Physician-scientist selected for prestigious national research scholarship

Dr. Suzanne Lazorick
GREENVILLE, N.C.  (July 30, 2009)  —  A national scholarship dedicated to advancing the research and the careers of young physician-scientists has been awarded to Dr. Suzanne Lazorick, an assistant professor of pediatrics and public health at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

She is one of 15 professionals selected to join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars Program, which produces creative academic leaders well-positioned to make a difference in the nation's health services.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funds up to 15 awards of up to $300,000 each, for a three-year period, to help outstanding medical school junior faculty members advance their careers in academic medicine. The new group is the fourth such group of Physician Faculty Scholars. In addition, five physicians have been selected as Veterans Affairs Faculty Scholars in the program, which is based at Stanford University.

Lazorick's research project begins this month and will last through June 2012. She is the first ECU researcher to receive this award.

"We're delighted to have Dr. Lazorick join our latest group of scholars," said Dr. Iris Litt, national director of the program. "The program will enable her and other clinician-investigators protected time to conduct their research on cutting-edge medical questions about health-policy research, epidemiology, health-services research or community-based research. This time is so valuable because clinician-investigators face enormous demands — especially right after they finish their clinical training and take their first faculty position. They're expected to teach, provide patient care and conduct independent research. Physician Faculty Scholars also receive institutional and national mentoring to help them meet these demands."

Lazorick will study a youth wellness education program called MATCH, or Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health. It will evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of this innovative middle school-based obesity intervention in eastern North Carolina.

"I am honored and excited to have this opportunity to advance my research on childhood obesity as a physician faculty scholar," Lazorick said. "I'm also looking forward to learning from the other scholars in the program, and from the medical leaders on the program's National Advisory Committee. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand my knowledge and increase my impact on Americans' health."

MATCH was started in 2006 by Tim Hardison, a science teacher at Williamston Middle School. It incorporates wellness themes into the existing health and science curriculum and includes goal-setting, physical activity and motivational strategies to help students reach a healthy weight. Lazorick will study the results of the program among seventh graders at schools in Ayden, Robersonville, Hertford County, Washington County and Williamston by assessing body mass index measurements, eating choices and other factors.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation has funded the development of Hardison's curriculum.

Lazorick works with several statewide efforts for obesity prevention in North Carolina and has served on several state committees for the Division of Public Health. Part of her clinical work is at the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center.

The Physician Faculty Scholars program is part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Human Capital Portfolio, which seeks to attract, develop and retain a high-quality health and health care workforce, with an emphasis on diversity and leadership development. For more information about the Physician Faculty Scholars program, visit http://rwjfpfsp.stanford.edu.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years we've brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, we expect to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org.

Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482