B.S. - Health and Exercise Science, Furman University
MPH - Epidemiology, Emory University
Ph.D. - Nutrition, University of North Carolina
Dr. Natalie The (pronounced “Tay”) is a native of sunny, south Florida (West Palm Beach). She is a 2003 Furman University graduate and returned to Furman as a faculty member in 2011. Dr. The has always been interested in health, but it was during her time as an undergraduate that she became especially interested in disease prevention and public health. She became acutely aware of how many chronic diseases could be mitigated or even prevented with lifestyle changes; yet, there were (are) still so many people whose lives were (are) affected by these diseases. As a result, she decided to pursue a Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology at Emory University. At Emory, she also had the opportunity to work the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she began to realize how public health research can help us better understand disease processes and influence health policy. This ultimately led her to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received her PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology and was also a post-doctoral fellow. It was at UNC, where she truly cultivated an enthusiasm for the prevention of obesity and diabetes.
Natalie is married to Matt Davidson, a 2004 Furman graduate. Matt was a member of the Furman Men’s Golf Team from 1999-2004 and Natalie was a member of the Furman Women’s Tennis team from 1999-2003. After graduating Furman (and finishing her competitive tennis career), Natalie continues to be physically active and has completed 5 marathons. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys running, playing tennis, traveling, and spending time outdoors with her chocolate Labrador, Riley.
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Dr. The received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she investigated determinants of obesity, physical activity and sedentary behavior using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Her doctoral research focused on better understanding the etiology of obesity and predisposing factors shaping the inequality in risk for minority groups. Her work has been featured in several media outlets, including a cover story in USA Today, Time, and on the NPR show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” In addition, she has used unique epidemiological methods (twin and sibling models) to better understand intra-uterine environmental and genetic factors on later obesity. Finally, she has investigated trends in obesity and severe obesity across the transition from adolescence to young adulthood and how weight over the life course affects pre-diabetes and diabetes in young adulthood, with a focus on race/ethnic disparities.
In order to develop a more well-rounded knowledge of the nutrition and diabetes, Dr. The did a one-year post-doc at UNC – Chapel Hill where her research focused on nutritional determinants of insulin sensitivity and preservation of β cell function in youth with type 1 diabetes using data the SEARCH for Diabetes in youth study.
At Furman, Dr. The continues her epidemiologic research of obesity and diabetes and is involved in two studies: 1) LiveWell Greenville’s At School Project and 2) the SEARCH Nutrition Ancillary Study. LiveWell Greenville recently garnered support from Greenville County School District (GCSD) to conduct a repeat of the 2008 Greenville County Childhood Obesity Study. At the beginning of the 2011 academic year, Culinary Creations Initiative (CCI) was implemented in 11 elementary schools. This effort focuses on improving the school nutrition environment through policy changes targeting the cafeteria, classroom incentives and fundraising events in elementary schools. At the beginning of the 2012 academic year, CCI was implemented in an additional 18 elementary schools. The Elementary Student Body Mass Index (BMI) and School Environment Study will begin in October 2012. Presentations of training protocols were provided to physical education teachers and school nurses, who will be assisting in data collection for this study. The SEARCH Nutrition Ancillary Study (SNAS2) in an ancillary study to the multi-centered, SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study (SEARCH), the largest cohort of youth with diabetes ever assembled in the U.S. SEARCH has documented the emergence of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), and diabetic kidney disease (DKD) among youth with type 1 (T1DM) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), even at early diabetes duration. Dr. The’s research will examine the associations of nutritional factors with subclinical cardiovascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic kidney disease in youth with T1DM and T2DM and will inform clinical practice guidelines and future research for youth with diabetes.