Bioinformatics and Genomics Program: Putting LSUHSC on the World Map

Chindo Hicks, Ph.D.
Director, LSUHSC Bioinformatics and Genomics Program

LSUHSC’s Bioinformatics and Genomics (BIG) Program in partnership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) organized the International Conference on Data Mining (ICDM) held at The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans on November 18, 2017 – November 21, 2017 Dr. Chindo Hicks, Professor of Genetics and Director of LSUHSC’s BIG Program served as the organizing Chair. The ICDM is the world’s premier research conference on data mining. It provided an international forum for presentation of original research results, as well as exchange and dissemination of innovative and practical development experiences. The conference attracted over 800 international experts and graduate students involved in data mining, data analytics, data sciences and BIG data. The ICDM brought together researchers, application developers, and practitioners from a wide range of data mining-related areas such as statistics, machine learning, pattern recognition, bioinformatics, computational genomics, BIG data, data analytics, databases, data warehousing, data visualization, knowledge-based systems, and high-performance computing including cloud computing. Next year the conference will be held in Singapore. “We plan to represent LSUHSC in Singapore if the economic conditions allow,” said Dr. Hicks, one of the organizing committee members for next year’s conference.


Annual Que Pasa? Festival 

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Fern Tsien, Ph.D., Department of Genetics

The LSU School of Medicine’s Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), the LSUHSC Science Youth Initiative (SYI), and the New Orleans Latino community organization Nuestra Voz (Our Voice) worked together at the “Que Pasa?” Latino Festival in Lafreniere Park in Kenner on Friday, October 6th, 2017. LSUHSC students, staff, and faculty handed out health literature, provided blood pressure checks, and answered questions on breast cancer, cardiac health, smoking, and drug abuse. Breast cancer awareness buttons, coasters, magnets, and other gifts were distributed. Children also enjoyed dressing up like scientists and health care professionals. The team showcased the K-12 school partnerships and internship programs offered at LSUHSC, and raised awareness of the educational opportunities and career options afforded by LSU Health-New Orleans including the Schools of Medicine, Graduate Studies, Nursing, Public Health, Dentistry and Allied Health Professions

Resident Research Funding Program 

Paula Gregory, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research

The School of Medicine is committed to supporting both the clinical and research activities of our residents and fellows. The goal of the Resident Research Funding program is to provide institutional support to foster the resident research and scholarly activities. Receipt of this funding is contingent upon submission of an application, which must include a sponsoring faculty member who will take responsibility for the research training of the applicant.

The School of Medicine will provide up to $2,500 for the research project, which is contingent on a statement from the department head committing at least an equal amount in matching funds.

There have been two projects funded so far:

  • “MyPlate Educational Intervention” awarded to Tiffany Wesley (Internal Medicine, Baton Rouge) and her mentor, Dr. Angela Johnson.
  • “Identification of Endoscopic Laryngeal Lesions Using Computer Vision with Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)” awarded to Keonho Kong (ENT) and his sponsor, Dr. Michael Dunham.

More information about this program and the application materials can be found on the Medical School Research website, under Resident Research Opportunities:

Dr. Gregory is happy to assist residents and fellows who want to apply for this program.


7th Annual SNaHP Summit hosted by LSU Chapter

Claire Mickey (SOM Class of 2020)

On Saturday March 3, 2018, the LSUHSC chapter of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) will host the 7th annual SNaHP Summit from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the campus of LSU Health Science Center.  The annual summit is a one-day event that gathers students from many healthcare fields to learn about what a national health program would look like in the United States, and how to think about and advocate for beneficial change in our healthcare system. Attendees network with students from all over the U.S., learn how to talk about health policy, and contribute to national strategy for single-payer advocacy. Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, FACP, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), is a graduate of LSUHSC School of Medicine, and will be speaking at the summit. There are currently 61 SNaHP chapters in 28 states across the country.

