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New Study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center Designed to Identify Factors Affecting Infertility in Women

Released: Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - The Pennington Biomedical Research Center has been awarded a grant totaling more than $700,000 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a 10-month study to understand the role of obesity, body weight and insulin resistance in the regulation of reproduction in women. The study, called PULSE: Effect of Weight and Insulin Sensitivity on Reproductive Function, is designed to determine how three different treatment plans impact ovulation and reproductive health in women who are infertile due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

The principal investigator of PULSE at Pennington Biomedical is Leanne Redman, Ph.D., assistant professor and head of the Reproductive Endocrinology & Women's Health Laboratory.

Dr. Redman noted that one in 14 women of child bearing age is believed to be affected by this syndrome worldwide. Women with PCOS have irregular or absent menstrual periods, rarely ovulate and have difficulty becoming pregnant. "As obesity is on the rise, so are reproductive problems in women, such as PCOS. We know that weight gain is linked to PCOS, irregular menstrual cycles, not ovulating and difficulty becoming pregnant. It is not known how excess body weight or another marker of metabolic health, such as insulin resistance, regulates reproduction in women," said Dr. Redman.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, weight loss of as little as 5 percent in obese women can be enough to restore ovulation and the ability to become pregnant.

Dr. Redman's recent research findings, published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility in February last year, show that regular exercise, even without weight loss, restored menstrual periods in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

The new study is open to overweight and obese women 20 to 40 years of age with a history of irregular menstrual cycles.

For more information on study eligibility or to enroll in the study, individuals should call the Pennington Biomedical Clinical Research Call Center at 225-763-3000 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit If selected, participants will be assigned to either an exercise, diet or medication program for six months. Participants will receive up to $1500 for completing the study.


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical’s more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.