TOS Comments on the NHLBI Strategic Research Priorities

TOS Comments on the NHLBI Strategic Research Priorities

March 4, 2016


Gary H. Gibbons, M.D.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Building 31, Room 5A48
31 Center Drive MSC 2486
Bethesda, MD 20892


Attn: The Obesity Society Comments on the NHLBI Strategic Research Priorities

Dear Dr. Gibbons,

Since 1982, The Obesity Society (TOS), has been the leading professional society dedicated to better understanding, preventing and treating obesity - a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke - through research, education and advocacy. We are joined in our efforts by nearly 2,500 members, making TOS the premier voluntary organization for leading the charge in advancing the science-based understanding of the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of obesity.

The NHBLI’s specific strategic research priorities complement many of the same areas upon which TOS is focused, including our shared efforts to nurture the research that leads to discoveries about cardiovascular-related disease (obesity and its comorbidities), and translating these findings for use in clinical practice. Much like the NHLBI’s Enduring Principles, TOS places enormous value on fundamental discoveries in science and cross-disciplinary research that spans basic, translational, clinical and population science. This is a cornerstone of TOS efforts to reduce, prevent and treat obesity and its consequences.

As you are well aware, obesity is central to many of the NHLBI strategic visioning overarching objectives, compelling questions and critical challenges. Indeed, obesity plays a role in each of the objectives, particularly in relation to heterogeneity in risk and resilience and in pathobiological mechanisms important to the onset and progression of heart, lung, blood and sleep (HLBS) disease. Yet weight appears as one of several factors in Critical Challenges for Objective 1, 5 and 7, with relatively few mentions of obesity and weight throughout the Strategic Priorities.

We note 2 mentions of the term “obesity”:

  • On page 19, as part of the Compelling Question for Objective 5 – circadian-based strategies to improve efficacy for treatments for HLBS disease including obesity/diseases
  • On page 24, as part of the Critical Challenges for Objective 7 – integrate multidimensional/multidisciplinary data to develop predictive/actionable models of weight gain, weight loss, weight loss maintenance; role of obesity in the risk, prevention, and treatment of cardiopulmonary/sleep disorders

Similarly, the term “weight” has 2 mentions:

  • On page 13, as part of the Compelling Questions for Objective 1: factors evaluated with a systems biology approach involved in healthy weight management across the lifespan
  • On page 14, as part of the Critical Challenges of Obesity 1: dietary assessment methods and biomarkers to identify dietary patterns/foods contributing to healthy weight and lower cardio-metabolic risks

We are happy that these inclusions were made, but as obesity and weight management are critical to every objective (including objective 8 on preparing the workforce to treat patients with weight challenges), we feel obesity and overweight should be recognized as an important goal in more than 3 of the 8 objectives, particularly as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

We would be pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this with you further, as appropriate. Please feel free to contact me directly at, or by way of Mollie Turner, The Obesity Society Senior Director of External Affairs at


Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, FTOS
President, The Obesity Society