SNaHP, the student branch of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), advocates for a comprehensive single-payer health program for America.  SNaHP states, “A single publicly funded, privately delivered universal health care system is necessary for us to provide high-quality care to all our patients.”  Advocates point out that although the U.S spends over 17% of the GDP on healthcare, more than twice as much as any other industrialized nation, it underperforms in health indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality, and immunization.  Furthermore, 33 million people in America are uninsured, which can make simple preventative measures that could deter costly chronic illness and life-threatening diseases inaccessible until it is too late.  Additionally, for-profit health insurance companies make necessary health care prohibitively expensive even for many insured Americans.  SNaHP members believe a single payer system is the most efficient solution to providing quality healthcare to all U.S. citizens.  On paper, it would save $400 billion a year.  It would also improve and extend the quality of life of Americans, keeping people out of hospitals, and able to continue working, contributing to the economy.

SNaHP President and second-year medical student Justin Mckone founded the LSU chapter of SNaHP in 2017.  He explains, “I started the SNaHP chapter at LSU to make sure everyone has access to healthcare. LSU prepares students to be well-trained and highly educated providers, but if our patients cannot afford our services then all our training and knowledge is wasted.” He found other students with similar interests.  David Lyle, second-year medical student and SNaHP treasurer, said, “I joined SNaHP to get involved with the politics of health care.  As a healthcare provider, it seems that you should be involved in the decisions on who gets access to that healthcare.”  There are currently 68 LSUHSC students interested in SNaHP, including students from the medical, nursing, and public health schools.

In March of 2017, four members traveled to Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, to attend the 6th annual SNaHP Summit.  Over 170 students attended.  LSU students were able to collaborate with nursing, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, social work, and medical students from all over the country.  There was a panel discussion, breakout sessions on topics like “Legislative Advocacy at the Nexus of Primary Care and Public Health”, planning for chapters organized by region, and a keynote presentation on health care justice by Nijmie Dzurinko.

Ashley Duhon, second-year medical student, and SNaHP Secretary, attended the 2017 Summit and looks forward to welcoming students to New Orleans for the 2018 Summit.  She says, “The SNaHP Summit last year was a great tool for broadening my knowledge base about the nitty-gritty details of “Medicare for All” and about how to get involved with advocacy for an issue I care so deeply about. I am excited for this year’s conference because this will be a valuable time to work on an action plan for our organization for ways to continue advocating to our Congressmen and educating our fellow medical students on why Medicare for All is the best possible healthcare system for our patients. In addition, I believe this will be a great opportunity for medical students around the country to see the rebuilding and growth that our healthcare system here in New Orleans has experienced since Hurricane Katrina”.

In July, the SNaHP national board asked if the LSU SNaHP chapter would be interested in hosting the 2018 Summit.  The LSU chapter met with school administrators, and drafted a proposal for the cost of renting space and personnel at LSU. The SNaHP board accepted.  The SNaHP national board is responsible for planning the summit.

Any healthcare student from any school can register for the conference.  Registration is $30 for conference admission only, and $80 for conference admission and housing for the weekend.  There are limited scholarships available in the form of stipends to cover travel, housing, and registration fees.  Students can visit to learn more, to register for the summit and to apply for funding.

The 7th annual Students for a National Healthcare System (SNaHP) Summit will be hosted by the LSUHSC SNaHP Chapter.

  • Where: The LSU Health Science Center Campus.
  • When: From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 pm. On Saturday March 3, 2018
  • Registration fee for conference only: $30
  • Registration fee and for conference and for housing for Friday and Saturday: $80
  • Registration and application for stipends are available at







Bioinformatics and Genomics (BIG) Program 

Chindo Hicks, Ph.D.
Program Director, Bioinformatics and Genomics Program, Department of Genetics 

Advances in genome sciences and genomic research are revolutionizing medicine and patient care. To further advance biomedical research and facilitate the realization of precision medicine, LSUHSC’s School of Medicine has launched the Bioinformatics and Genomics (BIG) Program. The mission of the program is “to conduct innovative research in bioinformatics, genomics and data sciences to advance LSUHSC’s research, education and service missions. To improve human health, eliminate health disparities and contribute to the economic development of the State of Louisiana through scientific discoveries”. The program integrates six focal areas of research: Bioinformatics and Data sciences, Computational and population genomics, functional and evolutionary genomics, biomarker and drug discovery and repositioning, clinical and translation bioinformatics and genomics. 

