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Karen A. Donato, S.M., is the acting deputy director of the Division for the Application of Research Discoveries (DARD) at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She also serves as acting chief of the Enhanced Dissemination and Utilization Branch in DARD, and the coordinator of overweight and obesity research applications.
In these roles, she is overseeing the update to the Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, which are currently in development. She was also executive director of the expert panel for these guidelines when they were initially published in 1998 as the first federal evidence-based report on overweight and obesity treatment issues.
She also serves on the cardiovascular team working on the development of the NHLBI systematic evidence-based review process that is used to update the various cardiovascular disease-related clinical guidelines, namely the Adult Treatment Panel Report on High Blood Cholesterol and the Joint National Committee Report on High Blood Pressure. She is a contributor on issues related to the National Program to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and to the National Blood Disorders Program.
Ms. Donato is the coordinator of the We Can!® program, a collaborative national program of four NIH institutes led by the NHLBI and designed to provide parents, caregivers, and entire communities with strategies, tactics, and tools to help children stay at a healthy weight.
She serves on NIH- and HHS-wide, obesity-related initiatives. Specifically, she co-chairs the NHLBI Obesity Working Group, is a member of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force, and the HHS Healthy Weight Task Force.
Ms. Donato joined the NHLBI in 1986 and has spent her career in a number of positions, serving as the chair of the Nutrition Education Subcommittee of the Nutrition Coordinating Committee, coordinator of Nutrition Education and Special Initiatives, and the acting chief of the NHLBI Health Education Branch. In her role as acting chief of the Enhanced Dissemination and Utilization Branch, she also oversees various health disparities activities as they relate to the training and integration of community health workers into clinics and community action.
Ms. Donato received a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in foods and nutrition from Marywood College in Scranton, PA. in 1975. She received a Master of Science degree in nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston in 1977.
She is an alumnus of Harvard's Health Lawyers Program. While attending the Harvard School of Public Health, Ms. Donato served as a research assistant in the Nutrition Department and in the Department of Legal Medicine. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, and the Obesity Society.
Areas of expertise: nutrition, obesity, public health, health promotion, and community interventions
January 9, 2013
: TIME Healthland
What mice can tell us about obesity and genetics
While our eating habits certainly play a role in how much we weigh, according to NIH-supported research our rodent cousins confirm that some of our risk for obesity is written in our genes.
January 8, 2013
Genes and obesity: Fast food isn't only culprit in expanding waistlines -- DNA is also to blame
In a new NHLBI-supported study, UCLA scientists discovered that body-fat responses to a typical fast-food diet are determined in large part by genetic factors, and they have identified several genes they say may control those responses.