Wendy King Receives Prestigious Award for Bariatric Surgery Research

By: Allison Hydzik


Wendy King, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has been awarded the Circle of Excellence Award from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). The award was recently presented at the group’s annual conference luncheon to recognize and honor a member who has made a significant and meaningful contribution to the Integrated Health Sciences Section of the ASMBS.

King has studied a wide array of outcomes resulting from bariatric surgery over the past decade, including the positive effects of surgery on pain, physical function, urinary incontinence, fertility, sexual function and depressive symptoms, and more recently has focused on safety concerns including substance use disorder, prescribed opioid use and suicide.

“I was touched to learn that I was nominated for the Circle of Excellence Award by my highly-respected colleague and a former president of the ASMBS, Dr. Bruce Wolfe,” King said. “The Integrated Health section of ASMBS is an inspiring group of health professionals dedicated to education, research, public awareness and advocacy, as well as patient care.”

Wolfe, of the Oregon Health and Science University, described King’s qualifications in his nomination letter as “scholarly, compassionate and dedicated to the care and treatment of severe obesity through her research and service to the ASMBS.” He noted that she has demonstrated a “high degree of productivity and credibility, and is highly respected and admired by the membership from top to bottom.”

“We have presented this award for the past 16 years and recipients’ contributions to integrated health can span the areas of education, research, public awareness and patient care,” said Christine Bauer, president of ASMBS Integrated Health Sciences Section. “But, what spoke to me the most in Dr. Wolfe’s nomination was his enthusiasm for her scholarly research, compassionate approach and dedication to the care and treatment of severe obesity.”King plans to carry that dedication to excellence in research forward through her work investigating the safety concerns of bariatric surgery.

“It’s important to differentiate whether bariatric surgery increases risk of various negative outcomes, or if the patient population undergoing bariatric surgery is at an increased risk prior to surgery,” she said. “This distinction may not impact the importance of post-surgery screening and monitoring, but it helps clinicians and patients understand the risk/benefit ratio of surgical treatment. It’s crucial to consider risks in the context of benefits, and vice versa.”

King is leading four talks at this year’s ASMBS conference, including one presented in the prestigious “Top Ten Papers” session of the conference on substance use disorder and one on prescribed opioid use that won the Integrated Health Research Award for the symposium’s best oral presentation.

The ASMBS plays a large role in improving the care and treatment of those with obesity by advancing the research of King and others.

King said ASMBS funds approximately two studies each year, which are important in their own right and often generate preliminary data needed to support larger applications. Additionally, their meetings and committee work foster communication and collaboration between surgeons, integrated health professionals and researchers to move the field forward.