News & Updates


Our COBRE Annual External Advisory Committee meeting had another year of success with 10 P&F presenters. Special thanks to all that make our program a success. Pictured below: EAC Members Drs. Streamson Chua, Barry Levin, Elizabeth Parks, David Wasserman and our Principal Investigator and Program Director Thomas Gettys.

Our Drs. Cristal Hill and Dr. Christopher Morrison (COBRE graduate and P&F recipient) have uncovered a completely new mechanism that regulates food choice and metabolic health. More research is needed but the new pathways could lead to new treatments to improve metabolism or appetite control.


August 2018

Dr. Thomas Gettys, PBRC’s COBRE Principal Investigator, has been invited to speak at this year’s TOS, NORC Joint Symposium, November 2018.  This effort reflects discussion and collaboration with other NORC Directors and TOS leadership with a goal to promote multi- and interdisciplinary research collaborations among Center and TOS members with shared interests in environmental influences on health and metabolic disease.


March 29, 2018

Our annual External Advisory Committee meeting took place with 12 P&F presentations taking place and we welcomed our newest member Dr. David Wasserman to our team. A special “Thank You” to all our internal and external members on making our meetings a great success! 


May 2017

Welcome our NEW External Advisory Member, Dr. David H. Wasserman, Professor, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics Department at Vanderbilt University.  He is also Director of the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center and AM Lyle Chair in Biomedical Research.  We are glad to have him as a member of our COBRE family. 


April 2-4, 2017

Pennington welcomed our External Committee Members to our campus for our annual COBRE review.  7 Project Investigators presented their progress reports to our EAC Members and faculty. 

Pictured Seated:  Elizabeth Parks, Thomas Gettys, Streamson Chua, Barry Levin
Standing 1st Row:  Annadora Bruce-Keller, Sangho Yu, Ji Suk Chang, Heike Muenzberg-Gruening, Susan Newman, Carrie Elks, Phillip Brantley, Jean Elbers, Randall Mynatt, Jackie Stephens, Claudia Kappen, Leanne Redman, Sujoy Ghosh, Claude Bouchard, Cindi Tramonte
2nd Row: Krisztian Stadler, Robert Noland, Chris Morrison, Kenneth Eilertsen, Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, Richard Rogers, Jason Collier, J. Michael Salbaum, David Burk


April, 2017

Dr. Tom Gettys was awarded a 4-year NIH (NIDDK) grant for $1.7 million in April for “Mechanisms of metabolic regulation by dietary methionine restriction.”

Pennington Biomedical received full accreditation from AAALAC International in April. AAALAC acknowledged Pennington Biomedical’s exemplary program of laboratory animal care and use.


March, 2017

Dr. Christopher Morrison (COBRE graduate) was granted an NIH equipment award for $625,000 in March for “Sable Systems Promethion for Mouse Metabolic Analysis”.


September 2016

The LSU Board of Supervisors named Dr. Claude Bouchard an LSU Boyd Professor this month.  To be awarded a Boyd Professorship, a faculty member must be recognized on both national and international stages.  Dr. Bouchard is our COBRE Project Coordinator.  CONGRATULATIONS Dr. Bouchard. 


August 2016

Notice of Grant Award for COBRE Phase III Pilot and Feasibility awarded.  A total of 7 Pilot and Feasibility Grants were awarded with this phase of our grant. 


February, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Rick Rogers, IAC Committee Member, who was appointed Interim Associate Executive Director for Basic Science.  Dr. Rogers holds the John S. McIlhenny Endowed Professorship in Nutritional Neuroscience.


July 2015

Dr. David McDougal has received a Notice of Grant Award from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). 
Funding for his grant began on July 1, 2015

Dr. Ji Suk Chang has received a Notice of Grant Award from the National Institute of Health (NIH). 
Funding on this grant began on July 1, 2015

Dr. Sangho Yu and Dr. Carrie Elks have joined the Pennington COBRE family on July 1, 2015.  Their projects will bring creative and innovative ideas to our program.  Congratulations!


March 1, 2015

Desiree Wanders, Ph.D.  starts as Project 2 PI with Mentors Christopher Morrison, Ph.D. and Heike Muenzberg-Gruening, Ph.D.  Dr. Wanders project title "Roles of the sympathetic nervous system and FGF21 in Mediating the Metabolic Effects of Dietary Methionine Restriction  ”.  Congratulations Dr. Wanders and welcome to the COBRE project. 