As part of the LSUHSC-SOM research initiative, the BIG program is well positioned to become the southeast region’s center of excellence in bioinformatics, genomics and data sciences research and education. The long-term goal is to position LSUHSC as a world leader in bioinformatics, genomics and data-driven medicine of the twenty-first century. Recognizing that research, education, and service in bioinformatics and genomics are inherently interdependent and mutually supportive, the program has the following strategic goals that address the dimensions of LSUHSC’s Core mission: 

Goal 1: Research – To be a recognized national and international leader in bioinformatics, genomic and data sciences research, leveraging and strengthening the multidisciplinary research faculty who are spread across multiple schools and Centers. 

Goal 2: Education – To educate and train the next generation of researchers and medical professionals. The program is accomplishing this goal by developing a total package of educational offerings in bioinformatics, genomics and data sciences, including developments of graduate and outreach programs.  

Goal 3: Services – Develop a user-centered and COST-RECOVERY or SHARED COST Service Center. The Program has accomplished this goal by developing and establishing a Bioinformatics and Data Science Service Center to support faculty research efforts and grant applications.  

Goal 4: Infrastructure – To develop and maintain a scalable interoperable technical infrastructure that allows high performance and cloud computing for fast and efficient data analysis, modeling, visualization and integration of large-scale multiplatform and multiscale biological and clinical data. The program has already developed and deployed a powerful high-performance computing infrastructure with over 240 TB computing power and 10TB of RAM and 120 TB of data storage capacity.  

Goal 5: Collaboration – To foster research partnerships, integrating research programs across campus, promoting opportunities for collaboration with Centers, other LSU campuses, other universities and health organizations, and to expand regional, national, and international collaborative partnerships in biomedical research. The program has already established viable collaborations with the University of Alabama, Tulane University, the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Zambia, Mangosuthu University in South Africa and Nottingham in the United Kingdom. 

You can read more about the program’s research activities on the following website: 

Department of Psychiatry: A Nationally Recognized Center for Disaster Behavioral Health 

Anthony Speier, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry

It is a tradition and an expectation among Louisiana communities, healthcare agencies, social service providers, and state government that in times of need, the LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry will be there offering a helping hand. The Department of Psychiatry has consistently been a leader and innovator in disaster behavioral health and has provided essential consultation and services to the state since Hurricane Andrew tore through southeastern Louisiana in late August 1992.

In response to numerous hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other environmental and human caused disasters, the work of the Department of Psychiatry is known and appreciated throughout the United States and countries in Asia, South America, and Europe. The Department of Psychiatry is consistently available to identify gaps in interventions that may place survivors at psychological risk and are available to help design, develop and deliver services during all phases of response and recovery. Following Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil spill (2010), psychiatry faculty provided leadership in the design of innovative approaches for the delivery of counseling services, and developed models of training for local providers using evidence-informed interventions.  In addition, LSUHSC faculty members were available for consultation and stress reduction services for first responders and disaster survivors.

Work of the Department in the area of disaster behavioral health is an investment in clinical practice and scientific knowledge that is currently paying dividends for communities, the state, and the region. The Department of Psychiatry has recently been awarded a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) five-year grant through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.  The Terrorism and Disaster Coalition for Child and Family Resilience (TDC4CFR) is directed by Drs. Howard J. Osofsky, Principal Investigator and Dr. Joy D. Osofsky, Co-Principal Investigator (Department of Pediatrics). The Department is the only center funded through this initiative for the advancement of disaster behavioral health. LSUHSC is now the destination site for assisting not only Louisiana but the nation in developing sustainable approaches for building resilience among children and families impacted by disasters and acts of terrorism.

