Dr. Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., Harvard University Medical School, Boston, MA

Dr. Walter Willett is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, studied food science at Michigan State University, and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School before obtaining a Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Willett has focused much of his work over the last 25 years on the development of methods, using both questionnaire and biochemical approaches, to study the effects of diet on the occurrence of major diseases. He has applied these methods starting in 1980 in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Together, these cohorts that include nearly 300,000 men and women with repeated dietary assessments are providing the most detailed information on the long-term health consequences of food choices.

Dr. Willett has published over 1,000 articles, primarily on lifestyle risk factors for heart disease and cancer, and has written the textbook, Nutritional Epidemiology, published by Oxford University Press. His book for the general public, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, has appeared on most major bestseller lists, and he has recently published a second book, co-authored with Mollie Katzen, for a general audience, Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less. Dr. Willett is the most cited nutritionist internationally, and is among the five most cited persons in all fields of clinical science. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of many national and international awards for his research.

(Left to right: Dr. Walter Willett, Michael Getz, Debra Getz ('85), Ken Getz ('84), Dr. KC Hayes,
Ricki Getz and Dr. Irwin Getz, at the first seminar of the Heart Research Series, held on October 3, 2007.)

Dr. Vassilis Zannis, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA

Vassilis I Zannis received his PhD in biochemistry from UC Berkeley, USA and received postdoctoral training in biological sciences at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School, MIT and Harvard Medical School, where he also served for two years as an Assistant Professor. He was recruited to Boston University in 1984 where he established the Section of Molecular Genetics. Currently he is Professor of Medicine/Biochemistry and Director of Molecular Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine. He also served as a Visiting Professor since 1986 at the University of Crete Medical School, where he focused on the development of research programs, the establishment of an MD-PhD program, and the establishment of an exchange program between medical students of Boston University and the University of Crete.

Dr. Zannis' major scientific contributions include the elucidation of the apoE polymorphism in humans, the cloning expression and transcriptional regulation of the human apolipoprotein genes and the functions of apolipoproteins A-I and apoE. He has published 135 original articles, 43 reviews and has over 5,000 citations of his published work. Ten of Dr. Zannis’ former students and postdoctoral trainees have currently faculty positions in Greek universities or research institutes. Another sixteen have similar faculty or staff positions in universities, research institutes or pharmaceutical industries in Europe or the US.

(Left to right: Michael Getz, Ken Getz ('84), Dr. Vassilis Zannis, Dr. KC Hayes, at the second seminar of the Heart Research Series, held on February 6, 2008.)

Dr. Ali Hafezi-Moghadam M.D., PH.D.
Assistant Professor of Harvard Medical School
Principal Investigator, Angiogenesis Laboratory at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

Dr. Hafezi-Moghadam leads the Angiogenesis Laboratory at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary where he studies blood vessel barriers in the retina relative to diabetic retinopathy.

(Left to right: Tiziana Getz, Michael Getz, Dr. Hafezi-Moghadam, Dr. KC Hayes, Ken Getz ('84), Debra Getz ('85), at the third seminar of the Heart Research Series, held on October 29, 2008.)

Dr. Leslie Leinwand, Ph.D.
Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Dr. Leinwand's work at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a cardiac biologist is of importance to basic scientists and clinicians. Trained as a molecular geneticist, Dr. Leinwand works on fundamental processes such as gene mapping, gene organization and promoter function, and RNA transcription.

Dr. Monty Krieger, Ph.D.,
Whitehead Professor of Molecular Genetics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Biology, Cambridge, MA

Monty Krieger is the Whitehead Professor in the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For his innovative teaching of undergraduate biology and human physiology as well as graduate cell biology courses, he has received numerous awards. His laboratory has made contributions to our understanding of membrane trafficking through the Golgi apparatus and has cloned and characterized receptor proteins important for the movement of cholesterol into and out of cells, including the HDL receptor.

(Left to right: Michael Getz, Aidan Horowitz, Ellyn Getz, Dr. Monty Krieger, Ken Getz ('84), Dr. John Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, at the March 3, 2010 Heart Research Series presentation)

Dr. Jeff Volek, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, University Connecticut, Neag School of Education

Dr. Volek's primary area of research is focused on physiological adaptations to low carbohydrate diets with emphasis on outcomes related to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. He uses prospective diet and/or exercise interventions and sophisticated cellular techniques to understand changes in adiposity, fatty acid and lipoprotein metabolism, inflammation, vascular function, and endocrine adaptations. His recent studies have suggested a shift in our understanding of the role of dietary carbohydrate restriction. Long considered primarily a stratagem for weight loss, reduction in dietary carbohydrate is now understood to lead to improvements in metabolic syndrome and other cardiac risk factors, even in the absence of weight loss and frequently even in the presence of higher levels of saturated fat. Another major area of research has been in the general area of sports nutrition including studies evaluating a wide range of dietary supplements on exercise performance and overall health.

(Left to right: Debra Getz ('85), Ken Getz ('84), Dr. KC Hayes, Dr. Jeff Volek) at the December 8, 2010 Heart Research Series presentation)

Dr. Steve Goldstein, Ph.D., Provost of Brandeis

(Left to right: Ken Getz ('84), Dr. Steve Goldstein, Ph.D., Provost of Brandeis, Debra Getz ('85)
at the October 19, 2011 Heart Research Series presentation)

Dr. Garret FitzGerald, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Associate Dean for Translational Research, Chair Department of Pharmacology, Director, Institute for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics

(Left to right: Debra Getz ('85), Dr. John Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Dr. Garrett FitzGerald, M.D., Ken Getz ('84), at the April 25, 2012 Heart Research Series presentation)

Dr. Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.,Founding Director & Core Faculty Member
Platform Leader, Biomimetic Microsystems
Wyss Institute

Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology,
Harvard Medical School
Boston Children's Hospital

Professor of Bioengineering
Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Science

Donald E. Ingber received his B.A., M.A., M.Phil., M.D. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Dr. Ingber is a founder of the emerging field of biologically inspired engineering, and at the Wyss Institute, he oversees a multifaceted effort to identify the mechanisms that living organisms use to self-assemble from molecules and cells, and to apply these design principles to develop advanced materials and devices for healthcare and to improve sustainability. He also leads the Biomimetic Microsystems platform in which microfabrication techniques from the computer industry are used to build functional circuits with living cells as components. His most recent innovation is a technology for building tiny, complex, three-dimensional models of living human organs, or "Organs on Chips", that mimic complicated human functions as a way to replace traditional animal-based methods for testing of drugs and establishment of human disease models. Dr. Ingber has authored more than 375 publications and 85 patents, and has received numerous honors including the Holst Medal, Pritzker Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, Rous-Whipple Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of In Vitro Biology, and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Innovator Award.

Recommend a Speaker or Topic

To suggest a speaker or topic, please contact:

Dr. Neil E. Simister, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Brandeis University
Tel. 781-736-4952
Email: simister@brandeis.edu