About LA CaTS


The lead institution for the LA CaTS Center is the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University (LSU) System, based in Baton Rouge, LA. In order to implement significant transformational change in our region, Pennington Biomedical has partnered with highly synergistic and integrative collaborative programs with Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSUHSC-NO) and Tulane University, both in New Orleans.

In addtion, the LA CaTS Center has collaborations with LSU (Baton Rouge), LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Xavier University, Children's Hospital in New Orleans, and starting in July 2017, new partnerships with Ochsner Health System, University Medical Center and the New Orleans VA . The LA CaTS Center also has a strong alliance with South Carolina, another IDeA state, to share resources and collaborate on studies with the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). In July 2017, two new clinical trial units (CTUs) became a part of the center, one at the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans and another at LSUHSC-Shreveport. The LA CaTS Center has four operational CTUs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas.

Lead Institution

Pennington Biomedical Research Center


Pennington Biomedical Research Center, a research campus of the Louisiana State University, is the site for the Home Office of the LA CaTS Center. Pennington Biomedical is a research division of the LSU System established in 1982 by a $125 million gift from Louisiana oilman and philanthropist, C. B. Pennington, and the Pennington Medical Foundation. Pennington Biomedical’s mission is “to promote healthier lives through research and education in nutrition and preventive medicine.” The Pennington Biomedical facilities occupy over 650,000 SF and eleven buildings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has nearly 200 scientists and 350 support personnel. Research is the sole mission of Pennington Biomedical .

Pennington Biomedical is a model for clinical and translational research since its faculty and programs span basic, clinical and population research around a common theme - research in nutrition and preventive medicine. PBRC has an excellent clinical/translational research base, a good track record of postgraduate career development and a history of contribution to technology development to advance the clinical/translational research field.

The “Pennington System” of supporting clinical research is the result of 16 years of investment in systems and tools to support the Investigator and the effort represents an investment of more than 500,000 man-hours in developing support systems.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Pennington Biomedical is the commitment to developing support systems in clinical research, including electronic applications that are more sophisticated than commercially available programs. The “Pennington System” of clinical research support results from 17 years investment in systems and tools to support the Investigator; this effort represents more than 1 million man-hours in developing electronic support systems (which we call eTools) for clinical research. This effort forms a component of our Biomedical Informatics Resource and it will be deployed in the LANCI clinical sites, along with the Pennington Biomedical approach to standard operating procedures and clinical research practices.

Primary Collaborating Institutions

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans


LSUHSC NO (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans) is Louisiana’s flagship academic health center. Through its Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Allied Health Professions, Graduate Studies and Public Health, the Center educates the majority of Louisiana’s health professionals - 70% of Louisiana’s physicians and 75% of Louisiana’s dentists, as well as advanced practice nurses, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, public health professionals, and research scientists. Research strengths include the neurosciences, alcohol and drug abuse, genetics, aging, cardiovascular disease, eye disorders, gene therapy, oral and craniofacial biology, epilepsy, asthma and respiratory diseases and children’s health.

There are major research resources available to the LSUHSC faculty, including numerous core facilities such as: Proteomics, Immunology, Morphology and Imaging, Genomics, Molecular Interaction, Microarray and Biomedical Informatics, Vaccine Technology/Vector Development, and Tissue/Biospecimen Repository. These strengths encompass a wide-range research enterprise that includes translational research, basic science research and clinical trials.

LSUHSC NO campus continues to recover in a dramatic way from the damage of Hurricane Katrina. There have been over $45M in general upgrades and renovations across campus, to include research labs, classrooms and offices. The School of Medicine has a nationally recognized Center for Advanced Practice, a 10,000 sq. ft. virtual training environment for practicing and resident physicians, and a 20,000 sq. ft. Student Learning Center designed for small group teaching, simulation learning, computerized instruction, and conferences and meetings. In addition to these two exceptional resources, the School of Medicine recently accepted its largest class of incoming freshmen in the School’s history and also went through its best residency match in over 10 years. Last February, the School of Medicine received full accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education for the next eight years (a complete cycle).

