Message from the Co-Directors

Kamal Rahmouni, PhD
Director, OREI

The UI Obesity Research and Education Initiative (OREI) is a faculty initiated, interdisciplinary and intercollegiate program established in 2011 by Allyn Mark, MD and Charles Brenner, PhD to capitalize on existing strengths and at least ten new faculty recruits to address the prevention and treatment of obesity in a multidisciplinary research and education program.

Our four interactive components (link to Goals):

1. Fourteen new faculty appointments in different areas of obesity research.
2. Interaction among existing and new faculty in obesity research.
3. Academic programs and courses focused on causes, consequences and prevention of obesity.
4. Network of obesity research centers among the State of Iowa Regents institutions.

The last century witnessed tremendous advances that increased availability of inexpensive, high calorie foods and facilitated unending overnutrition. In addition, advances in immobilizing technologies have promoted increasingly sedentary lifestyles. As a consequence of these megatrends, we confront a global surge of obesity that extends from young children to the elderly, resulting in an escalating medical and socioeconomic burden.

To date, the prevention and treatment of obesity has largely defied solution. Relapse from weight loss by dietary and behavioral therapy remains a prevailing challenge and is now recognized to have a strong biologic, not simply behavioral, basis. In addition, we currently lack safe, proven, substantially effective drug therapy. Bariatric surgery has been proven effective and beneficial in patients with severe obesity, particularly those with complications of obesity, but is not viewed as a broad solution to the epidemic of obesity.

Long viewed as a behavioral disorder, there is mounting and irrefutable evidence that the obesity epidemic involves a complex interaction of genetic, environmental, behavioral, physiologic, community and economic factors. As a result, it is likely that there will be no single solution to the surge in obesity. Instead, its complexity demands a sustained multidisciplinary engagement in obesity research encompassing basic, clinical and community-based research.

In our search for more answers to this global epidemic of obesity, OREI will continue to work towards its established goals.

Thank you for your interest,

Dr. Kamal Rahmouni, Director