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Kai Ling                       Kong

Kai Ling Kong PhD

Department of Pediatrics

Assistant Professor

Specialty/Research Focus

Behavioral Medicine; Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; Nutrition; Pediatrics

 
Professional Summary:

My primary research focus is on infant health, specifically infant nutrition and physical activity and enriched home environments. My research aims to identify how infant-toddler eating behaviors affect obesity later in life and how early interventions can protect those at risk from obesity. Ultimately, my work will help promote healthy, active lifestyles for families.

The motivation to eat varies among individuals. As food is more reinforcing to individuals with obesity, studying the origin of food reinforcement can provide important steps in obesity prevention. I strive to understand the causes of infant obesity and preventative measures that will decrease the risk of obesity during infancy and later life stages. My laboratory recently developed a paradigm to measure infants’ motivation to eat compared to their motivation to engage in other activities. This paradigm uses a computerized task during which infants press a button to earn reward in the form of the infant’s favorite food and a non-food alternative (e.g., playing with bubbles, listening to music). My studies suggest that the reinforcing value of the non-food alternative may drive the motivation to eat, thus infancy weight gain. To support the importance of the reinforcing value of non-food alternatives, my colleagues and I have shown that strengthening the non-food alternative at home can reduce the motivation of food.

I am also currently involved in a large, randomized-control trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to examine the effect of a two-year music enhancement program on altering infants’ motivation to eat.

I mentor students from UB’s Honors College and its pre-medicine and nutritional sciences programs. I invite interested students to work with me in my research, including data collection and preparation. I help students develop their research, analytical and writing skills to prepare them for their professional goals. Students who work with me on research projects also will gain experience in interpersonal interaction by working with families who participate in my studies.

Education and Training:
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Behavioral Medicine, University at Buffalo (2016)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Behavioral Medicine, Harvard University (2014)
  • PhD, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2013)
  • MS, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2009)
  • BS, Cell and Molecular Biology, Drake University, summa cum laude (2006)
Employment:
  • Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, University at Buffalo (2016-present)
  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Pediatrics, University at Buffalo (2013–2016)
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2009–2013)
  • Teaching Assistant, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2012)
  • Teaching Assistant, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2009)
  • Research Associate II, Nutritional and Wellness Research Center, Iowa State University (2007–2009)
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2007–2009)
  • Laboratory Instructor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University (2007)
  • Research Assistant, Crop Genetic Laboratory, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. (2006–2007)
  • Research Intern, Molecular Biology Laboratory, Kemin Industries (2005)
  • Research Assistant, Organic Chemistry Laboratory, Drake University (2004–2005)
See all (1 more)
Awards and Honors:
  • The Obesity Society: Poster Excellence Award (2014)
  • Early Nutrition Conference (Munich, Germany): New Investigator Travel Grant (2014)
  • Iowa State University: Research Excellence Award (2013)
  • 8th World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (Singapore): Young Investigator Travel Grant (2013)
  • Iowa State University: Stanley Herren Graduate Fellowship Award (2012)
  • Iowa State University: Hattie C. Lundgren Graduate Fellowship in Human Nutrition Scholarship (2011)
  • Iowa State University: Alice Ford Family and Consumer Science Scholarship (2010)
  • Iowa State University: Florence Pen Scholarship (2010)
  • Iowa State University: Food Science and Human Nutrition Departmental Scholarship (2007)
  • Iowa State University: International Student Council Leadership Scholarship (2009-2012)
  • Iowa State University: Margaret B. Swanson Graduate Student Scholarship in Food Science and Human Nutrition (2011-2012)
  • Iowa State University: College of Human Sciences Scholarship (2010-2011)

Grants and Sponsored Research:
  • August 2016–August 2021
    Enhancing Alternatives to Eating in Infants
    National Institutes of Health
    Role: Co-Investigator
    $2,683,730
  • November 2015–March 2017
    CTSA Pilot: Pilot Study on Pediatric Obesity Prevention by Maternal Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy and Lactation
    National Institutes of Health
    Role: Co-Investigator
    $75,000
  • February 2016–February 2017
    Developing the Methodology to Measure Food Reward in Young Infants (3-6 months old)
    University at Buffalo IMPACT
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $21,000
  • November 2015–October 2016
    Methodology to Measure Infant Food Reinforcement
    Research Institute on Addictions
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $24,491

Journal Articles:
See all (1 more)

