Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Top Stories: Education

by BIZ Magazine

LSU Health Shreveport expansion outlines bright future for students, region

LSU Health Shreveport secured state investment in the new 155,000-square-foot Center for Medical Education and Emerging Viral Threats. LSUHS received $18.7 million in additional support toward completion of the center from the Louisiana legislature last year, as well as $2.1 million to expand and modernize its Gross Anatomy Lab with at least 50 dissection stations, pathology cameras and state-of-the-art ventilation. 

“We create our own workforce here in northwest Louisiana—we train, educate and grow our own excellence for this region and for our state,” said LSUHS Vice Chancellor of External Affairs and Chief of Staff Markey Pierre.

The new Center for Medical Education will be the first new building on the LSUHS campus in more than 15 years. It replaces and expands on facilities built in 1970, before cell phones and internet and the emergence of new educational technologies—especially digital and audiovisual, but also accessible and multimodal ones—began placing higher demands on physical structures. 

For the first time, students from the School of Medicine, the School of Allied Health Professions and the Graduate School will be learning and training together under one roof.

“We’ve been in separate buildings, so we’ve barely seen each other,” LeGrande said. “The new center will allow us to work together in teams, more like in the real world where you have doctors, nurses, techs and therapists working together. I’m especially excited about the new simulation labs that will give students more hands-on experience and ability to communicate and work as a team for more patient-centered care. As a result, whenever someone goes to a hospital in this region years from now, their care is going to be better and more seamless.”

On the medical school side, LSUHS student cohorts have grown incrementally over the past 50 years from 32 to 150. Yet, the homegrown supply of new physicians, with as many as half of all LSUHS medical students going on to practice in Louisiana, still struggles to meet state demands. All but six of the state’s 64 parishes are medically underserved, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

The classrooms in the new center will be able to accommodate up to 250 while the auditorium can hold 500.

“Our best way to meet Louisiana’s growing needs for care is to educate more healthcare professionals,” Pierre said. “As an example, our fourth-year medical students go through a matching process for residency and what we found is that when you train and do your residency here, 70-75 percent choose to stay in northwest Louisiana because they want to spend the rest of their lives here. This improves the health of our citizens and creates sustainable economic growth for our region.”

For every new doctor who joins the workforce in Louisiana, there is an additional $2 million in economic impact and spinoff effects that lead to the creation of 12 new jobs. While the cost to build the new center amounts to a total of $84 million, the expected growth of LSUHS educational programs and their associated economic impact on the state—enabled by the new center—are estimated to make up for the entire building cost in as little as three years.

Amir Kaskas is in his third year of medical school at LSUHS and the president of the executive council of the medical school student body. He chose to study medicine because of his combined interest in science and research and passion for helping people.

“Medicine is this beautiful intersection of being a people person but working in an evidence-based field,” Kaskas said. “What I love the most about the new center is that it will move us away from lectures to do more team-based learning with increased collaboration within and between classes that normally don’t interact with each other.”

The new center will have four floors, with the first three dedicated to medical education and the top floor to include the Center for Emerging Vital Threats, or CEVT, and BSL-2 and BSL-3 biosafety labs for the study and diagnosis of pathogens, including potentially hazardous viruses, bacteria, cell cultures, parasites and fungi.

The CEVT went from conception to operation in just 12 days in March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the state and its hospitals scrambled to get people tested. To date, the CEVT has processed 800K COVID-19 PCR tests, delivered over 130K vaccines and sequenced more than 17K SARS-CoV-2 genomes to track the evolution of the virus that causes the disease. The success of the CEVT, bolstered by the promise of a new home on the LSUHS campus, has increased the university’s competitiveness for large federal grants. Most recently, LSUHS received $10.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to establish a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, for applied immunology and pathological processes under the leadership of Andrew Yurochko, the CEVT director. The grant confirms LSUHS’s rapid rise as a national leader in the diagnosis, testing and treatment of new viruses and other pathogens.

Robert T. Smith named new chancellor of LSUS

Robert T. Smith took over as Chancellor of LSU Shreveport, effective July 10.   

Smith previously served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Mathematics at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga. He replaced Larry Clark, who retired June 30. 

Robert T. Smith

“We are very excited to welcome Robert Smith to the LSU family,” LSU President William F. Tate IV said. “His breadth of experience leading faculty, improving retention and graduation rates, and mentoring students will be a tremendous asset to LSU Shreveport. LSUS is a vital part of our mission to provide quality higher education, service and outreach across the state of Louisiana, and I am confident that Bob is the right person to lead those efforts in Shreveport.”

