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Joan C. Han, MD, Named Associate Professor in Department of Pediatrics at UTHSC and Founding Director for the UT-Le Bonheur Pediatric Obesity Center

Joan C. Han, MD
Joan C. Han, MD

David M. Stern, MD, executive dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), and Meri Armour, CEO of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, have announced the joint appointment of pediatric endocrinologist Joan C. Han, MD. In July, Dr. Han will join UTHSC as associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, and founding director of the new UT-Le Bonheur Pediatric Obesity Center. Dr. Han will also be director of the Pediatric Obesity Program on Le Bonheur’s clinical staff.

Supported jointly by UTHSC and Le Bonheur, the Pediatric Obesity Center will focus on both research and patient care in an effort to determine ways to stem the current tide of childhood obesity in the Mid-South. The new center will be located on the Le Bonheur Children’s campus, which is near the UTHSC main campus in the Memphis Medical Center. As part of her duties at the hospital, Dr. Han will also direct the new Le Bonheur Healthy Lifestyle Clinic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

“The Department of Pediatrics has focused its research and community outreach efforts in three major areas — obesity, asthma and developmental disabilities. Dr. Han was recruited to spearhead this first major initiative,” said Jon McCullers, MD, professor and chair of UTHSC Pediatrics and Le Bonheur’s pediatrician-in-chief. “Dr. Han will develop and implement a comprehensive initiative in obesity that will span research, education and clinical initiatives, especially community-centered research that extends to our underserved, city neighborhoods.”

“As we continue to recruit the nation’s top specialists, our impact on the region’s kids will continue to broaden.”

Le Bonheur President and CEO Meri Armour

“The impact of childhood obesity is manifested in both immediate and long-term effects on children’s health and well-being, from elevated cardiovascular and blood pressure risks to pre-diabetes, bone and joint problems,” Dr. Stern said. “Plus, obese children too often grow into obese adults, and we know obesity in adults can lead to increased risks for stroke, heart disease, diabetes and a variety of cancers. Partnering with Le Bonheur to bring Dr. Han to our community has the potential for our organizations to make a significant, measurable impact on childhood obesity and its associated health problems.”

“As we continue to recruit the nation’s top specialists, our impact on the region’s kids will continue to broaden,” said Le Bonheur President and CEO Meri Armour. “Dr. Han brings a nationally known reputation in pediatric obesity research, which sets us apart from any other program in the country.”

Dr. Han joins UTHSC and Le Bonheur from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health where she worked for 10 years. She was engaged in a pediatric endocrinology fellowship (2004 to 2007), followed by her role as a senior clinical fellow (2007 to 2009), and as an assistant clinical investigator from 2009 to present. Dr. Han has also served as a commissioned officer of the United States Public Health Service.

In addition, she was previously a clinical research fellow in the Division of Endocrinology at Nemours Children’s Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla., and assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Florida, Jacksonville. Dr. Han holds an AB from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and earned her MD from Harvard Medical School. She completed her internship and residency in Pediatrics through the Boston Combined Residency Program in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center.

With 37 original articles in refereed journals, 20 abstracts selected for oral presentations, and 54 abstracts selected for poster presentations at national and international events, Dr. Han is well known in her professional community. She serves as a reviewer for 11 academic journals and has been an invited speaker at 20 conferences, symposiums and international meetings. Having earned some 30 academic awards, honors and scholarships during her career, she is currently a member of eight professional associations including the Society for Pediatric Research, American Society of Human Genetics, Obesity Society, Endocrine Society, and American Academy of Pediatrics. She is currently serving as lead investigator on two NIH clinical research studies, associate investigator for five NIH clinical research protocols, and provides research support on two other studies.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats more than 250,000 children each year in a 255-bed hospital that features state-of-the-art technology and family-friendly resources. Nationally recognized, Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Children’s Hospital.” Serving as a primary teaching affiliate for the University Tennessee Health Science Center, the hospital trains more pediatricians than any other hospital in the state. For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit lebonheur.org. Follow us at twitter.com/lebonheurchild, facebook.com/lebonheurchildrens and instagram.com/lebonheurchildrens.