About LA CaTS

Our Mission, Aims & Background

Donna Ryan, MD
LA CaTS Principal Investigator


William Cefalu, MD
LA CaTS Center Principal Investigator 2012 - Feb. 2017 Professor Emeritus
Pennington Biomedical

I. Mission & Theme

The overarching objective of the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Center is to transform the clinical and translational research efforts of our region away from the status quo, where institutions operate in isolation to pursue their institutional missions, and toward a cohesive, mutually supportive enterprise for clinical and translational research. The LA CaTS Center has grown into a single clinical translational science program for Louisiana based on the development of synergistic programs and unparalleled collaboration from all the major academic and biomedical research institutions in the state. The net result of our collective efforts is the creation of a uniform, state-wide multi-institutional/multidisciplinary research enterprise built on trust, cooperation and collaboration. The LA CaTS Center represents a unified, comprehensive approach targeting the theme of “addressing health disparities and improving health outcomes in our underserved population with chronic diseases”.

Read more about the institutions that make-up the LA CaTS Center here.

The LA CaTS Center is continuing to build upon the structure of our COBREs and INBREs of the state, to increase synergies and maximize communication and collaboration. The PIs of the COBRE/INBREs have a voice in the direction of the Center by direct involvement in one of the Key Component Activities (KCAs) or serving on governing/leadership committees.

The projected end result is a vastly more efficient clinical and translational research enterprise with foundational activities for sharing uniform and integrated approaches, which result in avoidance of duplication and a more productive research enterprise.

The LA CaTS Center’s mission is to "encourage, support, and expand clinical and translational research through partnerships both among researchers and with the people we serve." To accomplish our stated mission, the LA CaTS Center has four overarching specific aims.

II. Specific Aims

Aim 1: Expand and enhance the existing collaborative infrastructure to additional Louisiana institutions.

We have successfully integrated, and will further expand clinical and translational activities between the initial members of our consortium (Pennington Biomedical, LSUHSC-New Orleans, LSUHSC-Shreveport, LSU, Children’s Hospital, Tulane University Health Sciences Center & Xavier University). We will extend our reach by adding the strengths, diversity and resources of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System (SLVHCS), University Medical Center in New Orleans (a >1.2 billion dollar state-of-the-art facility that replaced Charity Hospital), Ochsner Health System and new clinical trial units at LSUHSC School of Dentistry and LSUHSC-S.

Aim 2: Provide additional and coordinated services for successful completion of clinical and translational research both within and across participating institutions.

Our center already provides a comprehensive, systematic and uniform state-wide infrastructure platform that supports all aspects of the research, professional education, and community engagement activities supporting integrated translational and clinical research, while providing biostatistical, bioinformatics and health literacy support across the entire system. We will expand the use of facilitated IRB review by establishment and utilization of IRB reliance models as part of a statewide network. We will implement an innovative precision medicine initiative, focused on health disparities, that is accessible, understandable, and acceptable to vulnerable patients, and we will build biorepositories available to all investigators that will be national resources for clinical and translational research.

Aim 3: Increase the critical mass of investigators performing clinical and translational research and provide for growth in multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional projects addressing disparities and improving health outcomes.

We are successfully creating a new generation of young scientists trained in CT research with our Roadmap Scholars programs. We will expand CT research training of the translational education program and the pilot project program to all statewide LA CaTS sites.

Aim 4:Enhance and grow bi-directional relationships with our communities and inner city and rural safety net clinics so as to increase health literacy, increase participation in research trials, address disparities and understand barriers to preventive medicine initiatives and chronic disease management.

This is a critical new component for the next five years. We will expand Community Advisory Boards to other areas of the state, expand our Community Scholars program; and collaborate with Federally Qualified Health Centers and rural-clinic providers to culturally fine tune research approaches to promote patient recruitment and retention in CT research that is mutually beneficial to patients, providers and LA CaTS investigators, because they specifically address disparities and improve health outcomes.

III. Key Component Activities (Cores & Resources)

To achieve these specific aims, the LA CaTS Center is comprised of the following Key Component Activities (KCAs), also known as Cores and Resources. Click here to learn more about our KCAs.

IV. Background - The Major Health Concerns in Louisiana

Louisiana’s Chronic Disease Burden: Quality of life and health in Louisiana is adversely impacted by the twin public health burdens of medical underservice and high rates of chronic disease, exacerbated by high rates of poverty and disparities. Louisiana is in the highest decile for mortality from chronic diseases.  Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation for heart disease and fourth in the nation for cancer deaths(1). Age-adjusted mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer deaths are higher relative to national norms(1) (Figure A & B). Louisiana ranks among the lead-states in prevalence of obesity (34.9%) and diabetes (10.4%; Figure C) (2).

Using these criteria, all Louisiana parishes (counties) exhibit significant underservice. Overall, the quality of life in the state is heavily adversely impacted by the public health burdens of medical underservice and high rates of chronic disease. The simultaneously high incidence of poverty complicates these other factors and creates an environment of mutually reinforcing health deficits from which recovery is challenging, to say the least.

Given the expertise in our primary collaborating and partner institutions, and when combined with the infrastructure in place to conduct significant clinical and translational research, the LA CaTS Center is uniquely positioned to study health related problems across the research cycle, as our structure is able to link very basic research to translational and outcomes research under one "umbrella" of support, namely, the LA CaTS Center.

REFERENCES

  1. Stats of the State of Louisiana, U.S. Leading Causes of Death. (2012). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/LA_2014.pdf
  2. Diagnosed Diabetes, Louisiana. (2014). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/diabetes/DiabetesAtlas.html
  3. Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke, Louisiana, Coronary Heart Disease Deaths. (2011-2013).  Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://nccd.cdc.gov/DHDSPAtlas/Default.aspx?state=LA
  4. Death Rates for Louisiana, All Cancer Sites. (2009-2013). Retrieved from State Cancer Profiles:  https://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov.
  5. Diabetes Data and Statistics, County Data for Louisiana, Diagnosed Diabetes Percentage. (2013).  Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/atlas/countydata/atlas.html.