Pennington healthy

While there has been plenty of cause for concern recently at Pennington Biomedical Research Center about finances, as at all outposts of higher education, September was a good-news month for the center.

On Sept. 6, Pennington announced landing a $20 million federal grant to fund the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center, or LA CaTS. Pennington will lead the project, which promotes collaboration with LSU, the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Tulane Health Sciences Center, the seven public hospitals of the LSU Health Care Services Division, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the Research Institution for Children at Children’s Hospital.

A major goal of the grant is accelerating “translation” of research from the lab to benefit human health, which is also part of the point of Pennington’s agreement with Kinexum, a firm which claims expertise in taking “scientific discoveries to proof of concept and through the product life cycle.”

At some point, the Kinexum agreement, announced Sept. 24, may help to bring compounds developed at Pennington to market, says Dr. William Cefalu, Pennington’s associate executive director of clinical research. For now, he expects Kinexum will help connect Pennington with clients interested in using the center’s research capabilities, especially for early-stage human trials. The big drug companies already know what Pennington can do, he says, but a small biotech firm might not.

“Essentially, everything they need to bring their studies forward is at Pennington,” Cefalu says. “It’s going to facilitate research at every step of the way.”

By David Jacobs | Baton Rouge Business Report