The TDC4CFR is charged with the responsibility of establishing Disaster Behavioral Health Coalitions strategically located across disaster and terrorism prone regions in the country.  During the first year of coalition development across the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas), the TDC4CFR team has applied communication skills and organizational development strategies successfully.  The strategy involves practitioners and survivor-recipients of services as co-partners in individual and community recovery.

Within the last month, once again Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have devastated Gulf Coast States. The LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry has been working with Texas and Florida to identify subject matter experts and seasoned disaster behavioral health professionals, educators, child welfare experts, along with emergency managers, and community stakeholders as participants in state-specific coalition activities and collectively as the regional gulf coast coalition.

The major emphasis has been recognizing that our collective knowledge and skills can facilitate the response and recovery process. Our TDC4CFR team is actively involved in sharing information and recovery efforts. The Gulf Coast Coalition is currently convening highly valued bi-weekly meetings with state officials and provider agencies to support recovery efforts in Texas and Florida.

TDC4CFR faculty recently provided interviews for National Public Radio, local WWL news, the Atlantic, Washington Post, Newsweek, and Education Review on the impact of disasters on children of different ages and ways to prepare children and families for the return to schools and homes after the hurricanes.

The world of disaster incidents is often unpredictable regarding intensity and degree of devastation to infrastructure as well as psychological and social damage to individuals and families. LSUHSC Psychiatry is engaged in building sustainable coalitions to mitigate the psychological impact of disasters and terrorist acts on people and communities and to foster resilience.



Student Initiated Diversity Forums 

Hilary Gary - Diversity Forum
L2 Hillary Gary leads the second Diversity Forum

Students Advocating Medical Equity (SAME) Committee for Curriculum Development –Hillary Gary (Class or 2020), Anthony Pham (Class of 2020), De’Angellica Vaughn-Allen (Class of 2020)

Imagine you are a fourth-year resident on a flight home from a wedding. Suddenly, two rows ahead of you, a woman screams that her husband is unresponsive. A flight attendant begins to assess the situation and calls for someone to request a physician. You raise your hand to get her attention. She sees you but states, “Oh no sweetie. We are looking for actual physicians or nurses, we don’t have time to talk to you.” You attempt to inform her that you are a physician but your statements are cut short with condescending remarks. You are an African American female.

This true story made its way through the news last year while we were in the first semester of medical school. It brought attention to the issue of discrimination experienced by minority and female physicians across the country. Though our careers in medicine had just begun we were already discovering that while these situations are seldom so deliberately and obviously caustic, they are not rare.

Often when reading stories of discrimination in the news we can swear to ourselves that such a thing would never happen here—that’s not who we are—but as the saying goes, “the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.”  After an incident of insensitivity on the class of 2020’s Facebook page devolved into a 3 day, 200-comment thread witnessed by all, many students realized that the camaraderie within our cohort was not as ironclad as it seemed. This event led to students coming together to discuss what they had experienced individually, bringing awareness to their classmates who had not fully appreciated their peers’ discomfort.

For us, these frustrations seemed to boil down to a lack of cultural understanding on our campus. We believed that because we were entering the healthcare profession, our cohort had an intrinsic tendency toward empathy. We believed we needed to exercise this empathy now, collectively as a class, and not reserve it for future doctor-patient relationships. We believed empathy needed to permeate all aspects of our lives, not be compartmentalized into strictly the professional sphere. Indeed, when doctors leave the hospital, they do not cease to be doctors. Considering the effort the school had put into our curriculum to reflect their values of producing culturally competent and empathetic physicians, we believed they would be receptive to our ideas.

