Chancellor of Nunez College to retire

Dr. Tommy Warner, chancellor of Nunez Community College in Chalmette since 2000, has announced he will retire after the fall semester, school officials said last week.

Warner, affectionately known by people at the school as "Coach," has served as a teacher, athletic coach, assistant principal, assistant school superintendent, professor, college dean, state legislator and chancellor at Nunez over the past six decades.

Warner said he was "grateful for the opportunity to have served the great state of Louisiana and to have helped change and improve the lives of thousands of people right here in St. Bernard Parish along the way."

In a release, officials described how he stayed behind at the school with his wife and some members of the faculty and staff during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

They were evacuated by helicopter six days after the storm. Warner then went to work in temporary offices to get the college up and running. Although the college suffered major damage, school leaders were able to start classes at Slidell High School two months after the storm.

Warner also spearheaded the opening and renovation of three buildings on campus since the storm and helped the school raise its enrollment and reputation, staff said.

Warner graduated from Redemptorist High School and Tulane University. He was a teacher and coach at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans and later at Chalmette High.

He earned a master's degree in education from Tulane and a doctorate from the University of New Orleans.

A national search for a new chancellor will be managed by the Association of Community College Trustees, school officials said.

LSU Health research may help treat obesity

Research led by a professor at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine shows the potential to treat or prevent metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes, school officials said.

Dr. Suresh Alahari, the Fred Brazda Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, led the research, whose findings were published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Alahari's lab demonstrated that the novel protein Nischarin functions as a molecular scaffold that holds and interacts with several protein partners in a number of biological processes. The lab’s earlier research found that Nischarin acts as a tumor suppressor that may inhibit the spread, or metastasis, of breast and other cancers.

The current research found that Nischarin interacts with and controls the activity of a gene called AMPK that regulates metabolic stability. The research team discovered that Nischarin binds to AMPK and inhibits its activity.

In Nischarin-deleted mice, the researchers found decreased activation of genes that make glucose. The study showed that Nischarin also interacts with a gene regulating glucose uptake. 

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in 2013 more than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. were considered to be overweight or obese. The American Diabetes Association says that in 2015, 30.3 million Americans had diabetes.

Study shows impact of UNO Research Park

The University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park generated an economic impact of $472.1 million in the eight-parish metro area in 2016, according to a new analysis.

During that year, the UNO Research and Technology Foundation and its 34 tenant companies and organizations directly employed 1,678 people and generated nearly $500 million in direct, indirect and induced economic output.

In 2016, UNO announced that its annual economic impact was $470.5 million. Taken together, the university and the Research and Technology Park have a combined impact on the region of $942.6 million and support more than 11,000 jobs.

The Research and Technology Park occupies 30 acres adjacent to the university along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It encompasses 600,000 square feet of office and lab space. A satellite facility is located in Avondale.

The park's tenants include private companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

The organizations focus on IT and cybersecurity, naval architecture and marine engineering, logistics and lab testing, banking, nonprofits and government, and coastal protection and wildlife management.

The research park was established to increase the economic vitality of UNO and surrounding academic institutions and to strengthen the local economy.

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.