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Babette S. Zemel, PhD
Babette S. Zemel
Associate Program Director, Center for Human Phenomic Science

Dr. Zemel's overall research program aims to improve the understanding of lifelong health and how it relates to childhood antecedents of physical growth and maturation, body composition, population ancestry/genetics, and lifestyle factors. Such insight has practical implications for disease prevention and lifelong wellness, as well as broader scientific implications for understanding human plasticity and evolution.

 

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Bio

Dr. Zemel's research program aims to improve understanding of lifelong health and how it relates to childhood antecedents of physical growth and maturation, body composition, population ancestry/genetics, and lifestyle factors. Such insight has practical implications for disease prevention and lifelong wellness, and broader scientific implications for understanding human plasticity and evolution.

To this end, she has focused on two particular health concerns: bone fragility and obesity. As a site PI for the multi-center, multi-ethnic, longitudinal, prospective NICHD Bone Mineral Density in Childhood Study, and Co-PI of the Genome Wide Association Study of Bone Mineral Accretion in Childhood, Dr. Zemel has made significant advancements in pediatric bone health assessment and insights into the genetics of bone accretion in children. This work is now being extended to young children, as she serves as Co-PI of the Bone Mineral Accretion in Young Children study.

These longitudinal studies are advancing insights into bone mineral accretion from early childhood through adulthood, and examining effects of growth, muscle development, physical activity, and diet during this critical life phase.

In addition to studying effects of obesity on pediatric bone health, Dr.Zemel is investigating predictors of excess weight gain in infants as the PI of The Infant Growth and Microbiome Study. This is a prospective, longitudinal study of African-American pregnant women and their children examining factors contributing to excess weight gain in African-American infants and young children, including the microbiome and the metabolome.

Education and Training

BA, University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology), 1979

MA, University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology), 1985

PhD, University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology), 1989

Titles and Academic Titles

Associate Program Director, Center for Human Phenomic Science

Leader, Metabolism, Nutrition and Physical Development Research Affinity Group

 

Director, Bionutrition Core Laboratory, Clinical and Translational Research Center

Academic Investigator, Healthy Weight Program

Director, Nutrition and Growth Laboratory

Associate Director of the Core Laboratories, The General Clinical Research Center

Professor of Pediatrics

Professional Memberships

Human Biology Association, 1985-

American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 1988-

International Society of Clinical Densitometry, 2000-

American Society for Bone Mineral Research, 2005-

Society for Pediatric Research, 2005-

International Association of Human Auxology, 2007-

Professional Awards

Early Career Teaching Award, American Society for Bone Mineral Research, 2009

Publication Highlights

Roy SM, Fields DA, Mitchell JA, Hawkes CP, Kelly A, Wu GD, DeRusso PA, Elovitz MA, Ford E, Drigo D, Zemel BS, McCormack SE. Body Mass Index Is a Better Indicator of Body Composition than Weight-for-Length at Age 1 Month. J Pediatr. 2019 Jan; 204:77-83.e1. PMID: 30268397
Kelly A, Shults J, Mostoufi-Moab S, McCormack SE, Stallings VA, Schall JI, Kalkwarf HJ, Lappe JM, Gilsanz V, Oberfield SE, Shepherd JA, Winer KK, Leonard MB, Zemel BS. Pediatric Bone Mineral Accrual Z-Score Calculation Equations and Their Application in Childhood Disease. J Bone Miner Res. 2019 Jan; 34(1):195-203. PMID: 30372552
McCormack SE, Cousminer DL, Chesi A, Mitchell JA, Roy SM, Kalkwarf HJ, Lappe JM, Gilsanz V, Oberfield SE, Shepherd JA, Winer KK, Kelly A, Grant SFA, Zemel BS. Association Between Linear Growth and Bone Accrual in a Diverse Cohort of Children and Adolescents. JAMA Pediatr. 2017 Sep; 171(9):e171769. PMID: 28672287
Weber DR, Stark LJ, Ittenbach RF, Stallings VA, Zemel BS. Building better bones in childhood: a randomized controlled study to test the efficacy of a dietary intervention program to increase calcium intake. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun; 71(6):788-794. PubMed PMID: 28225052
Weaver CM, Gordon CM, Janz KF, Kalkwarf HJ, Lappe JM, Lewis R, O'Karma M, Wallace TC, Zemel BS. The National Osteoporosis Foundation's position statement on peak bone mass development and lifestyle factors: a systematic review and implementation recommendations. Osteoporos Int. 2016 Apr; 27(4):1281-386. PubMed PMID: 26856587

Links of Interest