Friedman School Interim Dean Named

Christina Economos, national leader in research into children’s nutrition, health, and obesity prevention, to take the helm on July 1

Christina Economos, professor, New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition, and chair of the Division of Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, has been named dean ad interim of the Friedman School.

She earned her Ph.D. from the Friedman School in 1996 and brings to her role more than two decades of groundbreaking research and knowledge of the Friedman community.

Jean Mayer Professor Dariush Mozaffarian, the current dean of the school, has announced that he will temporarily step away from his role as dean during the upcoming fiscal year to serve as special advisor to the university provost and as Friedman School dean for policy.

In this new role, Mozaffarian will focus on translation and dissemination of scientific evidence into public awareness, policy, and innovation, including work to help inform the upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. He will also continue to lead his active research portfolio at the Friedman School. Mozaffarian will return to his role as dean in July 2023.

“Chris is an exceptional academic leader and strategic thinker with strong interpersonal skills and an action-oriented approach to her work,” said Caroline Genco, provost and senior vice president ad interim. “She has a keen sense of faculty and student needs and has experience bringing together interdisciplinary groups to address complex problems. I am confident that the Friedman School will thrive under her leadership as dean ad interim.”

“It is an honor to lead the school at this critical time in its history,” said Economos. “Friedman is home to rigorous interdisciplinary research that provides the science to inform policy change and improve health outcomes across the lifespan and around the world. I look forward to working in this new role with colleagues across the university and our inspiring community of faculty, staff, and students at Friedman in the coming year.”

Economos currently serves as the dean for research strategy at the Friedman School. She holds professorships within the School of Medicine and Tisch College and is co-director of the Tufts Institute on Global Obesity Research (TIGOR).

She co-founded and leads ChildObesity180, a research team employing a strategic, coordinated, evidenced-based approach to implementing obesity prevention interventions, that improve the health and well-being of all children in meaningful and lasting ways. To date, the portfolio of ChildObesity180’s work has reached over 12 million children in all 50 states. Economos also led the Shape Up Somerville study demonstrating that it is possible to reduce excess weight gain in children through multiple leverage points within an entire community.

As the principal investigator of large-scale research studies, Economos has generated over $55 million in funding with a goal to inspire behavioral, policy, and environmental change to decrease obesity and improve the health of America’s children. She has authored more than 200 scientific publications and speaks frequently at scientific and professional meetings.

Economos is a leader in national obesity and public health activities and has served on National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and American Heart Association committees, among others. She is currently vice chair of the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions at the national academies. In addition, she has been featured in numerous media outlets, including CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek.  

In addition to her Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry from the Friedman School, Economos earned a B.S. from Boston University in 1987 and an M.S. in applied physiology and nutrition from Columbia University in 1990.

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