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  • Writer's pictureIOER

Institute Of Etiological Research

Annual Letter

June 20, 2023

Dear Friends of the Institute,

In 2022, we continued to conduct research and work with our collaborators. The institute’s mandate is to conduct relevant research in the fields of health prevention as well as mentor young researchers when we have the opportunity to do so. The institute’s research interests remain children’s health, nutrition, obesity, and health prevention. This past year we were fortunate to have initiated and participated in the publication of several research papers in high quality journals including:

Landy, David C., Jonathan D. Grabau, K. Keely Boyle, Michael P. Ast, James A. Browne, Cale A. Jacobs, Stephen T. Duncan, and Eric M. Hecht. "Self-Reported Health of Severely Obese US Adults With Osteoarthritis." The Journal of Arthroplasty 37, no. 12 (2022): 2317-2322.

Hecht, Eric M., Anna Rabil, Euridice Martinez Steele, Gary A. Abrams, Deanna Ware, David C. Landy, and Charles H. Hennekens. "Cross-sectional examination of ultra-processed food consumption and adverse mental health symptoms." Public Health Nutrition 25, no. 11 (2022): 3225-3234.

Ware, Deanna, David C. Landy, Anna Rabil, Charles H. Hennekens, and Eric M. Hecht. "Interrelationships between self reported physical health and health behaviors among healthy US adults: From the NHANES 2009–2016." Public Health in Practice 4 (2022): 100277.

Abrams, Gary A., Deanna Ware, Margaret M. Byrne, and Eric M. Hecht. "Risk stratification of adolescents for the screening of non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease." Pediatric Obesity 17, no. 9 (2022): e12924.

Regarding operational activities, we have been working efficiently and we are well within our budgetary limits. In 2022 we received another research grant from the Bertarelli Foundation which was much appreciated.

As we think ahead, 2023 and beyond might begin to include activities where we pursue public health initiatives for children outside the realm of research. Stay tuned.


Eric Hecht MD, PhD

Executive Director and Board Member

Institute of Etiological Research

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  • Writer's pictureIOER

Dear Friends of the Institute,

The Institute was designed to conduct research relevant to the interface between public health and clinical medicine. We also mentor young researchers when they are available, ready and willing. We have been publishing regularly, and despite some dislocations created by the pandemic, we have been productive.

If you look at the authors of the papers below, you’ll notice that I am involved in all of the research. More importantly however, you’ll also notice that we have been honored to have Dr. Abrams, Dr. Passman, Dr. Landy, Dr. Byrne, Dr. Steele, and Dr. Hennekens join us for some of the studies. Each of these individuals are experts and leaders in their fields, and they greatly strengthen the work that comes out of the institute.

Much of the work we have been doing relates to children. This has been intentional as I have felt the need to try and elucidate some of the public health problems that face our youth. Specifically, it has become clear to me that because our children are not eating healthy food, they are becoming overweight and/or obese, and this is leading to unacceptably high levels of cardiovascular, liver, and mental health risk. For example, because of the obesity epidemic among adolescents, approximately 5% of all teenagers now have detectable liver fibrosis, a condition that if left untreated will become liver cirrhosis within several decades.

Below is our growing bibliography of studies that are either published or awaiting publication.


Hecht, Eric M. "The assessment of drug safety for the fetus." International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy 42.6 (2020): 1533-1536.

Hecht, Eric M., "Healthy Behavior Adherence: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2016." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 59.2 (2020): 270-273.

Hecht, Eric M., Marnie R. Layton, and Gary A. Abrams. "Iron supplementation for the treatment of breath-holding spells: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Clinical Pediatrics 59.8 (2020): 819-822.

Abrams, Gary A., "Serum Alanine Transaminase Is an Inadequate Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Screening Test in Adolescents: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017-2018." Clinical Pediatrics 60.8 (2021): 370-375.

Hecht, Eric M., "Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Young Adolescents: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-2016." Southern Medical Journal114.5 (2021): 261-265.