Professional Memberships:
  • American Psychological Association
  • New York Zero-to-Three Network: Infancy Leadership Circle of Erie County
  • International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • The Obesity Society
  • National Scholars Honor Society
Presentations:
  • "Coding Infant Behavior at End of Food Reinforcement Task" 22nd Annual Undergraduate Research Conference, University at Buffalo (2016)
  • "Baby Fat: Should You be Concerned?" , Rutgers University (2016)
  • "Obesity Prevention: It‘s Never Too Soon to Start" Vermont Center on Behavior and Health, University of Vermont (2016)
  • "Obesity Prevention: It‘s Never Too Soon to Start" Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE), Temple University (2016)
  • "Obesity Prevention: It‘s Never Too Soon to Start" Department of Pediatrics, University at Buffalo, Division of Behavioral Medicine (2016)
  • "Obesity Prevention: It‘s Never Too Soon to Start" Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa (2016)
  • "Obesity Prevention: It‘s Never Too Soon to Start" Department of Dietetics and Nutrition and the Center for Children‘s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition, University at Kansas Medical Center (2016)
  • "Obesity Prevention: It‘s Never Too Soon to Start" Department of Exercise and Nutrition, University at Buffalo (2015)
  • "Reducing Relative Food Reinforcement in Infants by and Enriched Music Experience: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial" 27th Annual Convention, Association for Psychological Science (2015)
  • "Reducing Relative Food Reinforcement in Infants by and Enriched Music Experience" New York State Infancy Leadership Circles of Erie County, New York Zero-to-Three Network (2015)
  • "Origins of Food Reinforcement in Infants" Postdoctoral Association Seminar Series, University at Buffalo (2015)
  • "Fruits and Vegetables Consumption: Do Timing of Introduction, Early Liking and Early Consumption Matter?" 2nd Annual Obesity Week Meeting, The Obesity Society (2014)
  • "Origins of Food Reinforcement in Infants" 2nd Annual Obesity Week Meeting, The Obesity Society (2014)
  • "Toddler General Self-Regulation and Later Eating Habits: Does Parental Rule about Food Type Matter?" 2nd Annual Obesity Week Meeting, The Obesity Society (2014)
  • "Toddler General Self-Regulation and Later Eating Habits: Does Parental Rule about Food Type Matter?" 2nd Annual Obesity Week Meeting, The Obesity Society (2014)
  • "U.S. Infant Vegetable Consumption: Prevalence, Child/Maternal Predictors and Potential Impact on Infant Growth" 2nd Annual Obesity Week Meeting, The Obesity Society (2014)
  • "Maternal Physical Activity before and during Pregnancy and Offspring Adiposity at Mid-Childhood" Early Nutrition-The Power of Programming, Early Nutrition Academy (2014)
  • "Preeclampsia Prevention by Normalizing Prepregnancy Weight among Overweight/Obese Women: Findings from a National Pre-Birth Cohort" 12th International Congress on Obesity, World Obesity Federation (2014)
  • "An Unsupervised Walking Program for Overweight and Obese Women Promotes Moderate Physical Activity during Pregnancy" 31st Annual Scientific Meeting, The Obesity Society (2013)
  • "Impact of an Unsupervised Walking Intervention during Pregnancy on Post-Partum Weight Retention and Infant Outcomes" 8th World Congress, International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (2013)
  • "Association of Diet and Physical Activity with the 3 Components of Gestational Weight Gain" Annual Conference, Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research (2013)
  • "Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Overweight and Obese Pregnant Women Can Be Predicted by Self-Efficacy and Pre-Pregnancy" Experimental Biology 2013 (2013)
  • "Early Prevention of Childhood Obesity: Moms 2 Move Physical Activity Intervention" Postdoctoral Candidacy, University at Buffalo (2012)
  • "Physical Activity across Pregnancy in Sedentary, Overweight and Obese Women" 30th Annual Scientific Meeting, The Obesity Society (2012)
  • "Living a Healthy Lifestyle" Women‘s Retreat, Ankeny Christian Church (2012)
  • "Validity of the StepWatch and SenseWear Mini Armband in Laboratory-Based and Free-Living Environments" Symposium - Origins of Obesity: Maternal, Epigenetic and Lifestyle Factors, Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (2011)
  • "Accuracy of Self-Measured Waist Circumference in Young Adults" 28th Annual Scientific Meeting, The Obesity Society (2010)
  • "Men and Not Women Showed Cholesterol Lowering after 12 Weeks of Supplementation with Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside" Experimental Biology 2009 (2009)
See all (18 more)
Service Activities:
  • University at Buffalo: Discovery Seminar Programs - Fetal Origins of Health and Disease; Special Speaker (2014)
  • Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2014–present)
  • Journal of Nutrition and Health Sciences; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2014–present)
  • Journal of Obesity and Eating Disorder; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2014–present)
  • New York Zero-to-Three Network: Infancy Leadership Circle; Member (2014–present)
  • Obesity Journal; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2014–present)
  • University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences: Division of Behavioral Medicine Journal Club; Member (2014–present)
  • University at Buffalo: Postdoctoral Association; Member (2014–present)
  • Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Graduate Student Recruitment Weekend Committee; Committee Member (2013)
  • Iowa State University: Departmental Seminars and Lectureships Committee of Food Science and Human Nutrition; Committee Member (2012–2013)
  • Preparing Future Faculty; Member (2012–2013)
  • Center for Excellent Learning and Teaching: University Teaching Seminar; Organizer and Presenter (2012)
  • Iowa State University: President Leath's Installation; Student Delegate (2012)
  • Wakonse; Teaching Fellow (2012)
  • Iowa State University: Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Club; Co-Founder and Co-President (2011–2013)
  • Iowa State University: Food Science and Human Nutrition Graduate Education Committee; Committee Member (2011–2012)
  • Iowa State University: Food Science and Human Nutrition Homepage Developmental Team; Member (2011–2012)
  • Des Moines University: Program of Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Interprofessional Educational Activity in Nutrition; Participant (2011)
  • Iowa State University: Food Science and Human Nutrition Graduate Recruitment Committee; Committee Member (2008–2009)
  • Drake University: Conference of Undergraduate Research in Science Committee; Committee Member (2004–2005)
  • Greenwood Elementary School: Des Moines Summer Science Pioneer Project; Lead Scientist (2004)

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Contact Information

University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Division of Behavioral Medicine
G56 Farber Hall, 3435 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: (716) 829-6815
Fax: (716) 829-3993
Email: kkong4@buffalo.edu


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