LSUHSC Bioinformatics and Genomics Program in the Clouds – No More Genomics Snail Mail 

Chindo Hicks, Ph.D. (Department of Genetics)  

LSUHSC-SOM’s Bioinformatics and Genomics (BIG) Program in partnership with University of Chicago’s Computational Institute through a National Cancer Institute grant have deployed the Globus platform. This new and advanced cloud based computing platform supports the transfer, management and sharing of big and multi-omics data among investigators. LSUHSC investigators can now use this cloud-based platform to transfer and share big data and large-scale multiplatform and multi-omics data with their collaborating partners around the country and around the works.  The project is led jointly by Dr. Ian T. Foster (PI), Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Data Science and Learning division at Argonne National Laboratory, the creator of the Globus platform; and Dr. Chindo Hicks, Professor of Genetics and Director of LSUHSC-SOM’s BIG Program (PI for the LSUHSC site).  

The platform includes the Globus Genomics, a cloud-based, elastic system for genomics analysis in the cloud. The platform addresses the needs of researchers, management of big data and provides additional computation resources, by providing frictionless access to advanced scientific computing capabilities and an easy way to deliver these capabilities to a broad user base through data sharing.    

Whether the genotyping or sequencing is done at campus core facilities or off-site at an external vendor, for example at the Broad Institute in Boston or the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology in Alabama, moving hundreds of Terabytes of data over an FTP connection or by sending hard drives through the mail by FedEx can be a slow, error-prone process and can compromise data security. The Globus platform allows for the rapid transfer of dozens of exome sequences to BIG’s Bioinformatics and computational Genomics laboratory. Instead of sending hard drives, it’s now easier for researchers at LSUHSC to just get data transferred electronically. Therefore, “no more genomics snail mail for LSUHSC investigators and cooperating partners 

The BIG and Globus team are currently working on linking LSUHSC high-performance computing platforms with the Amazon, Google, IBM and the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platforms using the Globus platform.  This will allow us to leverage LSUHSC-SOM resources and to be more competitive as we develop the LSUHSC genomics research enterprise and reposition our cancer center to achieve comprehensive designation from the NCI. In addition to deploying the GLOBUS platform and the data delivery, sharing and analysis pipeline the BIG and Globus teams are conducting training workshop seminar series to LSUHSC investigators.  

Investigators who are interesting in learning more about the platform should contact Dr. Chindo Hicks, Globus PI for the LSUHSC Site at or the LSUHSC Bioinformatics team at 


Summer Student Program Poster Day Winners

Congratulations to all of the winners of the Summer Research Internship Program Poster Day!!! We would like to thank all of the participants, mentors, laboratory and office personnel, and the judges for a successful summer internship program!

High school Category

1st place:   

Manal Malik

Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies
Mentors: Drs. Tung-Sung (Sam) Tseng and Hui-Yi Lin
Dept. of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
LSUHSC School of Public Health

2nd place (tie):

Kyron Summers

St. Augustine High School
Mentor: Dr. Arnold Zea
Dept. of Microbiology, Immunology, & Parasitology
LSUHSC School of Medicine

Ann Byerley

Mandeville High School
Mentor: Dr. Martin Ronis
Dept. of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
LSUHSC School of Medicine

3rd place (tie):

Sara Saak

Mt. Carmel Academy
Mentors: Drs. Michael Norman and Pinki Prasad
Human Development Center and Children’s Hospital of New Orleans
School of Allied Health and School of Medicine

Melissa Berner

St. Mary’s Dominican High School
Mentor: Dr. Scott Edwards
Dept. of Physiology
LSUHSC School of Medicine

Undergraduate Category

1st place:

Ryan Hoffman

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Mentor: Dr. Patricia Molina
Dept. of Physiology
LSUHSC School of Medicine

2nd place (tie): 

Laura Carrasquilla

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Mentor: Dr. Jovanny Zabaleta
Dept. of Pediatrics and Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center
LSUHSC School of Medicine

Jamal Jordan

Howard University, Washington, D.C
Mentor: Dr. Jason Gardner
Dept. of Physiology
LSUHSC School of Medicine

3rd place (tie):

Marissa Duckett

University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Mentor: Dr. Edward Peters
Dept. of Epidemiology
LSUHSC School of Public Health

