An engaged researcher. An excellent clinician. A committed educator. Colleagues say Kimberly Gudzune, M.D., M.P.H., an internist who specializes in obesity medicine, embodies a commitment to all aspects of Johns Hopkins’ tripartite mission.
“I love that regardless of what hat I’m wearing, the work that I’m doing is actually making a difference in someone’s life,” Gudzune says.
Gudzune treats patients holistically. She designs weight management plans that blend diet, exercise and medications with other strategies including therapy and stress management. And she uses her research findings in her treatment — findings on how physical and social environmental factors influence body weight.
Gudzune also directs the Johns Hopkins general preventive medicine residency’s clinical rotations while mentoring residents and fellows on clinical care for patients with obesity and obesity research.
“Dr. Gudzune manages to progress many things at once,” says Jeanne Clark, M.D., M.P.H., general internal medicine director. ”She is committed to the idea and practice that we can and should provide better care for people with obesity.”
Gudzune plans to launch the Department of Medicine’s Healthful Eating, Activity and Weight Program in May.
“It’s a vision I’ve had for years,” Gudzune says. “We’ll be working with patients to make long-term lifestyle changes so we can prevent chronic disease and improve their health.”
The program, which will be housed at the Johns Hopkins Health Care and Surgery Center at Green Spring Station, will include internal medicine doctors who are passionate about obesity medicine, a health coach, a psychologist and a nurse practitioner who focuses on nutrition.
Services will include group and one-on-one behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity. Bariatric procedures and psychological services including cognitive behavioral therapy will also be offered. Management of anti-obesity or other medications may also be a part of treatment plans. Gudzune and her colleagues will address prediabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well as polycystic ovary syndrome, menopause and lipedema.
“She has an outstanding eye for understanding what patients need,” says Heather Sateia, M.D., assistant clinical director of the Green Spring Station general internal medicine clinic. “She exemplifies the type of physicians at Hopkins who make a mark on our institution and our community.”
General preventive medicine resident Selvi Rajagopal, M.D., who sees patients under Gudzune’s mentorship, expressed excitement for the new program.
“We just don’t have enough programs that address obesity and definitely not one that addresses it holistically,” Rajagopal says.
Gudzune’s research is making a marked difference in the lives of many Baltimore residents. She recently conducted a social network intervention among public housing residents that aimed to reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages they drink. Gudzune educated people about the dangers of the beverages and raised their consciousness about their intake. She then trained them to help family and friends.
“The group was consuming an average of 38 teaspoons per day of added sugar,” Gudzune says. “After the intervention, the group had reduced their added sugar intake to 17 teaspoons per day and kept their intake down six months later. The change occurred in the group as well as their family and friends.”
David Levine, M.D., former general internal medicine director, says he admires Gudzune’s commitment to investigating Baltimore’s health issues.
“She’s working with the individuals who are the sickest early on and tend to need care the most but frequently aren’t getting it,” Levine says. “She loves the work she does and the impact it can have on others.”
Levine also commended Gudzune’s efforts to educate and train the next leaders in obesity medicine and primary care.
“They will be the kind of physicians and health care professionals that are going to make a difference,” he says.
Rajagopal says that, during her first year of residency, she has learned a tremendous amount from Gudzune.
“She’s gotten so many people interested in obesity medicine,” Rajagopal says. “I appreciate how approachable she is and how available she is to trainees and students. She inspires physicians to be so much more than just what we do in the clinical setting.”
Rajagopal says Gudzune has the gift of meeting people where they are.
“When I see patients with Kim, I just enjoy watching the relationships she creates and the trust she’s able to garner,” Rajagopal says. “She’s able to explain very difficult conditions in a very human way.”
Gudzune says it’s a joy to be there for people in so many ways.
“I think being present for folks is incredibly important,” she says. “I help people focus on making realistic changes. I want the goals they set to be accomplishable.”