Dr. Catherine L. Davis


Catherine Davis

Catherine L. Davis, PhD


Department of Pediatrics

Department of Physiology

Graduate Studies

Adjunct Professor

Department of Psychology

Department of Kinesiology

University of Georgia

Contact Info

Phone: (706) 721-4534

Fax: (706) 721-7150

Email: katie.davis@augusta.edu

Office: HS-1711

Education and Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship
University of Miami, Coral Gables 1999

Behavioral Medicine and Advanced Statistics

University of Miami, Coral Gables 1997
Clinical Health Psychology

Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA 1997
Clinical Psychology

University of Miami, Coral Gables 1995
Clinical Health Psychology
Maytag Fellowship 1992 - 1995

Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 1990
Psychology, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Research Highlights

I have designed and conducted randomized clinical trials to spur evidence-based public health recommendations and programs to improve children's health during a childhood obesity epidemic.

We demonstrated dose-response benefits of exercise programs on overweight children's cognition (executive function), with corresponding changes in brain function, in a field dominated by cross-sectional studies.

Demonstrated that 20 min of vigorous aerobic exercise per day for 3 mo improved fitness and reduced fatness and diabetes risk in overweight children, regardless of race, gender, family history, or pre-diabetes status. Schools could implement programs to include 20 min vigorous physical activity during the school day.

Contribution to Science (* denotes senior/corresponding author)

Insulin resistance.

I published a study focused on insulin resistance measured using the gold standard euglycemic clamp method in women with a history of gestational diabetes, showing it to be the key element of metabolic syndrome conferring coronary risk in these women. I assisted with data collection, conducted all analyses and wrote the paper. A highly cited paper, for which I developed the insulin sensitivity index and conducted the statistical analyses, presented a validation of a simpler measure of insulin resistance (ISI(0,120)) using oral glucose tolerance test data in adults with and without type 2 diabetes. This method was demonstrated to be the best predictor of diabetes incidence over 5-8 years in combined longitudinal data from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study, the Mexico City Diabetes Study, and the San Antonio Heart Study (Hanley et al., Diabetes. 2003 Feb;52(2):463-9). 


Dr. Norman Pollock, Dr. Catherine (Katie) Davis, Ms. Celeste Williams, Mr. Jacob Looney

Pictured (L to R) Dr. Norman Pollock, Dr. Catherine (Katie) Davis, Ms. Celeste Williams, Mr. Jacob Looney

Select Publications Pub Med

Davis CL*, Tingen MS, Jia J, Sherman F, Williams CF, Bhavsar K, Wood N, Kobleur J, Waller JL. Passive smoke exposure and its effects on cognition, sleep, and health outcomes in overweight and obese children. In press, Childhood Obesity, Oct. 2015. PMC – In process.

Schwarz NF, Krafft CE, Chi L, Weinberger AL, Schaeffer DJ, Pierce JE, Rodrigue AL, DiBattisto CH, Maria BL, Davis CL*, McDowell JE*. Antisaccade-Related Brain Activation in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – A Pilot Study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 30 Nov. 2015: 234 (2); 272–279. doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.10.003, NIHMS 730267.

Davis CL*, Tkacz JP, Tomporowski PD, Bustamante EE. Independent associations of physical activity and weight status with children's cognitive functioning. In press, Pediatric Exercise Science, 2015; 27(4). Epub ahead of print 2015 Aug 6. NIHMS 734903

Ruble K, Scarvalone S, Gallicchio L, Davis CL, Wells D. Group Physical Activity Intervention for Childhood Cancer Survivors: Pilot and Feasibility. In press, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, July 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2015-0050

Ruble K, Davis CL, Han HR. Endothelial Health in Childhood Acute Lymphoid Leukemia Survivors: Pilot Evaluation With Peripheral Artery Tonometry. Journal of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, 2015 Mar;37(2):117-20. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000000122.