Omar Alnajjar

Xavier University of Louisiana, NO, LA
Mentor: Dr. Arnold Zea
Dept. of Microbiology, Immunology, & Parasitology
LSUHSC School of Medicine

NSF-Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program winners

1st place:

Laura Carrasquilla

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Mentor: Dr. Jovanny Zabaleta
Dept. of Pediatrics and Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center
LSUHSC School of Medicine

2nd place:

Marissa Duckett

University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Mentor: Dr. Edward Peters
Dept. of Epidemiology
LSUHSC School of Public Health

3rd place (tie):

Thor Henderson

St. Olaf College Northfield, MN
Mentor: Dr. Tiffany Wills
Dept. of Cell Biology and Anatomy
LSUHSC School of Medicine

Aaliyah Pierre

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Mentor: Dr. Rinku Majumder
Dept. of Biochemistry
LSUHSC School of Medicine

Promotions and Tenure

Congratulations are in order for the following faculty of the School of Medicine who received promotions and/or tenure, effective July 1, 2018!

Promoted to Professor:

  • Sunyoung Kim, Ph.D. (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
  • Thomas Lallier, Ph.D. (Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)
  • Guoshun Wang, DVM, Ph.D. (Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology)
  • Ping Wang, Ph.D. (Department of Pediatrics)
  • Matthew Whim, Ph.D. (Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy)

Promoted to Professor, Clinical:

  • Lee Engel, M.D., Ph.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • Paul LeLorier, M.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • Angela McLean, M.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • Guy Orangio, M.D. (Department of Surgery)
  • Dana Rivera, M.D. (Department of Pediatrics)
  • Rohan Walvekar, M.D. (Department of Otolaryngology)

Promoted to Clinical Professor:

  • Tracy LeGros, M.D., Ph.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • Joseph LaRochelle, Pharm.D. (Department of Pediatrics)
  • Heather Murphy-Lavoie, M.D. (Department of Medicine)

Promoted to Associate Professor, Research:

  • Judy Crabtree, Ph.D. (Department of Genetics)

Promoted to Associate Professor, Clinical:

  • Jameel Ahmed, M.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • Jaime Alleyn, M.D. (Department of OB/GYN)
  • Ritu Bhalla, M.D. (Department of Pathology)
  • Charles Coleman, M.D. (Department of Psychiatry)
  • Tracy Dewenter, M.D. (Department of Pathology)
  • Stacey Holman, M.D. (Department of OB/GYN)
  • Ryan Krlin, M.D. (Department of Urology)
  • Frank Lau, M.D. (Department of Surgery)
  • Rahul Mehta, M.D. (Department of Otolaryngology)
  • Cori Morrison, M.D. (Department of Pediatrics)
  • Mihran Naljayan, M.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • Linda Keller Oge, M.D. (Department of Family Medicine)
  • Amanda Phillips-Savoy, M.D. (Department of Family Medicine)
  • Paula Seal, M.D., MPH (Department of Medicine)
  • Jeffrey Surcouf, M.D. (Department of Pediatrics)
  • Andrew Williams, M.D. (Department of Psychiatry)

Promoted to Clinical Associate Professor:

  • Jose Calderon-Abbo, M.D. (Department of Psychiatry)
  • Jeffrey Elder, M.D. (Department of Medicine)
  • London Guidry, M.D. (Department of Surgery)
  • Rochelle Head-Dunham, M.D. (Department of Psychiatry)
  • Azeem Khan, M.D. (Department of Surgery)
  • Michelle Moore, Psy.D. (Department of Psychiatry)

Promoted to Assistant Professor, Clinical:

  • LaKedra Pam, M.D. (Department of OB/GYN)

Promoted to Clinical Assistant Professor:

  • Stanislav Zhuk, M.D. (Department of Ophthalmology)

Tenure Only:

  • Yaguang Xi, M.D., Ph.D. (Department of Genetics)



















Summer Research Program – Another Busy Summer! 

Fern Tsien, Ph.D. (Department of Genetics) 

The Summer Research Internship Program provides research opportunities for LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) medical students, undergraduates from throughout the United States, and New Orleans area high school students.  The program directors, Drs. Paula Gregory and Fern Tsien, match students with mentors in laboratories or clinics at LSUHSC, University Medical Center (UMC), and the Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC). The Summer Research Internship Program allows students to cultivate their interest in pursuing careers in either basic or clinical sciences. During the program, students conduct their own research or work on part of an ongoing project. Support for this program comes from the Baptist Community Ministries, the Entergy Corporation, the LSUHSC Medical School Dean’s Office, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).   

