New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children's Hospital Meet the Team

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Childhood obesity is a complex condition, which requires a comprehensive team of individuals to properly treat.

The New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children's Hospital relies on the expertise, experience and hard work of many specialists, including physicians, dietitians, nurses, psychologists and social workers. These specialists, all from Boston Children’s, have devoted their professional lives to understanding and treating childhood obesity, and to working with parents, community leaders and lawmakers to promote the health of children throughout the country.


Patient Care


  • David Ludwig, MD, PhD (Director, Optimal Weight for Life)
  • Amy Fleischman, MD, MMSc (Medical Director, Optimal Weight for Life)
  • Erinn Rhodes, MD, MPH (Director, Type 2 Diabetes Program)
  • Melissa Crocker, MD
  • Susan Herel, MSN, CPNP-PC
  • Maryanne Lewis, MSN, PNP-BC
  • Robert Markowitz, MD
  • Stavroula Osganian, MD, ScD, MPH
  • Sarah Picard, MA, Med, Exercise Physiologist

Clinical Nutrition

  • Melissa Gallagher, RD, LDN (Lead Dietitian, Optimal Weight for Life)
  • Leslie Mattimore, MS, RD, LDN
  • Lisa Robinson, MPH, RD, LDN
  • Suzanne Rostler, MS, RD, LDN
  • Sharon Weston, MS, RD, LDN

Behavioral Medicine

  • Shannon Hourigan, PhD (Lead Behaviorist, Optimal Weight for Life)
  • Lori Fishman, Psy.D
  • Abigail Seibert, PhD
  • Thomaseo Burton, PhD

Social Work

  • Alison Levin, LICSW
  • Steven Coletti, B.A., Resource Specialist


  • Cara Ebbeling, PhD (Associate Director)
  • Michaela Barhite (Research Assistant)
  • Lisa Bielak RD, LDN(Nutrition Research Manager, Framingham State Food Study)
  • Melissa Gallagher, RD, LDN (Clinical Nutrition Research Coordinator)
  • Bridget Hron, MD
  • Julia Wong, PhD, RD (Research Associate)
  • Gloria Klein, RD (Study Director, Framingham State Food Study)
  • Meghan Leary (Research Assistant)
  • Ethan Litman (Research Assistant)
  • Catherine Matero, BS (Project Manager)
  • Marlee McGurl (Research Assistant)
  • Lisa Robinson, MS, RD, LDN (Clinical Nutrition Research Coordinator)
  • Linda Seger-Shippee (Research Study Coordinator)
  • Sarah Steltz, MPH (Clinical Research Specialist)
  • Emma Van Emmerick (Research Assistant)
  • Emily Caplan (Research Assistant)

Administrative Staff

  • Carissa Burton, Administrative Associate
  • Joyceanna Fidalgo, Ambulatory Clinic Supervisor , Optimal Weight for Life Program


David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD
In 1996, David Ludwig developed the Boston Children’s Hospital Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program–a multidisciplinary care clinicDavid Ludwig dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of children who are overweight or obese. The program provides state-of-the-art care for overweight and obese children and serves as a setting for research to develop innovative treatments for pediatric obesity.  In 2010, he launched the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children's Hospital to integrate research, clinical care, teaching and community outreach. Dr. Ludwig has been principal investigator on numerous studies aiming to identify dietary factors that contribute to obesity.  He holds a mid-career mentoring award from the National Institutes of Health, has published over 100 scientific articles and lectures widely throughout the country and overseas. Research from Dr. Ludwig’s team has shown that:

  • A low-glycemic load diet is more effective than the conventional reduced-fat diet for weight loss and cardiovascular disease prevention.
  • The right diet can reset the so-called “body weight set point,” making weight loss easier.
  • Individuals respond to diet based on fundamental biological differences, and these differences can help inform a “personalized” approach to weight loss.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption causes excessive weight gain in children.
  • Fast-food consumption increases risk for obesity and diabetes in youth.
  • The obesity epidemic may shorten life expectancy in the US by mid-century, unless preventive measures are taken.

David Ludwig is Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. He received an MD and PhD from Stanford University School of Medicine. He completed an internship and residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Boston Children's Hospital.


Associate Director

Cara Ebbeling, PhD
Cara EbbelingDr. Ebbeling holds advanced degrees in nutrition (PhD, University of Connecticut, 1997) and exercise science (MS, University of Massachusetts, 1988) and is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She has successfully designed, implemented and evaluated lifestyle interventions in free-living children, adolescents and adults. She also has experience in behavioral counseling for promoting dietary change, using self-report methodology to assess diet and physical activity, conducting controlled feeding studies, and applying telehealth to interventions for pediatric obesity. Dr. Ebbeling has made significant contributions to obesity research, particularly with regard to developing state-of-the-art behavioral interventions and exploring how behavioral processes interact with the metabolic effects of diet and physical activity to influence body weight and chronic disease risk. She also has conducted research aimed at understanding the influence of consuming fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages on energy intake and body weight. Dr. Ebbeling is a frequent presenter at professional meetings, and her work has been published in prominent journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, The Lancet and Pediatrics. She served as an associate editor of Obesity and frequently performs ad hoc reviews for numerous medical and nutrition journals. She is a fellow of The Obesity Society and the American College of Sports Medicine.

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944