Symposium speakers

Prof. Kathryn Backholer

Associate Professor and Associate Director, Global Obesity Centre, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia

Kathryn Backholer is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Global Obesity Centre at Deakin University, a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Obesity.

She leads a programme of research focused on the social, commercial and cultural determinants of population health and is particularly interested in interdisciplinary solutions to complex public health problems. She regularly consults to UN agencies and international governments on the regulatory parameters for regulating harmful food marketing.

Prof. Rachel Batterham

Professor of Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology, University College London, United Kingdom

Rachel Batterham is a Professor of Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology at University College London (UCL). She leads the University College London Hospital (UCLH) Bariatric Centre for Weight Management & Metabolic Surgery and the UCL Centre for Obesity Research within the Department of Medicine. She is the Clinical Director for the Division of Medicine at UCL and the Director for the UCLH/UCL NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Obesity Research Theme. She is the Royal College of Physicians’ Special Advisor on Obesity.

She has received several national and international awards for her obesity research including the Royal Society of Medicine’s Steven’s Lecture (2018), the Andre Mayer award from the World Obesity Federation (2016), and the Diabetes UK Rank Fund Nutrition Prize (2015).

Professor Batterham has made significant clinical contributions to defining the management of patients living with obesity through her membership of the NICE Obesity Guideline Development Group. She is Scientific Chair for the International Federation for Surgery for Obesity and Metabolic Diseases (IFSO) European Chapter (since 2015), a Trustee for the Association for the Study of Obesity (since 2016) and Council Member for British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (since 2016). She is passionate about reducing the stigma that people with obesity experience and ensuring that the patient voice is heard and has established a charity for people affected by obesity, Obesity Empowerment Network UK.

Prof. John Blundell (ICO 2022 Award Winner)

Chair, PsychoBiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Professor John Blundell has a BSc in Psychology and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of London (Institute of Neurology). He holds the Chair of PsychoBiology in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Leeds.

His initial research concerned the relationship among brain mechanisms, foods and appetite control, and led to the development of the Satiety Cascade. Currently the research is focussed upon the study of human appetite within an energy balance framework and has demonstrated that Energy Expenditure is a strong determinant of the Drive to Eat. Other research has included genetic studies on anorexia nervosa, the impact of physical activity on appetite, and mechanisms of action of anti-obesity drugs. The Leeds research team has developed several instruments for the evaluation of human appetite in the laboratory and the real world.

He was a member of the UK government DSI Foresight Expert Group that developed the concept of the Obesities Systems Map as the basis for the Change for Life Programme; he was also a member of the DoH Expert Group on Social Marketing approach to childhood obesity. He has been an expert consultant for ILSI and EFSA, and has served on a number of Scientific Obesity Advisory Boards.

Professor Blundell has received numerous prizes including the Johananoff International Fellowship, Sir David Cuthbertson Prize, Gino Bergami Prize, International Prize in Modern Nutrition, and the British Nutrition Foundation Prize. He has been visiting professor at the University of Ghent and Distinguished International Visiting Scholar at the University of Rhode Island. JB has been a long standing scientific governor of the BNF, was a founding member of the European Association for the Study of Obesity In  2019 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from UK ASO, and in 2021 was made an Honorary Fellow of the Nutrition Society.

https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?view_op=list_works&hl=en&user=9BJ5YYgAAAAJ

Prof. Emma Boyland

Professor of Food Marketing and Child Health, Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

Emma Boyland is a Professor of Food Marketing and Child Health based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, where she leads the Appetite and Obesity Research group. Her work principally focuses on the food environment, characterising the foods and beverages available, how they are marketed, how this impacts on eating behaviours (particularly in children), and how this evidence can be used to inform policy progress in the UK and internationally.

Emma has authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, 11 book chapters, seven WHO Europe reports and three UNICEF reports on food marketing. She has recently completed two WHO commissioned reviews on the impact of food marketing on eating behaviour and health and the effectiveness of food marketing policies to inform updated WHO global guidelines.

She sits on the WHO Global Steering Committee for digital food marketing and is an expert advisor to both WHO Europe and UNICEF, leading food marketing monitoring studies across Europe, Latin America, and the East Asia-Pacific region. She is a member of the leadership group for the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS) food promotion module.

