NCCOR External Scientific Panel
In 2012, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) appointed a panel of external advisors to help the Collaborative expand its programs and areas of expertise. The NCCOR External Scientific Panel (NESP) advises NCCOR on its overall direction and provides guidance and assistance on specific projects and initiatives.
The Panel serves as a valuable liaison between NCCOR and the extramural community. It informs the Collaborative on new science and ideas and on connections to extramural research, practice, and policy. Further, it contributes to the ongoing refinement of NCCOR's strategic plan, including helping to establish key performance indicators and other metrics associated with evaluating the impact of the Collaborative. NESP members also act as consultants on emerging NCCOR projects.
The NESP are experts in a range of disciplines relevant to childhood obesity, and panel members were nominated and selected by the NCCOR funders because their respective expertise aligns with one or more of NCCOR's goals.
NESP Members Serving in 2013
Frank J. Chaloupka, Ph.D.
–Professor of Economics
Health Policy Center
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Institute for Government and Public Affairs
University of Illinois
Dr. Chaloupka also holds appointments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Department of Economics and the School of Public Health's Division of Health Policy and Administration, both at UIC. He is a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research's Health Economics Program and Children's Program. Dr. Chaloupka is director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control, Director of ImpacTeen: A Policy Research Partnership for Healthier Youth Behavior, and co-director of the International Tobacco Evidence Network.
An economist, Dr. Chaloupka earned his B.A. from John Carroll University in 1984 and his Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate School and University Center. Numerous professional publications and presentations have resulted from Dr. Chaloupka's research on the effects of prices and substance control policies on cigarette smoking and other tobacco use, alcohol use and abuse and illicit drug use, as well as on various outcomes related to substance use and abuse. Over the past few years, Dr. Chaloupka's research on the policy and economic determinants of health behaviors has expanded to include a focus on healthy eating, physical activity, and obesity. Dr. Chaloupka is on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and Contemporary Economic Policy, and is the economics editor for Tobacco Control, an assistant editor for Addiction, and an associate editor for Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
In 1996, Dr. Chaloupka received the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois for his research on the economic analysis of substance use and abuse. In 2009, he received UIC's first Researcher of the Year in the Social Sciences and Humanities award for his work on the economic, policy, and environmental determinants of health behavior, and in 2011, he received the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco's John Slade Award.
Steven Gortmaker, Ph.D.
–Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology
Department of Society, Human Development and Health
Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC)
Harvard School of Public Health
Through the HPRC, Dr. Gortmaker is contributing to several collaboratives, including the Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative, the Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative (MYOC), and the Healthy Care for Healthy Kids (HCHK) Collaborative. These projects involve research into activity levels for youth, as well as other factors in childhood obesity, such as children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, and youths’ television viewing.
Dr. Gortmaker's main research interests are the social demography of chronic childhood conditions, and the social epidemiology of childhood obesity, including the effects of inactivity, physical activity, dietary behavior and environmental determinants of these behaviors. Dr. Gortmaker has published more than 125 research articles in the past three decades.
Terry Huang, Ph.D., M.P.H.
–Professor and Chair, Department of Health Promotion
College of Public Health
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Prior to returning to academia, Dr. Huang was director of the Obesity Research Strategic Core at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development where he played a leading role in developing new national research directions and funding priorities. Dr. Huang is currently one of the leading proponents on the integration of systems science and chronic disease prevention. He leads a national and global agenda on systems science education and research in public health, with a particular focus on childhood obesity, systems-oriented prevention strategies, and the translation of science to policy.
Dr. Huang has published and lectured extensively on these topics and recently received the third prize of the National Childhood Obesity Challenge for his innovative collaboration with architects on building health promoting schools. He is also an alumnus of the American Swiss Foundation Young Leaders Program. Dr. Huang holds a Ph.D. in preventive medicine, an M.P.H. in applied epidemiology and biostatistics from the University of Southern California, and a B.S. in psychology from McGill University.
Shiriki Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.P.H.
–Professor of Epidemiology
–Associate Dean for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Kumanyika was the founding director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Public Health program, a role that she served from 2002 until May 2007. In addition to her positions at Penn, Dr. Kumanyika is the founder of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), and has been a member of several national and international advisory boards and committees, including the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the International Obesity Task Force, and the World Cancer Research Fund Expert Panel on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer.
Dr. Kumanyika's research interests include the study of nutritional factors in the primary and secondary prevention of chronic diseases, with a particular focus on obesity in the context of appropriate interventions in diverse communities. Dr. Kumanyika has been a member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), having previously served on its executive board, and has been on the board of directors of The Food Trust.
Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H.
–Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR)
Dr. Ramirez has two endowments to support her research and that of the IHPR—the Dielmann Chair in Health Disparities Research and Community Outreach and the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Endowed Chair in Cancer Healthcare Disparities and Outreach at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC), the Health Science Center’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. She also co-directs the CTRC’s Cancer Prevention and Population Science Research Program.
Over the past 30 years, Dr. Ramirez has directed many research programs focused on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting Latinos, including cancer risk factors and genetics, clinical trial accrual, tobacco prevention and cessation, obesity prevention, and more. Dr. Ramirez directs two national research networks, one funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) targeting Latino cancer (Redes En Acción), and one targeting Latino child obesity (Salud America!).
