Exercise Physiologist and Obesity Researcher Joins the George Washington University

Milken Institute School of Public Health’s Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences welcomed exercise physiologist and obesity researcher Matthew Barberio, PhD, as an assistant professor this past summer. 

Barberio joins the school from Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), where he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at the Children’s Research Institute. While there, Barberio studied the molecular and epigenetic risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, specifically looking at the body’s ability to handle cholesterol and how it is affected by childhood obesity. “The overall goal of the project was to identify and understand the early pathological events that create long-term risks,” Barberio says. While at CNMC he was funded by an American Heart Association (AHA) Postdoctoral Fellowship award and submitted for the AHA Career Development Award this past October.

At Milken Institute School of Public Health, Barberio will lead a new molecular biology lab that will continue and expand on his postdoctoral work. The lab will take a translational approach to understanding human health, working with both human subjects and cell culture models to understand the underlying molecular causes of how our bodies, and cells, adapt to various conditions. “The exciting part of being a member of the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences is applying what we know about disease pathology and intervening. We have the expertise and capabilities to design exercise or nutritional interventions to see how they alter the pathological mechanisms. Ultimately, we want to understand not only if, but how, these interventions mitigate risk factors,” Barberio says. “I truly believe there are very few places in the world that are as exciting to do scientific research than Washington, DC. With GW’s commitment to research excellence and Milken Institute School of Public Health’s investment in research support and infrastructure, I couldn’t think of more ideal opportunity to start my independent academic career. I’m beyond excited.”

Barberio received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Fairmont State University and a PhD in kinesiology-exercise physiology from Auburn University. He maintains an active membership in AHA as well as several other professional organizations, including the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Physiological Society, where he serves as the vice president of the DC, Maryland, Virginia chapter. He has published in several leading journals, including Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and Obesity.