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput

Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute; Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput is a Senior Scientist with the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the CHEO Research Institute and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on health promotion and the prevention of chronic diseases. He is particularly interested in sleep health and 24-hour movement behaviours.

Dr. Chaput has published more than 350 peer-reviewed scientific articles and received many awards for his research. He led the sleep component of the 24-hour movement guidelines in Canada and chaired the Youth Working Group for the 2020 WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Prof. Dan Cuthbertson

Professor of Medicine, University of Liverpool,
United Kingdom

Dan Cuthbertson (BSc PhD FRCP) was appointed as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Liverpool in December 2018. He has worked at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool University NHS Foundation Trust as a Clinical Academic/Consultant Physician since 2007 with a major interest in obesity-related complications including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), polycystic ovary syndrome and obstructive sleep apnoea.

His particular focus has been studying  the impact of multi-organ ectopic fat, particularly visceral fat, liver and pancreatic fat on metabolic processes including multi-organ (hepatic and peripheral) insulin resistance, beta cell function and the interrelationship with cardiovascular disease. He utilises multi-parametric MRI imaging to perform tissue characterisation assessing fat and fibrosis of these organs, coupled with stable isotope methodology to dynamically track fat and carbohydrate metabolism. These methodologies have been implemented to evaluate the impact of lifestyle interventions (structured exercise, imposed sedentary time, low calorie diet) and pharmacological interventions.

His talk will provide an overview of the implications of liver fat and liver fibrosis to the general population and frame NAFLD as a systemic, multi-organ disease with prominent extra-hepatic complications. He will briefly describe various dietary and pharmacological treatment options available.

Assoc. Prof. Guillaume de Lartigue

Associate Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center; Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

Guillaume de Lartigue is a Principle Investigator at the Monell Chemical Senses Center leading a research programme studying the neurobiology of feeding behaviour. His lab has been at the forefront of developing pharmacological, molecular and genetic tools to visualise, map, record, and manipulate vagal sensory neurons. His team has identified previously unsuspected roles of gut-brain interoception in various aspects of higher-order feeding behaviour. His aim is to develop interoceptive therapeutics for treating obesity.

Dr. de Lartigue has received many awards and honours for his work, including the Burgen Prize from the Academia Europaea, Pathways to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health, and the Acta Physiologica award from the Scandinavian Physiological Society. He serves on the advisory board of Bariatek, and is associate editor for Peptides. He was elected to the Board of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), and is currently co-Chair of the SSIB Diversity Committee.

Before moving to Philadelphia in 2022, Dr. de Lartigue held independent research positions at the University of Florida, and Yale University/JB Pierce laboratory.

Assoc. Prof. Ana Domingos

Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Dept. Physiology, Anatomy, Genetics at University of Oxford; Wellcome IRScholar Member of the Advisory Board of Cell Metabolism, United Kingdom

Ana Domingos is an Associate Professor at the University of Oxford. After studying undergraduate Mathematics in Lisbon and Paris, she went to The Rockefeller University in New York City for her doctoral neurobiology studies with Leslie Vosshall and postdoc with Jeffrey Friedman, investigating how the hormone leptin affects neurocircuitry underlying food choices in mouse models of obesity. 

Her current research interests in neuroimmunometabolism started in her first lab at the Gulbenkian Institute four years before Oxford. Her laboratory discovered the sympathetic neuro-adipose junction, a functional synapse-like connection between white adipocytes and the sympathetic nervous system (Cell, 2015). They demonstrated that adipose sympathetic neurons are necessary and sufficient for fat mass reduction via norepinephrine (NE) signalling. They are the peripheral efferent arm in the neuroendocrine loop of leptin action in the brain (Cell, 2015 and Nature Communications, 2017). They then discovered Sympathetic neuron-Associated Macrophages (SAMs) that contribute to obesity by importing and metabolizing NE (Nature Medicine, 2017). These findings inspired the development of a new class of anti-obesity compounds named sympathofacilitators, which do not enter the brain nor have the typical cardiovascular or behavioural side effects of centrally acting sympathomimetic drugs (Cell Metabolism, 2020). 

