Here are some questions and answers from our interview with TOS Fellow Martin Binks, PhD, FTOS, Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the Behavioral Medicine and Translational Research Lab at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Dr. Binks is also Secretary/Treasurer of The Obesity Society.
Q: What is your title and organizational affiliation?
A: I am an Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the Behavioral Medicine and Translational Research Lab at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I am also Secretary/Treasurer of TOS. My educational background includes:
- Concordia University Montreal Quebec Can. BA 1986 Psychology
- Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck NJ MA 1999 Clinical Psychology
- Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck NJ PhD 2002 Clinical Psychology
- Medical University of South Carolina Internship 1999-2000 Behavioral Medicine
- Weight Management Center Postdoctoral Fellowship 2000-2003 Obesity Research
Q: Please tell us about your current work and your professional developmental trajectory?
A: After many years in academic medical centers (MUSC 1999-2003; Duke 2003-2009) delivering clinical obesity care (behavioral, medical and surgical), directing and developing clinical programs (including strategic business development and administrative activities at Duke), and conducting research from clinical datasets; I became an independent consultant (Binks Behavioral Health PLLC) and continued these activities while adding sponsored research to the portfolio. In Sept 2013 I moved to Texas Tech University as a researcher. I am lucky that I get to work with undergraduate and graduate students in nutritional sciences doing clinical behavioral medicine and translational research along with neuroscience relating to obesity and health behavior. Our department spans basic science through community and extension for a truly transdisciplinary experience.
Q: What is one of your professional or personal qualities that has contributed to your success?
A: Driven, logical and pragmatic.
Q: What advice do you have for today's junior obesity researchers?
A: Don't wait for people to hand you opportunities; make them happen. You can do this by actively seeking collaborations, volunteering for service at your institution and reaching out at TOS meetings. I got where I am by simply saying hello to leaders in the field so they started to recognize me, then I volunteered for service to TOS and said yes to just about anything I was asked to do at TOS. I still do that today. My engagement at TOS is directly responsible for multiple professional opportunities and also several job offers over the years.
Q: What aspects of obesity research are the most exciting to you right now?
A: Innovation and translation! In my opinion, we need to break down the silos between basic science, clinical science, clinical application, community/public health and advocacy to conceptualize our studies from a transdisciplinary perspective. Bench scientists developing animal models need to conceptualize their work with an eye to clinical (and possibly community) application far down the line. We all need to communicate well with the rest of the care continuum. Similarly, at the level of community we need better understanding of the basic science and how this should inform community intervention and policy discussions. A true translational continuum across disciplines will fuel innovation.
Q: What are your favorite things to do when you're not at work?
A: Fast bikes, fast cars, and adrenalin. I also love being "Papa" to my 5 year old granddaughter and 3 year old grandson and all my wonderful family.