February 24, 2014
Emily Dhurandhar, PhD,  postdoctoral trainee at the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC),  is the winner of the 2014 Outstanding Woman UAB Student Award in recognition of her exceptional contributions.
Dr. Dhurandhar is strongly dedicated to helping ensure the success of others. Over the last two years, she has mentored female undergraduate summer interns from Puerto Rico through a National Science Foundation  program in which the Section on Statistical Genetics  participates, empowering them with the necessary skills and confidence that are crucial to gaining acceptance to graduate school. And in her interactions with fellows and other postdocs and mentorees—many of whom are female—She is always generous with her time and welcoming with her spirit of inclusion. She is a true team player, graciously giving credit to colleagues and allowing them opportunities to shine.
Dr. Dhurandhar sought out training that would allow her to do research that increases the public’s awareness of the complexities of obesity. She has published several peer-reviewed publications that challenge the accepted stance that obesity is easily explained away by too much food and not enough exercise. Of particular note are the papers regarding a virus called Ad-36 that causes obesity in animals and may also contribute to human obesity, as well as a paper reviewing evidence for 10 alternative contributors to the obesity epidemic. Throughout her research, Dr. Dhurandhar has confronted a general lack of understanding of the nature and causes of obesity, which she believes fuels bias and discrimination—attitudes and beliefs that impede the prevention and treatment of obesity.
She was recently appointed chair of The Obesity Society 's Advocacy Committee , which works to educate legislators, medical care providers, and insurers as well as patients about the leading research in the field in order to increase understanding and to reduce weight bias and discrimination. This advocacy work is yet another example of Dr. Dhurandhar’s commitment to the advancement of knowledge and open-mindedness in her chosen field of study and to the advancement of women’s health concerns—all of which earned her this well-deserved honor.