Her lab wants to map neuroimmune mechanisms regulating autonomic function, and understand their implications in obesity. Ana Domingos is a member of the advisory board of Cell Metabolism, a member of the board of reviewing editors of eLife, the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology (AJP) – Endocrinology and Metabolism, published by the American Physiological Society. She has received awards from HHMI, Wellcome, ERC, HFSP, and EMBO.

Domingos Group website: https://www.dpag.ox.ac.uk/research/domingos

Prof. Johan Gunnar Eriksson

Professor, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore

Professor Johan G. Eriksson is full professor at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, programme lead for the Human Potential Programme at the SOM, and executive director at Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences SICS, A*STAR.

Before moving to Singapore professor Eriksson was full professor at the faculty of medicine, University of Helsinki, and chief physician at Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland. He holds clinical interests in diabetes, obesity and related metabolic diseases. He received his medical degree and specialist qualifications (internal medicine and general practice) from the University of Helsinki.

His research focuses on the early programming of health and disease, as well as on the prevention of gestational diabetes (GDM), type 2 diabetes and related metabolic outcomes by lifestyle interventions. In Finland he is in charge of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, a unique birth cohort study with a follow-up of over 20,000 individuals from birth until the age of over 80 years. Furthermore, he has been involved in the gestational diabetes prevention study RADIEL, in which a lifestyle intervention was shown to successfully reduce GDM and the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) – the first randomised study to show that lifestyle intervention is effective in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

He has co-authored several books and published over 800 original research articles.

Prof. Mark Febbraio

Head of Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory, Drug Discovery Program, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University Australia

Professor Mark Febbraio is a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Investigator and the Head of the Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory within the Drug Discovery Program at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University Australia.

He is also the Founder of the recently incorporated company Celesta Therapeutics. His research is focussed on understanding mechanisms associated with exercise, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer and his aim is to develop novel drugs to treat lifestyle related diseases.

He has authored over 280 peer reviewed papers in leading journals such as Nature, Cell, Nature Immunology, Cell Metabolism, and has over 40,000 career citations. Throughout his career, he has  many prestigious awards including the A K McIntyre Prize for significant contributions to Australian Physiological Science (1999), the Kellion Award for the Australian Diabetes Society (2017), The Eureka Scientific Prize (2020), The GSK Award for Research Excellence (2020) and The Endocrinology Society UK International Medallist (2021).

Prof. Sharon Friel

ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor of Health Equity and Director, Menzies Centre for Health Governance, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Sharon Friel is an ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor of Health Equity and Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Governance at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University.

Her research focuses on the political economy of health; governance and the planetary, social and commercial determinants of health inequities. Her 2019 book “Climate Change and the People’s Health” highlights the importance of addressing the global consumptogenic system.

Ms. Anastasia Godneva

Researcher, Eran Segal Lab, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Anastasia Godneva is a computer scientist with 7 years of experience in clinical trials. She received her MSc in applied mathematics from Moscow State University and currently works with professor Eran Segal at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

Anastasia is a recipient of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Early-Stage Researcher Fellowship. With numerous projects across 3 continents, the main goal of Anastasia’s research is to bridge the gap between health, nutrition, and microbiome and to promote precision nutrition through the use of big data.

The target population of clinical trials and cross-sectional trials included people with obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, survivors of breast cancer, and others.

Prof. Jerry Greenfield

Head, Department of Endocrinology, and Director, Diabetes Services, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, Australia

Professor Jerry Greenfield is an Endocrinologist and clinical diabetes researcher. He is Head, Department of Endocrinology, and Director, Diabetes Services, St Vincent’s Hospital (Sydney).

Under his direction, the Diabetes Service obtained a National Association of Diabetes Centres (NADC) Centre of Excellence award in 2019. He undertook his PhD at the Garvan Institute (2001-2004) and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, United Kingdom (2005-2006).

His other current positions and roles include Head, St Vincent’s Clinical Campus, Faculty of Medicine and Health, UNSW Sydney; Laboratory Head, Clinical Diabetes, Appetite and Metabolism, Garvan Institute of Medical Research; and Editorial Board member, Clinical Obesity.

His recent research interests focus on elucidating the molecular basis of insulin resistance by studying humans with insulin-sensitive obesity. He was awarded a Diabetes Australia Millennium Grant in 2019 to study the effects of metformin on insulin resistance in type 1 diabetes. He is currently heading a study of antibody-negative type 1 diabetes to elucidate the aetiology of insulin deficiency in individuals with apparent non-immune type 1 diabetes. He will commence an RCT of GLP-1 agonist therapy in type 1 diabetes in 2023.

