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University of Alabama at Birmingham Professor Receives $75,000 Grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Grant will support examination of childhood obesity interventions

November 1, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, November 1, 2010 – With one out of every three children in the United States considered obese and with that number increasing, especially among disadvantaged groups for which health disparities are excessive, finding effective approaches to obesity prevention is key to preserving the future health of America's youth. A University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) faculty member is poised to help find effective interventions. Olivia Affuso, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology with the UAB School of Public Health, has received a 24-month, $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections program to study effective obesity interventions for African American and Hispanic children.

Dr. Affuso is among a select group of junior investigators to receive one of the New Connections grants from RWJF, America's largest philanthropy dedicated to improving health and health care.

New Connections is designed to introduce RWJF to a select group of junior investigators and expand the diversity of perspectives that inform the foundation's programming. New Connections seeks early- to mid-career scholars who are historically underrepresented ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college graduates, and individuals from low-income communities.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 33 percent of Hispanic/Latino boys, 35.7 percent of African-American boys and 51.2 percent of Mexican-American boys are overweight. More than 30 percent of Hispanic/Latino girls, 46.4 percent of African-American girls and 36.7 percent of Mexican-American girls are overweight.

Affuso will use her grant for a project that is designed to answer questions about the potential for synergistic approaches to obesity prevention in children receiving academic performance interventions.


"We are thrilled to welcome Olivia Affuso to a program that reflects the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's commitment to increasing the diversity in our grant making and in the broader fields of health research," says Debra Perez, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A., RWJF Senior Program Officer for the New Connections program. "More than a grant opportunity, New Connections serves as a lifelong professional network for diverse researchers and evaluators."

"I am extremely proud to be among the junior investigators honored with this prestigious grant," Affuso said. "This award will connect me to a network of established experts in research and evaluation related to health and health care, while providing me with an opportunity to evaluate a program that has far reaching implications for the future health of our nation's children."


Located in the heart of the largest academic health center in the Southeast, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health is building the next generation of bold professionals to lead innovation in public health. For more information on the UAB School of Public Health, visit

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more information, visit