The Obesity Society Introduces Eight New Award and Grant Opportunities, Encourages Obesity Research

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 2, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Each year, The Obesity Society (TOS) promotes, rewards and encourages research in the field of obesity through its annual awards and grants program. This year, TOS has added three new grants and five new awards, bringing the total number of opportunities offered to 48. The recipients of this year's awards and grants will be honored at ObesityWeek 2015 from Nov. 2 – 6, in Los Angeles, Calif.

"It's not often that a TOS President has the opportunity to announce a new award or grant, much less five new awards and three new grants," says Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD, TOS President. "One of my top priorities during my term has been to improve our efforts to give back to and invest in obesity science. These new opportunities will help us continue to encourage research in the field of obesity."

To drum up excitement for these new grants and awards, TOS is encouraging its members to weigh in. For example, one of the new grant opportunities, the Early Career Research Grant Challenge, sponsored by the Egg Nutrition Center, will allow ObesityWeek attendees to vote on the inaugural winner. For this grant competition, five finalists will present their research ideas on stage to a panel of five judges during TOS's Opening Session at ObesityWeek, and the audience will vote on a winner as the collective sixth "judge." Each finalist was given a $1,500 travel grant to attend ObesityWeek, and the overall winner of the competition will receive a $40,000 research grant. This "shark-tank" style grant competition was developed this year to foster and stimulate new research ideas related to obesity.

Other new grants and awards this year include the Thomas A. Wadden Award for Distinguished Mentorship (1), the Shiriki Kumanyika Diversity Leadership Awards (2), the George Bray, MD, Master's Thesis Award and Doctoral Dissertation Awards (2) and three mid-career research grants sponsored by Novo Nordisk. TOS also continues to honor members through the award and grant opportunities that have been offered in the past.

Created in 2014, the Presidential Medal of Distinction allows TOS's President to honor an individual or individuals for their distinguished service to TOS, exemplary courage in advocating for persons with obesity, and breakthrough discoveries that revolutionize our view of the science of body weight regulation or treatments for obesity. Dr. Dhurandhar is pleased to recognize Jules Hirsch, MD, (1927 – 2015) posthumously with this award. Dr. Hirsch was a pioneer in human adipose tissue biology research and a leader in developing a better understanding of obesity from a lifestyle condition to a complex disease.

"TOS developed these programs nearly a decade ago to promote, reward and encourage research in the field of obesity, and we aim to expand upon this program each year" continues Dr. Dhurandhar. "I salute these recipients for their significant contributions to obesity treatment and prevention."

TOS is pleased to congratulate the following recipients of the 2015 TOS Awards and Grants.

2015 George A. Bray Awards:

Founders Award: The George A. Bray Founders Award recognizes an individual for significant contributions that advance the scientific or clinical basis for understanding or treating obesity and for extensive involvement with The Obesity Society.

  • Recipient: Samuel Klein, MD, Washington University, School of Medicine

Master's Thesis Award & Doctoral Dissertation Awards: Honor two students for their complete master's thesis or doctoral dissertation (respectively) that was successfully defended in the current year (May 1, 2014 - April 30, 2015).

  • Thesis Recipient: Michele G. Lanpher, Duke University
  • Dissertation Recipient: Cynthia M. Kroeger, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham

2015 Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award: Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award is designed to recognize people who, like Albert (Mickey) Stunkard, have made a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the field of obesity in terms of scholarship, mentorship, and education.

  • Recipient: Thorkild I.A. Sørensen, MD, ScD, Institute of Preventative Medicine

2015 Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service: The Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service recognizes an individual or organization whose work has significantly improved the lives of those affected by obesity, whether through research, public policy, patient care, or other means. This award was established by a gift from Thomas A. Wadden.

  • Recipient: Louis J. Aronne, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College

2015 TOPS Research Achievement Award: The TOPS Research Achievement Award recognizes an individual for singular achievement or contribution to research in the field of obesity. This award is made possible through an annual grant from the Take Off Pounds Sensibly Foundation (TOPS).

