Dr. Ard is a professor of medicine and epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest School of Medicine and co-director of the Weight Management Center at Wake Forest Baptist Health. He attended Duke University School of Medicine and completed residency in internal medicine at Duke, serving as chief resident from 2001-2002.
Dr. Ard will present "A patient with obesity walks into your clinic: Designing effective obesity treatments for key populations." Continue reading for more on his research and his time at Duke.
Q: Your Medicine Grand Rounds presentation is on designing effective obesity treatments for key populations. Can you give us a preview of what we will learn from your presentation?
A: Hopefully, people will learn a few things from my presentation. In general, the theme is that while the disease of obesity is generally classified by one simple metric—body mass index or BMI—the approach to treatment varies based on several bio-behavioral considerations. We apply this concept in some areas of medicine, but I will try to make the case that this concept is even more critical to obesity treatment. I will present examples of this concept from populations of older adults and African Americans living in the rural South. Lastly, I will talk about how we are using our clinical program to learn and build more tailored approaches for new subgroups of patients suffering from obesity.
Q: What are the findings that have most excited you about your research?
A: I am most excited about some of the data we have showing that we are effectively engaging difficult to reach populations who have a high burden of obesity such as minorities in rural settings. I am also excited about some of the work we’ve done in older adults, demonstrating that weight loss using various methods can be done effectively while limiting the potential risk of complications. These are two are the fastest growing demographic groups in the U.S. currently, so I believe this work is highly relevant in the face of our current obesity epidemic.
Q: You are a Duke and Department of Medicine (DOM) alum and former chief resident. What is it like coming back to Duke as the Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee’s Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Speaker?
A: It’s a tremendous honor to be invited back as a guest on a day that commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also wonderful to know that the tradition that began when I was a student member of the MRRC is still alive and well. It shows that Duke and the DOM have continued to value active outreach and support of students and faculty from underrepresented groups.
Q: How did your education and training at Duke help you achieve your current career track?
A: I owe my current career choice and research focus to my education, experiences and mentorship that I received at Duke. As a first year medical student, I had the opportunity to be introduced to the Rice Diet Program courtesy of Dr. Bob Rosati. He and Dr. Frank Neelon let me hang out there and ask lots of questions about what they were doing. Dr. Eugene Oddone and several other faculty in the division of General Medicine worked with me as a student and in subsequent years, teaching me fundamentals of clinical research. Dr. Laura Svetkey and the wonderful team at the Duke Hypertension Center adopted me as a medical student as well, allowing me to become part of the incredible research on the DASH diet and other work that has since shaped dietary policy in the US and beyond. I also know that my training as a DOM resident, assistant chief, and chief resident helped me develop my leadership skills. I got so much invaluable time from leaders within the department like Drs. Ralph Corey, Dan Sexton, Bart Haynes, Diana McNeill, and Joe Greenfield. I also learned a tremendous amount from my fellow residents, chiefs, and my co-chiefs Geoffrey Kunz and Manesh Patel.
Q: Can you remember and share a story about a key mentor or teacher from your time here at Duke?
A: There are so many memories and stories that I have from working with such great people during my time at Duke. Dr. Laura Svetkey, who I would consider one of my main mentors during my tenure at Duke and even now, was always so gracious to involve me in her work. I began working with Laura when I was a medical student, and as I think back about that opportunity, I realize the importance of the opportunities she provided for me. She allowed me to participate in investigator meetings for these incredible multi-center trials with high-level scientists from around the country and NIH. She was always supportive and advocated for my ideas within the investigator team. That was pretty incredible.
Q: What advice do you have for Duke trainees as they begin their careers in clinical care and research?
A: I think it’s important for trainees to truly appreciate the special place that Duke is and the valuable opportunities that abound because of the great faculty and staff. One of the keys to being successful in medicine is really about establishing good mentorship, and Duke is a place where people invest in developing the careers of young medical professionals. If you’re a trainee at Duke, build a mentorship team that can assist you with your professional development, research program, and your personal growth. I can attest firsthand to the value of the mentorship I have received from people at Duke.