LSU Adds Key Expertise to Improve Cancer Outcomes in Louisiana
March 07, 2023
Solving Cancer, Together
With investment by the state, LSU is attracting and supporting top research talent to solve some of the biggest challenges in cancer care for patients and families, starting with Louisianans. The effort builds on a historic $75 million investment in LSU by LCMC Health to rapidly advance cancer research, treatment and outcomes in Louisiana and ensure a sustained talent pipeline for the state’s healthcare industry.
From New Orleans to Shreveport, LSU is recruiting world-class researchers to help fight cancer in Louisiana and move the university toward National Cancer Institute, or NCI, designation for the state and region. As LSU’s lead clinical partner in this effort, LCMC Health is uniting assets and expertise with LSU to draw additional resources to the state and make the most of tactical investments. Such investments include $3 million in recent support from the Louisiana Legislature, which LSU quickly used to stand up a multi-campus Collaborative Cancer Research Initiative for Louisiana with NCI reviewers funding 11 projects, and hire three leading experts who bring with them more than $9 million in grants and contracts—mainly federal money, including from NCI.
Jiri Adamec, professor of interdisciplinary oncology at the LSU Stanley Scott Cancer Center at LSU Health New Orleans, is on the hunt for biomarkers, indicators of disease that can be measured in a single drop of blood. He develops new technologies (such as the plasma separation card he’s holding in the photo) to easily monitor cancer incidence and recurrence in large populations—especially those that are rural and underserved. Dr. Omar Franco-Coronel, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at LSU Health Shreveport and its Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, meanwhile, studies molecular differences in the tumor microenvironment—the “neighborhoods” that surround cancer cells, which can be different for white and Black people. Finally, Bob Kesterson, professor of cancer precision medicine at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, does personalized gene rescue. He develops nanoparticle delivery systems and other mechanisms that fix or compensate for faulty genes by hacking an individual’s genetic code.
“For LCMC Health, partnering with LSU to build multidisciplinary teams is the fastest way to move lifesaving treatment from the research lab to the bedside, expand access to clinical trials and improve survivorship—all essential components of a comprehensive cancer center. Meeting the high bar to achieve NCI designation with LSU will be truly transformational for our state—a model that’s been shown to improve outcomes and reduce disparities in care. Our partnership with LSU is our best way to fight back on a scope and scale commensurate with the toll cancer takes on the citizens of Louisiana.”
Dr. John Heaton, President and Chief Medical Officer at LCMC Health