November 2, 2018
Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, professor and associate chair for research in the nutrition department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named the School’s associate dean for research, effective Sept. 17.
Gordon-Larsen, a member of the Gillings School’s faculty since 2000, is an internationally recognized obesity researcher with an outstanding record of scholarship and leadership. She has led a large, fully funded research program for more than 20 years and has served on 11 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants totaling about $30 million.
Her research portfolio focuses on the integration of biological, behavioral and environmental factors in relation to obesity and its cardiometabolic consequences. She leads the new Obesity Creativity Hub, a large, collaborative project that brings together 27 UNC faculty members from across 16 departments, six schools, and five centers and institutes. Together, the team is taking a novel approach to assess underlying causes of obesity, using big data management methods to unlock new, targeted ways to treat the disease.
Gordon-Larsen is author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific journals, including Archives of Internal Medicine, Obesity, Obesity Reviews, Pediatric Obesity and Pediatrics. She has served as associate editor or editorial board member for Obesity, Pediatric Obesity, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Nutrition and Diabetes, Health & Place and Annals of Human Biology. She received the Eli Lilly Scientific Achievement Award from The Obesity Society in 2010.
She has been a primary mentor to more than 25 doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members, helping many receive external funding to support their research. She is also a fellow of the Carolina Population Center, member of the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility and fellow of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies.
She recently completed a term as chair of the NIH Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes study section, serves on the leadership council for the American Heart Association’s Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council and is past president of The Obesity Society, a scientific community of 2,500 professionals dedicated to the study, prevention and treatment of obesity.
Prior to joining the Gillings School’s nutrition faculty, Gordon-Larsen earned a doctorate in human biology from the University of Pennsylvania and completed postdoctoral training through the Dannon Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Nutrition Science at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I appreciate Dr. Gordon-Larsen stepping into the very important – and exciting – role of leading research for the Gillings School, the #1 public school of public health for NIH funding and #4 overall (in fiscal year 2017), whose faculty members are active in 62 countries and all 100 N.C. counties,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the School. “Gillings School researchers produce some of the most highly cited papers in their fields. Their work is adding to the evidence base across fields, creating tested interventions, changing policies and practices and improving health and the environment across North Carolina and around the world. We look forward to working with Dr. Gordon-Larsen as she brings her leadership, creativity and energy to the research enterprise at the Gillings School and works collaboratively across the University and beyond, in partnership with Terry Magnuson, PhD, vice chancellor for research, and Sarah Graham Kenan Professor, and with local and global partners.”
Rimer thanked Gillings School search committee members Rebecca Fry, PhD, Carol Remmer Angle Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering; Kat Tumlinson, PhD, assistant professor of maternal and child health; Julie MacMillan, MPH, managing director of Research, Innovation and Global Solutions; Christin Daniels, MA, senior director of research and innovation; and others who met with candidates throughout the hiring process.
Gordon-Larsen succeeds Sandra Martin, PhD, professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, who had served as associate dean for research since 2007.
The associate deanship is based in the School’s Research, Innovation and Global Solutions unit.