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Warren Alpert Medical School professor earns Brown’s highest faculty honor

Rena R. Wing received the Rosenberger Medal of Honor during Commencement Weekend.

<p>Wing directs the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, focused on researching behavioral approaches to treating obesity and diabetes. </p><p>Courtesy of Julie Brigidi via News from Brown </p>

Wing directs the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, focused on researching behavioral approaches to treating obesity and diabetes.

Courtesy of Julie Brigidi via News from Brown

Since joining the Warren Alpert Medical School in 1998, Rena R. Wing has launched and directed a research center with over 50 researchers and staff members, mentored early-career researchers who have gone on to lead nationally recognized programs and received the ranking of the 110th best female scientist in the world from 

To add to her list of accomplishments, Wing received the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal of Honor during Commencement on Sunday, May 26. 

The medal is the “highest honor the Brown faculty can bestow,” and has been awarded only 35 times since its establishment in 1919, according to a University press release. 

Past recipients include Theodore Francis Green, Howard Robert Swearer and Ruth J. Simmons. 


Wing directs the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, which encompasses a number of faculty-led research initiatives that investigate behavioral approaches to treating and preventing obesity and its consequences. She has also conducted research on the prevention and treatment of obesity for over 40 years and has published over 600 peer-reviewed research studies.

Wing’s career highlights include her work on the Diabetes Prevention Program, where she was in charge of developing a lifestyle intervention that reduced the risk of diabetes by 58%. 

She also served as the principal investigator for the Miriam Hospital Site of the decade-spanning Look AHEAD study, which was aimed at preventing heart disease in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. 

“We did not succeed, but we did succeed in making all kinds of other beneficial changes,” including increased physical fitness levels and reduced depression in patients, she said.

“That was another high spot in my career,” she said. 

“Rena Wing’s pioneering work on the prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes, vascular disease and even Alzheimer’s disease has had a major impact on the health of people in Rhode Island and across the country,” Steven Sloman, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee and a professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences, said in the University’s press release. 

“The faculty are proud to bestow upon her the highest honor that they can offer,” he said.

Wing is being recognized both for her dedication to improving human health and her mentorship efforts, Sloman said.

Mentorship “has been the highlight of my career,” Wing said. “It’s been very exciting to watch these young scientists develop. I helped them write their grants, their manuscripts and papers, and little by little they became more independent.”

“It’s a great thrill to watch them succeed,” she added.


Wing has also served as a mentor for mentorship programs with the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the American Psychological Association and the Obesity Society.

In her mentorship efforts, Wing largely worked with the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, which Wing says has a strong clinical internship program that allows the program to launch the research careers of clinical psychology candidates. 

Just after the ceremony, Wing conveyed her appreciation for the award, especially because of how few women in science have received it. 

“It’s a culmination of a lot of years of hard work for me,” she said, “it’s very nice that Brown is recognizing it.”

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Cate Latimer

Cate Latimer is a senior staff writer covering faculty and higher education. She is from Portland, OR, and studies English and Urban Studies. In her free time, you can find her playing ultimate frisbee or rewatching episodes of Parks and Rec.


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