Texas Biomedical Research Institute has announced a partnership with the Wisconsin-based non-profit organization Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) to create the new TOPS® Nutrition and Obesity Research Center. The facility was established to enable research collaborations and study the causes, risks and treatments for obesity.
Research to be conducted at the center will focus on the importance of genetic predisposition for obesity and diseases related to obesity through the study of metabolic changes, nutritional preferences, appetite regulation, food intake and choice, as well as incidence of illnesses. Through the partnership, the two institutions expect not only to improve knowledge on genetics, but also to reach a higher number of people willing to participate in studies.
“Genetics research has been immensely successful at identifying genes related to obesity; however, we want to now take that knowledge and look at the outcomes of these genetic variants in patients,” explained the Chair of the Department of Genetics at Texas Biomed and Co-Director of the new Center. Dr. Michael Olivier. “We want to understand how genes affect how and what people eat and the effects of food choices on health outcomes.”
The collaboration and the center were established to enable researchers at Texas Biomed to make contact with over 125,000 members of the TOPS Club, Inc, which is a nonprofit, noncommercial organization that hosts a network of thousands of weight-loss support groups and provides tools and programs throughout the US and Canada. Members of the club or their relatives will have the chance to participate in studies related to obesity at the center.
“This provides an opportunity for scientists to work directly with study participants who choose to participate and also have access to information collected on these volunteers over extended periods in the past,” stated the Co-Director of the TOPS Nutrition and Obesity Research Center and Scientist at Texas Biomed, Dr. Anthony Comuzzie.
“That direct access is critical to compiling accurate and novel data and evaluating it in the context of an individual’s struggle to maintain their desired weight over the years, something we can all relate to. This information, and the generous cooperation of TOPS members, will allow us to ask new questions about the ability of individuals to control their food intake in the current environment of constantly available energy-rich food,” he added.
The TOPS Nutrition and Obesity Research Center will hold a registry of TOPS members that participated in the Keep Off Pounds Sensibly® (KOPS) group and achieved their weight loss goals, in order to study the determinants that impact success in losing weight and managing that weight loss. In addition to the center, Texas Biomed, TOPS and TOPS Center for Obesity and Metabolic Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin will continue to share information on research projects to advance discoveries in the field.
“We are excited to partner with Texas Biomed and provide our members the opportunity to help scientists discover genetic linkages to obesity and related diseases that could one day help end the obesity epidemic in America,” said the TOPS president Barbara Cady. “This collaboration marks our fiftieth year of pursuing viable treatments with such outstanding scientific partners and trail blazers in the study of obesity.”