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When the Center for Women’s Health Research decided to address research disparities by utilizing transdisciplinary teams, Dr. Wanda Nicholson was asked to lead the first group – the Obesity Core. The goal was to create a model for future Cores that examined the unique challenges women face biologically and socially, and proactively found ways to solve those challenges. Foundation work included a complex examination of past and present research in the area of women and obesity. Dr. Nicholson’s team combed through profiles and publications on PubMed and ReachNC while consulting experts on interdisciplinary team building at the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute to build a list of potential collaborators.

View the next two tabs, LinkedIn Group and Women & Obesity Forum, to learn how the Obesity Core then went from concept to reality.

Sex Differences in Obesity: Using Social Media to Create Transdisciplinary Research TeamsSex Differences in Obesity

Sex Differences in Obesity: Using Social Media to Create Transdisciplinary Research Teams was the Center for Women’s Health Research at UNC’s first of five Core Networks. The goal was to develop a dynamic core of researchers interested in the topic of obesity, sex and gender differences.

The Center launched the network in Spring 2013 by performing ‘research on the research’ to understand what information was out there, how sex differences had been implemented in obesity research at UNC, and who may be able to contribute to the network. CWHR then used this information to facilitate multiple discussions amongst researchers through a private LinkedIn Group.

The Core Network pondered questions such as:

  • Are there sex differences in eating behaviors that influence the accumulation and distribution of fat deposition in male and female adults, boys and girls?
  • What are the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which obesity contributes to certain cancers in men and women?
  • What disciplines or experts could help you fill the gaps in our knowledge of gender differences?
  • How do we engage transdisciplinary investigators, including early stage and underrepresented minority researchers, into collaborative teams?
  • How do we leverage the expertise at UNC to address cross-cutting themes in obesity research including genetic predisposition, hormonal influences, environment and social behaviors?

Collaboration between network members then led to the planning of the Women & Obesity Forum (see next tab).

Women and Obesity Logo

This forum, held February 4, 2014, was designed to provide attendees with a look at the current state of research surrounding Women and Obesity. Gaps in research were identified and participants were charged with developing transdisciplinary teams via work group sessions. These teams came away from the forum with a framework for innovative grant submissions based on, but not limited to, the three overarching conference themes:

  • Women and Children Across the Lifespan

  • Obesity and Diabetes Prevention

  • Community Engagement and Sustainable Interventions

Following the forum the teams continued to be engaged in thoughtfully finalizing their grant submissions. Please visit to learn more about the forum and its outcomes to date.