Research in Diverse Populations
The overall goal of the Research in Diverse Populations Section is to promote research and mentorship for the scientific interests of TOS members of diverse backgrounds or with a research focus on diverse human populations (including but not limited to: race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity). Research focus: populations underrepresented in obesity research or those disproportionately affected by obesity; human research samples comparing effects and dynamics in groups with diverse racial, ethnic, geographic and/or economic backgrounds.


  • To increase the visibility of Diversity Section activities through the Society's communication tools, including but not limited to: the website, eblasts, and member newsletters
  • To develop a comprehensive Section program for the annual meeting
  • To foster a mentoring program within the Society


Research in Diverse Populations Newsletter January 2017
Research in Diverse Populations Newsletter January 2016
Research in Diverse Populations Newsletter October 2015
Research in Diverse Populations Newsletter March 2013



Nobuko Kay Hongu, PhD, MEd, RD (Chair, 2016-2017)

University Of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Dr. Nobuko (Kay) Hongu is an Associate Professor, Nutrition and Physical Activity Extension Specialist in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. Her role as an Extension Specialist is conducting applied research and non-formal educational programs, which are carried out off-campus, non-credit education formats in her areas of expertise, i.e. nutrition, obesity prevention, and physical activity enhancement. In her community programs she partners with state and county faculty members, and statewide clientele. In her ongoing research projects she develops, disseminates, and evaluates community-based nutrition and physical activity programs. She uses community-based participatory research strategies to improve eating habits and enhance physical activity, especially among low-income families. She is also interested in dietary and physical activity assessments using popular mobile technologies (e.g., GPS, mobile phones, text messaging). Dr. Hongu received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Mukogawa Women’s University, Japan, Master of Art in Education with an emphasis on exercise physiology from the University of Akron, Ohio, and Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis on fat metabolism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She completed a 4-year postdoctoral fellowship at Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, where she designed and investigated the effects of dietary supplement on lipid profiles, oxidative stress and inflammation during energy restriction in overweight and obese adults.

David J. Hume, PhD (Chair-Elect 2016-2017)   

The University of Cape Town, Cape Town, SA

Dr. David Hume recently completed his PhD in neuroscience, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Over the past five years, he has investigated the socio-cultural, environmental and behavioral determinants of weight excess in black South African women, the role of adipose tissue in insulin resistance in women of African Ancestry, and EEG-measured brain activity (in response to visual food cue exposure) in urban South African women with obesity from various socio-cultural backgrounds.

In 2015, Dr. Hume was a TOS Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award finalist for his work on body shape dissatisfaction, eating behavior and doubly labeled water-measured energy flux in American adolescents and college-aged females. Currently, he is exploring the differences in EEG activity in African vs. Caucasian women undergoing bariatric surgery vs. control groups enrolled in a conservative dietary-based weight loss program, and how such changes might relate to socio-cultural factors, or associate with alterations in low-grade inflammatory markers and the composition of the gut micro biome.

Dr. Hume is the spokesperson for his department's "Society of Integrative Obesity Research" which advocates for transdisciplinary awareness, thinking and understanding in both clinical practice and scientific inquiry, and for the "re-humanization" of doctor-patient/scientist-subject interactions in biomedical domains. He is also the CEO and founder of a non-profit academic program which aims to tutor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Masters and PhD students from previously socially and/or economically disenfranchised African countries on study design, data analysis and scientific writing skills. For his work in the LGBT community and for his efforts on reducing the >70% prevalence of weight excess in urban South African women, Dr. Hume has been commended by South African government and was an esteemed guest of parliament at last year's national presidential address.

Paule V. Joseph, PhD, MS, FNP-BC (Secretary/Treasurer 2016-2017)  

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 

Dr. Joseph’s research interest in eating behavior, genetics, obesity, symptom management and gastrointestinal disorders stems from her clinical practice and research experience as a gastrointestinal nurse and family nurse practitioner. She worked as a clinical nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital and at Columbia Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Hospital in New York City. Dr. Joseph has practiced nursing in the areas of Rehabilitation Medicine and Gastrointestinal Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Joseph brings a unique perspective to her program of research—a perspective that incorporates both clinical and bench science approaches.

Dr. Joseph conducted her dissertation project at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked in the laboratories of Dr. Danielle Reed and Dr. Julie Mennella at the Monell Chemical Senses Center the leaders in chemosensory biology. She was then recruited to the National Institute of Health (NIH) for her postdoctoral fellowship funded by the NIH Office of Workforce Diversity. During her studies at University of Penn she was a T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellow Research on Vulnerable Women, Children, and Families in the Centers for Global Women’s Health and Health Equity Research. She was also funded by the International Society of Nurses in Genetics. 