December 2014

Dr. Robert Noland, COBRE Project 2 PI has graduated our program and awarded an RO1 grant on December 1, 2014 for his work "Defining the Role of Skeletal Muscle Peroxisomes in Glucose Homeostasis."  Congratulations Dr. Noland!

Diabetes Innovation
Dr. Jason Collier is pioneering new research into the cells that contribute to the development and progression of diabetes. His goal is to better understand how inflammatory processes lead to the damage of pancreatic beta cells (unique cells in the pancreas that regulate insulin production and release). Recently featured in International Innovation, Collier's work focuses on the root of inflammation and how inflammation causes metabolic dysfunction in the body. In a great breakthrough, his team was able to pinpoint a major class of proteins that promote pancreatic beta cell interaction with the innate and adaptive immune system. These processes are likely linked to alterations in beta cell function prior to development of diabetes. As part of future work, Collier's team is aiming to design new treatments for patients with diabetes that create fewer side effects and help patients lead a better life. Read the full profile on Collier and his team's work here.

October 2014: Why Brown Fat is Hot

When you think of fat tissue, you may think of Dr. Oz or his talk show rivals pulling back a sheet to reveal a brick-sized (or larger) grouping of yellowish, clumped fat cells. But several years ago, scientists recognized that there are two distinct types of fat in our bodies – white fat and brown fat. This "brown fat" has become a very hot topic of study.

Brown fat is known to help generate body heat, especially in newborns. Pennington Biomedical's Dr. Ji Suk Chang studies brown fat by delving into the realm of heat production itself – a process called thermogenesis. She isolated one protein, NT-PGC-1α, and found that, when fed a high-fat diet, mice with this genetic protein gained less weight than mice without the protein. Even when the mice with the protein exercised less than the other mice, they still gained less weight.

While still very early in her research of this protein, Chang believes NT-PGC-1α is an important regulator of brown fat thermogenesis, and in turn an important regulator of body weight.

Chang's research was published in the online edition of Diabetes in May, and the print edition will be out this fall.Find it here.


October 2014: The Hunt For Just The Right Genes

Each cell in the human body has all of the 40,000 genes that make up the human genome. But it's not just how someone's genes look like that counts. For our bodies to remain healthy, it matters which genes are active, at what time, in which place, and how active they are. To know how gene activities relate to health as well as disease is crucial to better understand chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity. Measuring all those genes simultaneously is a difficult proposition – but this is where the Pennington Biomedical Genomics Core can help.

The Genomics Core team of Dr. J. Michael Salbaum, Susan Newman, Richard Carmouche, and Claudia Kruger provides fellow scientists with highly specialized, cutting edge technology to take measurements of gene activities, and offer the bioinformatics to turn complex data sets into biological and biomedical knowledge.

Complementing the gene activity experiments, a new offering from the Genomics Core measures the composition of microbial communities in the gut. Bacteria in our digestive tract play a critical role for overall health. Knowing which are there and which are missing can make all the difference for a healthy life.

We invite you to take a peek inside the state of the art technology in the Genomics Core and see how genomics can help Pennington Biomedical scientists get ahead in the hunt for better treatments of chronic disease.


October 2014: Grant Could Lead to Anti-Diabetes Drug

Beth Floyd, PhD, and her fellow researchers at Pennington Biomedical have been granted extra backing to learn more about a protein that influences obesity and insulin resistance. Floyd recently received an R01 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. An R01 award is NIH's oldest (and among their most respected) grant mechanisms. Floyd and her lab team received the R01 to undertake a study that focuses on a protein called Siah2.

This is a protein required for the normal function of fat tissue. It is the target of a class of anti-diabetes drugs, and has the potential to uncover new treatments for obesity-related insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. We need this type of research because current diabetes medications often produce negative side effects for patients that take them. Floyd's work could lead to a new class of drugs aimed at eliminating those side effects.

What Floyd and her team already know is that obesity does not lead to insulin resistance and elevated glucose levels if Siah2 is absent in mice. Overweight mice without Siah2 are an example of "healthy obesity." Now, Floyd's work will help researchers understand how Siah2 determines whether obesity leads to fat cell dysfunction, inflammatory changes in fat tissue, and resistance to insulin's action in the body.


