Weight Management Center

weight management center

Weight Management Staff

Since 1974, the Weight Management Center has been MUSC's resource to help patients lose weight and maintain weight loss. The Weight Management Center is part of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Below is a listing of the MUSC Weight Management Center faculty and staff.

Directors:
Patrick M. O'Neil, PhD 
Joshua D. Brown, PhD

Patient Services Staff:
Shawn Witherspoon
Jenny Boyce, BA

Physicians:
Robert Malcolm, MD
Kelly Holes-Lewis, MD

Nursing Staff:
Rhoda Ascanio, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC

Registered Dietitians:
Tonya F. Turner, MPH, RD, LD
Laura Nance, MA, RD, CDE

Exercise Physiologists:
David O. Sword, PT, DPT, CCS
Alicia O'Connor, MS
Amanda Griffith, MS
Ginny Leavitt, MEd

Research Staff:
Suzanne Kuker, MA, CCRC
Lynne Becker, MSPH
Mary Harley, BS


Patrick M. O’Neil, PhD, Director, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University where he has been on the faculty since 1977. He is a Certified Clinical Trial Investigator through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. O’Neil has devoted his career to helping patients manage their weight and is the author of more than 100 scientific papers and presentation.  For over nine years, Dr. O’Neil wrote the popular “Weighing the Choices” column which appeared every week in the Sunday Charleston Post & Courier.

Dr. O'Neil was recently awarded honorary membership by the American Dietetic Association for his work and dedication to the field of dietetics. This is the highest award granted by the ADA to non-members, and only two are awarded each year nationwide. He is also a leader of The Obesity Society (the main scientific and clinical professional association devoted to obesity) and is Past-President of the Society. Dr. O'Neil was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Service Award at the Faculty Convocation in 2013, in recognition of his years as a truly outstanding researcher, clinician, and educator.
   

Patrick O'Neil, PhD2013 Distinguished Faculty Service Award

Joshua D. Brown, PhD, Director of Clinical Services and Training, is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. He received his bachelor's degree from Appalachian State University before completing his master's and doctoral training at Texas A&M University. He then completed his pre-doctoral internship and two years of post-doctoral training in psychology at the Medical University of South Carolina. He has been a member of the MUSC Weight Management Center team since 2004. His clinical and research interests and experience are primarily with overweight/obesity, eating disorders, and body image.
  

Josh Brown, PhD

Shawn Witherspoon is a Patient Service Specialist at the MUSC Weight Management Center. Her duties include greeting the wonderful patients of the WMC and assisting the various staff and faculty at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She has experience in management and was the leader of production of Charleston's very own Moo Roo Handbags for 6 years. Shawn is currently earning a Bachelor's Degree in Business.

Shawn Witherspoon

Jenny Boyce, BA, is a Patient Service Specialist at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in Communication and Journalism. Her work experience includes facilitating and executing the duties of a legal assistant, as well as marketing work for a national corporation in New Jersey.Jenny Boyce, BA

Robert Malcolm, MD, Senior Medical Consultant, is a Professor of Psychiatry, Family Medicine and Pediatrics. He is one of the founders of the Weight Management Center and has conducted clinical and research work on obesity for over 35 years. Dr. Malcolm was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Service Award at the Faculty Convocation in 2010, in recognition of his years as a truly outstanding researcher, clinician, and educator. He is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
  

Robert Malcom, MDDistinguished Faculty Award

Kelly Holes-Lewis, MD, is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, division of Brain Research and Integrative Neuropsychopharmacology. She is a board certified psychiatrist, and has also completed a residency in Nuclear Medicine and a fellowship in PET/CT imaging. Her research and clinical interests are in the neuro-hormonal regulation of appetite and satiety that results in obesity and its relationship with mood and anxiety.

