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ASMBS Foundation awards grants for COVID-19 & obesity studies

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Foundation has awarded two research grants totalling US$50,000 to study the effects of obesity on COVID-19 infections in adolescents and the increasing use of adult cannabis during and after the pandemic and its potential impact on weight loss outcomes following bariatric surgery.

"These latest grants are for studies on the impact of COVID-19 and emerging areas of interest that have thus far received little scientific study," said Dr Paul Enochs, President, ASMBS Foundation. "Our support for them reflects our enduring commitment, and that of our donors, to help fuel innovative research that advances the scientific understanding of the disease of obesity and its treatment."

The ASMBS Foundation has been sponsoring important research on obesity and bariatric surgery since 2004. Previous grant recipients have studied the short-term impact of bariatric surgery on systemic inflammation in asthma patients, the effect of sleeve gastrectomy on obesity-induced heart failure, and the determinants of Type 2 diabetes remission after bariatric surgery. This year's recipients will each receive US$25,000 for their studies.

"I am so honoured to have been chosen for this year's ASMBS Foundation research grant. It will support a study that will help both providers and patients better understand the influence of cannabis use after bariatric surgery and whether it impacts eating behaviours and long-term weight loss outcomes," said Dr Lisa R Matero, ABPP, Director, Health Psychology Fellowship Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

"Paediatric and adolescent populations with obesity are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection and novel therapeutic interventions are lacking. This study aims to reveal the molecular and cellular underpinnings that influence increased viral susceptibility in these individuals to aid in the future development of effective therapies," said Dr Christine Finck, Chief, Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery at Connecticut Children's Hospital in Hartford. "The grant for this study will help us accomplish our long-term goal of improving the overall quality of life for paediatric patients with obesity."

Metabolic/bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective and long-lasting treatment for severe obesity, resulting in significant weight loss and resolution or improvements in diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnoea, and many other obesity-related diseases. Its safety profile is comparable to some of the safest and most commonly performed surgeries in the US including gallbladder surgery, appendectomy and knee replacement. An estimated 256,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in 2019, according to the ASMBS, which represents less than 1% of the currently eligible surgical population-based on body mass index (BMI).


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