August 2014: Discovery Changes Way of Looking at Hormone Linked to Weight Loss

Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center have discovered a new pathway that controls how our bodies respond to a diet that's low in protein.  This finding could improve treatments for obesity and diabetes.

Data collected by Chris Morrison, PhD and his team of researchers at Pennington Biomedical provides a new explanation for why protein intake profoundly influences metabolism and body weight. They found that in both mice and humans the amount of protein in the diet affects a hormone known as FGF21. If protein consumption is restricted, the body increases production of FGF21. Mice lacking the FGF21 hormone did not change their food intake, metabolism or body weight when placed on a low protein diet, indicating that without FGF21 the mice couldn't detect dietary protein content.

Read more…


May 2014

COBRE Project Investigator, Mark Sarzynski received the Scott Grundy Fellowship Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research from American Heart Association Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health for work titled "Changes in HDL Particle Traits in Response to Regular Exercise: Results from the HERITAGE Family Study”.

Mark also presented a talk at the 2014 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting titled  "The '-omics' of HDL response to exercise training”. He was an invited speaker for the Featured Symposium "Is it because of my Genes that My Jeans Don’t Fit?: Integrating the ‘-omics’ to Understand the Control of Activity and Weight”.

March 2014

Dr. Robert Noland presented a poster on his work "Defining the role of skeletal muscle peroxisomes in glucose homeostasis” at the Metabolic Origins of Disease Conference at Stanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando Florida.  The work presented described regulation of peroxisomes that may be responsive to energy status and are unique to skeletal muscle. Moreover, the findings support a model wherein peroxisomes facilitate insulin sensitivity by limiting lipotoxicity and mitochondrial lipid overload.

February 26, 2014

Dr. Israel Goldberg, with Health Research Associates, presented grantsmanship workshop February 26, 2014 entitled "Grantsmanship Strategy” and talked about how the current Federal Budget affect success rates in NIH grants – sponsored by Pennington’s COBRE grant.  Dr. Goldberg established Health Research Associates in 1987 Dr. Goldberg and his associates provide advice and guidance with respect to efficient and effective strategies for enhancing biomedical research support from federal agencies and other organizations. 

February 25, 2014

Drs. Mark Sarzynski, Bouchard and Rankinen received the Prince Faisal Bin Fahad International Prize for Arab Sport Development Research award in 2012, and were invited to give talks and receive their our awards/medals in Dubai.  Dr. Sarzynski gave the following talk "Lack of Replication of Associations for Elite Endurance Athlete Candidate Genes in the GENATHLETE Study”. Prince Faisal Bin Fahad International Prize Award Ceremony and the International Symposium on Sport Sciences, Dubai, UAE, February 25, 2014.  Great Job!

February 2014

COBRE also sponsored visiting speaker, Dr. Kent Lloyd, Director of the KnockOut Mouse Project (KOMP) at UCal-Davis.  Dr Lloyd is also PI of the Mouse Metabolic Phenotype Consortium at David.  The KOMP resource is a component of a multinational effort to produce mouse models with every known gene knocked out.  The title of his presentation "KOMPlementary Resources for Research Using Net Generation Mouse Models” was presented on February 26 in conjunction with Dr. Goldberg’s workshop. 


January 2014

Dr. Robert Noland was granted a Multi-PI Pilot Grant along with Drs. Eric Ravussin and Randall Mynatt
Title: Metabolic flexibility and lipid metabolism
The purpose of this project is to identify necessary and sufficient genes underlying metabolic health (metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity) common to both humans and mice.  To address this goal we are performing SAGE analyses using skeletal muscle of humans stratified based upon divergent metabolic flexibility, as well as from inducible, muscle-specific CPT1b knockout mice (have marked improvement in metabolic health).  Comparison of factors that regulate differential degrees of metabolic flexibility between these 2 distinct models is expected to identify highly novel and specific pathways that may be targeted to ultimately improve human metabolic health.  Congratulations!


December 2013

COBRE Project PI, Dr. Mark Sarzynski, has been named a recipient of the Scott Grundy Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research for the 2014 AHA EPI/NPAM meeting!  Congratulations Mark!


December 2013: New Project PI - Dr. Jason Collier

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Jason Collier has joined our COBRE family with Mentors Dr. Kenneth Eilertsen and Dr. Randall Mynatt.  His project will focus on the "Dynamic Regulation of b-cell Function and Mass by SGK1”.  Dr. Collier joins us from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.  We welcome him to our COBRE Project. 


