Tanja Kral, PhD
Associate Professor of Nursing

Contact Information
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Room 308 Fagin Hall
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4217
tel: (215) 573-7512
email: tkral@nursing.upenn.edu

Dr. Kral earned her M.S. (2001) and Ph.D. (2003) in Nutritional Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University. Before joining the faculty at Penn in 2007, Dr. Kral completed two post-doctoral fellowships at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania with focus on adult and pediatric obesity. Dr. Kral is a faculty member of the Biobehavioral Research Center (BRC) and the Pennsylvania Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (PA CADDRE) in the School of Nursing and the Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI), Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) at the Leonard Davis Institute (LDI) of Health Economics, and the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders (CWED) in the Penn Perelman School of Medicine.

Dr. Kral teaches “Obesity and Society” (NURS 313/513), an elective course in the Nutrition Minor program. This course provides students with an overview of behavioral, genetic, and environmental influences on eating and weight regulation and their implications for the prevention and treatment of obesity. Dr. Kral also provides students with hands-on research experience in the experimental study of human eating behavior in the laboratory. “We want students to understand that applied nutrition science is an exciting and emerging field of study, which has important practical implications for reducing disease risk and improving human health.” Dr. Kral has also co-taught “Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism” (NURS 517) and “Current Topics in Nutrition” (NURS 521) in the Nutrition Minor program.

Dr. Kral’s research focuses on the cognitive, sensory, and nutritional controls of appetite and eating in children and adults and their relevance to obesity; with specific research attention devoted to behavioral genetic methods to identify familial risk factors for overeating. In particular, her research assesses how familial predispositions to leanness or obesity interact with environmental factors, such as the omnipresence of palatable, energy-dense foods, to produce individual differences in energy intake regulation.

Dr. Kral is currently funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the impact of short-term appetite and intake regulation on longer-term energy intake control and weight development in a cohort of ethnically diverse normal-weight and obese boys and girls with different familial predispositions to obesity (1R01DK101480-01). In her recently completed NIH-funded research Kral examined eating behaviors among weight-discordant siblings (K01-DK078601) and studied individual differences in children’s susceptibility to overeating (R03-DK091492).

• Currently Funded Grants

• Center for Biobehavioral Research


Dr. Kral is a member of the Interdisciplinary Research Network “Promoting Healthy Weight among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Special Health Care Needs”, E.K. Shriver Center University of Massachusetts Medical School with funding from the Maternal Child Health Bureau (MCHB). Additionally, Dr. Kral serves as Advisory Editor for the journal Appetite and is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.

In the recent past, Dr. Kral has served on the Scientific Review Committee of The Obesity Society (TOS), the program committee of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), and the writing group “Behavioral basics of individual-level change for obesity treatment and weight gain prevention” of the American Heart Association.

2015 Ruth Pike Lecture Series Award
Awarded by the Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

2013 Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Scholarly Mentorship
Awarded by the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania

Publications (select year)
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2005  | 2004  | 2003  | 2002  | 2001  | 2000 and Prior  | In Press  | More Publications