Finally, he oversees a precision medicine program aimed at determining the ‘omic’ factors that predict maximal effectiveness and safety of diabetes medications in an individual.

Prof. Bee Koon Poh

Professor of Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia

Poh Bee Koon is Professor of Nutrition at Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She was the former Chair of the Centre for Community Health Studies (ReaCH) and Leader of the Physical Activity and Energy Metabolism Research Group. She has more than 20 years of research experience that involves multi-disciplinary and multi-country projects.

Her main research area is childhood and adolescent nutrition focussing on energy metabolism, physical activity and body composition, while her projects covers surveys, observation and intervention studies. Prof Poh has led many international grants, including those funded by United Kingdom Medical Research Council, United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and International Development Research Centre (IDRC Canada). She is Principal Investigator of South East Asian Nutrition Surveys (SEANUTS), a nationally-representative survey on nutritional status, physical activity and fitness of children; and ToyBox Study Malaysia, intervention aimed at reducing obesity rates through improving preschoolers’ healthy eating and physical activity.

Prof Poh has participated in consultation work for Ministry of Health Malaysia and was involved in Academy of Sciences Malaysia’s Obesity Task Force to study “Prioritizing Food Policy Options to Reduce Obesity in Malaysia”. She has won numerous awards, including International Nutrition Foundation–Ellison Medical Foundation Short-term Fellowship and IAEA Nobel Peace Prize Fund Schools in Nutrition fellowship. Prof Poh is Editor-in-Chief of the Malaysian Journal of Nutrition.

Prof. Shiriki K. Kumanyika (ICO 2022 Award Winner)

Professor Emerita, Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Research Professor, Department of Community Health & Prevention, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Prof. Shiriki K. Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H. is Professor Emerita of Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and a Research Professor in the Department of Community Health & Prevention at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public, both located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She holds a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Cornell University, M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University, and Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University. Professor Kumanyika’s research and policy related activities focus on identifying and promoting solutions to obesity and diet-related chronic diseases, often with a focus on health inequities affecting Black people in the USA and include efforts to counter the racialised marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to Black communities.

She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (USA), a former president of the American Public Health Association, nutrition policy advisor to the World Health Organisation and World Cancer Research Fund, and member of the Lancet Commission on Obesity. Professor Kumanyika had key roles in the public health and prevention initiatives of the World Obesity Federation and its predecessor, the International Obesity Task Force, for more than two decades.

She is an author of more than three hundred publications including peer-reviewed original research papers, reviews, commentaries, and book chapters, and has co-edited two books on obesity prevention.

Prof. David Lynn

Professor, Flinders University; Program Director in the SAHMRI Precision Medicine Theme; Scientific Director of SA Genomics Centre, Australia

Prof. David Lynn is an EMBL Australia Group Leader and Program Director in the SAHMRI Precision Medicine Theme; Scientific Director of SA Genomics Centre; and Professor at Flinders University.

His research team apply systems immunology approaches to investigate how microbes (pathogenic and commensal) modulate the immune system in a range of contexts from infection (including COVID-19) to infant immunisation and cancer immunotherapy. His research spans from computational modelling and bioinformatics software development to mechanistic studies in preclinical mouse models.

He also leads a number of clinical cohort studies including a NHMRC-funded systems vaccinology study to investigate the link between the microbiota and vaccine responses in infants; the COVID19 immune responses study (COVIRS) and he is also the PI in South Australia for the Gates Foundation-funded BRACE Trial, investigating whether BCG provides non-specific protection against COVID19.

Prof. Amanda Page

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Research Education and Development , Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, South Australia

Prof. Page completed her PhD under the mentorship of Prof. Burnstock at University College London before embarking on a postdoctoral career in Adelaide. She has an international reputation in the area of the gut-brain axis. Vagal afferent sensory nerves innervate the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and play an important role in sensing the arrival, amount and chemical composition of a meal.

These signals are transmitted to the brain where they regulate food intake by modulating appetite as well as feedback control of GI functions (e.g. GI motility). Exaggerated or reduced GI perception of a meal can have significant implications for eating-related disorders, across the lifespan.