August 2013: New COBRE EAC Member

Dr. Elizabeth Parks has joined our COBRE team as an External Advisory Member. Dr. Parks is an Associate Director, Clinical Research Center and a Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri Columbia School of Medicine. We welcome her to our COBRE team.


July 2013: Mark Sarzynsk

Mark Sarzynski, PhD, COBRE Project PI, was recently awarded a LA CaTS Pilot Grant from NIH/NIGMS Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LA CaTS) Pilot Grants Program. The LA CaTS Center involves 8 major academic, research, and health care institutions of Louisiana to provide a unified research infrastructure with an overall theme of "prevention, care, and research of chronic diseases in the underserved population”. The title of the pilot project is "Integrating Clinical and Genetic Data to Predict the Response of Lipoproteins to Regular Exercise”. Congratulations Dr. Sarzynski!


May 22, 2013:  Grantsmanship Seminar

Dr. Israel Goldberg with Health Research Associates presented a grantsmanship seminar on May 22, 2013.  Dr. Goldberg spoke at PBRC with a presentation entitled "Grantsmanship in the Age of the Sequester”.  Dr. Goldberg discussed recent changes in NIH proposal formats, the new scoring system, areas of emphasis in the review process, and current data on funding and success rates in the new system.  Dr. Goldberg also talked about the types of grants appropriate to different career stages.  The workshop was open to all faculty and postdocs.


May 2013:  Dr. Jong Seop Rim

Dr. Jong Seop Rim was a Project PI during our Phase I COBRE,  obtained extramural support for his work at NuPotential with the award of a SBIR and had the following patent issued this year:  US 8 357 666 B2 (Reprogramming a cell by inducing a pluripotency gene through RNA interference).  In addition, Dr. Rim has submitted two new patent applications this year.


March 2013:  Dr. Robert Koza

Dr. Robert Koza, former Project PI during our Phase I COBRE and former IAC COBRE member recently accepted a position as a Senior Scientist with the Center for Molecular Medicine at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in his home state of Maine.  However, he has retained an Adjunct appointment at the Pennington and continues to use the Genomics Core for his work.


August 1, 2012: Welcome Sujoy Ghosh, Ph.D

Sujoy Ghosh, Ph.D.  joins PBRC COBRE as adjunct consultant.  Dr. Ghosh is currently a Senior Research Investigator at Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute, North Carolina Central University, Durham NC.  Dr. Ghosh will support Dr. Mark Sarzynski’s project and work with our Genomics database mine efforts. 


July 1, 2012: New Project PI

Mark Sarzynski, Ph.D. starts as Project PI with Mentors Claude Bouchard, Ph.D. and Tuomo Rankinen, Ph.D.  Dr. Sarzynski has taken the place of recent PI graduate Dr. Heike Muenzberg-Gruening.


May 2012: Welcome New EAC Member

Welcome to Ronald Krauss, Ph.D.  who is appointed as committee member to our COBRE family.  Dr. Krauss is currently Senior Scientist and Director, Atherosclerosis Research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. 


April 2012: Pennington Researcher Named LSU Boyd Professor

Dr. Eric Ravussin is Chief of the Division of Health and Performance Enhancement and holder of the Douglas L. Gordon Endowed Chair in Diabetes and Metabolism at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.  He becomes the 69th Boyd Professor named since the professorship was created in 1953 and the third scientist from Pennington to receive the honor.  Congratulations!


December 2011: New EAC Members are Appointed

Welcome to Streamson Chua, Ph.D. and Ruth Harris, Ph.D. as appointed committee members to our COBRE family.  Dr. Chua is Professor of Medicine and Neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.  Dr. Harris is a Professor in the Department of Physiology at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta, GA. 


October 2011: New Project PI

Robert Noland, Ph.D. starts as a Project PI.  Dr. Noland will bring new and innovative ideas to our COBRE.


August 5, 2011: Internal Advisor named 2011 University Technology Leader of the Year.

Dr. Ken Eilertsen, PBRC professor, entrepreneur and COBRE Internal Advisory Committee member, was named 2011 University Technology Leader of the Year by the Louisiana Technology Council his accomplishments at his start-up biotechnology company NuPotential. NuPotential's cell reprogramming process is being developed for use in therapies to reverse the debilitating effects of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and other chronic conditions, and in drug discovery. For more information about the NuPotential and the Dr. Eilertsen's award click here.


