Dr. Thorndike is a board-certified primary care physician with training in epidemiology, clinical trials, and outcomes research. She received her MD from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. After residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, she completed a fellowship in General Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Thorndike is currently the Director of the Metabolic Syndrome Clinic at MGH, where she treats patients with obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As a clinical investigator, her focus is on individual and population-level behavioral interventions to prevent cardiometabolic disease. Her early research focused on national patterns in physicians’ treatment of smoking during ambulatory visits, including patients with psychiatric diagnoses. This research provided important evidence showing that physicians were not adequately addressing tobacco use with their patients, as recommended by national guidelines. Other smoking research included evaluating the effectiveness of pharmacologic treatments for smoking cessation in patients with cardiovascular disease and demonstrating the association of smoking cessation with weight gain and cardiovascular risk reduction in smokers with serious mental illness.
Recently, Dr. Thorndike is testing interventions in worksite and community settings to promote healthy food choices using strategies based on psychology and behavioral economics, such as traffic light labels, choice architecture, social norms, and financial incentives. Results from this work have provided some of the first evidence that these strategies are effective for changing food choice behavior at a population level.