USDA Taps Pennington Biomedical Professor to Present Prestigious Atwater Memorial Lecture

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Released: Monday, July 02, 2018

BATON ROUGEDr. Steven Heymsfield, MD, a professor at LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center and its former executive director, has been named to present the 2018 W.O. Atwater Memorial Lecture, an award sponsored by the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific agency.

The Lectureship was established in 1968 to honor the memory of Wilbur Olin Atwater (1844-1907) and to recognize scientists who have made unique contributions toward improving the diet and nutrition of people around the world. Atwater, considered the father of modern nutrition research and education, was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first chief of nutrition investigations. An honorarium of $2,000 and a medallion come with the honor.

Dr. Heymsfield will present the lecture: From Measuring Rods and Calipers to Big Data: The Study of Human Body Composition Grows Up at the American Society for Nutrition's annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, on June 10 in Boston.

Dr. Heymsfield is internationally renowned for his work on obesity, body composition and energy physiology. He pioneered the use of computed tomography ("CAT scans"), magnetic resonance imaging, (MRI) and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry to study skeletal muscle, fat and visceral organs.

Dr. Heymsfield and his colleagues are now advancing the use of 3D optical imaging, which uses visible light in place of x-rays, to assess body shape and composition. The research could transform the nutritional and health assessment of children and adults.


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.