Penny Gordon-Larsen, Head of Program

Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD is the Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition and the Associate Dean for Research in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel HillPGL headshot

Dr. Gordon-Larsen’s NIH-funded research portfolio focuses on individual-, household-, and community-level susceptibility to obesity and its cardiometabolic consequences, and her work ranges from molecular and genetic to environmental and societal-level factors. Much of her research focuses on issues related to ethnicity, disparities and development of obesity over the lifecycle, with attention to pathways linking environment and behavior to cardiometabolic risk. She served as President of The Obesity Society in 2015 and received the Eli Lilly Scientific Achievement Award in 2010 and the George A. Bray Founders Award in 2020, both from The Obesity Society. She served on the NIH Nutrition Research Thought Leaders Panel and as Chair for the NIH Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity & Diabetes Study Section. She currently serves on the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council. Gordon-Larsen teaches Nutrition 880, Elements of Being Scientist and Nutrition 808, Global Cardiometabolic Disease Seminar.

Current Research: Her newest collaborative research is the “Heterogeneity in Obesity Creativity Hub: Transdisciplinary Approaches for Precision Research and Treatment”, a large collaborative project with 27 faculty from 16 departments, six schools, and five centers and institutes. The project focuses on understanding why two people who consume the same diets and exercise equally can have very different susceptibility to weight gain, with the aim of developing treatment approaches that go far beyond the “one-size-fits-all” approach that is so common. Read about the Obesity Hub here: