Geisel School of Medicine Dean Duane A. Compton, PhD, has appointed Susan B. Roberts, PhD, as the medical school’s Senior Associate Dean of Foundational Research. Roberts is an internationally known nutrition and behavioral change scientist with more than 30 years of experience developing innovative research programs to advance health in the U.S. and abroad.
“I’m very pleased that Dr. Roberts has agreed to join our scientific community as the Senior Associate Dean of Foundational Research,” says Compton. “Her wealth of experience, leadership abilities, and vision will be invaluable in helping us advance the strategic direction of our research initiatives at Geisel. I look forward to working with her to further expand our school’s research impact.”
Roberts comes to Dartmouth from Tufts University in Boston, MA, where she was a senior scientist in the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. She served as a professor of nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, co-director of the Tufts Institute for Global Obesity Research, and adjunct professor of psychiatry and scientific staff member in pediatrics at Tufts School of Medicine. Prior to joining Tufts University in 1987, Roberts was a research fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Cambridge in the UK and a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During her distinguished tenure at Tufts, she directed the Energy Metabolism Laboratory, bringing advanced nutrition and behavioral science to interventions aimed at making healthy eating and weight management easier and more successful. More broadly, Roberts has authored over 300 publications and conducted research on adult obesity, aging, child nutrition, and nutrition for brain health, using both traditional and advanced study methodologies.
In addition to her work in the US, Roberts has conducted nutrition research in Brazil, China, Finland, France, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, India, Kuwait, and The Gambia. She has also developed a new food formulation for improving cognitive function in young children at risk of malnutrition and has begun to test an adapted version of the formulation for preventing cognitive decline in older adults.
Roberts’ research has been continuously funded by governmental organizations such as the NIH, DoD, and USDA since 1992. She holds two patents and has co-authored three popular books on children’s nutrition and science-based weight loss. Roberts is the founder of the iDiet weight loss program (www.theidiet.com), which uses an effective “retrain your brain” approach to achieve healthy eating and sustainable weight loss.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Dartmouth community,” says Roberts. “It’s a chance for me to support research over a very wide area, from basic science to epidemiology. And with its great people, collaborative culture, strong funding, and excellent facilities—together with its position as a major employer and healthcare provider in the state and region—there’s a wonderful opportunity at Dartmouth to do some really big things to advance health research to improve health. I can’t wait to start!”
Roberts has extensive experience teaching and mentoring diverse trainees. In addition to her regular teaching duties at Tufts, she trained and supervised a cadre of more than 100 health workers to implement high-quality clinical trials in Guinea-Bissau. Roberts developed a new initiative to support research training for promising young adults from overseas—to date 11 young men and women from 7 countries have trained in her laboratory. And she initiated a new Mentoring Lunch Series for junior female faculty at Tufts.
She has held a large number of leadership positions on prominent committees, editorial and other boards. These have included serving as co-founder and co-director of the International Weight Control Registry, co-chair of an NIH consortium of 7 universities studying the causes of weight regain, and member of the Board of Directors of Danone, a multinational food company transitioning to B corporation status. She is also a longtime member of the American Society for Nutrition and The Obesity Society.
Her honors and awards include: the Will Solimene Award for Excellence in Medical Communications; the E.V. McCollum Award for outstanding contributions to nutrition research; the W.O. Atwater Lecturer, the only federal award for nutrition research, recognizing uniquely important contributions towards improving the health of people around the world; and the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition Innovation Award, given for research advances in healthy dietary patterns.
Roberts’ other notable activities have included: regularly giving community lectures on how to achieve sustainable weight loss; founding an elementary school for grades 1-6 in Guinea-Bissau that now enrolls more than 300 students; and serving as an expert resource often quoted by national and international media for commentary on weight control and (most recently) nutrition for mental health. She has been an invited speaker in all six inhabited continents.
At Geisel, Roberts will oversee strategic planning related to research and support of the research mission of the medical school, and develop initiatives that promote and stimulate the full spectrum of science reflected in Geisel’s research activities, performed in concert with research conducted in its clinical departments. She will also serve as a leader in developing and sustaining partnerships with Dartmouth Health and other schools at Dartmouth and will work closely with the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research.