This program provides the structure that students need to identify research career paths, strengthen their resumes for applications to institutions of higher learning, and facilitate future careers in the basic and health sciences. Summer interns work under the tutelage of a faculty mentor, their staff, and trainees, including medical and graduate students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, and technicians. The program also provides professional development resources where experts present weekly seminars and workshops on laboratory safety, responsible conduct in research, patient confidentiality, record keeping, resume writing, and presentation skills. Faculty members from the various academic training programs also provide seminars on prerequisites and qualifications needed for acceptance into their programs of higher learning. Student interns also participate in networking activities such as the Sci-Fly Speed Mentoring Session and community engagement events, where they provide health education to Louisiana families.  

The program culminates with a poster session where participants present what they learned to the New Orleans scientific community. Drs. Gregory and Tsien would like to extend their special appreciation to mentors, laboratory personnel, and administrative staff who help make the Summer Research Internship Program a success. This program has allowed students to become immersed in the clinical/research setting, meet peers and faculty in the health fields, strengthen resumes, and jumpstart future science careers. 

Student Educational Trip to Guatemala 

Saman Kamal (Class of 2021)

At the end of May, four first-year LSUHSC medical students went to Antigua, Guatemala to gain clinical skills in a summer experience facilitated by Dr. Patricia Molina (Department Chair, Physiology).  The trip was for us to experience the healthcare delivery system, learn the art of practicing medicine in a developing country, and refine our Spanish language abilities. I, along with Alex Molina, Rod Paulsen, and Jason Schroeder spent a week at the San Pedro Hospital, under the guidance of physicians from the local medical school, including Drs. Guillermo Sanchez, Pedro Palacios, Pedro Ayau, Leonel Leon Pineda, and Dominique Jimenez.

When you walk down a cobblestone street in Antigua, Guatemala, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The quiet streets are lined with colorful stucco Spanish buildings, the air smells like fresh corn tortillas, and the street vendors sell freshly cut fruit. San Pedro Hospital is a bright yellow Baroque-style church and hospital. In addition to exam rooms, the hospital has a small surgery wing, labor & delivery ward, pharmacy, lab, and an endoscopy/ultrasound suite. Healthcare services are provided at no cost to the patients, many of whom travel hours from rural areas to be seen at San Pedro.

The clinic is staffed by a team of medical students from the Universidad de Francisco Marroquin (UFM), as part of their internal medicine rotation. The students complete the entire history and physical exam for each patient, usually spending over 30 minutes with each person. They present their diagnosis and treatment plan to the supervising physician, who either agrees with their treatment plan or steers the students in the right direction. If students are uncertain or need more clarification about a diagnosis, they will consult the literature. In fact, when we asked questions, the students would often explain the answer and send us a relevant peer-reviewed article with more information.

We met patients between the ages of 11 – 80, with problems varying from ear infections, cervical dysplasia, upper respiratory infections, diabetes, and hypertension. Our patients ranged from women presenting with back pain or right upper quadrant pain, to true Guatemalan ranchers from local cattle farms, to a schoolgirl who was injured at the playground. We were nervous at first, hesitant to speak to patients or examine them. We watched the students with trepidation, wondering if we’d ever be that confident in front of our patients. As our first day progressed, their courage rubbed off on us. By lunchtime, we had started taking histories from our patients. In fact, by Thursday, we went through a mock Step 2 CS exercise, during which we took patient histories, performed a physical exam, and wrote a note, entirely in Spanish. We had become comfortable with physical exam skills that scared us on Monday morning, like checking for a Murphy sign, performing a straight leg raise, or testing reflexes and sensation.

