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Rexford Ahima


Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, School of Medicine
Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health
Department of Community-Public Health, School of Nursing

A world-renowned scientist with board certifications in internal medicine and in endocrinology/diabetes/metabolism, Ahima is known for uncovering connections between diabetes and obesity by studying the physiological mechanisms of obesity. He applies this crosscutting expertise from basic and translational research to the clinic. For example, his lab performs comparative analyses of obese and thin mice fed identical diets and translates the findings to the human population. Accordingly, he is often sought after for comment on diabetes and weight management matters by major national news sources such as NPR, CBS, and NBC News.

At Johns Hopkins, he will continue this research on the interrelationship between energy stores and regulation of energy balance by the brain, while also contributing to evolving policies and practices for clinical care, education, and research in diabetes and weight management. As leader of the Diabetes Initiative, he will advance the care and treatment of diabetes patients by increasing interdisciplinary partnerships between research scientists and clinicians throughout the university and abroad. Specifically, Ahima says he will seek “more collaboration with investigators in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America to promote our understanding of diabetes and metabolism among diverse populations.”

With appointments in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and School of Nursing’s Department of Acute and Chronic Care, Ahima says he looks forward to collaborating beyond the School of Medicine on research at the interface of metabolism dysfunction and diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancer, aging, and other conditions.

Highly regarded in his field and as an educator, Ahima has been awarded numerous commendations for his excellence in teaching the next generation, including an Owl Club Teaching Award from Tulane University School of Medicine and the Leo Davidoff Award, which honors teachers who have made significant contributions to the education of students at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Ahima is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and of the Association of American Physicians, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, the Obesity Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He joined Johns Hopkins from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a professor of medicine, director of the Obesity Unit at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and director of the Penn Diabetes Research Center’s Mouse Phenotyping, Physiology and Metabolism Core.

Ahima earned his undergraduate degree in endocrinology at the University of London, his medical degree from the University of Ghana Medical School, and his doctoral degree in neuroscience from Tulane University. After an internship and residency in internal medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he completed research and clinical fellowships at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He then joined the Harvard Medical School before accepting a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania.

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