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 represents a unified, comprehensive approach targeting the theme of "prevention, care and research of chronic diseases in the underserved population".

Read more about the institutions involved here.

The LA CaTS Center also intends to build upon the structure of our COBREs and INBREs of the state and to involve the COBRE/INBRE investigators in every LA CaTS Center Core and Resource. Thus, based on an emphasis to significantly enhance clinical and translational research by the collaborating institutions, the LA CaTS Center will have a significant impact on understanding the pathophysiology, prevention, management and research of chronic diseases in underserved populations.

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 three overarching specific aims.

II. Specific Aims

Aim 1: Create a collaborative infrastructure for clinical and translational research both within and across participating institutions.

We will enhance and share clinical research facilities and support all aspects of the research, education, and community engagement infrastructure required to establish and sustain a state-wide culture supporting integrated translational and clinical research. A major emphasis will be on providing the research infrastructure and direct support to those investigators of our COBREs and INBREs.

Aim 2: Increase the critical mass of investigators performing clinical and translational research.

This aim will be achieved by integrating existing faculty, coordinating new faculty recruitment across institutions, training faculty and pre- and-post doctoral trainees to expand their competence and comfort in clinical and translational team research, and by involving clinic-based physicians in the communities we serve.

Aim 3: Improve and sustain bi-directional relationships with our communities.

Our approach includes assessing the needs of vulnerable populations, understanding those needs based on two-way communication, and promoting the appreciation for and involvement in clinical research among the population we serve.

III. Key Component Activities (Cores & Resources)

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

IV. Background

Louisiana routinely ranks in the most extreme decile for mortality from chronic disease, with lifestyle as a major contributing factor.

  1. Age-adjusted mortality from cardiovascular disease in Louisiana is 266 per 100,000 per year compared with US national averages of 262. The state ranks 46th nationally in this regard.
  2. Cancer deaths are notably higher in the state relative to national norms, 203 versus 178 per 100,000 per year.
  3. In Louisiana, 24% of the population lives at or below the poverty level (a component of the Index of Medical Underservice), compared with 18% nationally.
  4. In Louisiana, 41% met criteria of the Index of Medical Underservice, compared with the national average of 25%.

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.

Although the LA CaTS Center supports all kinds of clinical and translational research, the major research thematic areas that have emerged include:

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 will be able to link very basic research to translational and outcomes research under one "umbrella" of support, namely, the LA CaTS Center.