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About COPE


Obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic levels and impacts people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels. The rise in obesity and its related diseases has led to a call to action from all segments of society.  In response to this urgent need, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University established the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE).

Established in 2011 through the generous support of The MacDonald Family Foundation and The Take Shape for Life Foundation, the Center serves as a locus for interdisciplinary collaboration in the prevention of obesity through education and research.  It will support and foster the growing need for development of healthy lifestyles and behaviors among Americans. 


The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) will be a leading academic center dedicated to providing evidence-based instruction and conducting, implementing, and evaluating applied obesity prevention and treatment research that is translatable to clinical practice and public health programming.


The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education provides education, conducts research and disseminates findings that promote healthy weight management, leading to the prevention and reduction of obesity and obesity-related diseases across the lifecycle of a diverse population. As the first obesity center located within a college of nursing, COPE equips the next generation of nurses and other health professionals and health coaches with evidence-based education needed to competently and confidently prevent and/or treat obesity and obesity-related diseases. COPE – with a philosophy of inter-professional collaboration- establishes broad based partnerships with academics, clinicians, and public and private community stakeholders and participates in translational obesity-related research and education.


Through the united expertise of physicians, nurses, dietitians and other health professionals, the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education will develop strategic initiatives to address the obesity epidemic nationally and globally.  The Center's goals are to:

1. Enhance the education of nursing and other college students in nutrition, obesity prevention and health promotion strategies.

2. Provide continuing education programs on obesity and obesity-related disease for health professionals and educators.

3. Participate in research to expand and improve evidence-based approaches for obesity prevention and intervention among community-based populations.  


Accreditation Status  

ANCC logo

Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. 

CDR logo

Villanova University Fitzpatrick College of Nursing MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) is a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

Non-Endorsement Statements

Accredited status does not imply endorsement by Villanova University or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or used with an activity.

Continuing Professional Education Accredited Provider Status does not constitute endorsement by CDR of a provider, program or materials.

Contact COPE Staff

Rebecca Shenkman MPH, RDN, LDN, Director

Lisa K. Diewald, MS, RD, LDN, Program Manager  

Libby Mills, MS, RD, LDN, FAND, Dieititian for Employee Counseling  

Louisa Zullo, Continuing Education Program Assistant