First, though, we reached out to classmates to see how they would feel about having their experiences presented anonymously to the class. It was crucial to us that we present scenarios for discussion that occurred here on campus. However, we also recognized that talking about someone else’s lived experience requires ample care and sensitivity. Most everyone that we approached was very receptive. Initially the idea was presented to the Students Advocating Medical Equity group to try to include this information with the incoming class’s orientation. They agreed that a student-led format would amplify the school’s overall efforts to highlight the importance of empathy and cultural awareness in medicine. We just needed to reach out to the curriculum faculty to see how they felt about it.

Our biggest concern going forward was whether we would have faculty support. We were worried that directly addressing incidents of discrimination may be seen as too critical or divisive. To our surprise, though, they were 100% supportive of the idea. With their collaboration, what was initially designed as an event for orientation evolved into the current set of four forums to be held through the first year of medical school. The forums address peer-peer relationships, the doctor-patient relationship, implicit biases, and the historical precedence for healthcare disparities. As we have moved forward through the planning stages we have been infinitely impressed with the support and trust the faculty have given us.

We held the first forum this past August for the Class of 2021 (L1s). It was run entirely by student facilitators from the Class of 2020 (L2s), though faculty members were invited to attend to listen. Despite a few functional hiccups (we’re talking about you, microphones!) the feedback we received from faculty and students alike was resoundingly positive. Students were glad to have space to discuss culturally sensitive topics without a feeling of judgement, and faculty were grateful for the opportunity to reflect on how they can help create a culture of inclusivity here on campus.

Moving forward, we hope to continue to have a meaningful impact with future forums. We hope to create a program that future classes can reproduce so that over time we can see lasting, generational change here at LSUAt their root, the forums aim to teach students about others’ lived experiences within an environment of thoughtful conversation and mutual respect. We believe that this kind of person-to-person, face-to-face conversation is the best pathway toward common understanding, and only through understanding can we hope to both improve the experiences of minorities on our campus and the quality of LSU physicians.

New Residency Program Directors Join LSUSOM

By Florencia Greer Polite, MD
Director of Faculty & Resident Development
Generalist Division Director
LSU Health Sciences Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

This July the LSU Health Sciences Center celebrated the installation of five new Program Directors.  Considered one of the most challenging jobs in the department, Program Directors are tasked with maintaining the residency’s accreditation, setting educational and surgical curriculums, teaching and monitoring clinical skills development, and overseeing supervision at all rotating sites.   Most program directors also maintain busy clinical practices, completing work after hours and on weekends.  So why does one take on this daunting task you may wonder? Because the reward of watching our learners grow from new interns to competent independent graduates is inspiring and transformative.  Here I sought to introduce you to these new Program Directors of OBGYN, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Urology and Orthopedics with a brief biography and some of information about their motivation and goals for their programs.


asha heardAsha Jayakrishnan Heard 
OBGYN Residency Program Director
Assistant Professor  Clinical OBGYN
Section of Maternal Fetal Medicine

Dr. Asha Jayakrishnan Heard was born and raised in the New Orleans area. Dr. Heard received her medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and a Master’s degree in public health from Tulane University School of Public Health.   Dr. Heard completed her residency training at Brown University – Women and Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island and her Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellowship at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA.

What is your favorite aspect of your program? 

“I think that we have a very close knit group of residents who support one another on a daily basis.  Our faculty is engaged and invested in helping the program succeed.”

What made you want to take on the role of Program Director? 

“I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to continue to lead the program in a positive direction.  I enjoy working with and mentoring the residents through this critical time in their medical careers.”

What are 3 things that you hope to accomplish in your tenure as Program Director? 

  • Continue to recruit the best and brightest students to join our program
  • Improve our annual in-service exam scores
  • Initiate opportunities for residents interested in global health

ritu bhalla

Ritu Bhalla, MD 
Pathology Residency Program Director
Assistant Professor – Clinical Pathology 
Section of Genito-urinary Pathology

Dr. Bhalla received her medical education from India, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur. To be abreast with the nuances in Medicine she came to the United States for her residency in Pathology at Summa Health System, Akron, Ohio, followed by fellowships in Cytopathology, Surgical Pathology and Genito-urinary pathology from Emory University, Hartford Hospital and University of Michigan respectively. She did a year of research in Genito-urinary pathology at Michigan Center of Translational Pathology and joined LSU Department of Pathology in June 2012.

