Laura Barre
Laura Barre
Assistant Clinical Professor
Division of Nutritional Sciences

414 Savage Hall


I received my B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University in 1991 and completed a dietetic internship at Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 1992. I started my clinical career practicing as a registered dietitian focusing on the nutritional care of oncology, general medicine, and geriatric patient populations in the acute and long-term care settings. I furthered my clinical training at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, graduating in 2001 with an M.D. degree. Since that time, I have primarily pursued a career in teaching and research. I have taught histology and neuroanatomy at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Applied Anatomy and Physiology I and II in the Post-Baccalaureate program at Cornell and Nutrition and Disease at the undergraduate level at Cornell.

My research career started in the area of AMP-activated-kinase investigating the impact of alterations in AMPK activity in skeletal muscle on glycogen metabolism and exercise capacity.  Although working at the cellular and murine model level intrigued me, I felt too removed from the patient population and moved to human based research. Maintaining a strong interest in geriatrics, I conducted research in the area of health care decision-making in the oldest-old at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Care Policy and Clinical Practice. Through this qualitative research, I observed that older adults desire maintenance of quality of life over quantity of life. I then completed an NIH T32 Post-doctoral Fellowship within the Geisel School of Medicine focusing my work in two areas (1) sarcopenia and obesity in older adults and the impact on functional status and (2) healthy eating in those with obesity and serious mental illness.

At Cornell, I have continued my research in the area of geriatrics/older adults, expanded my work in the area of disordered eating behaviors, and initiated novel research in the area of social media, technology and nutrition.  Through community based participatory research, I study the use of technology to improve successful aging-in-place in rural communities in New York. Considering the contribution of obesity and sarcopenia to reduced functioning in older adults, I investigate interventions that improve health behaviors in young and middle-aged adults with the aim of preventing late life medical and functional disability.  This work includes study of the Body Positive Cornell program, a peer delivered program to reduce disordered eating, and the Weigh2Go study for promotion of weight maintenance in early and middle adulthood. Technology provides a means for communicating and experiencing eating and nutrition in novel ways to a diverse audience of all ages. In this area, my lab focuses on describing food and eating related communications on social media, exploring their association with dietary intake and eating behaviors, and the use of video chat to improve dietary intake.

The overarching goal of my research program is to reduce obesity and sarcopenic obesity in older adults. Using a biopsychosocial model, I aim to identify biological, psychological and social modifiable risk factors across the lifespan for obesity and sarcopenia and to develop interventions that target these factors. Recognizing disordered eating as a psychological risk factor for obesity in later life, I am studying Body Positive Cornell, a peer led program that promotes body acceptance to reduce and prevent disordered eating in young and middle-aged adults. To address the modifiable biological risk factors of age related weight gain and weight cycling, I am investigating the effectiveness of daily weighing to promote weight maintenance in adults. In the sphere of social influences on eating behaviors, I focus on the social interactions that occur online and with technology.  Using netnographic methodology, I am researching food related communications on social media sites and their potential impact on eating behaviors. To expand availability of online evidence-based nutrition information, I am working in collaboration with Weill Cornell on the development of nutrition modules for the Patient Activated Learning System (PALS). In older adults I am investigating the use of technology to facilitate aging-in-place and reduce malnutrition.

I strive to teach a framework for approaching health problems with a nutrition lens. Nutrition can contribute to disease etiology and pathogenesis and be an important aspect of disease management, although it is often overlooked in medical education and medical care. My focus and interest lie in teaching nutrition to future and current health professionals and in educating the public about the nutritional aspects of disease prevention and management. 

Clinicians, public health practitioners, and individuals confront a barrage of nutrition information every day. The information can be conflicting and the volume overwhelming. New information needs to be critically interpreted and integrated with existing knowledge before application can occur. This process requires strong core knowledge and the ability to analyze and connect new and existing information.  My goals are to teach students critical thinking and encourage a mindset of lifelong learning so they can decipher and apply the evolving evidence base in nutrition.

