Obesity Research Cluster

About Us

The Texas Tech Obesity Research Cluster (ORC) was established in Spring 2013. This collaborative research cluster was initiated by Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa and Dean Linda Hoover, College of Human Sciences, along with the Office of the Vice President for Research. Both Dean Hoover and Senior Vice President for Research Robert V. Duncan, have endorsed Dr. Moustaid-Moussa as the Founding Director of the Obesity Research Cluster. As part of the Texas Tech University System, the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center - Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Biomedical Sciences, have taken an active role in this research collaboration.

Founding Director: Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa, Professor, Nutritional Sciences

Co-Sponsor: Dean Linda Hoover, College of Human Sciences

Co-Sponsor: Robert V. Duncan, Senior Vice President for Research

ORC Funding: The President Cluster Hire, College of Human Sciences, OVPR
The ORC was initially cosponsored by the College of Human Sciences and the OVPR. In Fall 2014, the ORC was awarded the President Cluster Hire Tier 2 funding (9/1/2014-8/30/2017) to support a postdoc, Obesity and Nutrition Seminar Series and seed funds to support pilot and feasibility collaborative research.  The cluster also continues to be supported by COHS and the OVPR.  

The President’s Cluster Hire program was designed to contribute towards Texas Tech University’s goal to become a top tier research institution. These Clusters are expected to be interdisciplinary in nature but with a thematic focus that addresses a strategic research area. Related to the ORC, the Nutrition and Obesity research area is included in the TTU strategic investment areas.

Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) Program:

The following faculty received P&F funding from the ORC Cluster Hire initiative in 2014-15:

PI Project Approved funding($) Co-PIs/collaborators Participating colleges

Autumn Shafer(MC)

Preventing obesity in military families with preschool children (Operation Jump2Health)


Jason Van Allen(Psy), Debra Reed(NS), Julie Chang(HRM), Barry McCool(HRM), Susan Mengel(CS)


Conrad Lyford (AAE)

Using behavioral economics to achieve healthy behavior outcomes in breast cancer survivors


Autumn Shafer(MC), Leslie Shen(Pathol/SOM/HSC)


Paul Soto(Ed Psy)

Long term effects of early exposure to olanzapine on weight, metabolism and behavior and nutritional interventions to prevent these effects


Kitty Harris(CFAS), Naima Moustaid-Moussa(NS)


Shu Wang(NS)

Browning white adipose tissue using resveratrol nanoparticles carried by hydrogel templates


Zhaoyang Fan(EE), Naima Moustaid-Moussa(NS)


Naima Moustaid-Moussa(NS)

Development of a microfluidic and other culture systems to study adipocytes/ their  exosomes interactions with breast cancer cells


Shu Wang(NS), Fazle Hussain(ME), Latha Ramalingam (NS), Zeina Khan (ME), Preethi Gunaratne(UH), Surangani Dharmawardhane(UPR)

COHS, COEng, Univ. Houston, Univ. Puerto Rico

Nutrition and Obesity Seminars:

The Obesity Research Cluster Weekly Seminar series highlights presentations from faculty and students at HSC and TTU as well as invited speakers who are experts in obesity and related disorders.  Seminar series are held this spring semester from 4:00-5:00 pm every Thursday in room HS212. Two external speakers are invited this semester: Dr. Preethi Gunaratne, expert in micro RNAs and cancer (2/5/2015), Associate Professor at the University of Houston (Biology and Biochemistry) and Baylor College of medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center.  The second speaker is a world renowned obesity expert, Dr. David Allison (4/30/2015) who will give a lecture on Obesity, Myths and Facts. He is Quetelet Endowed Professor of Public Health, Associate Dean for Science, Director, Office of Energetics, Director, NIH funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama Birmingham.



The purpose of the Obesity Research Cluster is to foster and enhance interdisciplinary Basic Clinical and Community Translational Research; to understand the causes and complications of Obesity; as well as what methods will help prevent and treat Obesity along with its related complications. The goals of the ORC include increased collaboration among members from both Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, which will lead to increased publications, funded grant proposals, as well assist in the training of undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students. Research conducted within this Research Cluster will include both basic clinical and community research that will inform and advance strategies to prevent, decrease and slow down Obesity. Our research will use diverse state of the art approaches ranging for cellular and molecular studies, to animal models of Obesity and Metabolic disorders. Finally, via community based participatory research to address the complexity of Obesity from the biological, behavioral, environmental and societal aspects.


Reports by various federal health agencies and foundations (NIH, CDC, USDA, RWJF , etc.) indicate that the obesity rates in America have reached alarming levels. Texas is among the states with the highest rates of obesity. Given the urgency of this epidemic, Texas Tech University highlighted obesity research in its Strategic Plan of 2010. This opportunity is further strengthened by existing obesity, nutrition, diabetes, and cancer-related and expertise across at TTU and HSC.

  • Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes are highlight strategic Investment areas at Texas Tech University
  • Obesity is now named a disease by the American Medical Association, which will potentially add increased Federal funding in this research area and assist obese individuals with the management of this disease


  • Develop collaborations within the TTU System, the West Texas Region and State of Texas agencies
  • Increase student focus on basic clinical and community research on Obesity and its related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer


The Obesity Research Cluster is comprised of the following departments and/or centers from Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center:

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center