Executive Director – Anthony Comuzzie, PhD, FTOS
Anthony Comuzzie, PhD, FTOS, is a world-renowned obesity researcher, scientist and co-director of the TOPS Nutrition and Obesity Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute. He is an accomplished scientist, well respected among his peers and has the experience and dedication to successfully helm our professional society.
Dr. Comuzzie has more than 25 years of research experience focused on the genetics of obesity. He is active in numerous scientific societies, served as a member of the NHLBI Expert Panel on Obesity and Overweight, and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW). Dr. Comuzzie also sat on TOS’s Executive Committee as Secretary/Treasurer before accepting the position of executive director.
Additionally, Dr. Comuzzie serves as Editor of Frontiers in Applied Genetic Epidemiology, is an Associate Editor for BMC Medical Genetics, and is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics. He is a recognized expert and advisor on the genetics of obesity and has published more than 250 journal articles.
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Get to know Tony!
You’ve been a TOS member for 20 years. What are a few things you’ve truly appreciated about your membership and association with TOS?
TOS has been my primary professional home since finishing my postdoc. In the summer of 1985, I had the good fortune to attend a FASEB summer conference on obesity organized by James Hill and Robert Eckel (both past presidents of the society) where I had the opportunity to meet many of the leaders, and those who would later become leaders, in the field of obesity research. And they were all members of NAASO! They encouraged me to join and I’ve reaped the member benefits ever since. In particular, I’ve greatly appreciated the scientific stimulation as well as the collegiality of the members, always willing to offer help and advice. This was invaluable to me when I was first beginning in this field.
Will your TOS membership be an asset as the new Executive Director?
Absolutely! My involvement as a TOS member provides me with a fresh and unique perspective on the organization that someone with a more traditional background in association administration might lack. In part, I have an appreciation for the history of TOS. Having witnessed first-hand the tremendous growth we have achieved over more than two decades is very helpful in understanding many of the challenges we are facing today. An example is membership engagement and benefits. As a member, I can relate to the needs of our membership in a way that would not be possible if I’d not been involved with TOS in a research or clinical setting. Scientific organizations and their members occupy a unique position in the non-profit space, and being a society member provides me with a clear appreciation for that unique position, the challenges we need to meet and the exciting possibilities the future holds.
As a scientist, you operated and funded your own lab for 25 years. Are there transferable skills and knowledge that will help you be successful at TOS?
As many of our members can appreciate, running a research program requires effective skills in communications, long range planning and budgeting and personnel management in an environment of shifting grant support. But while these skills will be of practical help on a daily basis, I also think that having applied these skills specifically in a research context offers me an understanding and appreciation of the day-to-day issues facing many of our members. This first-hand experience will help me better serve our TOS community. Additionally, my decades-long involvement in obesity-related research has given me a solid understanding of the relevant issues in our field which I can then use to facilitate programmatic objectives and strategic partnerships that will move both the society and the field of obesity forward.
What is your vision for the future of TOS? Can you share your immediate and long-term goals?
There are so many opportunities for continued growth at the society, and I’m eager to help us achieve our full potential. We have made tremendous progress in recent years on the clinical front with efforts to establish obesity medicine as a recognized board certified specialization, and I’m excited to support those efforts in any way I can. I’m also keen to work with our members to both revitalize our basic science component and bring back our lapsed members. One idea is to develop a series of intimate, highly focused meetings devoted to cutting-edge areas of basic research. Another idea, is to develop workshops on topics of interest to our members such as grant writing for investigators and effective mentoring for mid-career members. It’s also important, while we’re enhancing our member benefits, to expand our name recognition, society branding and position statements. TOS is a pioneering organization and I want to ensure that we continue to be a leader in the field of obesity.
What excites you most about being The Obesity Society’s new Executive Director?
While I’ve had a long and productive career in basic research, I am particularly excited to be able to contribute to the field in new, significant and more tangible ways. As Executive Director, I have the opportunity to help facilitate new initiatives not only related to basic research, but to clinical practice and advocacy as well. I’m also looking forward to strengthening our relationships with peer societies and developing and nurturing corporate connections. But perhaps the most exciting aspect of being Executive Director is working for an organization with a mission I strongly support. We have an engaging membership, a strong annual conference, a commitment to science and the advancement of the field of obesity and emerging new programs and initiatives. I am both honored and exhilarated to take on this role, support my fellow members and move The Obesity Society into a new era.