Abrams, Gary A., Ware, Deanna, Byrne, Margaret, Hecht, Eric M., “Risk stratification of adolescents for the screening of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Pediatric obesity, e12924. 2 May. 2022, doi:10.1111/ijpo.12924

Submitted, status pending:

Ware, Deanna, Landy David C., Hennekens, Charles H., Rabil, Anna, Hecht Eric M.

“Concurrent Adherence to Healthy Behaviors and Self-Reported Health”

Hecht, Eric M., Rabil, Anna, Steele, Euridice Martinez, Abrams, Gary A., Ware, Deanna, Landy, David C., Hennekens Charles H. “Ultra-processed Food Consumption and Increased Adverse Mental Health Symptoms”

Hecht, Eric M., Steele, Euridice Martinez, Ware, Deanna, Landy, David C., Abrams, Gary A., “The Association Between Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

Regarding operational activities, we have been working efficiently. Our expenses are low, in part because all of the researchers including myself are uncompensated with the exception of our biostatistician. This is not unusual in the research world, nevertheless, we are grateful to everyone who helps produce the research without remuneration. As such, our balance sheet is fine.

Earlier in 2021, we had the ambition to hire two to three research fellows. These were young students who wanted to do research and were contemplating a research career. Unfortunately, with the pandemic and everyone working from home, this effort was not productive, and the idea of having a mentorship program is now on hold. As such, at this point in time, 100% of our efforts are devoted to research, and not teaching. This is not to say we won’t invite students into our research process, but it is likely that when we do, we will not hire them and they will work like the rest of us………… for free. It will be the special student who has shown themselves to be a self-starter, and highly productive that might be offered a fellowship. Having one or more of these individuals would be wonderful, but I believe they are rare to find.

We have had some wonderful support from Sy Goldblatt, The Bertarelli Foundation, and Milt Koenigsberg. I have also made substantial contributions. The donations have been so very much appreciated, and while we don’t appear to need any additional infusions of capital right now, I am hopeful that if we remain productive, we will raise more money when we need it.


Eric Hecht MD, PhD

Executive Director and Board Member

Institute of Etiological Research

  • Writer's pictureIOER

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

In 2020 our Institute managed to adapt to the limitations imposed by Covid-19 and continue our work, albeit, remotely. During the year of 2020 we trained 2 fellows, and published 3 papers including: Iron Supplementation for the Treatment of Breath-Holding Spells: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Healthy Behaviour Adherence: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2016 and The assessment of drug safety for the foetus. In addition to the published papers, other projects were undertaken, and several of these are now marching forward toward publication.

Our research mission during 2020 was (and continues to be) public health research and thus far we have focused our attention on lifestyle contributions to health, and pediatric (including adolescent) epidemiology. Our mission however is not limited as we encourage our fellows to find unique public health issues and explore them. Our current emphasis on lifestyle and youth stem from my philosophy that health is closely connected to the way we live and our health habits, and that a health focus should begin early in life before too much damage has occurred. Frankly I worry about our youth and how society has changed their lifestyle. Diets are poor, activity is less, screen time is excessive, and many chemicals are consumed.

Our funding raising activities in 2020 have also positioned us to expand our efforts in 2021. Several institutions and several individual donors have generously contributed. Our capital base now allows us to have a dedicated biostatistician, up to three full-time equivalent (annual) fellows and an Associate Director. We also expanded our board to directors to five members.

Because of our funding raising activities and our newly expanded organization, 2021 promises to be a great year for our Institute and hopefully we will manage to equip our fellows with valuable research skills and produce many manuscripts that can be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

A special thank you to our external donors including Florida Heart, Seymour Goldblatt, and Milton Koenigsberg.

Another special thank you to our board of directors including Milt Koenigsberg, Dr. Gary Goldman, Dr. Gary Abrams, and Nancy Cavalie as well as our academic collaborators including Doctors Goldman, Abrams, Passman and Landy.

Finally, I want to thank our 2020 fellows Anna Rabil and Ana Williams.

Our Institute is off to a wonderful start, and everyone involved cherishes our mission to train our future public health researchers, and to produce important scientific research.


Eric Hecht MD, PhD

Executive Director and Board Member

Institute of Etiological Research

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