Genetics of Severe Early Childhood Obesity (GECO) Study

This study enrolls children with severe obesity with an onset prior to six years of age. We welcome referrals from physicians and families who have medical documentation of severe obesity in early childhood. The study collects data on the eating behavior and medical history of the family. We investigate for presence of rare genetic variants causing obesity by whole exome and whole genome sequencing. Our goal is to identify genes that may cause severe childhood obesity and find molecules that can be used for their treatment.

Through the GECO trial we are studying the association of common genetic variants, individually and as a polygenic risk score, on eating behaviors as well as longitudinal trajectories of body mass index in children. (For more information on the GECO study visit

Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Children with Obesity

Using data from clinical health records, we are investigating the association of cardiometabolic risk factors such as lipid profiles, insulin resistance, liver disease, and thyroid dysfunction in children with and without obesity.

Metabolomic Profiling in Severe Obesity

We are studying the metabolomic profiles of individuals with severe obesity who have undergone weight loss surgery to identify potential biomarkers that may be associated with long-term cardiometabolic health. The aim of this study is to identify biomarkers that can be used for prospective profiling prior to weight loss surgery.

Molecular Study of Genes Associated with Obesity

In collaboration with other laboratories at the Russ Berrie Diabetes Research Center, we are investigating the cellular and tissue expression profiles of genes associated with obesity in various areas of the mammalian brain and other areas of the body. We aim to identify genes that are amenable to therapeutic targeting and ultimately bring the research back to bedside for the patients who we enroll in our clinical studies.

Transcriptome profiling of stem cell derived neurons of children with ROHHAD syndrome

Rapid-onset obesity with hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation, and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD) is a very rare and potentially fatal pediatric disorder, the cause of which is presently unknown. Our lab is striving to generate patient specific induced pluripotent stem cell derived neuron for transcriptome profiling to identify the protein defect that may be causing the syndrome (NCT02602769). If you have a child or know someone with a child with ROHHAD syndrome, please contact Dr. Thaker at vvt2114@cumc.columbia. More info at

Teaching and Mentoring

Dr. Thaker serves as a mentor for NIH-funded teaching awards for medical students and fellows in pediatric endocrinology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She welcomes the opportunity to share her knowledge and experience with students from the Institute of Human Nutrition, School of Public Health, and other institutions within or outside of Columbia University. The lab eagerly welcomes interest from enthusiastic motivated students aiming to make a difference in science.