Bustamante EE, Davis CL, Marquez DX. A test of Learned Industriousness in the physical activity domain. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 2014; 6(4): 12-25. DOI: 10.5539/ijps.v6n4p12, PMC4456027, http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijps/article/view/38473

Labayen I, Ruiz JR, Ortega FB, Davis CL, Rodríguez G, González-Gross M, Breidenassel C, Dallongeville J, Marcos A, Widhalm K, Kafatos A, Molnar D, DeHenauw S, Gottrand F, Moreno LA. Liver enzymes and clustering cardiometabolic risk factors in European adolescents; The HELENA study. Pediatric Obesity, 2015 Oct;10(5):361-70. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.273. Epub ahead of print, 2014 Dec 17.

Buscemi, J., Kong, A., Fitzgibbon, M.L., Bustamante, E.E., Davis, C.L., Pate, R.R., & Wilson, D.K. (August 2014, in press). Society of Behavioral Medicine Position Statement: School-based physical activity improves academic achievement. Translational Behavioral Medicine. Online first, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13142-014-0279-7

Schaeffer DJ, Krafft CE, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Rodrigue AL, Pierce JE, Allison JD, Yanasak NE, Liu T, Davis CL,* McDowell JE*. The Relationship between Uncinate Fasciculus White Matter Integrity and Verbal Memory Proficiency in Children. Neuroreport. 2014 August 20; 25(12): 921–925. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000204. PMC4107309.

Schaeffer DJ, Krafft CE, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Rodrigue AL, Pierce JE, Allison JD, Yanasak NE, Liu T, Davis CL,* McDowell JE*. An 8-month exercise intervention alters uncinate fasciculus white matter integrity in overweight children. Psychophysiology. 2014 August; 51(8): 728–733. Published online 2014 May 5. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12227. PMC4107135.

Erion JR, Wosiski-Kuhn M, Dey A, Hao S, Davis CL, Pollock NK, Stranahan A. Obesity elicits interleukin 1-mediated deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014 Feb 12;34(7):2618-31. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4200-13.2014. PMC3995346.

Ruble K, Davis CL, Han HR. Endothelial Health in Childhood Acute Lymphoid Leukemia Survivors: Pilot Evaluation With Peripheral Artery Tonometry. Journal of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Online first, 2014 Feb 26. PMC4145053.

Krafft CE, Schaeffer DJ, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Weinberger AL, Pierce JE, Rodrigue AL, Allison JD, Yanasak NE, Liu T, Davis CL,* McDowell JE*. Improved Fronto-Parietal White Matter Integrity is Associated with Attendance in an After-School Exercise Program. Developmental Neuroscience, April 2014;36(1):1-9. Superior longitudinal fasciculus image was featured on the cover of the journal. PMC3995327. http://www.karger.com/DOI/10.1159/000356219.

Krafft CE, Pierce JE, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Weinberger AL, Schaeffer DJ, Rodrigue AL, Camchong J, Allison JD, Yanasak NE, Liu T, Davis CL*, McDowell JE.* An eight month exercise intervention alters resting state synchrony in overweight children. Neuroscience. 2014 Jan 3;256:445-55. Epub 2013 Oct 3. PMC3995346. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.09.052. PMC4107309.

Krafft CE, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Weinberger AL, Schaeffer DJ, Pierce JE, Rodrigue AL, Yanasak NE, Miller PH, Tomporowski PD, Davis CL,* McDowell JE*. An 8-month exercise intervention alters brain activation in overweight children. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Jan;22(1):232-42. doi: 10.1002/oby.20518. Epub 2013 Sep 10. PMC4077546.

Davis CL*, Pollock NK, Waller JL, Allison JD, Dennis BA, Bassali R, Melendez A, Boyle CA, Gower BA. Exercise dose and diabetes risk in overweight and obese children: A randomized, controlled trial. JAMA, 2012 Sep 19; 308(11):1103-12.

Davis CL*, Tomporowski PD, McDowell JE, Austin BP, Miller PH, Yanasak NE, Allison JD, Naglieri JA. (2011). Exercise improves executive function and achievement and alters brain activation in overweight children: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychology, 2011 Jan; 30(1): 91-8, PMC3057917.

