Dr. Atkinson has spent more than 30 years in the field of obesity. Following a combined Pediatric/Adult Fellowship in Endocrine/Metabolism with George Bray at Harbor General Hospital, he served on the faculty of several medical schools performing obesity research and directing an obesity treatment program at each school. Dr. Atkinson has therefore intimately experienced both the research and patient care sides of obesity. His first area of interest was in the mechanisms of weight loss with obesity surgery, exploring whether surgery works better and longer than medical treatment and describing some of the first evidence of changes in the hormonal milieu as a consequence of surgery. He collaborated on some of the first scientific studies on very-low-calorie diets, early studies on the combination of phentermine and fenfluramine, and, also, other studies on the pharmacology of obesity drugs. In recent years, the discovery that the human adenovirus-36 causes obesity in animals and is associated with obesity in humans has become the primary focus of his research today.
Dr. Atkinson has had a long interest in international affairs and obesity policy and has worked with many investigators from all over the world on a variety of projects and committees. He has attended every International Congress on Obesity since 1980. He has been active in the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) and served as a member of the Awards Committee. His proposal to the IASO Council of the idea of the New Investigator Competition led to Dr. Atkinson being asked to organize the program and its funding for the last two International Congresses on Obesity (Brazil and Sydney). Dr. Atkinson has frequently attended meetings of the European Congress on Obesity, and, since 2000, as the Editor of the International Journal of Obesity, he attends annually.
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