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Jules Hirsch, MD (1927-2015) remembered for contributions to obesity science
Obesity Journal Editorial contributed by Rudolph L. Leibel, MD

Jules Hirsch, MD
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." — Winston Churchill

Jules Hirsch, MD, passed away on July 23, 2015, in Englewood, NJ, at the age of 88. His legacy in the field of obesity research is broad and deep. He worked on problems ranging from the psychophysics of perceptions of adiposity to gene × environment interactions in the body weights of Zucker rats.

Jules, along with contemporaries like Ted Van Itallie, George Bray, Ethan Sims, Mickey Stunkard, Gerry Smith, Ernst Wertheimer and others, lifted obesity research (virtually an oxymoron at the time) from something just short (on the wrong side) of phrenology to an enterprise based on basic biological and psychological principles. Incorporating observations made by Hetherington and Ranson, Kennedy, Hervey, and later Coleman, Jules identified anatomical predicates (fat cell size and number) for the predicted signal(s) emanating from fat that could provide the postulated information to the central nervous system regarding energy stores in adipose tissue. He also pursued early efforts to identify the implicated neuro-humoral signal(s) using both rodents and human subjects. His work on the metabolic consequences of weight perturbation in humans was an extension of these efforts. Jules was an early supporter of the project that led to the molecular cloning of the major signal, leptin.

Continue reading the full memoriam published in Obesity here.

TOS remembers Jules Hirsch, MD
Many TOS leaders, both past and present, had the pleasure of both working with Dr. Hirsch and knowing him personally. Thank you to the following leaders who contributed their remarks in this tribute to his great work.

Jules Hirsch was one of the giants in the field of obesity research. During his 60 years at the Rockefeller University, he was instrumental in giving “obesity research” a good name through the quality of his scholarly studies. His pioneering studies on the measurement of fat cell size and number led to classification of obesity as "hypertrophic" or "hyperplastic." His masterful studies, in collaboration with Dr. Rudy Leibel on the metabolic response to weight gain and weight loss are seminal contribution to this field. I knew Jules both as a scientist and leader. He was responsible, along with Theodore van Itallie for organizing the 3rd International Congress on Obesity in NYC in 1983. Through his laboratory many of the current leaders in the field were trained. We owe Jules a great debt of gratitude and will miss his towering intellect and wonderful speaking ability.
— George A. Bray, MD, MACP, FTOS, Boyd Professor Emeritus, Pennington Biomedical Research Center/LSU

It's hard to restrict my comments about Jules Hirsch to only a few lines. Many know Jules Hirsch as Dr. Fat Cell. He was devoted to science and not the politics of science. Jules was respectful and convinced many that obesity was not just a cosmetic issue. He was not someone who told you what you wanted to hear. He dispelled myths, one of which was that the number of fat cells was fixed in childhood. Using tritiated thymidine uptake into DNA, he demonstrated that you could make new fat cells at any age and that weight loss decreased the size, but not the number of fat cells. On a personal note, when I was in graduate school in Boston, I narrowed down where I wanted to post doc in NYC to two scientists. Jules actually flew up to Harvard and interviewed me in my professor’s office. I was really impressed. It was no contest. My career and my life would have been very different without Jules. I miss him.
— Judy Stern, ScD, FTOS, Distinguished Prof. Emeritus, University of California, Davis

Dr. Hirsch was a true pioneer and a guiding force in the development of our understanding of obesity. He trained or influenced many of of the current leaders in the field. His emphasis on understanding weight regulating mechanisms has played a critical role in our efforts to manage obesity. The time I spent working with Drs. Hirsch, Leibel and Rosenbaum had a profound and formative impact on my career and on my thinking about how obesity could and should be treated.
— Lou Aronne, MD, FACP, FTOS, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

Jules Hirsch was one of our field's most gifted orators and thinkers. His talks were spellbinding, not only presenting scientific data, but placing them in historic context. A single obesity lecture from Professor Hirsch could integrate data from a half-century of modern science, span the molecular to the clinical, comment compassionately and insightfully about the lived experience of persons with obesity, Harken to Lavoisier and others from history, and be peppered with biblical, literary, and artistic illustrations and anecdotes. It has been said that Johann Goethe and Alexander von Humboldt were the "last men who knew everything." If one indulges in imagining a heaven, I am sure Professor Hirsch has now been welcomed to their dinner table discussions and is giving them a run for their money.
— David Allison, PhD, FTOS, Distinguished Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Hirsch brought me into the obesity field as a young physician scientist and he was without question one of the intellectual leaders who pioneered many of the metabolic concepts that remain in widespread use today. He was an eloquent spokesperson for our field and yet he was humble and altruistic. We have lost a truly remarkable leader yet his spirit and energy live on in many of us who trained or were inspired by him.
— Steve Heymsfield, MD, FTOS, Professor of Metabolism and Body Composition, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Jules Hirsch was my mentor and thesis advisor. His intelligence and ability to articulate his views set a standard that has influenced my entire career. His ability to exact high quality performance and to teach me to adhere to such standards has served me well in my own career. But far more important, he was a compassionate advisor when that was not common in men who had female students. He understood my need to also support my family. As we grew older Jules and I would reminisce about how we had seen both our professional and larger lives and how time had changed us. Although he thought I should stay in the research world, he was very helpful as I moved into administration and always taught me something new. We will miss him and his impact on our field.
— MRC Greenwood, PhD, FTOS, President Emerita, University of Hawaii

