Business Leaders give $1.2M to LSU Health Shreveport for viral threats

Pictured left to right: Dr. David Lewis, Interim Chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport; William Comegys, III – President, Margaret Place Properties, Inc.; Ray Lasseigne, Board Member, Margaret Place Properties; Dewey and Gigi Corley; Kevin Flood, CEO and Director of the LSU Health Shreveport Foundation; Dr. Chris Kevil, Vice Chancellor of Research & Graduate School Dean (Courtesy photo)

Dewey and Gigi Corley through their Chaparral Foundation, together with Margaret Place Properties, Inc., Frances and William Comegys, III, and the Family of Aaron and Peggy Selber, have committed a combined $1.2 million to establish the first endowment for LSU Health Shreveport’s Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT). This is the largest private gift in the CEVT’s history. The group presented the gift to leadership of the CEVT and LSU Health Shreveport at a press conference at LSUHS.  

“These gifts will provide fundamental support for the CEVT for years to come as we continue to address the public health needs of the North Louisiana region and beyond,” said LSU Health Shreveport Vice Chancellor for Research, Chris Kevil, PhD. “Support through gifts like this enhance our capability to address current and future viral threats and elevate LSU Health Shreveport’s position as a national leader in viral research.”  

The Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) Laboratory was established in March 2020 to address the need for faster detection and processing of COVID-19 tests, making it the first testing lab to be established at an academic medical center in Louisiana. In December 2020, the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents designated the lab a Center of Excellence. Since its inception, the CEVT has processed 547,344 COVID-19 PCR tests, administered 118,307 COVID-19 vaccines, and sequenced more than 10,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes representing 48% of all genomic sequencing in Louisiana. 

“As confident as I was in our ability to stand-up a first-class lab to process COVID-19 test samples, I could never have envisioned the wide-scale impact of our services.  I will be forever grateful to our lab staff, strike teams and LSUHS leadership for their early and continued support allowing us to grow and now be on the cusp of moving into a BSL3 lab in in 2023,” stated Andrew Yurochko, PhD, Executive Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats.  

The Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats’ core mission is to engage in multidisciplinary, basic, and translational research on infectious viruses, provide surveillance and detection for current and future viral threats, provide cutting edge diagnostics and access to national clinical trials, and educate physicians, scientists and the community about prevention, treatment and the science of viral-mediated diseases.

Dewey Corley, local businessman and long-time supporter of LSU Health Shreveport stated, “We are proud to support the important work being done right here in Shreveport at the CEVT. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the scientists at LSU Health Shreveport have remained committed to serving this community, and we hope this gift demonstrates how grateful we are for every member of the CEVT for their dedication and expertise.”

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