During his time as Chief Academic Officer for Valdosta State University, Smith led student success initiatives that resulted in an increase in first-year retention by 9% in the first two years. He overhauled the university’s scheduling and registration process to better serve the students’ needs, and developed and implemented a new Academic Affairs Strategic Plan. 

“I am humbled and truly honored to be named Chancellor of LSU Shreveport. During my visit to LSUS, the positive energy and spirit of the faculty, staff and students were palpable in every meeting I had. It is clear that LSUS is heading toward a very bright future, and I look forward to joining the LSU team and contributing to the ongoing success of the campus and the Shreveport community.” 

Prior to joining Valdosta State in 2017, Smith was the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga. He also served six years as Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Smith has completed leadership training programs at Harvard University and the American Academic Leadership Institute, and is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the American Mathematical Society.   

Dr. David Guzick selected chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport

Dr. David Guzick has been selected as the next chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport. Guzick, a member of the country’s premier honorific society for medical scientists and leaders, the National Academy of Medicine, began on Jan. 9.

Dr. David Guzick

A renowned clinician, medical scientist and health economist with expertise in the field of reproductive medicine, he used mathematical and statistical models to generate evidence-based approaches aligned with improving clinical outcomes, while generating novel insights into polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis and infertility. He was awarded with the “Best Physician for Women” recognition by “Good Housekeeping.” He is a recipient of the Roy M. Pitkin Award for the best paper published in the journal, “Obstetrics and Gynecology.” He earned “Top Paper of the Decade in Reproductive Medicine,” from the Serono Symposium International Foundation. His 2020 book, entitled, “US Health Care Industry: Balancing Care, Cost and Access” published by Johns Hopkins Press captures his interest in health economics and public health. 

“We are excited to put David’s extensive experience in medical administration and leadership, graduate medical education, research and partnerships to good use for our students, faculty, staff and the people of North Louisiana,” said William F. Tate IV, LSU President. “His vision for this institution will further our mission of exceptional medical education and community health.”

Dr. Guzick’s most recent position was at the University of Florida, where he served as senior vice president of health affairs and president of UF Health for nine years. In this role, he was responsible for UF’s six health science colleges and two hospital systems in Gainesville and Jacksonville, Florida. He was able to integrate the hospital system and health science faculty in a manner that spurred tremendous growth in the size and stature of all critical mission areas.

“In partnership with Ochsner Health, and in concert with faculty staff, students and the broader LSU community, I am now thrilled to embark on the task of building an elite, functionally integrated academic health center in North Louisiana – a powerful virtuous circle of education, research and patient care that will grow in size, scope and stature, and serve as an economic engine for the region.”

Prior to Dr. Guzick’s position at UF, he served for seven years as dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. 

Gov. Edwards, CISA director celebrate opening of CYBER.ORG Range for cybersecurity education

Last November, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Jen Easterly, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director, Craig Spohn, CYBER.ORG, Executive Director/ President, Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) and Kevin Nolten, Vice President, Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) all spoke at a ribbon cutting event celebrating the launch of a Louisiana-funded CYBER.ORG Range at the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and CISA Director Jen Easterly welcome CYBER.ORG with a ribbon cutting at Cyber Innovation Center on Monday, November 7. (Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune)

“This is important for the Cyber Innovation Center, for Bossier and really for our state. We invested 2 million dollars as a state into the CYBER.ORG Range program in order to develop it,” Gov. Edwards said.

“We’re going to have this product that’s been put together right here that will be in classrooms all over the United States of America,” he added.

CYBER.ORG Range is designed to address the shortage of 750,000 cybersecurity professionals nationwide and train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

“Cyber security is not about technology. It is not about code. It is about people. It is incredibly important that we have people with the skills, the dedication, the vision and the heart to enable us to be successful in defending this nation in this very complex and dynamic cyber threat environment,” said Easterly.

The CYBER.ORG Range will help K-12 students build cybersecurity skills through critical free resources and encourage them to join the cybersecurity field while building educator confidence in teaching cybersecurity. Building a qualified and diverse talent pipeline means ensuring that all students (even as young as kindergarten students) are cyber literate.

This initiative supports the CISA’s mission to help close the national cybersecurity workforce gap and bolster the national security of the United States.

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