Davis CL*, Cooper S. (2011). Fitness, fatness, cognition, behavior, and academic achievement among overweight children: Do cross-sectional associations correspond to exercise trial outcomes? Preventive Medicine, 2011, 52:S65-S69. PMC3164323

Zhu H, Wang X, Gutin B, Keeton D, Thomas J, Stallman-Jorgensen I, Davis CL, Mooken G, Bundy V, Snieder H, van der Harst P, Dong Y. (2011). Leukocyte telomere length in healthy white and black adolescents: Race, gender, adiposity, and physical activity. Journal of Pediatrics, 2011 Feb;158(2):215-20. Epub 2010 Sep 19. PMC3010324.

Davis CL. (2010). Undetected hypertension and prehypertension in children with diabetes need attention. Editorial on Rodriguez et al., “Prevalence and correlates of elevated blood pressure among youth with diabetes: The SEARCH For Diabetes In Youth Study.” Journal of Pediatrics, 2010 Aug;157(2):182-4.

Pollock NK, Bernard PJ, Wenger K, Misra S, Gower BA, Allison JD, Zhu H, Davis CL.* (2010). Lower bone mass in prepubertal overweight children with prediabetes. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2010:25(12):2484-2493. Published online 7/16/2010. PMC3122138.

Young-Hyman DL, Davis CL. (March 2010). Disordered eating behavior in individuals with diabetes: Importance of context, evaluation, and classification. Diabetes Care, 33, 683-689.

Bassali R, Waller JL, Gower B, Allison J, Davis CL.* (2010). Clinical utility of waist circumference percentile for cardiovascular risk evaluation in obese children. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 5(1), 97-101. Epub Jul 15, 2009. PMC2851850.

Petty K, Davis CL*, Tkacz J, Young-Hyman D, Waller JL. (Oct. 2009). Exercise effects on depressive symptoms and self-worth in overweight children: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(9), 929-39. Epub 2009 Feb 16.

Tkacz J, Davis CL*, Young-Hyman D, Boyle CA. (Nov. 2008). Aerobic exercise training reduces overt anger expression among overweight children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 2008, 20 (4), 390�401, PMC2678873.

Davis CL*, Tomporowski PD, Boyle CA, Waller J L, Miller PH, Naglieri JA, Gregoski M. (Dec. 2007) Effects of aerobic exercise on overweight children's cognitive functioning: A randomized controlled trial. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78, 510-9. PMC2662758.


  • Augusta University Institute of Public and Preventive Health, Healthy Augusta Community Academic Partnership grant, co-PI Nancy Webb, 8/2014-7/2015, $25,000.

Strong & Ready: Harnessing Quality Rated to Improve Child Health and School Readiness.

This study, in partnership with Georgia Bright from the Start (Dept. of Early Care and Learning) and other community partners, examines measures of early childhood education quality to identify those aspects that are most influential to child health and school readiness. This will help focus quality improvement efforts to improve outcomes in Georgia children.

Role: Primary Investigator

  • Augusta University Research Institute, Extramural Success Award, 3/2015-2/2016, $12,500.

Play Rx Pilot Study.

Pilot study of exercise vs waitlist control condition on symptoms and cogntion in children with ADHD.

Role: Primary Investigator

  • American Heart Association (National) Scientist Development Grant. Period: 07/01/09 - 06/30/2013

Identification of Common Genes Related to Depression and Inflammation.

Role: Primary Investigator

  •  NIH-NHLBI R01 HL 87923-02S1 Davis (PI) 6/1/10-7/31/13

Exercise and overweight children's cognition.

This competitive revision adds measures of arterial stiffness and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease to the ongoing clinical trial of exercise.

  •  NIH-NHLBI R01 HL 87923-03S1 Davis (PI) 9/1/10-7/31/13

Exercise and overweight children's cognition.

This Investigator Research Supplement adds Dr. Norman Pollock's work on osteocalcin to the study of arterial stiffness and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the ongoing clinical trial of exercise.

