Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series Launches with Lisa Chasan-Taber on Prenatal Chronic Disease Prevention

December 3, 2013

Contact: Wesley Blixt 413/545-0444

Lisa Chasan-Taber

AMHERST, Mass. – Reproductive epidemiologist Lisa Chasan-Taber will lead off the 2013-14 Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Monday, Dec. 9 with a talk titled “It’s Never too Early: Diabetes Prevention in Pregnancy.”

Chasan-Taber’s lecture begins at 4 p.m. in the Massachusetts Room on the third floor of the Mullins Center. Following her talk, Chasan-Taber will receive the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition given for service to the campus.

Chasan-Taber, a professor of epidemiology in the department of public health’s division of biostatistics and epidemiology, is one of the most research-active faculty members in UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences. She will present research findings focusing on healthful lifestyle changes that protect mothers and babies against both short and long-term illnesses, especially diabetes.

As the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise worldwide, it is increasingly important to implement strategies to prevent diabetes onset, according to Chasan-Taber.

“An unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and stress at the time of conception and during pregnancy may have profound implications for the child, who could be at increased risk for heart disease and diabetes as an adult,” says Chasan-Taber, who led a national research team that developed the first scientifically validated instrument for determining guidelines for exercise during pregnancy. “Fortunately, women are particularly motivated to adopt healthy lifestyle habits during pregnancy for their own health and that of their babies.”

Her work now focuses on maternal and child health among Hispanic women, a growing and underserved population. Her study population has been based in western Massachusetts, primarily in Springfield.

A graduate, cum laude, of the University of Pennsylvania, Chasan-Taber received a Master of Public Health degree at UMass Amherst, and a Doctor of Science degree in epidemiology at Harvard, where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship.

The author or co-author of dozens of peer review articles, Chasan-Taber is associate editor of the journal Medicine Science Sports & Exercise. She has served as a standing member of the Infectious Disease, Reproductive Health, Asthma, and Pulmonary Epidemiology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health, and as a member of the writing group for The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association-sponsored position “Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes.”

Upcoming talks in the 2013-14 Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series at UMass Amherst also include Richard Palmer of the civil and environmental engineering department on Tuesday, Feb. 4; Alice Cheung of the biochemistry and molecular biology department on Tuesday, March 25; and James Kurose of the computer science department of Wednesday, April 9. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public.