A board-certified pediatrician, health consultant and professional volunteer, Dr. Julie La Barba is passionate about children and nutrition. Having grown up in an Italian produce family, Dr. La Barba learned to appreciate real food at an early age. This fostered her professional commitment to children’s nutrition and resulted in her extensive professional training and targeted advocacy for public health education and research. Now the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Medical Director of CHEF (Culinary Health Education for Families), Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and also a mother of four, her special interests include breastfeeding promotion, pediatric obesity prevention, culinary medicine, urban farming and nutrition education for the underserved that sticks.
As the Witte Museum’s H-E-B Body Adventure lead health consultant since 2007, Dr. La Barba advised the curatorial department on medical content and public health messaging. The permanent exhibit, which features voice overs by “Dr. Julie,” empowers visitors to take charge of their own health as engaging activities demystify the human body, nutrition, physical activity, mental health and overall life balance (http://www.wittemuseum.org/index.php/exhibits/hebbodyadventure).
In March 2012, Dr. La Barba was selected by the American Academy of Pediatrics to participate in the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a Pew Charitable Trusts/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored media training event in Washington, DC (http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=60657). She also served as a lead member of CHURN (Child Health Unified Research Network), an NIH funded partnership between San Antonio’s UT Health and Metropolitan Health to foster shared city-wide tactics in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. In March 2014, Dr. La Barba delivered the keynote address of the first annual Mayor’s Fitness Council Nutrition Summit at the San Antonio Food Bank (http://www.mysanantonio.com/food/columnists/jessica_belasco/article/Don-t-underestimate-frozen-and-canned-produce-5374840.php). In September 2015, she was named an inaugural Les Dames d’Escoffier “Plate Changer” and addressed luncheon attendees to help raise seed funds to support women food professionals in realizing their culinary dreams while impacting their community. She was chosen as a protegee to attend the 2017 Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas Conference where the state’s top minds gather to explore solutions for Texas’ growing population, dynamic economy and changing climate.
“Dr. Julie’s” palatable health writing targets both parent and teen audiences which can be found on the CHEF Food For Thought and Provider blogs. She was also invited by Hale Publishing Company to co-author works for expectant mothers on newborn care, growth and development with an emphasis on breastfeeding (May 2015) (http://www.ibreastfeeding.com/newsletter/newsletter/2012/12/issue-breastfeeding-and-obesity). Dr. La Barba recently co-authored a scientific article on emerging Culinary Medicine programs in which CHEF is featured, Health-related Culinary Education: A Summary of Representative Emerging Programs for Health Professionals and Patients.
Dr. La Barba earned her medical degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) in 2002 and completed her pediatric residency in 2006 at University Hospital and The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (formerly Christus Santa Rosa Childrenʼs Hospital). Following residency, she actively practiced medicine in the UTHSCSA Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology focusing on nutrition and pediatric obesity prevention and now serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. Earning national certification from the American Board of Pediatrics in 2011, she is an active Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The Bexar County Medical Society recently honored Dr. La Barba with the 2016 Extraordinary Women in Medicine Leadership Award. The Society describes her as a passionate advocate for children who is respected, insightful and attentive to the needs of families while inspiring others to build a better future. The award recognizes impactful leaders who have made strides in helping Bexar County residents receive better health care and who uphold the delivery, service and education of the honored practice of medicine.
As a working community volunteer, Dr. La Barba has contributed her time to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute Forum Board (Trustee 2011-2014), HEB Statewide Health and Wellness Committee (2010-present), UTHSCSA Medical School Admissions Committee (2012-2015), DairyMax Health and Wellness Advisory Council (2011- 2014), the Texas Pediatric Society Obesity Committee (2010-present), the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council Healthcare Committee (2014-present), American Heart Association Stroke & Heart Walk Executive Leadership Team (2015-2016), Les Dames d’Escoffier International (2015-present), and Catholic Charities Board of Advisors for St. PJ’s home (2017-present).
Prior to her medical education, Dr. La Barba attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN (B.S. Human & Organizational Development & French minor, 1994). She earned a fellowship to teach English as a Second Language to French school children in Normandy (1994-95). An avid traveler, she is fluent in French, has a comfortable working knowledge of Spanish and is currently learning Italian. When not breaking up fights and fighting pediatric obesity, Dr. Julie spends time in her family’s vegetable garden and kitchen. Follow her on Twitter @ julielabarbamd.