Dr. Leah Whigham has a B.S. degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the Executive Director of the Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living, a multi-Institutional effort to increase healthy eating and active living in southern New Mexico, far west Texas, and Ciudad Juarez. The work of the Institute includes building the capacity of the medical/health care sector in the region to effectively deal with obesity, as well as using evidence-based mixed-strategy solutions to promote healthy eating and active living. Her research interests have ranged from basic to clinical to community and have included effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on immune function and body composition; investigations of the molecular mechanisms involved in virally-induced obesity; energy expenditure mechanisms involved with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and obesity, as well as development of a new approach for modeling the metabolic dynamics of complex diseases; development of biofeedback methods for weight loss using naturally occurring stable isotopes; and approaches for decreasing excessive gestational weight gain in obese pregnant women.
Dr. Whigham has been a member of TOS since 2000, attending meetings annually, and giving numerous oral and poster presentations. She has served on the Finance Committee for 2 years, was a member and is currently Chair of the Audit Committee, and participated in the latest round of the TOS Strategic Plan. She has served as a reviewer for Obesity, International Journal of Obesity, and numerous other journals; is on the editorial board for Nutrition and Diabetes; and has been a guest editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. She chaired the Dannon Leadership Institute Alumni Association. She is frequently interviewed for obesity-related news stories from around the world.
Vision for TOS: I have been a member and strong supporter of TOS since I first began doing research in the obesity field in 2000. Coming into TOS with a strong basic science background, the professional networking, as well as young investigator grant funds I received through TOS, have helped me apply that basic science approach in meaningful clinical and translational research endeavors. My vision includes expansion of the impact of TOS in high-impact research areas including understanding the fundamentals of the etiology and pathophysiology of obesity. TOS also needs to continue to be a leader in advocacy, education, and treatment of obesity. My experience with the TOS Finance and Audit Committees have taught me the importance for TOS to excel scientifically to maintain a high level of membership, be creative at diversifying the appeal of TOS to expand membership into new areas, and strike the right balance between financial growth and stability to allow all members to get more out of their membership. My goals are 1) to obtain increased funding to support TOS young investigator grants, 2) for every young investigator in the obesity field to build their careers with TOS as their primary scientific society, 3) for every media outlet to turn to TOS for accurate information about obesity, and 4) for policy makers to rely on TOS for up-to-date obesity research and advocacy information.