                     Kelly Holes-Lewis, MD
Rhoda Ascanio, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, is a Family Nurse Practitioner at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She started her professional life as a research biologist, but was inspired to return to nursing school in 2004 to become a Nurse Practitioner after working for a faith-based lifestyle change program. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing followed by a Master of Science in Nursing; both from MUSC. She then worked overseas with Cardiac Rehabilitation patients in Sydney, Australia. Upon her return to Charleston in 2010, she worked with a local endocrinologist, local cardiothoracic surgeons, and for a Medicare/Medicaid insurance provider conducting in-home patient assessments before coming to the MUSC Weight Management Center. She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

                   Rhoda Ascanio, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC

Tonya F. Turner, MPH, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian and nutrition specialist at the MUSC Weight Management Center, where she has been on staff since 2004. Tonya graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in dietetics. She completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University, and has since earned a master's in public health degree from Walden University. Tonya has been certified through the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Tonya was recently recognized by the South Carolina Dietetic Association as the Young Dietitian of the Year for 2010.
  

Tonya Turner, MPH, RD, LDYoung Dietitian Award

Laura Nance, MA, RD, CDE, is a Registered Dietitian and nutrition specialist at the Weight Management Center. She completed her dietetic internship and earned a master's degree from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Laura earned her Diabetes Educator certification in 2004 and has clinical experience in both diabetes and weight management. Laura was recently recognized by the South Carolina Dietetic Association as the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for 2009.
  

Laura Nance, MA, RD, CDEOutstanding Dietitian Award

David O. Sword, PT, DPT, CCS, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science-Physical Therapy Program. He is a licensed Physical Therapist and an Exercise Physiologist, with 19 years of clinical experience. He holds certifications through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as an Exercise Specialist, and Program Director, and through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties as a Certified Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Specialist.
  

David Sword, PT, DPT, CCS

Alicia O'Connor, MS, is an Exercise Physiologist at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She received her B.S. degree at the University of South carolina and did her graduate work in Exercise Science at Appalachian State University. Alicia is been certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health Fitness Instructor. She is currently involved in a research grant focusing on obesity prevention.

Alicia O'Connor, MS

Amanda Griffith, MS, is an Exercise Physiologist at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She received her B.S. degree from Erskine College and received her Master's degree from The Citadel Graduate College. She holds a certification as a Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). In addition to her work at the MUSC Weight Management Center, she also works at the MUSC Wellness Center as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. In addition, Amanda recently joined the US Army National Guard.Amanda Griffith, MS

Ginny Leavitt, MEd, is an Exercise Physiologist at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education in Exercise Physiology from the University of Virginia. She is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health Fitness Specialist, and has experience in cardiac rehabilitation, weight loss, diabetes management, cancer therapy, and lifestyle modification. In addition to working at the Weight Management Center, she also works in the Department of Psychiatry as a program coordinator for the Drug Abuse Research Training Program for psychiatry residents.

Ginny Leavitt

Suzanne Kuker, MA, CCRC, is a research coordinator at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She earned her B.S. degree from Clemson University and her Master’s degree from The Citadel.  Since coming to MUSC in 2008, she has managed both government and industry sponsored trials in a variety of clinical areas.  She is certified through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals as a Clinical Research Coordinator.

Suzanne Kuker, MA, CCRC

Lynne Becker, MSPH, is a research coordinator at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She earned her bachelor's degree in mathematics and computer science from Russell Sage College in NY and holds a  biostatistics and epidemiology degree from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, CA. Lynne came to the Weight Management Center with over 20 years’ experience in research. She began her research career in corporate research in device and drug clinical trials, moved into academics and has worked and taught at the university level. Notably, Lynne started the first animal research unit for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including designing their global  database for animal research and overseeing their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Lynne Becker, MSPH

Mary Harley, BS, is a Data Coordinator at the MUSC Weight Management Center. She recently transferred from a Patient Service Specialist position, which she had been since 2010. Mary graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Business Administration. She has experience in business management, including a combined 14 years at MeadWestvaco in the Purchasing Department in the Chemical Division and as Administrative Assistant in the Enterprise Information Systems Division. 

Mary Harley, BS

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