August 5, 2011: External Advisor to present artwork at Toledo Gallery.

Distinguished professor of biochemistry, and COBRE external advisor Dr. Richard Hanson is also a distinguished artist! Dr. Hanson will present his art work at a showing in Toledo, Ohio. Details on the exhibition can be found here.


July 2011: New Project PI

Ji Suk Chang, Ph.D. starts as a Project PI with mentors Dr. Eric Ravussin and Dr. Elizabeth Floyd ( COBRE Graduate). 


January 2011: New Genomics Core Director Named

Dr. J. Michael Salbaum has been named as Director of the Genomics Core.  Dr. Salbaum replaces Dr. Les Kozak as Director. 

October 12, 2010: COBRE Director speaks in ceremony honoring mentor.

On October 5, 2010, Dr. Thomas Gettys, COBRE Director, gave the keynote address at a Clemson seminar honoring the life and work of his mentor Dr. Peter Burrows. More information about the event and Dr. Burrows can be found here.


October 12, 2010: EAC member honored by Case Western.

COBRE Executive Advisory Committee member Dr. Richard Hanson was honored by Case Western University for his life's work on PEPCK. More information about the event, and Dr. Hanson's research can be found here.


August 20, 2010: Welcome new COBRE Project PIs.

Dr. David McDougal and Dr. Zhanguo Gao have taken the place of recent Junior PI graduates Dr. Christopher Morrison and Dr. Beth Floyd. Both Dr. McDougal and Dr. Gao bring interesting and innovative new projects to our COBRE.


April 19, 2010: COBRE Project PI receives R01 funding from NIH.

Dr. Christopher Morrison, a Project PI of the Pennington Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), received a Notice of Grant Award from the National Institute of Health (NIH). His project focuses on the relationship between dietary protein content and amino acid signaling within the brain. Dr. Morrison hopes to define the cellular mechanisms through which amino acids act on hypothalamic neurons to suppress food intake, and determine whether this amino acid signaling contributes to the regulation of protein intake or macronutrient selection. It is anticipated that funding for this project will begin in July 2010.


March 30, 2010:External Advisor Committee meeting wrap-up.

On March 22, 2010, COBRE Project PIs presented their research to the COBRE External Advisory Committee. View our External Advisory Committee photo album here.


December 10, 2009: Director of NIH National Center of Research Resources to speak in Baton Rouge.

Dr. Barbara Alving, Director of NIH National Center of Research Resources, to present keynote address highlighting future direction of NCRR at the 2010 Louisiana IDeA/NCRR Biomedical Research Symposium in Baton Rouge on January 22, 2010.


December 3, 2009: COBRE Project PI receives funding from ADA.

Dr. Elizabeth Floyd, a Project PI of the Pennington Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), received a Notice of Grant Award from the American Diabetes Association for her proposal entitled, "Regulation of PPAR- activity by the ubiquitin system".The nuclear hormone receptor, PPAR- plays a central role in regulating the differentiation and development of adipocytes. The ubiquitin system targets proteins for degradation by the proteosome, but Dr Floyd’s studies have shown that the post translational modifications conducted by the ubiquitin system have the unexpected effect of regulating the transcriptional activity of PPAR-. These findings represent a significant advance in our understanding of the molecular details of adipogenesis. It is anticipated that funding for this project will begin in July 2010.


December 3, 2009: Meeting dates for the Spring 2010 External Advisory Committee Meeting.

The Spring 2009 meeting of the External Advisory Committee will take place from March 21 to March 23 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center Campus.


October 20, 2009: 2009 Research Program Development Seminars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 1pm in Room L1006

Grantsmanship Strategies to Navigate the Changing Landscape at NIH
Israel Goldberg, Ph.D.
Health Research Associates

Dr. Goldberg will discuss recent changes in NIH grant format, the new scoring system, areas of emphasis in the review process, and current data on funding and success rates in the new system. Dr. Goldberg’s presentation will include an extended opportunity at the end for questions and discussion.


Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 11am in the Reilly Auditorium.

Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Centers, an Important NIH Research Resource
Dr. Maren Laughlin, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor for Integrative Physiology at NIH
Director of the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center Consortium

With the greater emphasis on translational and collaborative research in the NIH Roadmap, a key goal of Dr. Laughlin’s visit and presentation is to show by example how the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center Consortium is pursuing this mission and facilitating development of the translational component of research programs in the United States.