Prof. Page’s overarching research vision is to improve understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of GI vagal afferent signalling, with the ultimate aim to provide new pharmacological targets or dietary therapeutic approaches for treatment of diseases, such as obesity and functional dyspepsia.

Assoc. Prof. Camilla Scheele

Associate Professor, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark 

Camilla Scheele is an Associate Professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Prof. Scheele received her PhD at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Her research focus concerns human brown fat, its potential to counteract obesity and type 2 diabetes and its role in human metabolism. Her research team characterized human supraclavicular brown fat and demonstrated, for the first time, that brown fat precursor cells can be isolated from adult humans and differentiated in vitro while maintaining features of brown fat. They further concluded that human brown fat is a heterogeneous tissue and are now establishing single cell methods to further understand the differentiation, function and subtypes of human brown fat cells. Another major research interest of her group is to identify adipokines specifically secreted from brown fat, with the hypothesis that there are yet unknown brown adipokines, i.e. batokines, with an important role in regulating human metabolism and brown fat differentiation. In 2020, Prof. Scheele was awarded an ERC consolidator grant to study peptide-mediated crosstalk between BAT and brain.

Dr. Samantha Scholtz

Consultant Psychiatrist, Bariatric Surgery, St. Mary’s Hospital; Research and Development Director, London, United Kingdom

I am a consultant psychiatrist specialising in the management of obesity and related disorders as well as the preparation of patients for metabolic surgery at West London NHS Trust/Imperial Weight Centre, St Mary’s Hospital. I am also Research and Development director for West London NHS Trust.

I am an executive member of the Faculty of Eating disorders, and sit on the Royal College of Physicians advisory group for weight and health. I advocate against stigmatisation of people living with obesity and serious mental illness through promoting the improved dissemination of scientific knowledge about the neuroendocrine, physiological and psychological factors which influence appetite and weight control.

I completed my PhD at Imperial College London, at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, funded by the Welcome Trust Charity. My research examined appetite and food reward changes in patients who have undergone bariatric surgery using functional magnetic resonance imaging. I have also published on psychological factors influencing bariatric surgery and the clinical management of bariatric patients.

Prof. Kate Steinbeck

Professor and inaugural Chair in Adolescent Medicine, University of Sydney, Australia

Professor Kate Steinbeck MBBS, PhD, FRACP is the inaugural Chair in Adolescent Medicine at the University of Sydney and is an endocrinologist and adolescent physician. As a clinical academic she is a researcher and teacher as well as a consultant at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, Australia where her clinical school is based.

Her research programme in adolescent and young adult health includes chronic physical illness, with a particular emphasis on developing self management skills and the transition from paediatric to adult care; puberty and its hormones, obesity, polycystic ovaries, and implementation science based development and delivery of health care services for adolescents and young adults.

She is lead investigator for an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Adolescent Health: Improving adolescent health services in the digital age, which includes the development of the Wellbeing Health and Youth Research Commission – an engaged team of 14-25 year olds who are co-researchers with the Centre.

She is a strong advocate for the importance of targeted adolescent and young adult health services, which are often compromised by the binary nature of many health care systems – paediatric and adult – and its long term impact on health and wellbeing.

Dr. Priya Sumithran

Group Leader, Obesity Research Group University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine (St Vincent’s) and Head of Obesity Medicine at Austin Health, Australia

Dr. Priya Sumithran is an endocrinologist and clinician researcher. She is Group Leader of the Obesity Research Group at the University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine (St Vincent’s) and Head of Obesity Medicine at Austin Health. Her research and clinical interests are in the neuroendocrine regulation of appetite and eating behaviours, the intersection between obesity and mental health, and improving access to effective treatment of obesity.

Dr. Sumithran is on the council of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, and a member of the Endocrine Society of Australia, Australian Diabetes Society, and The Obesity Society.

Prof. Boyd Swinburn (ICO 2022 Award Winner)

Professor, Population Nutrition and Global Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Honorary Professor, Global Centre (GLOBE), Deakin University, Australia

Boyd Swinburn is Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and Honorary Professor, Global Centre (GLOBE), Deakin University, Australia.