Dr. Ramirez has authored many peer-reviewed articles and is an editorial board member on several prestigious journals, including Health Education Research. She has been recognized for her work in public health and health disparities research and advancing Latinos in medicine, public health, and behavioral sciences across the United States, including: 2011 White House “Champion of Change” award; 2011 director-at-large of the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO); 2007 election to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science; 2007 Professor of Survivorship from Susan G. Komen for the Cure; and the 2003 Humanitarian Award from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Ramirez received a B.S. from the University of Houston and her M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. degrees from the School of Public Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
James F. Sallis, Ph.D.
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Active Living Research (ALR)
Dr. Sallis' primary research interests are promoting physical activity and understanding policy and environmental influences on physical activity, nutrition, and obesity. His health improvement programs have been studied and used in health care settings, schools, universities, and companies. Author of more than 500 scientific publications, Dr. Sallis is on the editorial boards of several journals, and is one of the world's most cited investigators in the social sciences. His current focus is using research to inform policy and environmental changes that will increase physical activity and reduce childhood obesity.
He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, and Time Magazine identified him as an “obesity warrior.”
Former NESP Members
Ronette R. Briefel, Dr.P.H., R.D.
Mathematica Policy Research
Dr. Briefel’s research includes evaluations of child nutrition programs, population-based studies of children and high-risk populations, and investigations of the home and school food environments and children’s diet and obesity. Dr. Briefel is currently project director/principal investigator (PI) of the 2008 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) and PI of a large-scale evaluation of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children demonstrations to reduce food insecurity among low-income children in the summer. Dr. Briefel led the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-funded Healthy Eating Research (HER) grant, “A National Study of Public School Food Environments and Policies and Their Relationship to Diet and Obesity Among Students.” This Active Living Research (ALR) supplemental grant looks at how schools’ physical activity policies vary with food and nutrition policies. She also led an RWJF grant to disseminate findings from a HER grant on beverage consumption patterns among U.S. school children.
Before coming to Mathematica in 1999, Dr. Briefel was the nutrition policy advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Dr. Briefel has authored more than 100 publications on topics including infant feeding patterns, dietary intake, food security, obesity, and cardiovascular risk factors of children and disadvantaged populations. She served on the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake, Committee on Dietary Risk Assessment in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, and Committee on Enhancing Infrastructure in Support of Food and Nutrition Programs, Research, and Decision-Making.
She received her B.S. in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University, and her M.P.H. in maternal and child health and Dr.P.H. in chronic disease epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Briefel was the 2011 recipient of the American Dietetic Association Foundation’s Elaine R. Monsen Award for Outstanding Research Literature.
Ross C. Brownson, Ph.D.
–Professor of Epidemiology
Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. Brownson is involved in numerous community-level studies designed to understand and reduce modifiable risk factors such as physical inactivity, obesity, and tobacco use. In particular, he is interested in the impacts of environmental and policy interventions on health behaviors and he conducts research on dissemination of evidence-based interventions. His research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). He is the co-director of the CDC-funded Prevention Research Center (PRC)—a five-year, multi-million dollar project aimed at developing innovative approaches to chronic disease prevention. The PRC in St. Louis is a joint research endeavor between the St. Louis University School of Public Health and Washington University.
Dr. Brownson is the author of seven books and more than 290 peer-reviewed articles. His books include “Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control,” “Applied Epidemiology,” “Handbook of Obesity Prevention,” “Communicating Public Health Information Effectively: A Guide for Practitioners,” and “Evidence-Based Public Health.” He is associate editor of the Annual Review of Public Health, and is on the editorial board of four other journals. He is a former and founding member of the 15-person CDC Task Force developing the Guide to Community Preventive Services.
Dr. Brownson is the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Prevention Research and Research Translation in Chronic Disease (CDC, 2000) and the Abraham Lilienfeld Award for outstanding contributions in teaching and mentoring (APHA, 2003). Before joining academia, he was a division director with the Missouri Department of Health. In this capacity, he wrote or co-wrote bills on tobacco access to minors, state clean indoor air, and private insurance coverage of screening mammography/Pap testing. Dr. Brownson is active in numerous professional associations, including the American Public Health Association, the Missouri Public Health Association, and the American College of Epidemiology (where he chairs its Policy Committee).
Mary Story, Ph.D., R.D.
Division of Epidemiology and Community Health
–Senior Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota
Dr. Story also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, at the University of Minnesota. She is the director of the National Program Office for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Healthy Eating Research (HER) program, which supports research on environmental and policy strategies to promote healthy eating among children and to prevent childhood obesity.
Dr. Story's Ph.D. is in nutrition science and her interests are in the area of child and adolescent nutrition, and childhood obesity prevention. Dr. Story has conducted numerous school and community-based obesity prevention studies and has been principal investigator on several National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. Much of her intervention research has been with American Indian youth and their families on reservations. She has written more than 400 scientific publications on child nutrition and obesity prevention. Dr. Story was a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committees on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth; Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools; Childhood Obesity Prevention Actions for Local Governments; Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols. She is currently on the IOM Standing Committee for Childhood Obesity Prevention, and the IOM Food and Nutrition Board. She was elected to the IOM in 2010. She has received numerous awards for her research and work in the field of child and adolescent nutrition.