While many people may think of Woman’s first and foremost as a place to have a baby, our roots are actually in research. In the late 1950s, a cervical cancer detection laboratory was established by one of Woman’s founders. It is credited with helping Baton Rouge cite one of the lowest cervical cancer death rates in the country – and it’s still reviewing pap tests performed at Woman’s.
50 years later, the Woman’s Health Research Department is continuing its work and you may be a candidate for one of our studies.
- Treating metabolic conditions: Woman’s internationally recognized work in insulin resistance and gestational diabetes led to the establishment of Woman’s Metabolic Clinic. The region’s most comprehensive clinic, it helps women throughout their lives from adolescence through menopause, PCOS patients, cancer patients and offers an expanded spectrum of weight loss treatments.
- Breast cancer treatments more effective:In the 90’s, Woman’s Molecular Biology Laboratory worked alongside world renowned geneticist Dr. Mary Claire King, who discovered the breast cancer gene BRCA1, to identify women in Louisiana with an inherited risk for breast cancer. Because of this work, we will soon offer expanded inherited cancer testing and genetic testing of tumors to help pick the best cancer therapy for our patients.
- Investigating high GYN cancer rates:Over the past 20 years, Baton Rouge has had a higher rate of vulvar cancer than any other region in the state or in the country. We are working with the Louisiana Tumor Registry to define the cities involved and mapping out the most affected areas. Woman’s has also noted a high incidence of a rare form of sarcoma of the endometrium and ovary. Sarcoma is associated with certain pesticides and other toxin exposure. We are working with the Louisiana Tumor Registry to investigate further.
- Post-gestational diabetes risk: Karen Elkind-Hirsch, PhD, currently serves as Woman’s Health Research Institute scientific director, and she has lead dozens of research trials into improving the health of women with gestational diabetes. Due to her research, we now know that up to 75% of women who had gestational diabetes may develop full diabetes in 5 years if left untreated. Women with gestational diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease.
- Insulin Resistance, Cancer and Menopause:Numerous studies have theorized that increased levels of insulin and glucose can counteract the effects of chemotherapy. Woman’s is investigating a clinical trial for breast cancer patients and identifying the role that insulin resistance plays in the health and survival of menopausal patients.
- Effectiveness of HPV vaccines: 9 percent of cervical cancers are related to HPV. Gardasil is a vaccine for HPV; however a Woman’s research study found that Gardasil 4 would most likely not be effective in preventing cervical cancer in Louisiana patients. Gardasil 9 was released in 2017 and we are actively testing to see if this new vaccine will be effective for women in Louisiana.
For more information on clinical trials at Woman’s or to become a participant in an ongoing study, click here.