Obesity as a Disease Modifier

With the rising tide of obesity worldwide, clinicians and researchers alike find themselves struggling to understand what this means to human health. Obesity as a disease modifier in vascular disease and diabetes has often been simplified to the concept of 'risk factor'; yet, as we are learning in non-cardiovascular diseases, our understanding must be far more nuanced to capture the complex effects associated with weight change. The UVM Obesity Research Group aims to dissect and address these unfolding effects on our health through interdisciplinary collaboration.


Dr. Dixon

Obesity & Asthma

Recently Dr. Dixon and Dr. Jason Bates were awarded an RO1 to study the pathophysiology and treatment of late-onset non allergic asthma of obesity.  Also in 2016, Dr. Dixon and Dr. Matthew Poynter were awarded an RO1 to study the effect of obesity on allergic airway disease. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop novel treatments for this patient population, a patient population that now represents the majority of patients with severe asthma, and a group that does not respond as well to traditional asthma therapies.

Obesity and Lung Disease BookAmerican Journal of Respirator Cell and Molecular Biology logo

Obesity & Lung Disease

Obesity & Lung Disease: A Guide to Management - written by an international panel of experts and edited by Anne Dixon, MB ChB and Emmanuelle Clerisme-Beaty, MD was published in September 2012. This important volume is an invaluable resource for all clinicians and scientists concerned with the challenging problems surrounding obesity and lung diseases.

More recently our group has spearheaded publication of a series of Perspectives and original research publications in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology as part of their Obesity and the Lung Disease series.

Benjamin Suratt, MD

Hyperleptinemia Raises Risk for Lung Infection

Benjamin Suratt, MD and a team of researchers from UVM, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and Ghent University in Belgium recently published the first study to link high levels of circulating leptin, as are seen in obesity, to the risk of lung infection, examining both human subjects and mouse models.  Such association is independent of BMI and appears unique to the lung as no correlation was found to other types of infections. See JCI Insight.

2013 Conference

3rd UVM Obesity Conference

The third biennial UVM Conference of Obesity was held at the UVM Davis center October 5th – October 7th, 2015. This conference brought together experts from around the world to discuss the effects of obesity and metabolism on innate and adaptive immune response, airways disease, ILD, critical illness, the pulmonary vasculature, host defense against pathogens, and the microbiome.

See the program from the 3rd UVM Conference on Obesity and the Lung in 2015.

See the program from the 2nd UVM Conference on Obesity and the Lung in 2013.

See the program from the 1st UVM Conference of Obesity and the Lung in 2011.