Professor Conrad Earnest has joined the Department for Health where he will be continuing research into the effects of exercise as an augmentation strategy for treatment and prevention within various populations with or at risk for disease.
He also has an interest in nutrition and has pursued several lines of inquiry examining the effect of multivitamins on various risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including homocysteine and c-reactive protein, as well as the integration of omega-3 into foods.
Before moving to Bath in April, Professor Earnest was based at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he was the Director of the Exercise Biology Laboratory within the Division of Preventive Medicine.
He said: “In my last role I worked within a research group that examined a variety of intervention outcomes spanning from genomics to clinical applications in order to prevent and reduce obesity, diabetes and other clinically relevant makers related to disease processes.
“In general, our group focused on the effect of exercise within different populations. We studied postmenopausal women at risk for cardiovascular disease, individuals presenting with elevated inflammatory markers, such as c-reactive protein, patients with Type 2 diabetes, as well cancer survivors, the clinically depressed, and aging groups, both frail and healthy, over 75 years of age.
“Our primary interests involved looking at recommended policy statement guidelines regarding aerobic exercise and how they influenced our endpoints of interest. We also took a great interest in exploring newer interventions such as resistance training and interval training.
“Here at Bath I am going to be researching the metabolic syndrome which is an early warning of Type 2 diabetes. This is an important area of research because intervening at an early stage is better than trying to reverse the onset of diabetes.”
Professor Earnest said that existing government guidelines for recommended levels of exercise have not really evolved for some time despite the accumulation of newer findings surrounding various exercise modalities and health. Among these are resistance and interval training, which often, in accompaniment to traditional aerobic exercise, provide better clinical results.
“My initial research goals ally nicely with work performed here at Bath by Dr Niels Vollarrd and Dr Dylan Thompson. However, the clinical benefits of any exercise or nutritional based intervention are also tied to the behavioural aspects of solidifying the changes we want people to make. In fact, I would say that is still the Holy Grail of exercise and health research. Therefore, working closely with those within the Department of Health focused on the behavioural aspects of positive lifestyle choices will be paramount in affecting favourable health change throughout the world.
“Coming to Bath has given me a unique opportunity as the UK agenda has a lot of similarities to that of the US so I can bring my expertise and experience. I was attracted to the University of Bath because of its reputation and the work that’s been done here. It seemed a good fit for my interests.”
In his spare time, Professor Earnest has performed a number of research studies on cyclists competing in the three week Grand Tours of Cycling: The Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España in an effort to describe the physiologic characteristics of the riders, as well as the exertional demands of one of the world’s most demanding sports.
“We can learn a lot from both sides of the performance spectrum. Whether highly fit or presenting with some pattern of erosion within physiologic systems provides an excellent opportunity for bridging the gap between health and disease,” he said.