Diabetes and obesity are increasing at an alarming rate in the United States, but the ailments can be prevented or delayed, according to Griffin P. Rodgers, the director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Rodgers will discuss research-based approaches to prevent diabetes and obesity, which are known as lifestyle diseases because they are caused or aggravated by poor health behavior, as part of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Distinguished Public Lecture Series at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 8, at the VTCRI.

Rodgers will focus his talk on the Diabetes Prevention Program, a multicenter clinical research study conducted by the National Institutes of Health that found modest weight loss through diet and exercise significantly reduced the chances that a pre-diabetic person would develop diabetes.

“[For the] 86 million Americans who have the possibility of going on to develop diabetes, we have tried to translate a very effective diabetes prevention program to scale this up in a way to offer this lifestyle that’s quite effective in these patients to prevent them … from becoming diabetic,” Rodgers testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services on Oct. 7, 2015. “These will have an important financial role in the future, in terms of cutting costs.”

Rodgers will discuss the program’s impacts to date. He will also address other potential approaches to preventing diabetes, and the critical role of exercise — not only for promoting weight loss, but also for maintaining and improving health.

“As the director of the NIH institute with a major focus on disorders of metabolism and lifestyle that impact weight control and overall metabolic health, Dr. Rodgers is strategically positioned as an effective advocate for research to address this national health epidemic and as a voice for public education on the subject,” said Michael Friedlander, the executive director of the VTCRI and the vice president of health sciences and technology for Virginia Tech.

The talk will be webcast. A reception will precede the event at 5 p.m. 

Prior to becoming the director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at NIH 10 years ago, Rodgers served as the institute’s deputy director.

“Dr. Rodgers is one of several NIH institute leaders who have visited Roanoke in the last few years as part of the VTCRI’s Distinguished Public Lecture Series,” Friedlander said. “His visit is part of our commitment to more fully engage the public in the discourse of contemporary health and biomedical advances.”

Rodgers earned his undergraduate, graduate, and medical degrees from Brown University. In addition to his medical and research training, he earned a master’s degree in business administration, with a focus on the business of medicine and science, from Johns Hopkins University in 2005.

He is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine, among others. He served as governor to the American College of Physicians and as chair of the Hematology Subspecialty Board and as a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine Board of Directors. Rodgers has also published more than 200 original research articles, reviews, and book chapters; has edited four books and monographs; and holds three patents.

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