Chasan-Taber Presents Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Prenatal Chronic Disease Prevention

Dec 10 2013
From left: James Staros, UMass Amherst Provost; Lisa Chasan-Taber, Professor of Epidemiology; Marjorie Aelion, Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (Photo by Thom Kendall)

Courtesy UMass Amherst News Office

Reproductive epidemiologist Lisa Chasan-Taber led 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.” (Note: The lecture can be viewed in its entirety here.) Following her talk, Chasan-Taber was presented with the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition given for service to the campus.

Chasan-Taber, a Professor of Epidemiology, is one of the most research-active faculty members in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. She presented 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.