Fundraising executive Carol M. Dreher has been named president and chief executive officer of the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation.

The foundation provides LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center with funding for nutrition-based research focused on chronic diseases most affecting people in Louisiana and the country.

Dreher was vice president for business development and strategic relations at biotech startup QioMed in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Her career has included posts with UCLA, the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, and the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition.

“Carol’s impressive and proven experience in philanthropy drew us to her, but it was her passion for health research and for advancing our scientists’ work that convinced us we’d found our next president and CEO,” J. Gerard “Jerry” Jolly, chairman of the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation, said of the national search. “Pennington Biomedical has devoted and deep-rooted support in our region for its amazing work. We want to build on that success and, with Carol at the foundation’s helm, broaden our base.” Broadening the base will involve cultivating new teams of support nationally and internationally, Jolly said, because Pennington’s researchers aren’t just working on diseases that are confined to Louisiana.

Dreher replaces Jennifer Winstead, who stepped down as president and CEO of the foundation in late 2014 after 10 years on the job.

Pennington Biomedical houses obesity research scientists and many of the world’s most prominent diabetes researchers. Pennington said those experts are at the forefront of understanding the causes of obesity and life-threatening chronic diseases associated with it, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“Philanthropic support is vital to sustaining Pennington Biomedical’s scientific progress, and it is the true lifeblood of our research, so I’m thrilled to welcome Carol to the foundation and to LSU,” said William T. Cefalu, executive director of the research center.

Dreher is a philanthropy professional with more than two decades of experience, including directing two medical research awards foundations. She honed her research and health care expertise working with scientists and physicians in both large academic settings and private research institutions, while raising more than $150 million.

“Biomedical research is changing lives for the better, and Pennington Biomedical is at the forefront of that effort. I’m delighted to join this impressive team,” Dreher said. “Academic research is an incubator for new ideas, innovative technologies and new business opportunities — and in Pennington Biomedical’s case, these new innovations are helping each of us live healthier lives.”

Pennington Biomedical has more than 500 employees. Research at Pennington Biomedical includes about 80 faculty and more than 25 postdoctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians and other personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities.