A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Med School Scholar to Receive Highest Faculty Award


Rena R. Wing, a renowned obesity and diabetes researcher, will receive the Rosenberger Medal of Honor.

When Rena R. Wing, PhD, joined Brown’s medical school faculty in 1998, there were few research centers focused on how changes to diet and exercise can impact obesity. So Wing launched one out of an office at The Miriam Hospital, one of the Medical School’s teaching affiliates.

Twenty-six years later the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, still directed by Wing, occupies its own three-story building near the Medical School. More than 50 researchers and staff members, including 14 Brown faculty members (clinical psychologists, dieticians, exercise physiologists, and neuroscientists) and two postdoctoral fellows, conduct clinical trials and behavioral, observational, and experimental studies for people of all ages.

“We’ve grown an entire program here where we’ve been able to conduct truly impactful research on behavioral approaches to treating obesity and diabetes,” says Wing, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior. “Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and kidney disease. Losing weight—even modest amounts of weight—can have a positive impact on people’s health.”

For that work and many other accomplishments during her time at Brown, the University faculty will award Wing the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal of Honor during the 256th Commencement on Sunday, May 26. The medal is the highest honor the faculty can bestow, and it has been awarded just 35 times since its establishment in 1919. Among the previous honorees are Nobel laureates, University presidents and chancellors, pioneering Brown faculty, and esteemed public servants.

Wing is being recognized for her decades-long dedication to improving human health, as well as for her mentorship to early-career scientists, says Steven Sloman, PhD, chair of the Faculty Executive Committee and a professor of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences.

“Rena Wing’s pioneering work on the prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes, vascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease has had a major impact on the health of people in Rhode Island and across the country,” Sloman says. “The faculty are proud to bestow upon her the highest honor that they can offer.”

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