BRAC’s 2019 Project of the Year: Pennington’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute

To honor standout board members, community leaders, and ambassadors, BRAC distributes annual awards to its investors. This year, award recipients were announced in early April. 

BRAC’s 2019 Project of the Year was bestowed on Pennington Biomedical Research Center for its new Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. The Project of the Year Award is presented to an economic development project win that positions the Capital Region at the next level through job creation, capital expenditures, expansion of an industry sector, or long-term impact on the regional economy and brand.   

THE Project

Last October Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Our Lady of the Lake Baton Rouge. Pennington joined forces with the Lake, the state of Louisiana, LSU Health New Orleans and Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation to establish the new program.  Pennington has recruited Dr. Phil Schauer, who headed the nation’s premier obesity surgery program at the Cleveland Clinic, to lead this new initiative. The program is expected to create 55 new direct jobs each with an average salary of $125,000 plus benefits.  

“This project at Pennington Biomedical and Our Lady of the Lake will deliver great value to Louisiana by combining clinical research, advanced surgery and economic development to produce better health for our people,” Gov. Edwards said. 

The Potential Impact 

Obesity has a significant impact on the health of Louisianans with over 1.6 million residents affected and $13 billion per year in recurring health care costs and lost productivity in the state. The importance of this project will be reflected in the economic return to the state, which LSU economists estimate will be more than $100 million within four years of the institute’s opening. 

Dr. John Kirwan, executive director of Pennington Biomedical, describes the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute as complementary to Pennington Biomedical’s existing and highly impactful basic science and clinical research programs. The facility will introduce the most cutting-edge treatments for obesity and diabetes to Louisiana, which ranks fourth for highest rates of obesity and diabetes nationally. The institute will offer a comprehensive, integrated program from lifestyle modifications like diet and physical activity to medication management to surgery, including ongoing research. 

“As medical centers such as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic have transformed their respective cities, we anticipate Pennington Biomedical’s new center to have significant economic impact on Baton Rouge, attracting global researchers and patients looking to leverage the center’s innovations in bariatric surgery,” said Adam Knapp, BRAC president and CEO. 

For more information on the project, check out this Q&A profile with Dr. John Kirwan. 

Morgan is the Marketing Manager for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. In her role, she manages writing organizational publications and materials, oversees BRAC’s social media and blog, and coordinates timelines for all internal marketing projects.

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