Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Wisconsin-based non-profit Take Off Pounds Sensibly® are establishing the new TOPS® Nutrition and Obesity Research Center with the goal of conducting research into the causes, health risks and treatment of human obesity. Studies at the Center will focus on the role of genetic predisposition to metabolic changes, nutritional preferences, appetite regulation, food intake and choice and incidence of obesity-related illnesses.
“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,” said Dr. Michael Olivier, Chair of the Department of Genetics at Texas Biomed, and Co-Director of the new Center. “We want to understand how genes affect how and what people eat and the effects of food choices on health outcomes.”
TOPS Club, Inc.® is a nonprofit, noncommercial organization supporting a network of thousands of weight-loss support groups. TOPS® offers tools and programs for healthy living and weight management with more than 125,000 members throughout the United States and Canada.
Through this partnership and the new Center, researchers at Texas Biomed will have an opportunity to reach out to TOPS members and their relatives who are willing to participate in studies related to obesity and utilize the extensive history of positive weight management outcomes TOPS has documented over the past several decades.
“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,” said Dr. Anthony Comuzzie, Co-Director of the TOPS® Nutrition and Obesity Research Center and Scientist at Texas Biomed. “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.”
The TOPS® Nutrition and Obesity Research Center will maintain a registry of TOPS® members who have successfully maintained weight loss in an effort to help determine why some people who are obese are able to lose weight and keep it off. These 20,000 members nationwide are currently part of the Keep Off Pounds Sensibly (KOPS®) group and will help aid in the understanding of weight loss and maintenance.
In addition to this new Research Center at Texas Biomed, TOPS® also supports the TOPS® Center for Obesity and Metabolic Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and both Texas Biomed and the Medical College will continue to collaborate and share data obtained in various research projects to facilitate further discovery.
“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 Barbara Cady, TOPS® President. “This collaboration marks our fiftieth year of pursuing viable treatments with such outstanding scientific partners and trail blazers in the study of obesity”
Texas Biomed, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world's leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. The Institute is located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas. Texas Biomed partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world to develop vaccines and therapeutics against viral pathogens causing AIDS, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fevers and parasitic diseases. The Institute also has programs in the genetics of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other diseases. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org.
Founded in 1948, TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly®) is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has more than 125,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in thousands of chapters throughout the United States and Canada. Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable at just $32 per year in the U.S. and $36 per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call 800-932-8677.