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Melissa D. Olfert



Dr. Melissa Olfert began her journey at Walla Walla College in Washington, where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Health Sciences. She then went on to obtain her Master's of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Illinois in Chicago before making her way to California to achieve her Doctor of Public Health in the Preventive Care of Chronic Disease from Loma Linda University. She holds numerous certifications and licenses in dietetics, exercise physiology, physical fitness, prevention education, and beyond.

With training in exercise physiology, nutrition, and as a preventive care specialist in chronic disease, Dr. Olfert has accumulated experience working with clinical, industry, and entrepreneurial partners in diverse populations. Over the years she has gained expertise in program development, implementation, management and evaluation at local, county, state and national levels.

Through experiences in public health and private practice, Dr. Olfert has conducted lifestyle intervention programs involving hundreds of individuals with chronic disease (metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer) and programs for primary prevention of disease over the course of one’s life in urban and rural settings.

She has worked extensively on lifestyle intervention programs for populations at risk for disease by promoting physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation, appropriate use of alcohol, and stress management.

For 17 years Dr. Olfert was actively involved in the development, measurement, and delivery of statewide regional training for the Sweet Success Gestational Diabetes Program. This program targets screening, treatment, and education for in- and out-patient venues, as well as focuses on non-pharmacological interventions using exercise and nutrition to control blood glucose levels. Dr. Olfert continues to provide webinar training for this program. Additionally, she oversaw a team of 60 Certified Diabetes Educators across the country with a team of four regional managers.

Focusing her research on the prevention of chronic disease through lifestyle intervention approaches, Dr. Olfert works with a multi-state team to target children and young adults, as well as assess how the environment influences health behaviors. In the state of West Virginia, she works with multi-disciplinary colleagues in translational research across one’s lifespan using the community based participatory research (CBPR) approach. She specifically targets multiple generations of individuals from underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged and rural areas. By using a multi-disciplinary approach to answer complex public health issues, Dr. Olfert hopes to continue to influence evidence-based practice as she continues to implement her research agenda.

Annual Teaching