Each student brings a unique combination of prior knowledge, perspective and cultural context to the classroom. To address these individual differences and use them to enhance learning for all students, I use an active classroom approach combined with a universal design for learning. My classes combine didactic sessions with interactive evidence-based class activities, small group learning, and multiple modalities for learning independently outside of class. Application of new information is practiced in the classroom through case studies, problem-based learning, and group activities. I emphasize a collaborative and team-based approach to learning. No one person can know everything or provide all perspectives to a problem; thus, I teach students to effectively and efficiently communicate and work with each other in learning partnerships.  I use technology in my classes and embrace the expansion of learning to online courses and virtual classrooms. 

In terms of mentoring, I emphasize self-reflection and goal setting. I encourage students to reflect on the areas of study they are passionate about or find intellectually interesting and to self-identify strengths and weaknesses to aid in planning current courses of study and future career directions. For my research mentees, I encourage independent work with regular meetings to discuss progress on research projects, as well as, personal and professional growth. Finally, I strive to mentor my graduate TAs in teaching and subsequently involve them in most aspects of course planning and delivery.

NS 4410 : Nutrition and Disease

NS 4010 : Empirical Research for Undergraduates

NS 4020 : Supervised Fieldwork in Nutrition: Body Positive Cornell

NS 4030 : Teaching Apprenticeship

NS 4060 : Experiential Learning in GPHS

Thalacker-Mercer A., Riddle E. and Barre L. ‘Protein and amino acids in skeletal muscle health in aging’. Advances in Food & Nutrition Research.(2019) Academic Press/Elsevier. Available online October 22, 2019.

BarréL.,Coupal, S., Young, T. Videodining in older adults aging in place: a feasibility and acceptability study. Innovation in Aging, 2019. Vol. 3, No. S1. 

Levitsky, D., Sewall, A., Zhong, Y., Barre, L., Shoen, S., Agaronnik, N., LeClair, J., Zhuo, W., Pacanowski, C. Quantifying the imprecision of energy intake of humans to compensate for imposed energetic errors: A challenge to the physiological control of human food intake. Appetite. 2019; 133: 337-343.

Jimenez, D. E., Burrows, K., Aschbrenner, K., Barre, L. K., Pratt, S. I., Alegría, M., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). Health behavior change benefits: Perspectives of Latinos with serious mental illness. Transcultural psychiatry. 2016; 53(3), 313-329.

Batsis, J., Zbehlik, A.J., Barré, L., Scherer. E.A., Bartels, S. Impact of Obesity on Disability, Function and Physical Activity: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative.  Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology. Epub June 2015 ahead of print.

Batsis, J., Zbehlik, A.J., Barré, L., Scherer. E.A., Bartels, S. Normal Weight Central Obesity, Physical Activity, and Functional Decline: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Epub 2015 ahead of print.

Zbehlik, A.J., Barré, L.K., Batsis, J.A., Scherer, E., Bartels, S.J. Vitamin D supplementation and functional knee osteoarthritis progression in older adults with obesity: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice. Epub Feb 2015 ahead of print.

Aschbrenner, K. A. Naslund, J. A., Barré, L. K., Mueser, K. T., Kinney, A., & Bartels, S. J. Peer health coaching for overweight and obese individuals with serious mental illness: Intervention development and initial feasibility study. Translational Behavioral Medicine. 2015; 5 (3): 277-284.

Aschbrenner K, Mueser K, Bartels S, Carpenter-Song E, Pratt S, Barre L, Naslund J, Kinney A. The other 23 hours: A qualitative study of fitness provider perspectives on social support for health promotion for adults with mental illness. Health & social work. 2015 Feb 19;40(2):91-9.

