About LA CaTS

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the LA CaTS Center?

The LA CaTS Center is a single clinical translational science program for Louisiana based on synergistic programs and unparalleled collaboration from all the major biomedical research institutions in the state. The Center is funded by Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR). The overarching objective of our center [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 capitalizes on strengths and capacities unique to each institution, culminating from years of effort and planning, and represents a unified, comprehensive approach targeting the theme of "prevention, care and research of chronic diseases in the underserved population. The LA CaTS Center intends to build upon the structure of our COBREs and INBREs of the state and to involve the COBRE/INBRE investigators in every key component activity. We also propose to partner with South Carolina, another IDeA state, and to share resources and collaborate on studies with the CTSA at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Thus, based on an emphasis to significantly enhance clinical and translational research by the collaborating institutions, the LA CaTS Center will have a significant impact on understanding the pathophysiology, prevention, management and research of chronic diseases in underserved populations.

2. What institutions are involved in the LA CaTS Center?

The LA CaTS Center is built around a lead institution- Pennington Biomedical Research Center and two primary collaborating institutions in the state - LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and Tulane Health Sciences Center, but also with strong collaborations with our research partners which include the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Children's Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana State University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans VA, and University Medical Center (UMC) in New Orleans. The LA CaTS Center intends to build upon the structure of our COBREs and INBREs of the state and to involve the COBRE/INBRE investigators in every key component activity in the Center

3. How do I become a member of the LA CaTS Center?

If you are faculty or staff at any of the LA CaTS Primary Collaborating Institutions or Research Partnering Institutions, you are automatically a member.

4. What is the advantage of becoming a member?

Through LA CaTS Center, you will be able to take advantage of research and educational opportunities at other research institutions other than your own, which will allow you to connect to expertise in a variety of areas. It will allow you to network and connect with other Louisiana researchers in your area of interest. Members from the Lead and three Primary Collaborating Institutions and junior faculty members being mentored in one of the COBRE or INBRE programs in the state will have the opportunity to compete for pilot grant funding offered by the LA CaTS Pilot Grant Program. Faculty from the Research Partner institutions are eligible for this competition only if partnered with a faculty member from 1 of the lead or Primary Collaborating Institutions. All LA CaTS faculty members are given access to vetted Core Facilities at institutional rates.

5. How does the LA CaTS Center affect research in Louisiana?

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". Therefore, we aim for the LA CaTS Center to: a) create a collaborative infrastructure for clinical and translational research both within and across partnering institutions; b) increase the critical mass of investigators performing clinical and translational research; and c) improved and sustain bi-directional relationships with our communities.

6. Does the LA CaTS Center serve the public and community healthcare providers?

Our aim is to serve both the public and community health care providers by developing on-line tools from LA CaTS Center researchers. The LA CaTS Center will help to streamline research from "bench to bedside", making available the latest discoveries for health care providers to use in their everyday practices. Also, health care providers will be able to provide feedback to LA CaTS Center Researchers ("bedside to bench") on the needs and health disparities of the communities they represent to support the aim of improving and sustaining bi-directional relationships with our communities. Our approach includes assessing the needs of vulnerable populations, understanding those needs based on two-way communication, and promoting the appreciation for and involvement in clinical research among the population we serve.

7. What barriers and obstacles does the LA CaTS Center seek to address?

As part of the planning process, the following key obstacles were identified to efficient clinical and translational research in Louisiana:
  • small critical mass of trained investigators, spread across multiple institutions; no clearly-defined training or certification paths in clinical research
  • few enrichment activities for clinical translational researchers
  • dispersed facilities and dispersed trained personnel who conduct clinical research
  • institutional barriers to collaboration in regulatory policies and business practices
  • lack of knowledge of how to traverse the regulatory landscape
  • lack of funding to support pilot efforts or encourage collaboration
  • barriers to access to Scientific Cores and special expertise across institutions(and lack of knowledge as to how to access these)
  • lack of an established web-based communication system to serve clinical and translational researchers
  • lack of investigators trained in web-based resources
  • lack of an integrated approach to maximizing the research potential of the electronic medical records, where Louisiana is making major investment and the current fragmentary housing of clinical research records
  • lack of good relations with communities and participants
  • large number of low literacy patients with poor understanding of clinical research
  • and a disconnect between the community perceptions of health problems and the academic research agenda.

8. Why are we investing in the LA CaTS Center?

The NIH has a growing interest and focus on clinical and translational research. NIH established the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program in 1993 to enhance biomedical research activities in states that have had historically low NIH grant funding success rates, specifically the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) and IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Louisiana is currently home to 7 COBREs and 1 INBRE. According to the NIH's IDeA-CTR purpose, "the proportion of research activity currently supported by the IDeA Program that focuses on developing clinical and translational research capabilities is relatively small (15%). It is critical that the many advances in basic biomedical science research emerging from IDeA states be translated into better patient care and improved public health by fostering partnerships between basic and clinical scientists in IDeA institutions and among other NIH-funded programs" (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-11-229). The LA CaTS Center plans to achieve this by enhancing and sharing clinical research facilities and supporting all aspects of the research, education, and community engagement infrastructure required to establish and sustain a state-wide culture of integrated translational research.

9. Who can request services from the LA CaTS Center?

Any investigator interested in clinical and translational research at any of the participating institutions has access to LA CaTS Core & Resource Services. However, priority is given to particular groups within the institutions.

10. Who has priority access to LA CaTS Center Core & Resource services? 

Priority is first given to Louisiana COBRE and INBRE mentees, LA CaTS Pilot Grant Awardees, LA CaTS Center Scholars and emerging junior investigators at the member institutions. Then, assistance is available to senior investigators entering the translational field or pursing a clinical focus. Investigators who do not fall into the previously mentioned categories are encouraged to contact the LA CaTS Center and, contingent on availability of resources, the LA CaTS Center will make every effort to provide assistance.

11. Are there costs associated with LA CaTS Center Services?

While there are many no-cost services, investigators are encouraged to contact the LA CaTS Cores & Resources to discuss a consultation and possible associated costs for services.  We are working toward an internet-based tool to provide members with more information about services and any applicable costs for specific LA CaTS Center services.

12. How do I request services or a consultation from the LA CaTS Center?

You can request services through the SPARC (Services, Pricing & Application for Research Centers) System website at sparc.lacats.org. If you have a question or not sure if you need to request a service, you can contact us at info@LACaTS.org, use the Contact Us feature on our website, or visit the individual Core webpages for the contacts.