Over 42% of adults have obesity, which is more prevalent in under-represented minority (URM) populations.
While even modest (3-5%) weight loss improves this risk, Black and Hispanic patients are less likely to lose
weight in intervention programs, and we and others have found that Black patients lose less weight with
bariatric surgery. To address these disparities and promote health equity, the focus of my patient-oriented
research has been to develop and test weight management interventions in underserved patient populations. I
am currently PI on 4 behavioral clinical trials funded through the NIH and Veterans affairs and one longitudinal
bariatric surgery cohort study. These studies, with approximately 1700 patients enrolled thus far, have
supported the training of several students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty.
I have been passionate about mentoring trainees, especially those from URM populations. NYU Langone
Health provides a rich training environment for mentees at all levels to advance their research careers. This
K24 award will provide me with additional resources and protected time to increase the impact of my trainees’
and my research. With collaboration and guidance from my K24 Advisory Committee and Community Advisory
Board (CAB) members, the K24 will support the following Short-Term Career Objectives 1) To be a primary
mentor for 1-2 additional URM junior faculty or fellows per year; 2) To improve my skills in mentoring URM
trainees; 3) To increase my expertise and mentorship in social determinants of health (SDOH), health equity,
and community engagement; 4) To develop leadership skills in health equity; and 5) To obtain 2 additional
R01-level or higher grants to test and implement interventions addressing obesity-related health disparities.
Through formal coursework, conferences, and hands-on experiential training, I will enhance my skills and
expertise in leadership and mentorship in health equity, social determinants of health, and community-engaged
research. The K24 advisory committee, consisting of senior leaders and collaborators in these areas, will
advise on my research and training aims and will review a yearly formal evaluation of my mentoring.
My mentees and I are interested in how individual and neighborhood level markers of race and weight
discrimination impact weight management outcomes in vulnerable populations. For our research aims, we will
use existing datasets (n=768) participants in health coaching weight management intervention studies and 207
participants in a bariatric surgery cohort study to evaluate the impact of neighborhood- and individual- level
SDOH (including markers of discrimination) on weight management outcomes. We will engage relevant
patient and community stakeholders to collaborate on all aspects of the research. The research aims were
developed through extensive discussions with each of my current mentees to enhance their training, support
their individual research and improve the care of vulnerable patients with obesity.