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Pennington researcher to receive international scientific award

Released: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BATON ROUGE - Eric Ravussin, Ph.D. will receive the 2010 Willendorf Award from the International Association for the Study of Obesity. This prestigious award for clinical research in obesity is given every four years at the society's International Congress on Obesity, currently being held in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Ravussin will receive the award and present the Willendorf Plenary Award Lecture on July 15, 2010.

Professor Ravussin holds the Douglas L. Gordon Endowed Chair in Diabetes and Metabolism and is the Director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received his PhD in Human Physiology from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland in 1980 and then moved to the University of Vermont as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. In 1982 he joined the Clinical Diabetes and Nutrition Section, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, in Phoenix, Arizona and remained there until 1998 when he moved to Eli Lilly in Indianapolis as a Research Leader in Obesity. Dr. Ravussin joined the Pennington Biomedical Research Center faculty in 2000.

Dr. Ravussin's research focuses on the relationships between energy balance, body weight and composition, and metabolism. He was among the first in modern times to build and then imaginatively use elegant measuring instruments, such as the "respiratory chamber indirect calorimeter" for quantifying human metabolism. His seminal studies, notably in the Pima, a US Indian tribe profoundly afflicted with severe obesity and diabetes, provided early evidence of metabolic derangements and associated genetic factors leading to excess body fat. Dr. Ravussin's recent research at Pennington is focusing on if and how "calorie restriction" has beneficial effects on metabolism that might improve human quality of life and lengthen lifespan, as it does in animals. The Willendorf Award recognizes Dr. Ravussin's groundbreaking research that now spans almost three decades.

As noted by Pennington's Drs. George Bray, a previous recipient of the Willendorf Award, and Donna Ryan, "Dr. Ravussin is known as a creative and enthusiastic investigator who has been extremely productive during his entire career, and his publication record, mentoring ability and leadership skills are all characteristics of an eminent clinical investigator deserving of this award."

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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.