Bartels, S. J., Pratt, S. I., Aschbrenner, K., Naslund, J. A., Barré, L.K., Wolfe, R., Xie, H., McHugo, G.J., Jimenez, D.E., Jue, K., Feldman, J., Bird, B.L. Pragmatic replication trial of health promotion coaching for obesity in serious mental illness and maintenance of outcomes. American Journal of Psychiatry. Epub 2014 ahead of print.

Batsis, J., Zbehlik, A.J., Barré, L., Mackenzie, T., Bartels, S. The Impact of Waist Circumference on Function and Physical Activity in Older Adults: Longitudinal Observational Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Nutrition Journal. 2014;13:81.

Naslund, J., Aschbrenner, K., Barré, L., Bartels, S. Feasibility of Popular mHealth Technologies for Activity Tracking Among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness. Telemedicine and e-Health. 2015: 21(3); Epub 2014 December 23.

Batsis, J.A., Mackenzie, T.A., Barré, L.K., Lopez-Jimenez, F., Bartels, S. Sarcopenia, Sarcopenic Obesity and Mortality in Older Adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III.  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 68: 1001-1007. Epub ahead of print 2014 June 25.

Bynum, J., Barré, L., Reed, C., Passow, H. Participation of Very Old Adults in Healthcare Decisions. Medical Decision Making. 2014; 34: 216-230. Epub 2013 October 8.

Bartels, S.J., Pratt, S.I., Aschbrenner, K.A., Barré, L.K., Jue, K., Wolfe, R.S., Xie, H., McHugo, G.J., Santos, M., Williams, G.E., Naslund, J.A., & Mueser, K.T.. Clinically significant improved fitness and weight loss among overweight persons with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services. 2013; 64(8):729-36. Epub 2013 May 15.

Batsis, J., Barré, L.K., Lopez-Jimenez, F., Mackenzie, T., Pratt, S., Bartels, S. Variation in the prevalence of sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity in older adults associated with different research definitions: Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2013; 61(6): 974-80. Epub 2013 May 6.

Barré, L., Ferron, J., Davis, K., & Whitley, R.. Healthy Eating in Persons with Serious Mental Illnesses: Understanding and Barriers. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. 2011; 34(4): 304-10.

Barré, L., Richardson, C., Hirschman, M.F., Brozinick, J.T., Fiering, S., Kemp, B.E., Goodyear, L.J., Witters, L.A..  A genetic model for the chronic activation of AMP-activated protein kinase leads to glycogen accumulation. American Journal of Physiology  2007; 292(3):E802-11. Epub 2006 Nov 14. 

Hurley, R.L., Barré, L.K., Wood, S.D., Anderson, K.A., Kemp, B.E., Means, A.R., Witters, L.A..  Regulation of AMP-activated protein kinase by multi-site phosphorylation in response to agents that elevate cellular cAMP. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2006 Dec 1;281(48):36662-72. Epub 2006 Oct 5.  

Journal Review Service (Ad hoc reviewer):  

  • Appetite, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Journal of Affective Disorders, International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

Professional memberships

  • Academy for Eating Disorders; member 2018-present
  • Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior, member 2016-present
  • The American Geriatrics Society, member 2009-present
  • The Obesity Society, member 2010-present
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, member 2013-present

Collaboration with Foodnet Meals on Wheels of Tompkins County.

Collaboration with Steuben Senior Services Fund, Inc. a non-profit organization supporting aging-in-place initiatives in Steuben County, NY. 

Faculty advisor, Athletic Pre-health Club

Faculty advisor, Cornell Varsity Women's Track and Field team 

Director, Didactic Program in Dietetics

Co-Director, Postbaccalaureate Certificate Program in Health Studies

Commission on Dietetic Registration Continuing Professional Education Provider for DNS

Member, Cornell Health Career Advisors Network

Member, Human Biology Health and Society Task Force, Division of Nutritional Sciences

2011, NIH T32 Postdoctoral Fellow , Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

2001, M.D., Dartmouth Medical School

1992, Dietetic Internship, Emory University Hospital

1991, B.S., Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

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