Scientists Take the Next Step Toward Precision Exercise Medicine

For more information, contact our Media Relations Manager, Ted Griggs, 225-763-2862 or our Communications Director, Lisa Stansbury, at 225-763-2978. Our news email box is also available at

Released: Monday, April 23, 2018

Scientists Take the Next Step Toward Precision Exercise Medicine

Training is Schedule April 17-April 19 Baton Rouge

LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center will host 120 scientists from across the country next week who are taking part in a landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) effort to find out what happens at the molecular level when people exercise.

The goal of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium, known as MoTrPAC, is to create a comprehensive map of the molecular responses to exercise and its relation to health. Decades of scientific research have shown that exercise is good for people, but science hasn't revealed exactly why or what happens at the molecular level to produce those gains.

"The study will lay the foundation for a new era of biomedical research on Precision Exercise Medicine," said Dr. Eric Ravussin, Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at Pennington Biomedical and one of the two local Principal Investigators of the study.

Scientists will be able to use those findings to generate hypotheses for future investigations of physical activity's health benefits. Knowing the molecular basis of those advantages will also allow physicians to prescribe exercise programs precisely tailored to each patient.

The study will include 2,700 adults divided among Pennington Biomedical and 11 other clinical sites nationwide. The others are Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina; Florida Hospital, Orlando, Florida; University of Alabama at Birmingham; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Pittsburgh; the University of Colorado, Denver; Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Most of the study participants will be people who do not exercise regularly. They will be divided into three groups: 1,050 who will do endurance exercise; 1.050 who will do resistance exercise; and 300 who won't do either. Participants in both exercise groups will receive personal coaching. The exercise groups will go through four 1-hour training sessions per week.

There will also be a comparison group consisting of 300 people considered highly active, meaning they work out at least four hours per week.

Pennington Biomedical will recruit 400 people who don't exercise regularly for the study and 50 for the highly active group.

Scientists will assess participants' cardiopulmonary function, muscular strength, and body composition determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Researchers will also collect blood, muscle and fat samples, monitor participants' free-living physical-activity level using wearable devices, and complete participant-reported outcomes and health status by interviews and questionnaires.

"Basically we're looking to learn which molecules change in our bodies after exercise and which molecules transmit the benefits to the organs and tissues that aren't directly involved in physical activity," said Dr. Tuomo Rankinen, associate professor in Pennington Biomedical's Human Genomics Department.

MoTrPAC is funded through the NIH Common Fund and managed by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute on Aging, and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Awards are made using the NIH Cooperative Agreement mechanism which allows for substantial scientific interaction between the NIH and awardees.

For more information on MoTrPAC, click here or watch a video here.


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.