2nd Annual Conference on Hyperphagia; 26th Annual PWSA (USA) Scientific Conference

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October 17 - 20, 2012
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Released: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - The Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA) are pleased to announce the 2nd International Conference on Hyperphagia and the 26th Annual Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA) to be held October 17-20, 2012.

The international conferences will feature top scientists in the field of appetite and obesity research.  Over the three day meeting the invited scientists will present the latest information on the various aspects of appetite control including:

  • Intracellular nutrient signals controlling hunger
  • Common and novel genetic causes of hyperphagia
  • Animal and cell models of hyperphagia
  • Addictive behavior and hyperphagia
  • Unique investigative approaches to establishing the mechanisms of  hyperphagia

The conference will also feature panel discussions on the pros and cons of potential hyperphagia treatments, including pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery.

According to Janalee Heinemann, M.S.W.  -  Director of Research and Medical Affairs for PWSA (USA), "With PWS being the most common inherited cause of life threatening obesity, we are excited about the opportunity to work with Pennington Biomedical on the perplexing problems of runaway hunger in PWS and to bring people affected with PWS solutions that may have relevance to managing obesity in the general population".

"Pennington Biomedical scientists believe that real progress can be made in addressing appetite control and obesity by this cooperative effort to bring distinguished scientists together for two days in a collaborative effort aimed at furthering the understanding of hyperphagia causes and potential treatments", says Steven B. Heymsfield, M.D.,  -  Executive Director, Pennington Biomedical.

Hyperphagia, an extreme unsatisfied drive to consume food, is a serious symptom shared in common by several rare genetic disorders the most frequent of which is Prader-Willi syndrome. Hyperphagia leading to obesity, diabetes, and other serious medical disorders is also observed in some acquired disorders and the underlying mechanisms may be similar to those operating at a lower level in the millions of people now afflicted with obesity in the general population. Research conducted on hyperphagia may thus provide benefits to those with conditions such as Prader-Willi Syndrome and those in the population as a whole.

Prader-Willi Syndrome is the most commonly known life-threatening inherited cause of obesity.  This complex genetic disorder occurs typically within a small region of chromosome material vital to the regulation of appetite and metabolism, cognitive function and behavioral patterns.  For more than 30,000 people in the U.S. who suffer from PWS, a chronic insatiable feeling of hunger and extraordinarily low metabolic rate plague their daily lives.  These factors lead to excessive eating and life-threatening obesity.  Only with constant care and supervision from infancy through adult life can a person with PWS avoid a lifetime of chronic health problems, social crises and premature death.

More generally, according to the NIH Strategic Plan for Obesity Research, "obesity is a major contributor to serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, many cancers and numerous other diseases.  As rates of obesity have soared in the past three decades, it is clear that increasing the number of people who can achieve and maintain a healthy weight is a critical public health goal.  Reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated medical conditions will require broad based efforts - by government, the private and non-profit sectors, businesses, community organizations, healthcare professionals, schools, families and individuals. The foundation of such efforts is research to illuminate the causes and consequences of obesity, to develop and evaluate new prevention and treatment strategies to see what works, and to determine how to implement and expand promising approaches to reach those who could most benefit."


Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA)
For over 25 years PWSA (USA) has taken the lead, internationally, in raising vital funds, promoting key advocacy, encouraging collaborating research in support of Prader-Willi syndrome and providing support and educational materials for families and caregivers.


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.