Pennington Biomedical: A scientific center becomes an economic engine

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Over the past 30 years, LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center has attracted researchers from around the world to its Baton Rouge campus with the sole purpose of helping people live longer healthier lives. These internationally renowned scientists collaborate with their colleagues in 300 academic institutions in 24 countries. Their work has generated more than 128,000 citations in scientific literature.

While these accomplishments are formidable, Pennington Biomedical is more than a center of scientific excellence in the state. The biomedical research giant is a significant economic driver. On average, each scientist generates $630,000 annually in grant income. These direct dollars are then greatly multiplied in the economy. In addition, the average lead investigator generates five direct jobs at Pennington and more indirect jobs in the community.

So, it’s no surprise Area Development Magazine, a planning resource for the life sciences industry, recognized Pennington Biomedical’s role distinguishing Baton Rouge as one of eight up-and-coming areas for the life sciences industry sector in 2017.

Pennington Biomedical’s research combines the expertise of nearly 60 faculty and more than 20 postdoctoral fellows with 13 highly specialized service facilities and a network of 40 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians and support personnel. On average, every researcher generates five jobs. To support the science, Pennington Biomedical employs 450 Louisianans.

Since the Center’s founding 30 years ago, Pennington Biomedical faculty members have attracted more than $826 million in federal, sponsored projects and philanthropic support. Because of the Center’s reputation and its groundbreaking studies, the faculty have secured competitive National Institutes of Health funding at a rate 55% higher than any other research center in the country.

In addition, 82 pharmaceutical companies and 21 food and beverage companies relied upon Pennington Biomedical’s knowledge and expertise for a variety of projects. Pennington Biomedical has generated more than $46 million from these contracts since 2003.

This infusion of dollars has created new jobs and an intellectual infrastructure that has the potential to expand Louisiana and LSU’s reach in bioscience, the industry that will drive the future of technology and the U.S. economy.

While Pennington’s faculty and business development team have been successful in acquiring funding, philanthropic investment in proof-of-concept projects accelerate Pennington Biomedical’s scientific and economic progress.

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Contributed by Louisiana Press Association