Pennington Biomedical taps new executive director

Pennington Biomedical taps new executive director

Pennington Biomedical Research Center has a new executive director as LSU President F. King Alexander has announced that John Kirwan, director of the Metabolic Translational Research Center and professor of molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, will fill the role, pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

"We are pleased to welcome Dr. Kirwan as executive director of LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center," Alexander said. "His exceptional record of excellence in diabetes-related research, including the discovery that the disease can sometimes be cured by surgical alteration of the stomach, make him the perfect fit for Pennington Biomedical. I am excited to see the effect his direction has on the center's existing efforts toward improving health outcomes for Louisiana citizens and its already stellar research portfolio."

Alexander also thanked Donna Ryan, a world-renowned obesity researcher, physician and professor emerita at Pennington Biomedical, for serving as interim executive director of Pennington Biomedical since January.

In addition to serving as the director of the Metabolic Translational Research Center and professor of molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, Kirwan is also a professor of physiology and of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. His professional expertise includes almost 30 years of research, teaching, and service in the obesity and diabetes fields.

"I am enthusiastic to join the team with President Alexander and all of the wonderful people at Pennington Biomedical," Kirwan said. "As the pandemic of chronic disease and obesity garner more attention internationally, Pennington Biomedical is well-positioned to be a leader in clinical research on those issues, as well as discovering new treatments, and providing outreach to support healthier life styles."

Kirwan received his clinical physiology training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo,; his Ph.D. in human bioenergetics at Ball State University, Muncie, Ind,; his master's degree in exercise biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst; and his bachelor's degree from the University of Limerick, Ireland.

He leads an internationally-acclaimed biomedical research program focused on diabetes, obesity, nutrition, and exercise, and is currently PI or Co-Investigator on nine NIH grants, and to date has generated more than $35 million in research funding, most of which has come from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the food, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries.

He published more than 200 scientific papers related to diabetes and metabolism in prestigious peer-reviewed journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Diabetes and Diabetes Care. Among his most important research contributions is the discovery that for a significant number of patients, diabetes can be put into long-term remission by surgically altering the physiology of the intestine and stomach.

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