Jules invited me join his laboratory to use my faculty fellowship while I was an assistant professor at Vassar College. During the summer I had developed an interest in adipose cells and so was delighted to join his lab. Subsequently, I spent 10 years as an adjunct associate professor at the Rockefeller. Jules and I did the seminal work to establish the cellularity of obese rodents; i.e. the Zucker rat and a number of obese mice. He was an inspired scientist and mentor and had a profound effect on my scientific career.
— Patricia Johnson, PhD, Professor Emerita, Vassar College and UC Davis
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Obesity virtual issue: It all starts in the womb
Major scientific findings in the areas of gestational weight gain and fetal metabolic programming have been published in Obesity. To provide a wider audience for this cutting-edge research, the Editors of Obesity are now offering "It All Starts in The Womb," a new virtual issue featuring 12 of the most relevant articles on these topics from recent issues of the journal. This special collection was selected by Obesity Associate Editor Leanne Redman, FTOS, Associate Professor and Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and the Women’s Health Research Program at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As illustrated in these articles, maternal weight status beginning at the time of conception influences the metabolic and hormonal milieu of the intrauterine environment, which has a lifelong effect on a child's risk for obesity and chronic disease. Research published in Obesity also has shown how a host of other influences, such as pollutants and maternal diet, can contribute to metabolic programming and thus have wide-ranging effects on offspring outcomes.

Don't miss the opportunity to read and share the most up-to-date findings in this important area of obesity research. This virtual issue will be freely available for a limited time here.

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Last chance to submit late breaking research to TOS's Annual Meeting at ObesityWeek
Do you have new, high-impact data that was not available or fully analyzed during the regular TOS abstract submission period for ObesityWeek? If so, this is your last chance to submit your late breaking abstracts to TOS's Annual Meeting at ObesityWeek. Late breaking abstract submission closes Aug. 17. Researchers who have data that was not available or fully analyzed in May 2015 are eligible for TOS's late breaking abstract submission.

Late breaking abstracts can be submitted to one of following tracks:
  • Metabolism and Integrative Physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Interventional & Clinical Studies
  • Population Health
  • Policy
Our abstracts undergo careful peer review for selection as either oral or poster presentation at ObesityWeek. Submit your abstract here through Aug. 17, and find more about late breaking abstract requirements here.

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TOS's Epidemiology Section is now the Epidemiology & Population Health Section
The Epidemiology Section of TOS has changed its name to the Epidemiology & Population Health Section. The name change reflects the Section's commitment to advancing the methods, applications and education in understanding how obesity affects the health and wellbeing of communities across the country and around the world, and discussing various strategies to promote healthy behaviors and environments for all people.

Find out what other Sections TOS has to offer and catch up on the latest Section news here.

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Apply for the 2015 ABOM Exam by Aug. 24
Contributed by ABOM
With the final application deadline of August 24 rapidly approaching, please keep the following information in mind as you complete your application to sit for the 2015 American Board of Obesity Medicine certification exam:
  • The sooner you complete, submit and pay to take the 2015 certification exam, the better. Applicants who complete this process are granted immediate access to ABOM's Sample Test Question item bank.
  • Don't have all your CME activities completed? Take note: While all 60 CME credits (including at least 30 live) must typically be completed by the application deadline, there is an exception for doctors attending ObesityWeek. Sign up for TOS's Review Course for the ABOM Exam Nov. 2 & 3 and the full ObesityWeek conference to get all the live credits you need for ABOM certification. See the course description here.
  • All CME activity must be on the topic of obesity or closely related to obesity. Topics in the latter category must be covered in the Test Content Outline.
  • If you have questions about the validity of your CME, please contact ABOM as soon as possible. Apply online here.

