BATON ROUGE, LA - The Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Center, a statewide initiative funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently awarded the prestigious Roadmap Scholar distinction to three early career Louisiana scientists and the Meritorious Scholar distinction to a post-doctoral scientist.

2014 Roadmap Scholars:

  • Dr. Christopher McGowin - LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans
  • Dr. John Apolzan - LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge
  • Dr. Michael Hoerger - Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans

2014 Meritorious Post-Doctoral Scholar:

  • Dr. Amir Al-Khami - LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans

"This scholars program puts all of the tools that an early career researcher needs into one toolbox," said Dr. William Cefalu, LA CaTS Center principal investigator and executive director of Pennington Biomedical Research Center. "When scholars complete this training, they will have concurrently competed for an NIH Career Transition award or its equivalent, permitting continued mentored career development - an accomplishment that can provide them a significant advantage when competing for future funding."

The LA CaTS Center Roadmap Scholar Program supports junior faculty who are entering the field of clinical and translational research. The Meritorious Post-Doctoral Scholar Program recognizes researchers who have at least two years of post-doctoral training and are being considered as potential faculty members. Both awards offer mentorship, tuition and salary support with the goal of providing a strong basis for a successful career in clinical/translational research.

"These awards will continue to promote and support our efforts to translate our scientific discoveries to the people of Louisiana," said Dr. Steve Nelson, co-director and dean of the LSUHSC School of Medicine in New Orleans.

The programs provide an opportunity for scholars, together with their mentors, to design an individual research "roadmap" that includes didactic courses in clinical research methodology, as well as mentored research with the aim of competing successfully for an NIH Career Transition (K) award or its equivalent. Dr. Lee Hamm, dean of the Tulane University School of Medicine added, "This opportunity to train the next generation of researchers is consistent with the needs of the region and the strategic goals of Tulane University."

The scholars program, directed by Dr. Roy Weiner of Tulane University School of Medicine and Dr. Paula Gregory of LSUHSC School of Medicine in New Orleans, is the centerpiece of the Clinical Research, Mentoring and Career Development Core of the LA CaTS Center. The LA CaTS Center's mission is to: encourage, support, and expand clinical and translational research through partnerships with researchers and with the people we serve.

Dr. Patrice Delafontaine, Tulane University co-director of the LA CaTS Center noted, "Through these programs, LA CaTS supports the development of promising investigators at participating institutions. This is an important component of the overall LA CaTS mission."