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Education
Ph.D., Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
M.S., Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition. Concentration, Immunology, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Current Research Projects
USDA-ARS: Energy Regulation and Obesity

Biography
Dr. Maria Carlota Dao is Scientist III in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the HNRCA. Her research interests include obesity, weight management, food culture and eating behavior, gut microbiota and cardiometabolic diseases, and dietary assessment. Specifically, her research interests are in four different areas: 1) Studying how cultural, environmental and intrinsic factors determine eating behavior, attitudes to food, and energy balance; 2) developing culturally relevant lifestyle interventions for weight loss; 3) understanding the role that the gut microbiota plays in metabolic homeostasis and chronic disease risk; and 4) establishing novel data integration approaches to analyze ‘big data’ and ‘trans-omics’ and gain new insights on the interaction between host biology, gut microbiota, and environmental factors in the context of obesity. Dr. Dao is currently developing a questionnaire to assess food customs, beliefs, and traditions in order to gain insight into factors that may inhibit or facilitate eating, particularly in the Hispanic population. She has given numerous presentations across the world on gut microbiota, obesity and cardiometabolic risk, and has won research awards from Tufts University, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and Boston University, among other institutions. She is a current member of the Obesity Society and the American Society for Nutrition.