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    Job listings exclusively for the obesity community
    Attention employers, recruiters and job seekers! TOS offers an opportunity to connect you with others exclusively in the obesity community through our online Job Center. Jobseekers can post an anonymous resume, search for listed jobs and create a personalized job alert. Recruiters can search for the best candidate and post jobs all at the click of a button. Check out the Job Center here.
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    eHealth/mHealth Reading Corner
    Contributed by the eHealth/mHealth Section
    To keep the community up to date on the developments in this important area, TOS eHealth/mHealth section offers the eHealth/mHealth Reading Corner. This week's articles include:
    Skoyen JA, Rutledge T, Wiese JA, et al. Evaluation of TeleMOVE: a Telehealth Weight Reduction Intervention for Veterans with Obesity. Ann Behav Med. 2015 Aug;49(4):628-33.

    Chung L, Law Q, Fong S, et al. A cost-effectiveness analysis of teledietetics in short-, intermediate-, and long-term weight reduction. J Telemed Telecare. 2015 Jul;21(5):268-75.

    Loveday A, Sherar LB, Sanders JP, et al. Technologies That Assess the Location of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior: A Systematic Review. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(8):e192.
    If you have an article you would like to share, we would love to hear from you! Please send article information to Danielle Schoffman (, and we'll add it to the EMS Reading Corner Library.

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      FREE Banner & Business Listing, a modern online weight loss community, is coming! Get your business listed in our business directory for FREE and take advantage of our three-month FREE ADVERTISING BANNER program. No obligation -- just our way of saying hello to TOS and the online bariatric community! Learn more and SIGN UP HERE.


    Top researchers, policymakers, practitioners to gather in Los Angeles for largest international scientific conference on obesity, weight loss
    More than 1,500 research abstracts will be presented on new and emerging obesity treatments, the science of weight loss, new prevention strategies, metabolic surgery, digital health technology and public policy, when thousands of leading researchers, policymakers and health professionals gather for ObesityWeek 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California from Nov. 2 to 7, 2015.
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    Morning meals and weight gain: Are government breakfast guidelines wrong?
    Yahoo News
    Scientists have said for years that skipping breakfast can actually make you gain weight. But a recent study has called the whole "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" mantra — and the government's recommendations around it — into question. When Columbia University researchers compared the effects of eating a high-fiber breakfast (oatmeal), a breakfast with minimal fiber (frosted corn flakes), and no breakfast on 36 overweight participants over four weeks, they found that people who skipped breakfast lost weight, while the other two groups did not.
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      Custom Purified High-Fat Diets

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    Bill would expand Medicare to cover weight management therapy
    In the 50 years since Medicare and Medicaid were created, millions of Americans have received needed healthcare coverage. Recently, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said these two programs have created "a healthcare system that is better, smarter, and healthier." "As we take a moment to reflect on the past five decades, we must also look to the future and explore ways to strengthen and improve healthcare for future generations," he said.
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    Excessive use of workout supplements 'emerging' eating disorder
    Increases in men replacing meals with legal appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs, or APEDs, such as protein powders and bars, have led researchers to recognize it as a variant of disordered eating. Researchers at Alliant International University presented a study at the 2015 American Psychological Association's annual convention suggesting lean and muscular male body ideals perpetuated by the media are contributing to internalized body dissatisfaction.
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    Provider websites, mobile offerings coming up short
    Health Data Management
    A global survey of more than 1,000 online users in the healthcare market finds that while many providers use the web to better serve patients, there is plenty of room for improvement. The survey, conducted by e-commerce/online marketing vendor Kentico, revealed that nearly three- quarters of respondents believe that websites currently offered by providers need to be more helpful. Among the gripes cited by those surveyed: the inability to contact healthcare professionals via the user's preferred method of contact; difficulty finding the information they're looking for; and inability to chat with a healthcare representative via the website in real time.
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    Pennington study shows childhood obesity an epidemic in rich, poor countries alike
    The Acadiana Advocate
    The notion that if you don’t exercise, you get fat does not seem the basis for scientific study because the answer is obvious. But looking under the headlines, a new study from LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center points out the dimensions of an issue that is important worldwide but incredibly so in Louisiana.
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    How often should you actually weigh yourself?
    Daily Burn via Yahoo Health
    Stepping on the scale can be more daunting than hauling yourself out of bed to make a 6 a.m. spin class. But if you're trying to lose weight, it's probably worth it. "A scale should be as important as your toothbrush," says David Levitsky, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. Which begs the question: Just how often should you weigh yourself if you’re trying to lose weight?
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    The top health halo food terms that confuse you
    f you're a typical consumer interested in health or dieting, then you probably spend time reading labels and making (what you think are) the best choices when it comes to foods and drinks. Well, the advertising industry knows that, and so it tries to lure you into certain purchases. No surprise there, but particular words and phrases that are being used to catch your eye and make you buy are sometimes hefty in definition but lightweight in health reality.
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    The Obesity Society eNews
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