Woman’s Hospital delivers more than just babies. It’s also improving health outcomes through clinical research.

Woman's Hospital

As the largest delivery hospital in Louisiana and one of the largest in the country, Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge has welcomed more than 385,000 babies since its 1968 opening. Understandably then, it’s often pegged as the capital city’s go-to birthing facility, but its roots are actually in research.

As part of its mission to improve the health of women and infants, Woman’s Hospital Research Center regularly conducts clinical studies, molecular biology and genetic research. One such study on human papillomavirus (HPV) yielded intriguing results.

HPV is a common virus that can affect different parts of the body. There are more than 100 different strains of HPV, approximately 13 of which are known to cause cancer. The most common cancerous strains are 16 and 18, accounting for nearly 50% of high-grade cervical pre-cancers, according to the World Health Organization. In Louisiana, however, that isn’t quite the case.

A pilot study performed in 2018 at Woman’s Hospital, in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Cameron at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, looked at HPV strains found in abnormal Pap test specimens. Our research showed that the four most common viruses identified in the samples were HPV strains 51, 53, 59 and 89. None of these strains are covered by the Gardasil 9 HPV shot, a life-saving vaccine that has the potential to prevent HPV-attributable cancers.

Dr. Beverly Ogden, a Pathologist at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge

Woman’s is currently conducting a follow-up study, led by Dr. Beverly Ogden, to examine cancer-causing strains identified in cases of precancer and cancer diagnosed at the hospital in the last five years. If this study shows similar results, it would suggest that vaccine effectiveness could vary by geographic location or community.

“Our research shows sexually active women must see their doctor annually to ensure early detection because while the current vaccine is highly effective overall, it may not address a community’s particular predominant strains,” says Dr. Ogden.

Another of Woman’s current research projects is its SWEET Study, a clinical trial that launched in 2022 designed to learn if women can attain healthy blood sugar levels by taking a once-a-week medicine called semaglutide.

Widely known by the brand name Ozempic®, the FDA-approved drug semaglutide has been shown to help treat type 2 diabetes. In Woman’s SWEET Study, researchers are investigating if women diagnosed with gestational diabetes can return to healthy blood sugar levels postpartum and reduce their risk of getting type 2 diabetes after pregnancy when taking Ozempic®.

Dr. Elizabeth Sutton, director of scientific research at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge

“Research has shown the risk for developing type 2 diabetes is nearly ten times higher for women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy compared to women who have not,” says Dr. Elizabeth Sutton, director of scientific research at Woman’s. “We hope to find that semaglutide improves blood sugar levels, treats pre-diabetes and helps with weight loss so that women can get back to living their best lives.”

A perinatal physiologist, Dr. Sutton oversees Woman’s broad program of epidemiological and clinical research in obstetrics and gynecology, collaborating with institutions worldwide to improve health outcomes and improve health equity for women and infants.

“Woman’s Hospital is rooted in research,” says Dr. Sutton. “As an organization simultaneously delivering clinical care and conducting research, we can be a bridge between medicine and research. We continue to learn and innovate through scientific discovery to impact the health of not only women and infants we serve in Louisiana but also those across the globe as we seek to safely and effectively prevent, detect and treat diseases.”

To learn more about Woman’s Hospital, including their current slate of research studies, please visit Womans.org.

Media Inquiries

Members of the news media can contact the LED Communications team for information and interview requests about LED projects and programs.

Media Inquiries