On our last day with UFM, Drs. Leon Pineda and Jimenez met us at an inpatient hospital, tucked away in the mountains outside of Antigua, for patients with neurological problems or developmental delay. Once inside, we each were assigned to one pediatric patient and one adult patient. Many of the pediatric patients suffered from cerebral palsy, often caused by neonatal meningitis infection. My patient was a 10-year-old boy, Angel, with severe microcephaly. He lay in a crib, silent, attached to a feeding tube and oxygen cannula. His head, covered in fuzzy black hair, was still soft as if he was a newborn. His limbs were under-developed, his hands clenched into permanent fists. According to his chart, after giving birth, his mother left Angel at the hospital in Guatemala City. A team of American neurosurgeons operated on Angel. Afterward, he was sent to the hospital, where he will stay for the rest of his life.

I had never taken a history or performed a physical exam with a patient who could not speak. I introduced myself to Angel, explained that I was a medical student from the U.S., and saw no response. I reached down to touch his chest; he immediately started shivering. I found his wrist, feeling his pulse under my fingers, letting Angel become accustomed to my voice and my touch. As the shivering slowed down, I asked him to follow my flashlight with his eyes. Surprisingly, Angel complied, although he could not abduct his left eye. Building up my confidence, I listened to his strong heart and his lungs. I tested his reflexes with a hammer, noting a response in both knees and his left elbow. I tickled the bottom of his feet, asked him to turn his head towards my voice, and performed other maneuvers under the guidance of Dr. Jimenez. As we wrapped up, I realized I had elicited a surprising amount of information, even though my patient couldn’t speak. I was able to tell that Angel was recovering from his previous upper respiratory infection by the diminished crackles in his lung base, able to see that he still had sensation and reflexes in his tiny legs, count his chest rising and falling to find his respiratory rate, and assess his cranial nerve function by watching his eyes.

The free hospital was unlike any place I’ve ever seen, whether in the U.S. or abroad. For a child like Angel, it quite literally saved his life. We are very thankful to the faculty, students, and staff at UFM for allowing us to experience and learn from the patients at San Pedro and the inpatient hospital. We are also very grateful to LSUHSC and Dr. Patricia Molina for facilitating this learning experience.




Camp Tiger 2018 – Another Successful Event! 

Jantzen Collette (School of Medicine, Class of 2021)

130 kids with special needs from the New Orleans area were given the week of a lifetime as they made new friends and enjoyed many fun activities at the 33rd annual Camp Tiger.

Camp Tiger is a week-long summer day camp for children with any range of disability, provided completely free of charge to the families, and is hosted by the first-year medical school class. To ensure each camper is safe and has the most fun possible, each camper is paired with two counselors, one from the first-year class and one from the incoming class.

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This past year the LSU School of Medicine Class of 2021 worked very hard planning and fundraising for Camp Tiger. Camp Tiger 2018 was one for the record books as the Class of 2021 raised a whopping $188,000 at the annual Camp Tiger Benefit and Auction! The Camp Tiger Benefit and Auction was held on April 6th at Club XLIV in Champion’s Square and featured both a live and silent auction, with a special performance by the 610 Stompers and live entertainment from the Rockenbraughs. In addition, many restaurant vendors from the New Orleans area provided excellent local cuisine. A huge thank you goes out to this year’s Auction Committee for all of their amazing work at accomplishing such an achievement. With a special thanks to Auction Chair, Hillary Connell for making this the most successful Camp Tiger Benefit and Auction in history.

This year at Camp Tiger, which took place this past May, nearly 450 campers and counselors explored many fun locations around the city and state, including the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium, Global Wildlife, KidSports, Laser Tag, and Mardi Gras World. The students also enjoyed a fun-filled day at the Camp Tiger Carnival, which was held on the dental school fields and included a petting zoo, fun jumps, dunk tank, therapy dogs, face painting, and many more fun activities.

One of the biggest challenges when planning Camp Tiger is finding venues that can both accommodate a group of our size and as well as the needs of our campers. Thank you to all of our amazing venues for everything they did to make Camp Tiger the best it could be for our campers, and to the Camp Tiger committee for all of their hard work this past year. Special thank you to Delaney Sheehan, Counselor Coordinator, and Madelinn Fink, Camp Tiger Secretary, for everything they have done to make Camp Tiger possible, it truly would not have gone as well as it did without you two.

One of the most important goals of Camp Tiger is to give our amazing campers a week to just be a kid, without the world viewing them as different, but as a person that just wants to make friends and have fun doing whatever it is they love doing. Those who know me, know how important this goal is to me, and I personally cannot thank enough every single person involved in making Camp Tiger 2018 an absolute success and giving these amazing kids a week they loved and will talk about until next year’s Camp Tiger.


