El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living (IHL) announced today that it has hired Leah Whigham, Ph.D., as its inaugural executive director.
Whigham will officially join the Institute on Jan. 1, 2014.
Whigham is currently the research nutritionist in the Healthy Body Weight Research Unit of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in North Dakota.
“We are extremely proud to have Dr. Whigham as the institute’s very first executive director,” said Myrna Deckert, president and chief executive officer of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation."
“We are convinced that she will build on the framework that we have created and bring our vision for the institute to fruition.”
Funded with an initial $2.2 million for five years, the purpose of the IHL is to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for healthy eating and active living and be the source of accurate and reliable health information for the Paso del Norte region and beyond.
Whigham has a B.S. degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Her career has focused on obesity, nutrition and weight loss.
Her work has contributed to our understanding of metabolism as it impacts obesity, effects of certain nutrients on body fat, and the interaction between infection and obesity.
She has been invited to give scientific presentations throughout the United States and around the world.
Her work has received top awards through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In conjunction with her position as the executive director of the Institute for Healthy Living, Whigham will hold an appointment as Research Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso and adjunct faculty appointments at The University of Texas School of Public Health and the Texas Tech University Health Science Center.