  • Recipient: Andrew Greenberg, MD, Tufts University

2015 Lilly Scientific Achievement Award: The Lilly Scientific Achievement Award recognizes excellence in an established research career and is made possible through an annual grant from the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company.

  • Recipient: Dongsheng Cai, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

2015 Thomas A. Wadden Award for Distinguished Mentorship: Created in 2015, this award honors a mid-career or senior TOS member for distinguished mentorship of the Society's members who were in their early careers at the time of the mentoring relationship. The award was created with a generous endowment from multiple contributors, comprised primarily of Dr. Wadden's prior mentees, led by former mentee, Adam Gilden Tsai, MD.

  • Recipient: Professor Thomas Wadden, PhD, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Shiriki Kumanyika Diversity Leadership Awards: TOS's Diversity Committee and Diversity Section combined efforts to create the Diversity Leadership Award to honor investigators whose research has made a significant impact in the field of obesity disparities.

  • Recipient: Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, FTOS, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Recipient: Jose Fernandez, PhD, FTOS, University of Alabama at Birmingham

2015 Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award Finalists: The Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award recognizes excellence in research by young investigators based on their submitted abstracts and presentation during the Annual Scientific Meeting. Each finalist receives up to $1,000 to cover Annual Scientific Meeting expenses. The winner will receive an additional $1,000 cash prize. The award is presented during a plenary session at which the five finalists are invited to present the Ethan Sims Young Investigators Award Lecture.

  • Finalist: Vance L. Albaugh, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Finalist: Charlotte C. Ronveaux, PhD, University of California Davis
  • Finalist: David J. Hume, BSc, University of Cape Town
  • Finalist: Aditya J. Desai, PhD, Mayo Clinic
  • Finalist: Clare H. Llewellyn, MA, GDip, MSc, PhD, Health Behavior Research Center

Early Career Research Grants: These research grants are offered to junior-level investigators and postdoctoral trainees and fund proposals that demonstrate a high likelihood of resulting in new and innovative approaches in obesity research.

  • Recipient: Fernando Bril, University of Florida
  • Recipient: Leah Frerichs, University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill

Mid-Career Research Grant (funded by Novo Nordisk): These mid-career research grants were established to support three areas of concentration.

  • Neuroendocrine control of eating behaviors (clinical and pre-clinical studies) - Recipient: Jeffrey M. Zigman, MD, PhD, UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Novel neuroendocrine regulators of body weight (clinical and pre-clinical studies) - Recipient: Colleen M. Novak, PhD, Kent State University
  • New drug treatment strategies needed as adjuncts to sustain lost weight - Recipient: Adrian Vella, MD, Mayo Clinic

Weight Watchers Karen Miller-Kovach Research Grant: In its second year, this grant is intended to lead to the development of scalable, behavioral weight-loss interventions that include digital tools.

  • Recipient: Kathleen J. Melanson, PhD, University Of Rhode Island

2015 Early Career Research Grant Challenge:

  • Finalist: Nicholas Burd, PhD, University of Illinois
  • Finalist: Erin Stephenson, PhD, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Finalist: Jessica Alvarez, PhD, RD, Emory University
  • Finalist: Latha Ramalingam, PhD, Texas Tech University
  • Finalist: Samrat Yeramaneni, MBBS, PhD, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

About The Obesity Society

The Obesity Society (TOS) is the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity. Through research, education and advocacy, TOS is committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. For more information visit: Connect with us on social media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Find TOS disclosures here.

About ObesityWeek

ObesityWeek is the premier, international event focused on the basic science, clinical application, prevention and treatment of obesity. TOS and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) host the world's pre-eminent conference on obesity, ObesityWeek 2015, Nov. 2-7, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif. For the third year, both organizations hold their respective annual scientific meetings under one roof to unveil exciting new research, discuss emerging treatment and prevention options, network and present.

CONTACT: Chelsea Clark

Source:The Obesity Society