Nationally recognized researchers from LSU Health Shreveport will continue to play key roles in addressing health issues that adversely impact the people of Louisiana thanks to a new $20 million federal grant to fund the innovative Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LA CaTS) for another five years.
This funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the second such competitive grant awarded for this unprecedented research collaborative among 10 academic institutions across the state. The new award increases the total federal support for LA CaTS to $40 million over 10 years and continues to build Louisiana’s research capacity.
LSU Health Shreveport faculty will make a significant contribution in this statewide initiative coordinated through the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. Shreveport’s health sciences center will be funded for $1,035,255 over the next five years, bringing the total funding for its contributions to LA CaTS to $2,220,372 over a 10-year period.
Drs. Terry Davis and Connie Arnold, Professors of Medicine, serve as site Principal Investigators at LSU Health Shreveport. In this role they have implemented health literacy research and education state and nationwide. Their work focuses on enhancing patient understanding and engagement as well as promoting collaborations with rural and inner city clinics.
“LA CaTS provides a novel opportunity for health professionals and researchers across the state to collaborate to conduct truly meaningful clinical research to improve the health and healthcare of Louisiana residents, particularly our most vulnerable populations” Dr. Davis said.
Dr. G.E. Ghali, chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport, applauded the LA CaTS Center’s inclusion of inner city and rural safety net clinics, saying, “The importance of these clinics and their patients’ participation in research trials that address disparities and better identify barriers to preventive medicine initiatives and chronic disease management cannot be overstated.”
LSU Health Shreveport Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Chris Kevil is the site investigator for the Clinical Research Resources. In that capacity, Dr. Kevil will work closely with other LA CaTS Clinical Trial Units in a collaborative arrangement designed to greatly expand access to the resources required for high-impact research at the health sciences center and other research institutions across the state.
“Cross institutional participation in LA CaTS clinical research areas, such as cardiovascular disease, holds great promise to improve the health of all Louisiana citizens,” said Dr. Kevil. “The ability to initiate and engage clinical research at LSU Health Shreveport, in conjunction with other Louisiana medical centers, strengthens our ability to impact as many people as possible.”
LA CaTS, started in 2012, provides an integrated statewide infrastructure to facilitate research in chronic disease prevention and improved healthcare for Louisiana’s vulnerable populations. The NIH funding provides clinical researchers and medical professionals greater access to the resources they need to accelerate research aimed at reducing chronic diseases that have such high incidence in the population and cost Louisiana millions of dollars each year.
“Collaboration is the name of the game to increase funding and impact,” Dr. Arnold noted. “Researchers across Louisiana are fortunate to have the LA CaTS framework to collaborate with each other on research to improve health care quality and lower cost.”
The value of such research is underscored by Louisiana’s rank as the worst among states in health and health outcomes. For example, Louisiana ranks 50th in obesity, with more than a third of adults and half of children being obese. The state has the fourth highest incidence of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is now the number one killer in the state and stroke is the number four. Louisiana’s cancer death rates are also well above the national average.
The state’s high death rate from chronic disease is linked in large part to lifestyle choices. People in Louisiana are more likely to smoke and be physically inactive. Diabetes is at epidemic rates among Louisiana residents. The state also has disproportionately high rates of poverty and low literacy, which increase the challenge to improve the health and health outcomes in the state. Due to these factors, Louisiana has been identified as the state with the most opportunities for improvements in health.
“Research with broad public benefit, such as that supported by the LA CaTS Center, helps LSU to fulfill its mission of improving the lives of everyday Louisiana citizens,” LSU President F. King Alexander said.