Launching the Next Steps Toward Precision Exercise Medicine

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Released: Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Baton Rouge, Louisiana — Scientists, physicians, and clinical exercise specialists from across the country are embarking on 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 health improvements.

"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 LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and one of the clinical 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. “We will undoubtedly find individual differences…what works for me…might be very different than what works for someone else. We want to discover that,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

The study will include 1,980 adults and 300 children divided among 11 clinical sites nationwide. Sites include: Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina; AdventHealth, Orlando, Florida; University of Alabama at Birmingham; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Pittsburgh; the University of Colorado, Denver; University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Pennington; 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: 840 who will do endurance exercise; 840 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 three 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.

Scientists will assess participants’ aerobic function, muscular strength, and body composition. 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.

"This particular research project is intentionally taking all the different specialties and trying to integrate them together. [It] will give us a more clear understanding of the problems and how to solve them," said Dr. Peggy Whitson, American Astronaut, NASA.

For more information on MoTrPAC, and how you can participate, click here, call (225) 763-3000, or watch a video here.



About LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center

LSU's 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. The center conducts basic, clinical and population research, and is affiliated with Louisiana State University. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 450 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical is located in state-of-the-art research facilities on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.