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University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health Receives $6 Million Grant To Coordinate Obesity Surgery Study

PITTSBURGH, December 4, 2003 A national multi-site study coordinated by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) will, for the first time, study the long-term effects of bariatric surgery as a treatment for obesity. GSPH has received a $6 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to be the Coordinating Center in the six-center Bariatric Surgery Clinical Research Consortium (BSCRC).

"Obesity is a major public health problem in this country affecting more than 30 percent of the adult population," said Steven Belle, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at GSPH and principal investigator for the Coordinating Center. "For millions of people in this country who are morbidly obese, bariatric surgery offers the potential for impressive weight loss and a positive impact on co-morbidities that accompany obesity. However, there is a need to address numerous scientific questions about the short and long-term effects of this therapy through rigorous scientific investigations, and that is the goal of this national consortium."

The BSCRC was established to facilitate clinical, behavioral and epidemiological research in the field of bariatric surgery and to establish a database of clinical information from adults who undergo these surgeries. It will conduct basic science and clinical studies to explore the mechanisms by which surgery affects, and is affected by, obesity-related co-morbid conditions, energy expenditure, eating behaviors and psychosocial factors.

In the United States there are approximately 4.5 million women and 3.5 million men who are classified as severely or morbidly obese with annual direct cost of treating obesity-related medical illness estimated at nearly $52 billion and annual United States expenditures aimed at weight reduction exceeding $30 billion. About 40,000 major bariatric procedures were performed in the United States in 2001.

Among others, complications of obesity include hypertension, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, certain cancers, asthma, deep venous thrombosis, degenerative joint disease, polycystic ovary disease and depression.

"The BSCRC will work cooperatively to create a core information base on patients undergoing bariatric surgery and also will include several clinical research projects each year. The Coordinating Center, located in the Epidemiology Data Center at GSPH supports all aspects of the study design, study conduct and data analysis for the center information core and all affiliated basic and clinical research projects," Dr. Belle said.

The BSCRC includes six clinical centers in the United States, including the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, University of Washington, East Carolina University, University of California, Davis and the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute in Fargo, N.D.

Additional GSPH investigators include, Katherine Detre, M.D., Ph.D., distinguished professor of epidemiology; Kevin Kip, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and Faith Selzer, Ph.D., research associate in the department of epidemiology.

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