  •  NIH-NHLBI R01 HL 87923-04 Davis, McDowell, Tomporowski (PIs) 9/5/08-7/31/13

Exercise and overweight children's cognition.

The study is a clinical trial of an after school exercise program vs. attention control (non-exercise after school program) to determine effects on cognition and brain function in overweight 8-11 yr olds.

  • NIH-NHLBI R01 HL105689 Wang (PI) 1/2011-12/2015

Epigenetic basis of obesity induced cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes

This study assesses the role of DNA methylation in obesity-related disease, and the effects of exercise on methylation status.

Role on Project: Co-Investigator

  • NIH-NIMH R36 MH093152-01A1 Bustamante (PI) 8/2011-7/31/13

Dissertation Research Grant to Increase Diversity

Efficacy of exercise as a tool in the maintenance and treatment of disruptive behavior disorders: A feasibility study.

University of Illinois at Chicago, mentor David X. Marquez.

Role on Project: Consultant

  • MCG Child Health Discovery Institute Advanced Pilot Award Davis, Maria (PIs) 7/10 - 6/30/13

Executive function in children with attention deficit disorder.

NCE Examines executive function and brain activation and relates it to physical activity, fitness, and fatness.


NIH-NHLBI 3R01HL087923-03S2 Davis, McDowell, Tomporowski (PIs) 9/2010-8/31/12
“Exercise and overweight children's cognition”
This ARRA OppNet grant added measures of brain myelination, connectivity, and structure to a behavioral clinical trial of aerobic exercise to determine effects of aerobic exercise.

University System of Georgia Tomporowski (PI) 7/2010-6/2012
USG Childhood Obesity Research Competition
“A model exercise intervention for overweight children,” This is preparatory translational work. Role on Project: Co-Investigator

HRSA Graduate Psychology Edu Programs D40HP00012 Mabe (PI) 8/1/10-7/31/13
“MCG-VAMC Consortium Psychology Workforce Development”
Supports Psychology residency program. Role on Project: Research mentor 2011-12

MCG Child Health Discovery Institute Advanced Pilot Award Wenger, Misra (PIs) 7/10 � 6/30/12
“Exercise effects on bone-metabolic axis.”
Exercise and osteocalcin effects on metabolism and fatty liver disease; cell, rat, and human studies. Role on Project: Co-Investigator

Programmatic Funding Development Award Harshfield (PI) 4/2009-8/2010
Medical College of Georgia, Diabetes and Obesity Discovery Institute
“Obesity Related CV Risk in Youth” Subproject: Exercise effects on liver fat and arterial stiffness in overweight children.
Role on Project: Principal Investigator of subproject

American Diabetes Association Clinical Research Award Young-Hyman (PI) 7/1/08-6/30/11
“Treatment and weight concerns in type 1 diabetes (TaWC).”
Tests type 1 diabetes treatment effects on risk of weight concerns/eating disorders in adolescents. Role on Project: Co-investigator

GHSU Diabetes & Obesity Discovery Institute Synergy Award Tingen (PI) 7/2011-6/2012
“A Synergy Award for Team Development in Diabetes and Obesity”
This project aims to develop a synergistic team of scientists to identify novel prevention strategies to address the childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, pilot testing of the novel strategies will occur. Role: Co-investigator


  • 2010 - Distinguished Faculty Award, Clinical Science Research, Medical College of Georgia, School of Medicine Faculty Senate

  • 2007 - Fellow, NAASO/The Obesity Society

  • 2004 - Outstanding Young Clinical Faculty Award, Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine Faculty Senate

  • 2002 - Elected to Society for Pediatric Research

  • 1995, 1997 - Award for Academic Excellence, U. Miami Graduate School

  • 1992 - 1995 - University of Miami Maytag Fellowship

  • 1993, 1994, 1995 - Commendations, U. Miami Dept. of Psychology

  • 1990 - Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum laude, and Rufus Choate Scholar (First Honor Group), Dartmouth College

  • 1989 - Benjamin J. Benner '69 Research Support Fellowship, Dartmouth College