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Scientists “TEACH” Teachers to be Researchers

Released: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

BATON ROUGE - Teachers from across Louisiana will learn how to be health researchers at a two-day session being held Thursday and Friday at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).

To kick-off a large research project, scientists created Teachers Education Across Content Areas and Health, also called TEACH, to show teachers how to turn schools into living laboratories. Teachers will learn about various topics, including science and mathematics, to help scientists study the health habits of their students for LA Health, a three-year health program.

Researchers Dr. Donald Williamson and Dr. Lisa Colvin are investigators for LA Health, and will provide the teachers with hands-on training for their role. Other representatives from PBRC, ULM and the Monroe Athletic Club will also give presentations at TEACH.

Teachers will learn a variety of topics at the session, including ethics, legal liability, the use of consent forms, how to administer health measurements and how to take digital pictures of student lunches. Kenyatta Esters, a research study coordinator at PBRC, said teachers will also learn how to use yoga and Pilates for their personal well-being and to aid in their professional development.

LA Health researchers, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will work in coordination with the LA Gear Up program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. LA Gear Up is committed to increasing the number of low-income students who enter college at 25 Louisiana public schools.

Leslie Lewis of PBRC said that one of the purposes of LA Health is to foster a healthy environment in schools and increase healthy habits in adolescents. The ultimate goal, she said, is to learn if a healthy school environment and in-school health activities combined with home and online activities lead to healthier lifestyles.

“The program will be implemented in several school systems in Avoyelles, East Feliciana, East Carroll, Pointe Coupee, and St. John parishes this coming year,” Lewis said.

An estimated 4,500 students from grades four through six will participate in LA Health. During the study, researchers from PBRC will visit each school four times to measure each student’s mood, body image, height, weight, self-esteem, attitudes, food intake, and physical activity. The students will receive various gifts for participating in the program, including T-shirts. stickers, pens, and buttons.

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts both clinical and basic research. It is the largest academically based nutrition research center in the world, with the greatest number of obesity researchers on faculty. The Center's nearly 600 employees occupy several buildings on the 234-acre campus.

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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.