The power of Pennington Biomedical is its ability to shrink the distance between basic research and population health initiatives. From the design of our research test kitchens and inpatient facilities to our sophisticated whole room calorimeters and outpatient research clinic, we have streamlined our clinical trial methodologies in order to drive discoveries forward from clinical research to population-based programs that have the opportunity to improve healthcare treatments.


Pennington Biomedical's research seeks to answer important disease prevention questions: Can hypertension be reduced by diet alone? What is the physical activity "prescription" that prevents or even reverses diabetes? Do the plants around us offer "nutriceuticals" that curb metabolic syndrome? Can we slow the aging process through caloric restriction? What impact does diet and exercise have on dementia? Here are a few research accomplishments achieved at Pennington Biomedical:


  • Discovered means by which adult stem cells from fat tissue can be transformed into bone cells, a unique process that offers many potential therapeutic uses for conditions like osteoporosis.
  • Developed a novel "lytic peptide" that selectively targets cancer cells, leaving normal cells unharmed. This compound has been advanced through the founding of Esperance Pharmaceuticals and is moving towards phase II human studies in partnership with a major drug company.
  • Identified a specific human adenovirus protein associated with obesity that paradoxically improves insulin levels and reduces liver fat accumulation in animal models. Pennington Biomedical researchers are now seeking to develop a chemical compound that mimics this action and that could lead to a drug that prevents or reverses diabetes.


  • Conducted human studies of "caloric restriction," a measure known to prolong animal lifespan. This groundbreaking research has shown that caloric restriction in young, overweight individuals improves metabolic markers that are known to impact chronic diseases and aging, and does so without promoting adverse effects such as loss of bone mass.
  • Initiated one of the country's largest longitudinal studies aimed at understanding how lifestyle and genetic factors combine to influence brain aging that is attracting pharmaceutical clinical trials and Alzheimer's disease studies. Developed a novel test to effectively predict early cognitive decline.


Pennington Biomedical actively led and contributed to landmark studies focused on the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes that have shaped standard medical practice:

  • The Diabetes Prevention Program proved that the disease can be prevented in high risk individuals through weight loss and exercise.
  • The Look Ahead Study demonstrated that individuals with type 2 diabetes can achieve and maintain weight loss for more than 4 years, reducing medication requirements and improving cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes control.
  • The HART-D Study established that diabetics can improve their glycemic control by combining strength training and aerobic activities versus either type of exercise alone.
  • A fruit and vegetable rich diet was developed and proven effective at lowering blood pressure as much as medication in the collaborative DASH study.


  • Longstanding collaboration with the United States Department of Defense, establishing the effectiveness of various macronutrients, such as dietary protein; mineral micronutrients, and amino acids on physical and mental performance during military operations.
  • Aided in the development and evaluation of a new food ration for deployed personnel, the First Strike Ration, which is now in widespread military use.