Johns Hopkins’ obesity researchers join UB

Published March 13, 2014

Two researchers from the Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity (JHGCCO) recently joined the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health Professions, where they are working on projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Hong Xue, appointed a research assistant professor at UB, played an active role in the leadership of the JHGCCO, which was established with a $16 million NIH center grant and institutional funding. He served as the center’s project manager and helped manage its research and resource core.

A key research project of the center has been transferred to UB under the direction of Youfa Wang, chair of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine and founding director of the JHGCCO. Some of Wang’s research team members are still based at Hopkins and his team is collaborating with colleagues from Hopkins and other domestic and international partner institutions in the project.

Shiyong Liu, associate professor in the Research Institute of Economics and Management at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China, is a visiting scholar in the UB department; he previously was a visiting scholar in the JHGCCO.

Xue conducts interdisciplinary research in public health and, in particular, integrates economics, nutrition, epidemiology and systems science in the study of obesity and non-communicable chronic diseases in a global context.

His current work includes a China-U.S. comparative study of childhood obesity using a combination of sophisticated statistical approaches, innovative systems models and multiple, big data sets to examine the longitudinal changes in the food system and dietary patterns.

“His purpose is to identify the key contextual drivers of childhood obesity in China’s fast changing economic, social and cultural environments,” says Wang, “and the systems models he is developing will help assess cost-effectiveness of potential intervention options.”

Liu received a bachelor’s degree in engineering, with a specialty in control theory, from China’s Northeast Petroleum University; a master’s degree in management science and engineering from Guangdong University of Technology; and PhD in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

His research interests range from policy evaluation, modeling of enterprise management systems and systems engineering to pricing policy in obesity prevention and intervention, economic evaluation of diabetes interventions and the design of complex socio-technic systems. He is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and has received grants from China’s Ministry of Education and Social Science Foundation. He also has worked on research funded by the National Science Foundations in the U.S. and China.