An influential scholar and revered figure in the fields of obesity and nutrition, longtime FRAC Board Member Dr. George Blackburn passed away last month. Through his multidisciplinary efforts to prevent and treat obesity and obesity-related diseases, Dr. Blackburn changed the way surgeons and researchers alike thought about the relationship between food and medicine.

Heather Hartline-Grafton, FRAC’s Senior Nutrition Policy and Research Analyst, remembers the first time she met Dr. Blackburn at a FRAC event.

“He was an incredible innovator and world-renowned expert, and, I will admit, I was very intimidated to meet him. However, I was immediately put at ease by his kindness and good humor,” she said. “Over the years, he served as an extraordinary resource for research and ideas related to FRAC’s work on obesity and nutrition, and was always deeply supportive and encouraging. It was truly an honor to know him.”

Dr. Blackburn was the S. Daniel Abraham Associate Professor of Nutrition and the Associate Director of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School. He also served as the Chief of the Nutritional/Metabolism Laboratory, and Director of the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine (CSNM) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

At CSNM, Dr. Blackburn launched a novel scientific approach to food and exercise medicine in an ongoing effort to understand the science of healthy living. He worked with neuroscientists to pioneer research into the role of neurocognition in eating behavior and exercise. His research led to advances in treatment and care for overweight and obese patients.

FRAC staff remember him as a mentor, an inspiration, and a friend. “George was a warm, thoughtful, loyal, insightful, and supportive presence on the Board, and a passionate advocate for FRAC and its work in the medical and public health communities,” said Jim Weill, FRAC’s President. “We will miss him greatly.”