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Louisiana Scholars Top Google List Moving Health Science Forward

Released: Wednesday, November 04, 2020

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Four Pennington Biomedical Research Center faculty members and one adjunct professor rank among the most cited researchers in the world, according to the recently released Google Scholar Citations database.

The database shows 4,238 scholars have an h-index above 100. The h-index is a gauge of productivity and the impact of published papers. The index takes into account the researcher’s total number of papers and how many times each was cited by other scholars. An h-index over 100 means that the scholar has published 100 papers or more and each has been cited over 100 times.

When a paper is frequently cited, it indicates that other scientists are using those results to test and prove new theories, which provide fresh discoveries. This process is how research serves as the basis for continuously advancing science and improving health.

Here are a few ways these researchers have changed our health for the better:

  • Launched the idea that some exercise is better than none.
  • Helped popularize the use of body mass index, or BMI.
  • Helped develop the DASH diet, one of the most widely accepted diets for improving blood pressure and overall health.
  • Showed the health risks of sedentary behavior, sitting for more than three hours a day, are similar to smoking or obesity.

Claude Bouchard, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Human Genomics Laboratory, and John W. Barton, Sr. Endowed Chair in Genetics and Nutrition, had the highest h-index at 176, according to Google Scholar Citations. His research centers on the genetics and consequences of obesity and the health benefits of exercise. Dr. Bouchard co-authored a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1995 titled “Physical Activity and Public Health: A Recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine,” which has been cited almost 11,000 times.

“Although the health benefits of high-intensity exercise were well-known at the time, we also knew only a small percentage of people could work out that hard,” Dr. Bouchard said. “To encourage more people to become active, we emphasized the body of research supporting a recommendation for exercising at a lower level of intensity. The health gains were generally smaller, but the overall benefit was far better than the alternative of remaining physically inactive.” 

The other Pennington Biomedical faculty members among the most highly cited researchers are:

  • Steven Heymsfield, M.D., Professor and Director, Metabolism and Body Composition Laboratory, has an h-index of 150. His paper “Epidemiology of sarcopenia among the elderly in New Mexico,” which described how muscle mass decreases with age, has been cited close to 4,000 times. Dr. Heymsfield said that when the paper was published in 1998, he had no idea that sarcopenia would become one of the hottest topics in clinical research. But it took years before the paper, one of the first to define body mass index, and the term BMI became popular.
  • Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director for Population and Public Health Sciences, and Professor and Marie Edana Corcoran Endowed Chair in Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes has an h-index of 118. His papers have been cited more than 65,000 times. His paper, “Effect of Physical Inactivity on Major Non-Communicable Diseases Worldwide: An Analysis of Burden of Disease and Life Expectancy,” published in 2012 by the journal Lancet, has been cited 6,580 times. One of Dr. Katzmarzyk’s most recent papers, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed a tailored weight-loss program could help those most at risk of obesity: underserved, low-income patients.
  • Carl “Chip” Lavie, M.D., adjunct professor at LSU and Pennington, and Professor of Medicine at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School, the University of Queensland School of Medicine in New Orleans, has an h-index of 118. Lavie’s research focuses on exercise, physical activity and fitness, obesity and the obesity paradox, cardiac rehab and many other areas of Preventive Cardiology. Among his most highly cited papers are “Effectiveness-based Guidelines for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases in Women - 2011 Update: a Guideline of the American Heart Association” published in 2011 JACC, and “Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease: Risk Factor, Paradox, and Impact of Weight Loss” in the 2009 JACC, which were cited close to 2,400 and 2,000 times, respectively.

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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.