Healthy Lifestyle Institute's first summit to bring together Pitt experts


A little more than a year after it was formed, the Healthy Lifestyle Institute and its director, John Jakicic, are bringing together key campus experts and others to show how Pitt can be a leader in research on the importance of lifestyle and behavior to prevent and treat chronic disease and improve quality of life.


The summit is from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the University Club. Registration is requested.

The inaugural Healthy Lifestyle Institute Summit will be on Dec. 7.

 “The goal of the summit is to start to bring together the faculty and key stakeholders around lifestyle to think about, how do we actually do better work and collaborative work and translational work from a research perspective,” Jakicic said. “Our goal is to actually try to bring to the forefront that … to be healthy we need to have lifestyle factors involved, and how do we position the University of Pittsburgh as that leading institution that really understands that and ties lifestyle to the medical experience we have.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Nicolas P. Pronk, president of the Health Partners Institute, will give a talk entitled “In Pursuit of Health and Well-Being: Lifestyle Matters.”

The summit’s other sessions include:

  • “Linking Biology to Lifestyle — Novel Approaches and Opportunities at Pitt.” Jakicic said this talk from four experts in Pitt Health Sciences will focus on how lifestyle can affect chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, as well as a healthy brain and healthy aging.
  • “Sleep as a Key Behavior for Health.” This is a topic Jakicic said is very hot right now. Dr. Daniel Buysse, professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science, and others will lead the talk on how, “Pitt is leading the charge in the area of sleep and circadian rhythm,” Jakicic said.
  • “Integrating Technology and Behavior for Health” by Dr. Carissa Low, an assistant assistant professor of Hematology/Oncology and Psychology
  • Five short “lightning” presentations from groups that got pilot feasibility projects funded through the institute earlier this year.

John JakicicAs for who should attend this event, Jakicic said there are about 50 to 60 faculty affiliated with the institute who he hopes will be there, but any faculty, staff member, graduate or postdoctoral student from Pitt or Carnegie Mellon is welcome.

“For a long time, the University was very well known for its … behavioral approaches to health,” he said. “That expertise has slowly been tempered over the years, but there’s still a core group of people that are here. And what we’re trying to do is bring this back to the forefront, because we still feel Pitt is one of the leading groups in this space.”

Jakicic, who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from Pitt and training in behavorial sciences, said this dovetails with Provost Ann Cudd’s call for collaborative groups to work around common areas.

“This is what we're trying to do here: Frame multi-disciplinary collaborative groups working around this common area of how lifestyle health like activity, sleep, nutrition, smoking, alcohol all come together, and how can we work together to have this collaborative effort?”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.