DNA Day! 

Alix D’Angelo (Department of Genetics) 

Every April 25th, DNA day is celebrated to commemorate the completion of the Human Genome Project, which significantly advanced the world’s understanding of genomics. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) organizes events and educational resources for DNA day ( each year.  

For its 15th anniversary, LSU Health’s genetic counselor, Alix D’Angelo, put together a booth in the University Medical Center cafeteria to raise awareness of the role of genetics in common disorders. During the lunch hour, healthcare providers, staff, patients and their family members stopped by the booth to learn more about hereditary cancer and cardiovascular conditions, such as Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome, Lynch syndrome and familial hypercholesterolemia. They discussed features of these disorders, including young age of onset, and that accurate family history information is an invaluable tool in assessing an individual’s risk of a hereditary cancer or cardiovascular condition.  

For additional information or questions, you can contact Alix D’Angelo at (504) 568-2668 or 

Youthforce NOLA Career Expo 

Jorge Peñas (Masters Student, Department of Genetics) 

On Tuesday March 20th, 2018 students and faculty from all six schools at LSUHSC came together to teach over 2,000 high school students about careers in healthcare at the Youthforce NOLA career exposition. The event took place at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena and was sponsored by the YouthForce NOLA, Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans, and Greater New Orleans, Inc.   

Youthforce NOLA is an education, business, and civic collaborative that prepares New Orleans public school students for the successful pursuit of high-wage and high demand career pathways. LSUHSC faculty, staff, and trainees volunteered their time to talk about their health science careers, training programs, and prerequisites for admission. LSUHSC event organizers were Dr. Fern Tsien (Director, Science Youth Initiative and Research Experiences for Undergraduates), Dr. Allison Augustus-Wallace (Co-Director, Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Office of Diversity and Community Engagement), Ms. Martha Cuccia (Co-Director, Science Youth Initiative), Daryl Lofaso (Director of Simulation Operations) and Gerlinda Davis (Office of Diversity & Community Engagement Outreach Coordinator).  


LSUHSC Science Partnership Field Day 

Jorge Peñas (Masters student, Department of Genetics)  

Throughout the academic school year LSUHSC faculty, staff, and trainees volunteered to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related topics to 4th graders at elementary schools within the greater New Orleans area. These events were part of the Science Youth Initiative, a program organized by Dr. Fern Tsien (Department of Genetics). On May 14th, a total of 75 fourth graders from Esperanza and St. Peter Claver Elementary Schools visited the LSUHSC campus for the annual Science Partnership Field Day. The children participated in various activities including human organ demonstrations, making models of blood components, drunk simulation goggles, and isolation of DNA from strawberries. Special guest Dr. Corey Hébert gave an inspirational talk to the kids. Lunches were provided courtesy of Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor for LSUHSC, and Dr. Joseph Moerschbaecher III, Vice Chancellor for LSUHSC. Teachers were recognized for their commitment to the program and each fourth grader received books and comics to take home. The Science Youth Initiative would like to thank all the volunteers who helped out throughout the year and anyone who donated to the campus wide book drive. 

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Moms In Medicine: Balancing Family With A Clinical Career 

Paula Gregory, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Genetics
Assistant Dean for Medical Student Research

Moms in Medicine

Each year, the School of Medicine Women’s Affairs Committee works with the student branch of Women in Medicine to organize an informal panel discussion about balancing a clinical career with a family.  The panel met on February 27th and included the following members:

  • Taniya De Silva, Associate Professor and Section Head of Endocrinology
  • Cathy Lazarus, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
  • Jessica Patrick, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, NICU
  • Sarah Jolley, Assistant Professor, Pulmonary/Critical Care
  • Mae Igi, Medical Student
  • Natalia Arango, Resident, OB/GYN

The panelists are mothers of children ranging in age from in utero (Alexander Tinklenberg, born 3/23/18) to adult.  The panel represented a variety of medical specialties as well as representing various stages in their career development from students, residents, faculty, and administration. They addressed questions ranging from when is the best time in your career to start a family to what is your best “survival” trick.  Students who attended were interested in how they chose their field, who their mentors were during their training among many other questions.