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Pennington Biomedical Research Center Receives $2.3 Million NIH Grant to Research Health and Well-Being of Female Collegiate Athletes

Released: Monday, April 23, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - Pennington Biomedical Research Center has been awarded a five-year, $2.3 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate a program designed to improve the health and well-being of female collegiate athletes.

The Pennington Biomedical study, "Female Athlete Body Project: A Randomized Controlled Trial", is a partnership with Louisiana State University (LSU) Athletics, American University in Washington, D.C., and Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.

Co-principal investigators of the study are Pennington Biomedical's Tiffany Stewart, Ph.D. (contact PI), assistant professor and director of the Behavior Technology Laboratory and Trinity University's Carolyn Becker, Ph.D., F.A.E.D., professor of Psychology.

"This study will provide key information on the efficacy, acceptability, and feasibility of health promotion programming in female athletes" says Dr. Stewart. "A critical component of this study is that it is a cooperative effort that includes athletic programs across the full range of NCAA divisions and has been designed in partnership with the collaborating athletic departments," added Dr. Becker.  The study will include 500 female athletes recruited among the three sites' sports teams including basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming, diving, tennis, golf, softball, gymnastics, and cheerleading.

NIH recognizes the importance of this research, giving Pennington Biomedical and LSU Athletics the opportunity to collaborate on health and well-being promotion in female collegiate athletes.  "This is a great opportunity to collaborate on programming that could improve our care of our female athletes. While athletic competition and academic excellence are an important part of what we can offer our student-athletes, it is equally as important to educate our athletes about ways to improve their overall health during their collegiate years as well as ultimately impact their lives in the future. This grant will allow us to meet that goal" said Shelly Mullenix, Senior Associate Athletic Trainer and Director of Wellness at LSU.  "Improving health during collegiate years and thereby reducing the risk of chronic disease later in life is a vital component of this research" added Steven Heymsfield, M.D., Executive Director of Pennington Biomedical.  "I am pleased that Pennington has received this grant to conduct a very important study that can help ensure the health and well-being of our female student-athletes," said Joe Alleva, LSU vice chancellor and director of athletics.  Alleva added, "Student-athlete wellness is a priority in LSU Athletics and we are excited that we can participate in this study that can ultimately help all universities develop a positive course of action for female student-athletes."

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the causes of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. Itis a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at the Center includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 50 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dieticians, and support personnel, and 19 highly specialized core service facilities.  The Center's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 234-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.