Dr. Joseph has received many awards and recognitions including the highly competitive Johnson & Johnson- American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship. The Pace University Lienhard School of Nursing Dean’s Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution, the University of Pennsylvania Teresa I. Lynch Award for outstanding commitment to leadership and social activism. She was also a University of Pennsylvania Fontaine Fellow ’11, NIH NINR Summer Genetics Institute Fellow ’12, and NIH Summer Intern Program Fellow ’13. Recently, she received independent funding by Rockefeller University Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award. Dr. Joseph currently serves as the NINR representative in the Fellows Committee (FelCom) at the NIH. She has been an active leader and member of several national nursing and non-nursing organizations, the International Society of Nurses in Genetics, The Obesity Society, the Transcultural Nursing Society among others. 

Dr. Joseph’s career goal is to lead, represent and mentor the up-and-coming next generation of future research leaders from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds as independent scientists in a premier research-intensive institution. In addition, her aim is to gain knowledge and contribute to the scientific literature on the mechanisms by which the microbiome regulates eating behavior and the relationship with metabolic digestive diseases. Dr. Joseph also has an interest in research methods and data reproducibility. Dr. Joseph has a PhD in Nursing/Genomics from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s Degree in Nursing as Family Nurse Practitioner from Pace University, and an AAS in Nursing at Hostos Community College and a BSN from the College of New Rochelle.

Michael G. Knight, MD  (Early Career Representative 2015-2017)  

New York Presbyterian Hospital- Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY

Michael G. Knight, MD is a Resident Physician in Internal Medicine at the NewYork-Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, NY. He is the founder and President of the Renewing Health Foundation, and the Post-Graduate Chair and Trustee for the National Medical Association. Originally from New York City, he completed undergraduate studies at Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL), and attended the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, where he obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree with Special Qualifications in Biomedical Research. Throughout his training and early career, he has been instrumental in developing programs and initiatives designed to impact the health needs of underserved communities throughout the United States and abroad. He served as the 48th National President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and currently leads the Renewing Health Foundation, working to educate and empower urban minority communities through community health literacy and awareness programming. He is currently completing a medical residency in Internal Medicine, with a clinical interest in Obesity Medicine and a career interest in Health Services, with a focus on healthcare quality improvement and community engagement. He will join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania in July 2015. As an aspiring administrator and clinician, he hopes to encourage data-driven results to improve healthcare quality and advance community-based participatory research to eliminate racial and ethnic healthcare disparities. He is a member of The Obesity Society, and plans to work within the Diversity Section to increase diversity within the organization, and maintain a focus on the reduction and elimination of obesity related healthcare disparities.

Mindy Dopler-Nelson, PhD   (Past Chair, 2016-2017) 

Nutrition Scientist, Independent Consultant, MA

Dr. Dopler Nelson is an independent nutrition consultant and advocate working with the City of Lowell and Lowell Bicycle Coalition to improve bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, with the Coalition for a Better Acre to improve nutritional status in low-income Asian populations, and volunteers her nutrition expertise with the Merrimack Valley Time Exchange and Lowell Tiny House Village. Her research interests are broadly focused in the area of the interaction of built-in environment and genetics on lifestyle, particularly diet and physical activity on the prevention and treatment of obesity, and its related comorbidities. She currently investigates food preferences based on mental health, substance abuse, and physical activity intended to inform weight loss/management interventions in community and clinic environments. Dr. Dopler Nelson was previously an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she conducted research assessing cardiometabolic risk in shift workers and from consuming 12 eggs/week, the association of food addiction in college students with ADHD or substance abuse, and the effect of MSG on neuronal activity. Dr. Dopler Nelson received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, Master of Science in Nutritional Science and PhD in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis on endocrinology and biostatistics from the University of California at Davis. She completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, where she collected, analyzed, and interpreted data from oxidized LDL measures in individuals with moderate hypercholesterolemia consuming various forms of garlic, the influence of SNPs on weight loss outcomes, and designed a weight loss intervention focused on sleep quality.

Margarita Teran-Garcia, MD, PhD, FTOS (Council Liaison 2015-2017) 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

Margarita Teran-Garcia was trained as medical doctor, pediatrician, and obtained her PhD with focus on nutrient-gene interactions and lipogenesis. During her postdoctoral training, she acquired expertise in genetic epidemiology methods and tools while she investigated the role of individual genotype in cardiovascular and metabolic responses to exercise-training at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Her research focuses on genetic and environmental factors influencing the development of child obesity and related metabolic diseases. Her current projects aim to expand on the knowledge of gene-environment interactions (dietary and exercise patterns), and psychosocial processes relevant to improving weight management, obesity and obesity-related diseases. Dr. Teran participates and leads two multi-disciplinary projects that are collecting primary longitudinal data relevant to childhood and adolescent weight status and weight-related health outcomes. Her long-term goal is to find early diagnostic biomarkers that will help in the development of effective and individualized interventions directed at preventing childhood and adult obesity, the morbidity due to obesity-related diseases and have a significant positive impact on health. Margarita Teran has served as chair of the Latin American affair section of The Obesity Society since 2010. She has been a member and regular participant of TOS meetings since 2001, and an active participant in several international meetings to facilitate awareness and education on obesity among Latin-American professionals.