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MAFP Names Marilyn “Susie” Nanney, PhD, MDH, as Recipient of the 2019 Innovation & Research Award

Friday, March 1, 2019   (0 Comments)
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St. Louis Park, March 1, 2019 – The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) named Marilyn “Susie” Nanney, PhD, MDH, as recipient of the 2019 Innovation & Research Award. This award is presented annually to an individual who has made a major contribution to the development of family medicine research at the state and/or national level. Nanney is receiving this well-deserved recognition posthumously.

Nanney was a National Institutes of Health-funded researcher and associate professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and University of Minnesota Program in Health Disparities Research. She was described as a “pioneer in nutritional health research” by former University of Minnesota family medicine department head Mac Baird, MD, MS.

Her research focused on addressing health equity and policy around childhood obesity and nutrition, specifically examining eating patterns, diet, activity level and food access and how each affect obesity rates.

University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health associate director of faculty affairs Angela Buffington, PhD, MA, said, “Tragically, in June [2018], we lost a phenomenal family medicine researcher when Nanney was taken from this earth. She left behind a legacy of passionate devotion to improving health outcomes for underserved groups. Her tireless efforts to improve school-based and community nutrition mean that countless children have benefitted from her work on obesity prevention. Nanney’s groundbreaking work was ahead of the curve. From kids having reduced access to vending machines to all of us having healthier food choices at national parks, the impact of her efforts is far-reaching.”

Nanney was seen by colleagues and the community as a connector, building relationships and forming innovative partnerships. She was a servant-leader, active in community efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and ignite change. Her research didn’t just identify problems, it tested interventions and informed policies. In 2016-2018, she was invited to serve as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in Washington, DC.

At the time of her death, Nanney was principal investigator or co-investigator of five grants, four of which were federally funded. Those studies were examining rural high school breakfast environments, healthy food and activity in childcare settings, interventions for adults experiencing food insecurity and diabetes care in the primary care setting. In 2017, her school breakfast study, Project breakFAST, was honored by the National and State Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Nanney has also been an author of more than 80 peer-reviewed publications.

“She saw so much potential to do good work in the world. She wanted to make the work better and more relevant to the people it would affect—in a rare, authentic way that is not the way we’re trained,” said Caitlin Caspi, ScD, assistant professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota.

The MAFP is honored to recognize a Minnesota family medicine researcher whose work has impacted (and continues to impact) our local communities, state and beyond.


About the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians: The Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) is the largest medical specialty organization in Minnesota, representing more than 3,100 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students. The MAFP promotes the specialty of family medicine in Minnesota and supports family physicians as they provide high quality, comprehensive and continuous medical care for patients of all ages.

About the MAFP Academy Awards: Each year, the MAFP recognizes its members for their hard work and dedication to family medicine via its own Academy Awards. Family physicians from across Minnesota are nominated—by patients, community members, educators, learners and colleagues—for a variety of awards. The MAFP Board of Directors selects awardees after reviewing nomination letters and credentials. Awards will be formally presented at the MAFP Spring Refresher, to be held March 28 & 29 at The Depot Minneapolis.

Media contact: Emie Buege, 651-338-1545,

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