What is your favorite aspect of your program? 

“I really appreciate the size of the program and how it facilitates a one-on-one teaching approach by the faculty. I also like the excellent mix of cases, having a good balance of both complex and simple diagnoses.”

What made you want to take the role of Program Director? 

“I love challenges in life, young brains are demanding and daring with a strong capacity to follow directions and understandings, to develop into well rounded individuals and physicians. The success of my residents, as pathologists when they step in the real world, will give me a sense of accomplishment.”

What are 3 things that you hope to accomplish in your tenure as Program Director? 

  • I would like to develop short and long term goals and objectives, including sub-specialization of the department, to achieve a successful outcome for the program, starting first with attaining residents’ satisfaction.
  • I also would like to build the program further to reach state level and national recognition.
  • I hope to promote excellence in medical education and patient care which will provide exceptional pathologists in our city, state, and country.

maria reinoso

Maria Reinoso, MD 
Ophthalmology Program Director 
Associate Professor – Clinical Ophthalmology

Dr. Reinoso completed her medical degree in Bogota, Colombia.  Dr. Reinoso completed a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami and an additional residency in the LSU/Ochsner Program and a Vitreo Retinal Fellowship at LSU.  Dr. Reinoso joined the LSUHSC faculty in 2011.

What is your favorite aspect of your program? 

“It is a hands-on program, which allows the residents to start performing procedures early, and as faculty we have the opportunity to teach the procedures and see how residents progress and improve with practice through their residency years.”

What made you want to take on the role of Program Director? 

“I am a firm believer in that the best way to reach out and help others is to teach other people how to do it. I also enjoy working with the residents; it is a challenge to work with 21 different personalities and different approaches to learning (I love challenges). I trained with LSU and I am very grateful for the training I received, it makes me want to give back and make the program better if I can.”

What are 3 things that you hope to accomplish in your tenure as Program Director? 

  • I want all the residents rotating through our program to feel that they have a supportive PD who will have their back but also has high expectations of them.
  • I want to make the program better: better lectures, better surgical curriculum, better teaching during clinics, better surgical numbers.
  • I want to achieve 100% board passing rate for our graduates.

scott delacroix1Scott E. Delacroix, Jr., M.D.
Urology Program Director 
Director of Urologic Oncology
Associate Professor – Clinical Urology

What is your favorite aspect of your program?

“Our faculty and the relationships with the residents.  We have a very subspecialized department (Male reconstruction, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstruction, Pediatric Urology, Stone Disease and BPH, Voiding Dysfunction, and Urologic Oncology) where each faculty brings their own strengths to improve overall clinical care and teaching.  Being able to mentor, train and organize a 5-year curriculum for our residents is very rewarding.  There is an intellectual symbiotic relationship between faculty and residents— both should gain from the relationship. Every resident (and faculty member for that matter) has strengths and weaknesses.  Through mentorship and close interactions between faculty and trainees, these strengths and weaknesses can be identified harnessed and mitigated (respectively) to produce highly capable independent urologic surgeons.  In my opinion, understanding ones weaknesses is the most important developed trait a trainee should have prior to going into independent practice.”

 What made you want to take on the role of Program Director? 

“The challenge of building something new.  The LSU Urology Residency Program would not exist without the strong leadership and vision of our chairman who built this department from almost nothing to a regionally very strong clinical department.  Since I was a resident, I thought LSU should have an independent Urology residency program.  This was planned/discussed as far back as my fellowship and has come to fruition as of January 2017.”

What are 3 things that you hope to accomplish in your tenure as Program Director? 

