Faculty Profiles

Stephanie, Anzman-Frasca
Email: safrasca@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 829-6692

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatrics; Behavioral Medicine

Research Summary:
The overarching goal of Dr. Anzman-Frasca’s research is to promote healthy developmental trajectories for all individuals beginning in early life. She is interested in the psychological processes behind individuals’ health behaviors, interactions between these processes and contextual factors, and the interplay between obesity risk and other aspects of well-being, particularly among young children. Dr. Anzman-Frasca received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bucknell University and MS and PhD degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University, where her dissertation research explored intersections between infant temperament and early obesity risk in the context of a behavioral obesity preventive intervention targeting first-time parents and their infants. Subsequently, as a post-doc at Tufts University, she focused on research promoting healthy eating among school-age children within community contexts like out-of-school-time programs and restaurants. Dr. Anzman-Frasca’s current research agenda is focused on making healthy choices easier for children using both laboratory- and community-based approaches. Specific areas of interest include increasing the availability and selection of healthier children’s meal options in restaurants, promoting early childhood self-regulation abilities, and examining individual differences in susceptibility to obesity interventions to ensure that childhood obesity prevention efforts address, rather than exacerbate, health disparities. Finally, Dr. Anzman-Frasca is interested in ways in which childhood obesity prevention efforts may benefit other aspects of health and well-being, such as cognitive functioning and socio-emotional development, and has been pursuing this idea in recent studies focused on school breakfast, physical activity, and self-regulation.

Leonard, Epstein
Epstein, Leonard, PhDSUNY Distinguished Professor and Division Chief, Behavioral Medicine
Email: lhenet@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 829-3400

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatrics; Psychology; Behavioral Medicine

Research Summary:
I am a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Community Health and Health Behavior and Social and Preventive Medicine, and the Chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine. My research interests focus on health behavior change and determinants of eating, physical activity and drug self-administration. I am an internationally recognized authority in the fields of childhood overweight, physical activity, weight control and family intervention. For the past 30 years, I have conducted research relevant to the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, including mechanisms that regulate intake and energy expenditure in children. I am a fellow in numerous scientific organizations, and have been the President of the division of Health Psychology, APA, and recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology. I chaired the Behavioral Medicine Study Section, NIH, and served on the Advisory Board for Center for Scientific Research, NIH. I have published over 300 scientific papers and three books.

Kai Ling, Kong
Kong, Kai Ling, PhDAssistant Professor
Email: kkong4@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 829-6815

Specialty/Research Focus:
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; Pediatrics; Behavioral Medicine; Nutrition

Research 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.

Xiaozhong, Wen
Wen, Xiaozhong, PhDAssociate Professor
Email: xiaozhon@buffalo.edu
Phone: (716) 829-6811

Specialty/Research Focus:
Pediatrics; Public Health and General Preventive Medicine; Behavioral Medicine

Research Summary:
I am an Associate Professor in the Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York at Buffalo. With training in preventive medicine and epidemiology & biostatistics, my research focuses on maternal and child health, smoking prevention and cessation, pediatric obesity prevention, and cardio-metabolic conditions. My current research interests include father/partner involvement in pregnancy and infant care, smoking cessation during pregnancy and postpartum, breastfeeding promotion, the developmental origins (e.g. in utero, infancy, early childhood) of health and disease, and childhood growth trajectories. I have published 71 scientific journal articles related to these topics. I have been receiving several external grants as the Principal Investigator from NIH (R21 and CTSA pilot), HRSA/MCHB (2 R40s), and New York State. In particular, with a NIH CTSA (Clinical and Translational Science Award) pilot grant, I have been conducting a clinical trial to help pregnant smokers to quit smoking in early pregnancy with follow-ups until 24 months postpartum. A high smoking abstinence rate (63%) has been achieved by our multicomponent intervention. The paper on this efficacy trial has been published by Translational Behavioral Medicine. My another paper published by International Journal of Obesity from this pilot study suggested that maternal smoking cessation during pregnancy significantly decreased risk of low birth weight. It might also reduce fetal origins of obesity through reducing infant weight gain, especially if quitting smoking by 27 weeks of pregnancy. Our preliminary data from 27 pregnant women supports the importance of partner involvement during pregnancy to improve birth outcomes. For example, women with a bed partner had a lower risk of LBW (15.8% vs 37.5%) than women without a bed partner; having a partner understanding the pregnant woman’s feeling was also associated lower risk of LBW (16.7% vs 33.3%). In addition, I have an ongoing NIH-funded R21 project on postpartum smoking relapse prevention by breastfeeding promotion. Right after delivery, we randomize ex-smoking mothers who are still smoking abstinent into either the breastfeeding intervention or the attention placebo control group, and follow them until 9 months postpartum to track their smoking status. Below are my ongoing research projects: 1) Pediatric obesity prevention by maternal smoking cessation in pregnancy and lactation; 2) Postpartum smoking relapse prevention by breastfeeding promotion; 3) Snacking for Two (Impact of Changes in the Reinforcing Value of Food During Pregnancy in Smokers, Quitters, and Non-Smokers) 4) Socioeconomic disparities in early origins of childhood obesity and body mass index trajectories.