University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Department of Medicine

General Internal Medicine Research

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GeoMed Science

GeoMed Science is a series of research projects designed to study the connection between the built environment and personal health. We hope to understand why some people tend to gain weight and others stay thin. Does it have something to do with the built environment (the buildings, roads, businesses, sidewalks, transit, etc.) right near the home? To answer this, our General Internal Medicine Research faculty, fellows and students are combining the tools of epidemiology and geography to create new knowledge.

GeoMed Science Video

About the GeoMed Online Project

Geographic factors such as population density, road network structure, and access to healthy food sources have been associated with body mass index in a number of studies. Most of these studies analyze groups of subjects aggregated in convenient arbitrary areas such as zip codes or counties and are subject to bias and error. Further, very few data cover a broad range of geographies including both dense urban areas and sparsely populated rural areas such as Vermont. We intend to test the hypothesis that the geography of the 250 meters immediately around one's home is associated with body mass index across a wide range of environments. The insights gained from this will help to explain variation in BMI and may lead to strategies to mitigate obesity. Geomed Online is a free confidential survey that has been answered by over 3000 people from around the world.

About the Team

(Photo Left to Right)

Derek Lubetkin, BA, is originally from Chicago, IL. He graduated with a BA in Geography and Urban Systems from McGill University.He recently completed the Pre-Medical Post-Baccalaureate Program at the University of Vermont. He is currently an EMT with Richmond Rescue and applying to medical school. Derek loves being in Vermont because of all the trails to go hiking with his dog.

Benjamin Littenberg, MD, is originally from Flushing, NY. He graduated with a BA in Economics from Western Reserve College and a MD from Case Western Reserve University. He is Professor of Medicine and a practicing Internist. He has been interested in geography since he first learned to look at a map, back in the days when they were drawn by hand.

Ayodelle LeBruin, MD, is originally from the island of Dominica. She completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from York College of CUNY, but her passion for health care led her to pursue a medical degree at Ross University School of Medicine. She loves educating the public on disease prevention and plans to continue her career in preventive medicine and clinical research, with a focus on adolescent and women's health. In her spare time she enjoys writing, critiquing novels and volunteering as a Community Health Ambassador. She is happy to be a part of this dedicated group of scientists whose work will inform the public on how the built environments can be altered to improve health outcomes.

Our Research in Progress

Our surveys originate from a variety of rural and urban areas across different states in the country. We are are also recruiting from places anywhere in the world. We need your help in obtaining more data to increase our age, gender, race and location distribution. Please join us in beoming a volunteer "citizen scientist" and take a few minutes to complete our short survey. Here is the link

We thank you for your collaboration and we will keep updating our results so that you can see the progress of our joint efforts.

The graphs below describe the 3305 respondents who have contributed their data to the confidential online survey about health and the environment.
Where do they live? How old are they? How much education do they have?
How healthy are they?

usa map count


We have exceeded 3000 responses to our survey in the US. Where do our Citizen-Scientists come from? You can join them!


Age histogram
gender pie


education pie


gen health pie


mets histogram


b5 bar

BMI for each respondent was determined by using height and weight information submitted on the survey

US map BMI

The map demonstrates the average BMI variations of our different survey states. Which states have the lowest and highest BMI? Why?


bmi ex gender glass

Many have argued that BMI (Body Mass Index) is not a good indicator of overall health. While this may be true in some cases, our reasearch thus far is showing a downward trend in fitness, despite the age, as the BMI increases.


Thank you for stopping by our webpage.

Last modified May 25 2016 10:19 AM