More volunteers needed for Pennington research studies _lowres

Advocate staff photo by STACY GILL -- Emanuel Andrews, a community outreach coordinator for Pennington Biomedical Research Center, shares details about studies both current and upcoming with Zachary Rotarians at a June meeting.

Emanuel Andrews, a community outreach coordinator for Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, shared details about several research studies and clinical trials with Zachary Rotarians on June 11.

“So many people have no idea what we do. Or they think that what Pennington does is based in science fiction,” Andrews said. “Our goal, and my job, is to educate people about Pennington and get us more involved with organizations like Rotary, with students and schools like those in Zachary, with faith-based groups and physicians in the area. We realize our footprint isn’t that large.”

Andrews said that most health treatments, cures and medicines on the market today were because of folks who helped move science forward by participating in clinical trials and studies.

“Pennington has more than 20 clinical trials underway that are on the cutting edge of medicine, but we need the help of about 1,000-plus volunteers to get the job done,” he said.

Types of studies range from general health and well-being to diabetes prevention and from Alzheimer’s to women’s health and weight loss.

Studies can last several weeks, months or years and require few to many visits. Specifics of each test can vary greatly, he said, but information on each study and all the details can be found on Pennington’s website, as well as a host of other information, news, test results, study findings and research articles.

In one study, the Pulse study, researchers examine whether losing weight or improving insulin resistance can help regulate menstrual cycles and improve fertility in women.

Many people do not know they are at risk for diabetes or don’t know they already have the disease. The most common factors associated with Type 2 diabetes are: family history of diabetes, being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle and having diabetes during pregnancy, he said.

“The purpose of the cranberry research study is to determine the health benefits of cranberry extract in people who are at risk for diabetes and heart problems,” Andrews said.

The study requires two screening visits, two overnight stays, four clinic visits and three phone calls.

Participants drink one 15.2-ounce bottle of cranberry extract or a placebo daily for eight weeks, with all study procedures provided at no cost to participants, Andrews explained.

For this particular test, the age requirement is 20, and a body mass index reading is required, which can be figured online by using a simple formula. Participants can earn up to $800 for the 10-week study.

Also, Pennington researchers are investigating results in a test geared toward overweight males ages 35 to 70 with body mass indexes ranging from 25 to 50.

“In this study, they’re trying to determine if grazing on food is good for your health or if it’s better to eat your entire daily caloric intake (all your food for the day) within the first six hours,” Andrews said. “This goes against everything we’ve ever heard, right? Many of us were told we had to eat three to four meals a day, spreading meals out every few hours. Well, we’re discovering that people are actually losing more weight, resulting in less fat on their visceral organs.”

Other, larger Pennington trials have included studies on Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, obesity, smoking and the effects of different types of medicines on diseases.

“Pennington is recognized around the world for a number of significant discoveries related to understanding physiology and neurobiology in the context of human diseases,” Andrews said. “For example, PBRC is recognized around the globe for its state-of-the-art research in characterizing mice with modern diseases that are of epidemic proportion in Louisiana, including obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

“These are just a small number of the types of things we do, but we’re so much more than that. I admit, we’ve not done a very good job at self-promotion, but I want Pennington to be out here, I want to change that and want people to know all about what we do and how they can get involved,”Andrews said.

For information about a particular study or to learn more about Pennington Biomedical Research Center, visit http://www.pbrc.edu/.

To contact Andrews, email emanuel.andrews@pbrc.edu or call (225) 763-2866.