Published September 16, 2013
Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pediatrics and chief of behavioral medicine, has been named chair of a National Institutes of Health study section that reviews applications to prevent or treat morbid conditions in which behavior plays a major role.
An internationally recognized expert on childhood weight control and family intervention, Epstein chairs the Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention study section of the Center for Scientific Review, the NIH’s gateway for grant applications.
Epstein and colleagues from around the country review applications to test behavioral interventions for conditions including obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
His term runs through June of 2015.
Among the most productive investigators in the field of behavioral medicine and nutrition, Epstein researches the causes, prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, including mechanisms that regulate intake and energy expenditure in children.
He was the first researcher to demonstrate that reducing television viewing improves childhood obesity treatment outcomes, and he pioneered the use of lifestyle exercise as a component of obesity treatment.
Epstein’s innovations include the Traffic Light Diet, widely used by families to instill healthy eating habits in overweight children.
The diet is a component of the Buffalo Childhood Weight Control Program that Epstein developed at UB—one of a few such programs proven to achieve long-term weight loss in kids.
Since its inception, the program has received more than $20 million in NIH funding.
Epstein has served on the NIH’s advisory board for the Center for Scientific Review and as chair of its Behavioral Medicine, Interventions and Outcomes study section.
A past president of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Health Psychology, he has received the APA’s award for outstanding contributions to health psychology.