Marshall University to co-sponsor summit focusing on obesity in Appalachia

Thursday, March 24, 2011

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University is partnering with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Kentucky (UK) to present a one-day conference, “Appalachian Health Summit:  Focus on Obesity,” on April 21 at the Lexington Convention Center.

Four Marshall researchers will present at the conference, and others will participate in the conference’s scientific sessions, which will address the obesity problem from angles as diverse as research collaboratives and social networking. 

Dr. Richard M. Niles, the Marshall medical school’s senior associate dean for research and graduate education, said that although the summit is a scientific-based conference targeted at faculty and research personnel, anyone interested in improving the health status of citizens across the region is encouraged to attend the free program.

“We hope to also have representation from government agencies, private foundations and community organizations,” added Niles, who will lead a session about the relationship between obesity and cancer.

Noting that the obesity problem is more prevalent in Appalachia than elsewhere, Niles said links between obesity and diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are well recognized, but the fact that obesity increases the risk for multiple types of cancer is less well known.

“Marshall has a number of faculty members doing research in this important field. The summit is designed to help us learn more about the obesity problem and its prevalence, and to map strategies to counteract it,” he said.

Also presenting will be Dr. W. Elaine Hardman, director of the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center; Dr. Nalini Santanam, professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology; and Dr. Richard Crespo, professor of family and community health.

The summit will feature a keynote address by Dr. William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other sessions will focus on health disparities and health behaviors in Appalachia; childhood obesity, food and nutrition; research networks and collaboratives; and social networking for energy balance.

The summit is the kickoff event for the Appalachian Translational Research Network, whose mission is to enhance research collaborations among partner institutions, and to establish a platform for interaction and sharing best practices among academic institutions, healthcare providers and community organizations.

In addition to Marshall and UK, summit partners include the Appalachian Regional Commission, Ohio State University, Pikeville College and the University of Cincinnati.

There is no registration fee for the conference; however, anyone planning to attend must register online.

For more information or to register, visit

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964.