more than 50 HMS medical students, residents, and fellows each year in this setting. I have helped to develop both a standardized approach for the use of weight loss pharmacotherapy for adults and the pediatric treatment program for the MGH Weight Center. I am the only pediatrician on the Pediatric Guidelines Committee of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) for the treatment of pediatric severe obesity (published 2018). I have developed a protocol for inadequate weight loss and weight regain which is utilized throughout the US and internationally as published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. I have given more than 200 invited presentations on the topic of obesity at local, regional, national, and international meetings. I have published over 100 peer-reviewed articles on which I serve as first author on 30 and senior author on 47 in the areas of obesity and health disparities. Since my promotion to assistant professor, I have published 53 peer reviewed articles. I serve as the Deputy Editor of Contemporary Clinical Trials and Associate Editor for Frontiers in Pediatrics. I serve as a peer reviewer for more than 60 medical journals on the topics of obesity, nutrition, physical activity, public health, health disparities, and health policy, and I serve as a member of grant review committees in the area of obesity for the American Heart Association and for the governments of Romania and Kazakhstan. I also currently serve as a clinical expert on obesity for the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Physicians (ACP), Dynamed/ Ebsco, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
I have conducted clinical research across a broad spectrum of topics in clinical and policy in obesity medicine for pediatric and adult patients, and I have received funding which includes an NIH NIDDK Diversity Supplement, the MGH Physician Scientist Development Award, a Harvard Catalyst pilot award, and a sponsor-initiated research project with Amazon. My research has been published in high-impact journals, which include Circulation, British Journal of Sports Medicine, JAMA Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and International Journal of Obesity. My research on anti-obesity medications (AOM) as an adjunct to metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) for inadequate weight loss or weight regain in patients has influenced the use of pharmacotherapy after MBS in patients around the world. This research was the first of its kind to demonstrate that AOM may be used across the age spectrum to garner additional weight loss and positive metabolic benefits in patients, and it has set the stage for other studies which support my original work in this area. These results have been published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases (SOARD), Children, and Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care. From this work, I was able to develop an algorithm on how to utilize AOM after MBS which has been published in SOARD and utilized in weight management centers throughout the US and around the world. In addition, my research in disparities in obesity has served as a change agent for patients with obesity, especially in those from disenfranchised groups. My work was the first to evaluate coverage of AOM under the Affordable Care Act, and it serves as current guide for work to improve AOM access for the US Department of Health and Human Services as published in the International Journal of Obesity. I have also demonstrated disparities in care with regards to access to metabolic and bariatric surgery for racial and ethnic minority patients throughout the life course, regardless of insurance status. I have also served as one of the primary advocates for “people first” language in obesity as demonstrated by work published in JAMA Pediatrics and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in which I advocate to ensure that nonbiased language in obesity, and I served as one of the primary authors on resolutions to support this which has been adopted by the American Medical Association and Massachusetts Medical Society. I was the invited keynote speaker to acknowledge obesity as a disease before their landmark vote to ensure its recognition by the America Medical Association. I have received national awards for my research which include the American Medical Association Health Policy Research Award.
I have been active in organized medicine, and I have been elected to leadership positions in the World Medical Association (WMA), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The Obesity Society (TOS), Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), Times Up Healthcare, and the American Heart Association (AHA). I am the current Vice Chair to the Minority Affairs Section (MAS) of the AMA, Advocacy Co-chair for TOS, Chair of the MMS Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee, Founding Obesity Advisory Committee Chair and on the Publications Committee for ACP, Communications Chair for the AAP Section on Obesity, founding member of Times Up Healthcare and representative to the National Academy of Sciences, and AHA Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR) Specialty Conference Program Committee Member and Go Red for Women Leadership Team in Boston.
I have received a number of awards for leadership. Upon completion of my MPH, I received the Gold Congressional Award, the highest honor that Congress bestows upon America’s youth. An American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation Leadership Award recipient in 2005, an AMA Paul Ambrose Award for national leadership among resident physicians in 2009, I was selected for the AMA Inspirational Physician Award in 2015. The American College of Physicians (ACP) selected me as the 2013 recipient of the Joseph E. Johnson Leadership Award and the Massachusetts ACP selected me for the Young Leadership Award in 2015. In 2020, I was named TOS Clinician of the Year. The AMA selected me for the AMA Pride of the Profession Award in 2021.
I have been actively involved in teaching and supervision of medical students and residents since I began as a fellow at MGH/HMS. I lecture annually in the HMS Pathway course in Health Policy and taught nutrition in the second year for 5 years. I received a Certificate for Excellence in Tutoring in the HMS Health Policy New Pathway course, and I was a 2016 nominee for the HMS Donald O’Hara Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching (Years I & II). I serve as the Obesity Medicine Subspecialty Elective Director for students who rotate in Internal Medicine for MGH. I serve as a core educator for board preparation and serve on the outreach team for the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM). In 2021, I was awarded the Harvard Medical School Young Mentor Award.
Supporting Activity: Education of Patients and Service to the Community
I have written for, and been featured in, numerous national news broadcasts, magazines, newspapers, and websites on issues related to obesity, and I speak frequently to lay populations to educate them about this disease. I have given more than 300 interviews for entities such as CNN, NY Times, Time, US News, and international outlets. I serve on the board of Common Threads, a national nonprofit which provides children and families with cooking and nutrition education to improve wellness and have served as a key educator on obesity for the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and California WIC Association. I mentor pre-professional students through the Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC), the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) at Harvard Medical School, and the New England Science Symposium. I am the 2017 recipient of the HMS Diversity Award and Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Women’s Health Award. In 2019, I was selected as recipient of the MMS Suffolk District Community Clinician of the Year and Reducing Health Disparities Award.
I am a fellowship-trained obesity medicine physician scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/ Harvard Medical School (HMS). I have an international and national presence as an expert in obesity medicine and hold leadership positions which reflect this expertise. I have influenced clinical practice by helping to draft the current guidelines for metabolic and bariatric surgery in the pediatric population and the use of pharmacotherapy as an adjunct to bariatric surgery for inadequate weight loss or weight regain for the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. I regularly receive national and international invitations to speak to professional and lay audiences on obesity and diversity and inclusion. I currently hold leadership positions in the World Medical Association, American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, The Obesity Society, and the Massachusetts Medical Society. I have published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on which I serve as first author on 30 and senior author on 51 in the areas of obesity and health disparities. I serve on the editorial boards for the International Journal of Obesity and Health Equity, and I serve as a peer reviewer for more than 60 medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics. I have received leadership awards from the AMA, ACP, and Massachusetts Medical Society amongst others for my leadership in obesity medicine and diversity.