Re: Our Views: “Science bridge at Pennington,” Oct. 2.

The Advocate editorial headline above succinctly captures Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s essence.

The recent grant of almost $20 million that LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center received from the National Institutes of Health will fund the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LA CaTS). This collaborative initiative, unprecedented in Louisiana, has linked eight public and private Louisiana institutions and will allow for significant leveraging of scientific and clinical medicine across these institutions. Specifically, this initiative continues Pennington Biomedical’s history of conducting research with partners having complementary strengths and resources.

The grant provides for funding of biomedical research, specifically translational research.

Since the announcement, two questions have been repeated: What is translational research and why is it important to Louisiana residents?

“Translational research” is the term for research that accelerates or facilitates the findings and discoveries from laboratories to applications that are relevant to address human diseases or to enhance overall human health. These therapeutic advances, when put into practice, offer new and innovative treatment options or may be appropriate to prevent disease onset.

Louisiana residents suffer from increased rates of chronic diseases that increase the chance of death or, if afflicted with the disease, result in a reduction in quality of life. We have an escalating public-health crisis that we must address aggressively.

LA CaTS is designed to contribute to a solution and to train the next generation of scientists that will continue to address these conditions. For the first time in Louisiana, LA CaTS pulls together a team of experts working in institutions as part of Louisiana higher education and health-care institutions. Collectively they can more effectively tackle these public health issues.

Research is economic development. The almost $20 million federal investment into Louisiana to fund LA CaTS is a great example. The funds will be allocated in varying amounts to the eight LA CaTS partners across Louisiana where it will be spent for salaries of researchers, supplies and other expenses, helping to fuel our state’s economy.

This award confirms that the LA CaTS team has the “right stuff” to improve Louisiana’s health-care rankings while contributing to Louisiana’s economic development and confirming our state as an emerging leader in biomedical research.

Dr. William Cefalu, principal investigator for LA CaTS grant

Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Baton Rouge