Elena Ladas, PhD, RD, appointed Associate Research Director of new Pediatric Obesity Clinic within the Department of Pediatrics

September 1, 2020

Over the past two years, the Department of Pediatrics has engaged in efforts to coalesce clinical, research, community, and educational endeavors at Columbia focused on pediatric obesity. Faculty members spanning Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Surgery participated in a fruitful series of retreats that led to the development of a Steering Committee composed of Ilene Fennoy, Elena Ladas, John Rausch, Michael Rosenbaum, and Jennifer Woo Baidal. The Steering Committee met regularly over the past year to develop plans to further the mission and priorities of the group, and has established the path and objectives for a unified program focused upon pediatric obesity.

Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH, will serve as this program’s inaugural Director. The program will focus on achieving healthy growth for all children, specifically with a focus on prevention and treatment of childhood overweight and obesity. Woo Baidal is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. She joined the Department of Pediatrics in 2015. As Director of Pediatric Weight Management in the GI Division, she has led the clinical efforts to support pediatric weight management among medical and surgical patients. Her research is funded by NIH, RWJF, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and focuses on clinical and population health interventions to eliminate racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in obesity. She has also recently completed the NYPLEAD program here at New York-Presbyterian.

John Rausch, MD, MPH, will serve as the Associate Clinical Director. He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Child and Adolescent Health at CUIMC and Medical Director for the Health for Life West program in the New York-Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network. Rausch will focus on growing the clinical and community services to provide exceptional evidence-based preventative and treatment services for pediatric patients with overweight and obesity.

Elena Ladas, PhD, RD, will serve as Associate Research Director. She is an Associate Professor of Nutrition (in Pediatrics, Epidemiology and in the Institute for Human Nutrition) at CUIMC. She leads multiple federally-funded studies to examine nutrition and integrative therapies as part of pediatric oncologic care. In this role, Ladas will lead research infrastructure development. Ultimately, the program will serve as a platform for collaborative research, including testing of pediatric obesity prevention and treatment interventions.

The Steering Committee will continue to serve as a critical advisory group to guide the key priorities and strategies of the Program. The new Pediatric Obesity Program will prioritize strengthening its engagement from the broader membership and expanding it through virtual means.