Boyd trained as an endocrinologist and has conducted research in metabolic, clinical and public health aspects of obesity. His major research interests centre on community and policy actions to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity, and reduce, what he has coined, ‘obesogenic’ environments. He leads the INFORMAS initiative (www.informas.org) to monitor and benchmark food environments in over 60 countries.

He established WHO’s first Collaborating Centre on Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in 2003, led two Lancet Series on Obesity in 2011 and 2015, was co-chair of World Obesity Policy & Prevention section 2009-2019 and co-chair of the Lancet Commission on Obesity 2015-2019. He has been an advisor on many government committees, WHO Consultations, and large scientific studies internationally.

Dr. Verónica Vázquez-Velázquez

Clinical Psychologist, Obesity and Eating Disorders Clinic of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ), Mexico City, Mexico

Dr. Vázquez Velázquez has participated in clinical research projects and published several scientific papers and book chapters. Dr. Vázquez Velázquez is dedicated to the clinical care of patients with obesity and eating disorders, the creation of psychoeducational interventions based on cognitive behavioural therapy for obesity and the theoretical-practical training on the treatment of obesity for healthcare professionals.

Some of her qualifications and experience includes:
PhD in Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); Clinical Psychologist at the Obesity and Eating Disorders Clinic of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ), in Mexico City since 2000; President of Obesidades, a non-profit organisation with the mission of changing the narrative of obesity and its treatment, improving education, access to treatment and advocacy to recognise obesity as a multifactorial disease and eliminate stigma in Mexico; Professor of Postgraduate Course of High Specialty in Obesity (UNAM and the Ministry of Health), Master of Integrated Care for Overweight and Obesity (Universidad La Salle) and Medicine School (UNAM); Author of the “Obesities Manual: An opportunity to improve the health of your patient”; Member of the Steering Committee of the study “Awareness, Care & Treatment In Obesity Management – An International Observation (ACTION IO)”; Member of the Researchers National System in Mexico.

Ms. Lesly Vejar (ICO 2022 Award Winner: WOF Emerging leaders in Health Award)

Researcher, Nutrition and Health Research Centre of the National Institute of Public Health, Mexico

Ms. Lesly Vejar is a researcher and advocate at the Nutrition and Health Research Centre of the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, where she focuses on weight bias and stigma and policy incidence. She is a nutritionist with a Master’s in Global Health and Development from the University College London (UCL). Lesly is member of the Weight Bias and Stigma Working Group and the Health and Climate Youth Working Group.

Previously, Lesly worked at the World Obesity Federation, in topics related to health policy, specifically front-of-pack food labelling and city-level interventions. She also worked at the Mexico City’s Secretariat of Health promoting initiatives, programmes and policies to prevent and control obesity. Lesly is passionate about the transformation of environments to promote health, prosperity, gender equality and sustainability.

Ms. Fiona Watson

Nutrition Team, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand

Fiona Watson is an international nutritionist with 30 years of professional experience. She has worked in both development and emergency contexts throughout the world. Fiona holds an MSc in Human Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her field assignments include long term assignments with the Ministry of Health in Mozambique, and with the World Health Organisation in Sarajevo during the civil war in former Yugoslavia. 

She has completed extensive missions to countries in South, East and West Africa, Palestine, Russia and South East Asia. Fiona has acted as a consultant for United Nations (UN) agencies, non-governmental organisations, and governments. From 2011 to 2015, Fiona was policy advisor at the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement based in Geneva.

Currently, Fiona works for the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office based in Bangkok. Her focus is on  prevention of overweight and obesity among children and the nutrition of school-aged children across the region. A core part of her role involves working with academic colleagues on innovative research to build a sound evidence base that can be translated into policy action. 

Prof. Matthew Watt

Head, Department of Anatomy & Physiology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Matthew Watt obtained a PhD from Deakin University in 2002, completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Guelph (Canada), RMIT University and St. Vincent’s Institute, then established a research team in the Department of Physiology at Monash University where he was supported by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) fellowships for over a decade. Matt moved to the University of Melbourne in 2018 where he is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Anatomy and Physiology.

His research programme seeks to identify how defects of lipid metabolism and inter-tissue communication contribute to the development of obesity-related disorders, and to use this information to discover novel targets that can be transitioned to clinical therapeutics.

Matt has enduring links with the Australian Physiological Society and has served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Physiology and the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism for many years.