Center for Obesity Reversal Becomes Research Center at Georgia State University

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The Center for Obesity Reversal, a new top-level research center at Georgia State University, has been established to foster research projects that will help fight the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The Center for Obesity Reversal, a new top-level research center at Georgia State University, has been established to foster research projects that will help fight the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The center will focus on tackling and reversing the nation's obesity epidemic by using a basic science approach. Researchers will study obesity and related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic inflammation and some cancers. They will focus on the two obvious ways to reduce obesity: decreasing food intake and increasing energy expenditure, as well as study the mechanisms involved in the breakdown of stored fat and burning the products of fat breakdown.

The center will provide research opportunities for 10 primary principal investigators and two associate members, whose diverse research backgrounds will make the center unique and offer innovative approaches to the obesity problem.

Timothy Bartness, a world-renowned obesity researcher and Regents’ Professor at Georgia State, will be the director of the Center.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Bartness, we are excited that the Center will not only be well positioned to contribute to a better understanding of the obese disorder, but potentially impact the clinical management of a globally expanding obesity epidemic,” said James Weyhenmeyer, vice president for research and economic development at Georgia State.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of adults in the United States were obese in 2012. About 29.1 percent of people in Georgia were obese. The percentage of U.S. adults age 20 or older who were either obese or overweight or both was 67 percent, with Georgia having a similar statistic of 65 percent.

In addition, the obesity epidemic is costing the United States an estimated $147 billion in 2008 dollars, with medical costs for obese individuals being about $1,429 higher than patients of normal weight.

“The prevalence and costs of obesity provide important and practical justifications for establishing the Center for Obesity Reversal,” Bartness said. “There is a need for further basic research with clinical significance to help develop potential therapeutic treatments for obesity and related disorders. We actually know the answer to the obesity crisis, eat less and expend more energy, but no one including me likes that answer so we will be searching for a less effortful way, yet effective way, for this to occur.”

As new findings from the Center for Obesity Reversal require clinical application, investigators will collaborate with local institutions, medical schools and hospitals, including Emory University School of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University and the Centers for Disease Control.

In addition to Bartness, the center’s primary faculty includes Ritu Aneja, Chun Jiang, Casonya Matese Johnson, Marise Parent, Vincent Rehder, Aaron Roseberry, Hang Shi, Irene Weber and Bingzhong Xue. The center’s associate members are Andrew Gewirtz and Didier Merlin. The combined research efforts of the primary faculty have led to more than $3.6 million in yearly grant funding from federal and health voluntary organizations.

The Center for Obesity Reversal will mentor and train new graduate students in this research area and provide additional and new training for postdoctoral fellows. The center also aims to provide research experience for undergraduate students and increase the numbers of minorities and women at all training levels.

For more information about the center, visit

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Latina Emerson
Georgia State University
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