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Our Mission, Aims & Background

John Kirwan, PhD
John Kirwan, PhD
LA CaTS Principal Investigator
I. Mission 

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 has grown into a single clinical translational science program for Louisiana based on the development of synergistic programs and unparalleled collaboration from all the major academic and biomedical research institutions in the state. The net result of our collective efforts is the creation of a uniform, state-wide multi-institutional/multidisciplinary research enterprise built on trust, cooperation and collaboration. The LA CaTS Center represents a unified, comprehensive approach targeting the theme of addressing health disparities and improving health outcomes in our underserved population with chronic diseases”.

LA CaTS Mission

Read more about the institutions that make-up the LA CaTS Center here.

The LA CaTS Center is continuing to build upon the structure of our COBREs and INBREs of the state, to increase synergies and maximize communication and collaboration. The PIs of the COBRE/INBREs have a voice in the direction of the Center by direct involvement in one of the Cores or serving on governing/leadership committees.

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 four overarching specific aims.

II. Specific Aims

We will build on the experiences and lessons learned from implementing clinical trials during COVID by expanding multidisciplinary and diverse workforce teams. We will augment the network partnerships to create new research synergies that integrate the strengths, diversity, and resources of three additional major healthcare and research institutions into the LA CaTS network.

We will expand Community Advisory Boards to other areas of the state, grow our Community Scholars program; and increase collaboration with Federally Qualified Health Centers and rural-clinic providers, to culturally fine tune and advance research approaches that broaden recruitment and increase retention. We will maintain a critical focus that is mutually beneficial to patients, providers, and investigators so that we can specifically address social determinants of health (SDOH) and improve health outcomes.

LA CaTS has developed a comprehensive, systematic, and uniform state-wide infrastructure to support all aspects of the research, professional education, and community engagement activities integrated into translational and clinical research, while providing biostatistical, bioinformatics and health literacy support across the entire system. We will employ this infrastructure to address health disparities in underserved communities as they relate to precision medicine (All of Us), the newly funded Precision Nutrition initiative, COVID-19 testing and vaccination (RADx-UP), and the recently funded Long-Covid multicenter cohort trial (PASC/RECOVER - in partnership with 7 IDeA-CTRs). LA CaTS, through our cores and investigators, will focus on ensuring that we conduct research that is understandable, impactful, and accessible to underserved and underrepresented patients across the state.

We have been successfully creating a new generation of scientists trained in clinical and translational research through our Roadmap Scholars program. We will enhance this program by expanding diversity-inclusion training and providing more institutional support for researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

III. Cores & Resources

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

LA CaTS Mission

IV. Background - The Major Health Concerns in Louisiana

Louisiana’s Chronic Disease Burden: Quality of life and health in Louisiana is adversely impacted by the twin public health burdens of medical underservice and high rates of chronic disease, exacerbated by high rates of poverty and disparities that are among the highest in the nation. Louisiana is in the highest decile for mortality from chronic diseases and ranks 5th for heart disease and 7th in the nation for cancer deaths1. Louisiana ranks among the lead-states in prevalence of obesity (35%; Figure 2A)4 and diabetes (12.9%; Figure 2B)2. Age-adjusted mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer deaths (Figure 2C)3 are higher relative to national norms1.

disease maps

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.

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

REFERENCES

  1. National Center for Health Statistics. Stats of the State of Louisiana. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/louisiana/louisiana.htm
  2. National and State Diabetes Trends. (2017). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/diabetes/DiabetesAtlas.html#.

  3. Death Rates for Louisiana by County, All Cancer Sites. (2014-2018). Retrieved from State Cancer Profiles: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/louisiana/louisiana.htm
  4. Health Factors - Louisiana: Adult Obesity. (2016). Retrieved from Country Health Rankings & Roadmaps: https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/louisiana/2020/measure/factors/11/map