Division of Nutrition

10th Annual
Postgraduate Nutrition Symposium

Genetics of Obesity

June 26, 2008

New research is emerging on the potential role of genetics in obesity. While behavioral aspects are an important component in developing obesity, scientists are working to understand what genetic variations predispose certain individuals to obesity, and what impact these factors have on metabolic function. Accordingly, having a better understanding of the genetics of obesity may lead to future personalized treatments for individuals with certain biological variations.

A panel of world-renowned physicians and researchers will present new research on the relationship between genetics and the onset of obesity-related pathologies. They will also explore whether certain dietary/nutritional components may prevent the development and progression of these complications.

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W. Allan Walker, MD
Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition
Professor of Pediatrics
Director, Division of Nutrition, Harvard Medical School

Keynote Address:
Molecular Physiology of Weight Regulation

Rudolph L. Leibel, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine
Head, Division of Molecular Genetics
Co-Director, Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center
Columbia University Medical Center

Session I
Monogenic and Polygenic Forms of Obesity in Humans

Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD

Overview of the Genetics of Obesity

Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Senior Associate Member and Co-director, Metabolism Initiative
Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Insights From Deep Resequencing in Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity

Len Pennacchio, PhD 
Senior Staff Scientist, Genomics Division Program Leader
Genetic Analysis & Genomic Technologies Programs
Joint Genome Institute

Genetics and Biology of Bardet-Biedl Syndrome

Nicholas Katsanis, PhD
Associate Professor, Institute of Genetic Medicine
Departments of Ophthalmology, Molecular Biology and Genetics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Searching Genes for Obesity – Is Genomewide Association the Solution?

Ruth Loos, PhD 
Programme Leader (track) 
MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science
Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK

Gene-diet Interactions in Obesity and Metabolic Diseases

Frank Hu, MD, PhD
Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology
Department of Nutrition
Department of Epidemiology
Harvard School of Public Health

Roundtable Forum

Session II
Genetics of Obesity in Animal Models

Rudolph L. Leibel, MD, PhD


Streamson C. Chua, Jr., MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Medicine
Professor, Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Genetic and Functional Genomic Analysis of C. elegans Neuroendocrine Control of Fat Storage

Gary Ruvkun, PhD
Professor, Department of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
Center for Computational and Integrative Medicine 
Department of Molecular Biology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Smiches Research Center

Gastrointestinal Regulation of Metabolic Function

Lee M. Kaplan, MD, PhD 
Associate Professor of Medicine 
Director, MGH Weight Center 
Associate Chief for Research, Gastroenterology
Massachusetts General Hospital

Gene-environment Interactions in Rodent Models of Obesity

Barry Levin, MD 
Professor and Vice Chair,
Department of Neurology & Neurosciences
New Jersey Medical School and E. Orange NJ VA Medical Center

Genetic Dissection of Neural Circuits Controlling Energy Homeostasis

Brad Lowell, MD, PhD 
Professor of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Harvard Medical School

Roundtable Forum

Andrew Greenberg, MD
Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins
Professorship in Metabolism and Nutrition Scientist I and Director, Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory
Tufts University

Presented by
The Division of Nutrition and Harvard Clinical Nutrition Research Center
in conjunction with
The Department of Nutrition
and the
New York Obesity Research Center, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital
Program made possible by Unrestricted Educational Grants from:
sanofi-aventis USA, Inc.
The Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness of The Coca-Cola Company
Campbell Soup Company
McNeil Nutritionals, LLC - A Johnson & Johnson Company
National Dairy Council
The Peanut Institute
The Conrad Taff Teaching Fund