LSUHSC and the State of Louisiana are also planning for a 424-bed hospital which will be located within two blocks of the LSUHSC and Tulane campuses. Opening of the hospital and affiliated clinics is currently planned for 2014. Jointly staffed by physicians from both LSUHSC and Tulane, this state of the art facility will include inpatient and outpatient resources for clinical and translational research.

LSU School of Dentistry
LSU School of Dentistry became a new resource to the LA CaTS Center in July 2017. Though already an official member of the Center under the LSUHSC-NO umbrella, the LSU School of Dentistry is providing clinical trial unit space and pilot grant support for clinical and translational research that is new asset to LA CaTS investigators.

Tulane University Health Sciences Center


Tulane University and the Tulane University Health Sciences Center (TUHSC) which includes the Schools of Medicine, Public Health & Tropical Medicine (SPHTM), and the Tulane National Primate Research Center (TNPRC), brings unique assets to the Consortium. Infectious diseases, vaccine development, cardiovascular disease, cancer and aging are major areas of research strength for the School of Medicine. The Tulane Center for Advanced Medical Simulation and Team Training (Sim Center) incorporates high-fidelity simulation equipment and modern education techniques to provide skills-based and team training for healthcare professionals at all levels. The 14,000 sq. ft. Sim Center conducts over 15,000 man hours of training annually for medical students, residents, practicing physicians and collaborating nurses and allied health professionals. The SPHTM is known for its international focus and its research programs in global health. Tulane’s Master of Science in Clinical Research (MS-CR) program offered by the School of medicine is designed to prepare the next generation of clinical and translational researchers and to transform Louisiana into a “destination” for clinical research for both patients and the pharmaceutical industry. Co-directed by Roy Weiner, M.D., at Tulane and Paula Gregory, Ph.D., at LSUHSC, this program is fundamental to LA CaTS Center plans to promote clinical translational research as a professional and sustainable career option to interested clinicians and basic researchers.

Tulane University Medical School has the largest number of MD-MPH students in the United States, many of whom are interested in pursuing careers in clinical and translational research. The TNPRC, which is the largest of the eight NIH-supported National Primate Research Centers, is a unique asset for the LA CaTS Center investigators, as is Tulane University’s School of Science and Engineering.

Research Partners

Xavier University of New Orleans


Xavier University of Louisiana, a Catholic and historically Black university, has a well defined history of promoting a more just and humane society and preparing its students for roles of leadership and service. Xavier University has, for the past ten years, ranked first in the nation among historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in sending graduates on to medical school. Currently, Xavier leads the nation in the number of African American graduates in the physical and biological sciences, and 55% of Xavier’s science graduates matriculate to professional or graduate school. Xavier is among the leaders in the nation in the number of African American Doctor of Pharmacy degrees conferred.

There is considerable research talent to draw from at Xavier in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy. The Biology and Chemistry departments and the College of Pharmacy have an established record of support from NIH, NSF and the Departments of Defense (Army and Air Force) and Energy. Among 102 HBCUs, Xavier currently ranks 8th nationally in NSF funding, 6th in NIH funding and 22nd in NSF funding among the 426 Comprehensive IIA institutions. Xavier has been actively recruiting translational research faculty to grow this enterprise.

The university, through NIH endowment funding of $25.7M, has established the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education (CMHDRE). The CMHDRE, which was established in 2002, has the overall Specific Aim to provide the infrastructure that is required to conduct research and provide community education and clinical services aimed at health disparities. The award was used to establish the Xavier Pharmacy Endowment for Minority Health. A second award of $5 million was added to the endowment corpus on October 24, 2002.

Because of the expertise in community engagement, research and education in minority health and health disparities, Xavier’s Dr. Leonard Jack, Jr. will lead the Community Engagement Resource for the Center.

LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport


The Health Sciences Center in Shreveport consists of the Schools of Medicine, Graduate Studies and Allied Health Professions. The School of Medicine in Shreveport was founded just 44 years ago and its clinical and translational research base is modest but through strategic development of its research initiatives, it now is poised for growth. Anchoring the clinical enterprise is the 459 bed LSU Hospital in Shreveport, which treats about 20,000 inpatients and more than 450,000 outpatients every year. An indication of the potential for growth of clinical and translational research in Shreveport are recent bequests to Cardiovascular Disease Research ($40M) and Cancer Research ($60M), suggesting that expanding the research base at this site may be “low hanging fruit” for future years. There is a dynamic new Chancellor who, with his Vice Chancellor for Administration, is charting a strategic plan building on current strengths as an academic medical center to one of national profile with a substantial research portfolio in future years.

One of the strengths in clinical research at LSUHSC in Shreveport is the NIH-funded health literacy research program under the direction of Terry Davis, PhD. Dr. Davis will bring this expertise to lead the LA CaTS Center Health Literacy Core.

Children's Hospital


The RIC is a pediatric research foundation established to support the research efforts of the LSU and Tulane medical faculty at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. The RIC is the largest pediatric research entity in Louisiana and provides support for research at Children's Hospital. This encompasses basic as well as inpatient and outpatient clinical, and community outreach investigative programs, making the center the premier translational research entity for children in the state.

The RIC is the home for the Pediatric Satellite Clinical Research Unit in New Orleans. This unit is a principal site for pediatric translational efforts in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Dr. Seth Pincus, Scientific Director of Research Institute for Children will lead the LA CaTS Center Pediatrics Core.



LSU A&M houses the INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) which mentors junior faculty at undergraduate institutions around the state and a CoBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence) in the School of Veterinary Medicine, mentoring junior faculty in infectious disease research. These two projects mentor 17 junior faculty for research careers. Other contributions are the opportunities for interaction with Engineering, Life Sciences, Veterinary Medicine and Mathematics. LSU A&M is the home of the Center for Computational Technology (CCT), which has developed the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI), a fiber optics network that provides the backbone of the LA CaTS Center communications system. LONI has 85 teraflops of computational capacity, one of the nation's largest grid computing environments. The state has invested $40 M for the development and support of LONI.

Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System ("New Orleans VA")

University Medical Center, New Orleans

IDeA State Partner Institution

Medical University of South Carolina


The LA CaTS Center has partnered with the state of South Carolina, specifically, the CTSA based at MUSC in Charleston, SC. The vision of South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (SCTR) is to improve health outcomes and quality of life for the population of SC through discoveries translated into evidence-based practice.

South Carolina shares similar health care issues with Louisiana, has similar socio-economic conditions, and that our institutions have a record of successful collaborative efforts. Like Louisiana, South Carolina is a largely rural state with a population of 4.6 million (68.9% White, 28.2% Black and 2.9% other minorities). The state has a high ratio of under-educated, under- or unemployed, and under- or uninsured individuals with critical healthcare needs. The United Health Foundation ranks South Carolina 41st of 50 states in overall health. SC has high age-adjusted death rates for diseases that are areas of significant health disparities regionally and nationally. Obesity is prevalent, as 65.4% of adults and 31.5% of high school students are overweight or obese. Nearly 48% of black rural children 10-17 years old are overweight or obese compared to 22.8% of white rural children. Significant health disparities impose a burden on individuals and communities within the state. Age adjusted death rates for cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes mellitus are all higher than the national average. Overall the public health burden experienced by South Carolina residents parallels that of Louisiana, painting a picture of relative need and health care underservice compared to the nation as a whole.

LA CaTS actively seeks collaboration with counterparts in South Carolina. This genesis of the collaboration began in 2004 with collaboration on the Troop Readiness Improvement (TRIM) Study. TRIM is a study of the development of overweight in childhood and early adulthood funded by the DoD and administered by the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and participant in the SC CTSA. Under principal investigator Dr. Russell Pate (Univ. of SC), this multi-center program has designed protocols and piloted data collections in anticipation of funding for a larger study in 2012. Pennington participation, headed by Dr. Harsha, includes protocol development, data analysis and publication, and overview of project direction. Pennington also acts as the medical laboratory facility for analysis of biospecimens.

Our continued collaboration as part of LA CaTS will be in the areas of Education, Health Literacy, Biomedical Informatics, and Community Engagement.