Top research scientists from across Louisiana met at LSU Health Shreveport Wednesday to work on improving collaboration across their institutions.
They’re doing it with the help of LA CaTS, the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center in Baton Rouge. It’s funded by a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The aim is to promote more unified research. Dr. William Cefalu, executive director of Pennington Biomedical Research Center where LA CaTS is based, led the conference.
"It’s not going to take an institution at Shreveport or LSU in New Orleans or Pennington working in isolation. We have expertise at each campus. It's a different mindset recognizing that we can address the bigger science questions and the bigger problems by working together," Cefalu said.
The director of LSU Health Shreveport’s Center for Cardiovascular Diseases and Sciences, Chris Kevil, is already working with colleagues who do similar research at LSU Health New Orleans and Tulane Medical School. At a time when research dollars are scarce, Kevil says collaboration like his is essential. But it takes extra effort to work through regulatory hurdles that pop up across academic institutions.
“It’s easier to know the research question because both investigators can figure that out pretty quickly. But other administrative stuff sometimes makes it a little bit tricky," Kevil said.
Four institutions have contributed $250,000 in all to fund a research effort that would involve investigators from multiple institutions, according to Cefalu. He thinks this seed money will entice more researchers to team up and dig deep into Louisiana’s greatest health problems: diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
“This is an incredible opportunity for two investigators who have never worked together to address a bigger problem. Take expertise at Shreveport coupled with expertise at Pennington or expertise in New Orleans, and that’s how problems are solved," Cefalu said.
Kevil and his colleagues in New Orleans have submitted their grant proposal that pertains to people who have severely blocked arteries. They’re now waiting to hear if they’re the winning combination.