  •  Increase our academic production at regional and national meetings through coordinated research within our department and the HSC.
  • Hope to engender a loyalty to the LSU department of Urology from current and future trainees to be able to give back and support our resident and academic missions.
  • Get to 1000 twitter followers @UroCancer


Michael Heffernan, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery/Pediatrics

Dr. Heffernan received his MD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Dr. Heffernan completed his residency training at the University of Massachusetts and a fellowship in pediatric orthopaedic and scoliosis surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Kathy McDonough Retires 

Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Department Head Physiology

Summer ended with a memorable event for Physiology at LSUHSC as Dr. Kathy McDonough retired on August 31st. Though she now moves to a new stage in her life, dedicated to her husband, children, travel, and reading she leaves an indelible mark on the lives of so many that were fortunate to be her students, mentees, colleagues, and friends. Kathy received her PhD in Physiology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO in 1977. Her dissertation focused on “Transmural Metabolic and Blood Flow Changes in Porcine and Canine Hearts after Circumflex Artery Occlusion.” She went on to complete her postdoctoral training under Dr. James R. Neely at the Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. In 1979, Dr. McDonough joined the Department of Physiology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) as a research assistant professor. She progressed through the academic ranks at LSUHSC, becoming an assistant professor on the tenure track in 1982, associate professor in 1986, and professor in 1994. With Dr. John Spitzer’s retirement in 2001, she was appointed Interim Head of the Department of Physiology, a position she held until 2002 when Dr. Bill Chilian was recruited to head the department of Physiology. Dr. McDonough’s effectiveness and esteem in these roles led to her appointment as Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at LSUHSC in 2003, a position that she would ultimately hold for nearly 15 years.

During her 48+ years at LSUHSC beginning in 1979, Kathy concurrently served in many positions and capacities.  During her time as Professor in the Department of Physiology and Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, she also served as Course Director for the Biological Systems Course (2005-2017), Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (2008-2017), and Interim Head of the Department of Genetics for two years (2012-2014). She was also Director of the MD/PhD program, Director of the Interdisciplinary Program, and Director of the Master’s in Biomedical Sciences Program. Since 1986, Dr. McDonough has served on nearly 50 PhD and master’s degree committees and directed eight thesis/dissertation committees.

Dr. McDonough received extramural support for her research from eight grants funded by the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Louisiana Board of Regents, and the Department of Defense during the period between 1981 and 2008. In addition, she participated in the NIH/NIAAA-funded Alcohol Research Center grant awarded to Dr. John Spitzer, serving as Principal Investigator of the Pilot Project (1993-1995), Director of the Animal Core (1993-1998), and Co-Director of the Animal Core (1998-2003).

In addition to these commitments, Dr. McDonough served on the Admissions Committee for more than 20 years, the Graduate Advisory Committee of Graduate Studies for 6 years, and the Graduate Committee of the Department of Physiology for 10 years.  She served on the Faculty Assembly for 2 terms (nearly 10 years), holding the role of Secretary/Treasurer for 4 years during her first term (1991-1997) and President for 1 year during her second term (1998-2001). In addition to these commitments, she served on many other committees, including the Oversight Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee, the Professionalism Subcommittee, the Appointments and Promotions Committee, the Task Force for LCME accreditation (Chair of the Faculty Committee), and multiple faculty and administration search committees.

Those who worked with her or benefited from her mentorship refer to her as a rock, a Mom, a confidant, a sister. Words can’t begin to describe her dedication, patience, and simple generosity with her time and knowledge that benefited so many of us current and past trainees. I was fortunate to have been her student, colleague, and in the later years friend. The entire department will miss walking uninvited through her open door whenever they felt they needed someone with whom to talk. No training, remodeling, or renovation can recreate the safe haven she provided for students and colleagues. We are grateful for her contributions to our department, institution, and more importantly programs like the IDP and MD/PhD. They have grown, flourished, and succeeded because of her dedication and hard work. We wish her health, joy, and love in this new phase of her life.