$20 million grant to help increase research for chronic disease

$20 million grant to help increase research for chronic disease

POSTED: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 1:30pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 10:07am

Louisiana ranks among the highest nationally in deaths from chronic diseases, with lifestyle as a major contributing factor. Now, a nearly $20 million, five-year grant hopes to help support biomedical research that could change those statistics. 

The National Institute of Health Institutional Development Award Program for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR) grant will fund the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Center. the goal is to increase and support the next generation of clinician scientists. The LA CaTS Center will help academic institutions across Louisiana with research in chronic disease prevention and improved health care in underserved populations.

The initiative is led by Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

"The LA CaTS Center represents an unprecedented collaborative effort among the state's academic institutions," said William Cefalu, M.D., Pennington Biomedical's Associate Executive Director for Clinical Research and principal investigator of the LA CaTS Center.

The LA CaTS Center is comprised of four Primary Collaborating Institutions: Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, Tulane Health Sciences Center, and the seven public hospitals of the LSU Health Care Services Division (HCSD). Also participating are four Research Partners: LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Xavier University of Louisiana, Research Institution for Children at Children's Hospital, and LSU in Baton Rouge.

"This is a 'game changer' for Louisiana as it has created a new working network of medical research partners while putting best practices in medicine and preventive care into action," added Dr. Cefalu.

"This highly competitive, multi-million dollar grant provides the LA CaTS Center the funding needed to begin its mission in full: to provide prevention, management of diseases and research in the search for the triggers of chronic diseases," said Steven Heymsfield, M.D., Pennington Biomedical's Executive Director.

Research undergirded by LA CaTS will focus on nutrition and chronic disease, health disparities, and expanded clinical trials, all ultimately designed to improve health care. According to the LA CaTS Center, the institutions will share clinical research facilities and support all aspects of the grant goals to:

  • Promote the development of scientists, clinicians, and trained professional staff and leaders for continuation and growth of Louisiana's clinical and translational research base.
  • Unify infrastructure consisting of clinical research units in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and LSU Health Care Services Division clinical sites throughout the state.
  • Facilitate health outcomes research and clinical research recruitment using the electronic health record system of the LSU hospitals and clinics.
  • Provide training in community-based, participatory research and related topics
  • Increase health literacy to individuals served.
  • Support collaborations among researchers in Louisiana who have been awarded NIH funding through Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) and IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) programs.

Louisiana has the fourth highest age-adjusted mortality for cardiovascular disease and cancer rates are above the national average. More than half of Louisiana youth are overweight or obese and four out of 10 residents meet the national criteria for medically underserved.

"These programs are designed to use complementary research and clinical strengths in the Gulf Coast region to build a vital, growing enterprise with the ability and commitment to solve the region's unique health problems. The project will further our strategy to align the research pipeline coming from the academic centers of our state with our clinical and business priorities to improve health outcomes for the benefit of Louisiana's citizens," said Dr. Cefalu.

The NIH Institutional Development Award Program for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR) encourages consortium applications to develop regional infrastructure and capacity to conduct clinical and translational research on diseases that affect medically underserved populations and/or diseases prevalent in IDeA states. LA CaTS will fulfill this goal through a partnership with the state of South Carolina, through the Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) program based at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

"The Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center Institutional Development Award (IDeA) will provide the environment for basic and clinical researchers to work collaboratively in addressing the health problems and needs of the Gulf Coast region," said Sidney A. McNairy, Jr., Ph.D.,D.Sc., an IDeA program official at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "This is particularly important because the region has a disproportionately high incidence of cardiovascular and other diseases, including some forms of cancer, especially in underserved and minority populations."

The new grant, one of the largest multi-institutional awards for health research in the State of Louisiana, was led by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at the request of the Louisiana Board of Regents. Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell commented, "The development of a well-trained, highly qualified workforce is inherently dependent on Louisiana's emergence as a center for biomedical research."

For more information on this grant award, please visit lacats.org. The NIH grant number is 1 U54 GM104940, and is entitled "Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center".

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