Friday, October 29, 2010

5 Minutes with Dr. Evan Nadler: The Link Between Surgery and Obesity

Dr. Evan Nadler, co-director of the Obesity Institute at Children's National Medical Center, is also a principal investigator in the systems biology initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. What's the connection between pediatric obesity and surgery? Dr. Nadler is one of the few doctors who performs bariatric surgery on adolescents, and his research focuses on the systems biology of obesity and the safety and effectiveness of various weight loss procedures in adolescents.

He was recently profiled in Bariatric Times about his work in obesity supports the goals of the Sheikh Zayed Institute. He said: "Not only does obesity play a role in all the major diseases that lead to death, but the financial burden of the health care costs of obesity has overwhelmed our economy. Unfortunately, surgery is the only tool we have right now for significant and sustained weight loss. We need to learn more about how it works so that we can apply that knowledge to preventing weight gain in the first place.

"Furthermore, we need to know why some people are more successful than others following surgery. Surgery is a model through which we can explore the mechanisms at play in both weight gain and weight loss. Our bariatric surgery work is part of the Institute’s Systems Biology Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort to understand how distinct cells, tissues, and organs work together in disease and surgical interventions."

Explaining the goals of his research, Dr. Nadler said, "Working with genomics expert Monica Hubal, PhD, we have two studies underway through the Institute. The first looks at the genetics of weight loss surgery. We want to identify specific genetic variations in an individual that can predict success or failure for certain interventions. The overall goal is to develop personalized medicine approaches to selecting an obesity treatment based on a patient’s genetic profile. In the second study, we are examining muscle, liver, and fat tissue samples in patients before and after weight loss surgery to identify the molecular pathways important for successful extreme weight loss. The hypothesis is that the same pathways will be important for weight gain, and once they’re identified, you can target them with prevention strategies and therapies to hopefully make surgery obsolete."

Read the interview.