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NCCOR continues to expand its reach with the help of external advisors

The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) has appointed a panel of external advisors to help the Collaborative expand its programs and areas of expertise. The NCCOR External Scientific Panel (NESP) will advise NCCOR on its overall direction and provide guidance and assistance on specific projects and initiatives.

"NCCOR has been very successful at becoming a national resource for childhood obesity," said Terry Huang, NESP chair and a senior advisor to NCCOR. "It is now at a stage of growth where it can benefit from the help of external experts to grow its programs, both in terms of an expanded range of expertise and manpower capacity. This will allow NCCOR to continue to innovate and stay relevant to the broader community interested in addressing childhood obesity."

The Panel will serve as a valuable liaison between NCCOR and the extramural community. It will inform the Collaborative on new science and ideas, and connections to extramural research, practice, and policy. Further, it will contribute to the ongoing refinement of NCCOR's strategic plan, including helping to establish key performance indicators and other metrics associated with evaluating the impact of the Collaborative.

"I believe that NESP will increase NCCOR's visibility and usefulness to the research community and the public," said Huang. "NESP will also bring fresh ideas that will help NCCOR innovate and advance its strategic agenda."

The NESP is composed of one chair and five to six panel members. The panel members are experts in a range of disciplines relevant to childhood obesity and are typically individuals familiar with the research and functions of at least one of the NCCOR funders-– the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In addition to Huang, NESP members serving in 2012 include:

  • Ronette R. Briefel, Dr.P.H., R.D., a Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, DC. Dr. Briefel's research includes evaluations of child nutrition programs, population-based studies of children and high-risk populations, and investigations of the home and school food environments and children's diet and obesity.
  • Ross C. Brownson, Ph.D., a Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He is involved in numerous community-level studies designed to understand and reduce modifiable risk factors such as physical inactivity, obesity, and tobacco use. In particular, he is interested in the impacts of environmental and policy interventions on health behaviors and he conducts research on dissemination of evidence-based interventions.
  • Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., is a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she also is Founding Director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research, which researches health disparities. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Ramirez has directed many research programs focused on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting Latinos, including cancer risk factors and genetics, clinical trial accrual, tobacco prevention and cessation, obesity prevention, and more.
  • James F. Sallis, Ph.D., is a newly appointed Distinguished Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Director of Active Living Research (ALR), a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). His primary research interests are promoting physical activity and understanding policy and environmental influences on physical activity, nutrition, and obesity.
  • Mary Story Ph.D., R.D., is a Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, and Senior Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs in the School of Public Health, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, at the University of Minnesota. She is Director of the National Program Office for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Healthy Eating Research (HER) program that supports research on environmental and policy strategies to promote healthy eating among children and to prevent childhood obesity.

NESP members serving in 2013 include:

  • Frank J. Chaloupka, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. He is currently Director of the UIC Health Policy Center and holds appointments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Department of Economics and the School of Public Health's Division of Health Policy and Administration. He is a Fellow at the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs, and is a Research Associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research's Health Economics Program and Children's Program. Dr. Chaloupka is Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control, Director of ImpacTeen: A Policy Research Partnership for Healthier Youth Behavior, and Co-Director of the International Tobacco Evidence Network.
  • Shiriki Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She is also the Associate Dean for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, and was the founding Director of the University of Pennsylvania's Master of Public Health program, a role that she served from 2002 until May 2007. In addition to her positions at Penn, Dr. Kumanyika is the founder of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), and has been a member of several national and international advisory boards and committees, including the Institute of Medicine, the International Obesity Task Force, and the World Cancer Research Fund Expert Panel on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer.
  • Steven Gortmaker, Ph.D., is a Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology, part of the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. In addition to this position, Dr. Gortmaker also directs the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) at the Harvard School of Public Health. Through the HPRC, Dr. Gortmaker is contributing to several collaborative, including the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative, the Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative (MYOC), and the Healthy Care for Healthy Kids (HCHK) Collaborative. These projects involve research into activity levels for youth, as well as other factors in childhood obesity, such as children's consumption of fruits and vegetables, and youths' television viewing.

NCCOR is a collaboration among the NIH, CDC, RWJF, and USDA to accelerate progress on reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. Through the collective efforts of these organizations, NCCOR aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of research on childhood obesity.

For information about NCCOR please visit www.nccor.org.