Pennington Biomedical Announces Major Gift to Support Postdoctoral Researchers

May 30, 2023
For more information, contact Ernie Ballard,, 225-263-2677

Legacy GiftBATON ROUGE – Former Pennington Biomedical Research Center Executive Director Dr. Claude Bouchard and his wife, Monique Chagnon, were celebrated at a luncheon on Tuesday, May 30, for their generous gift to enhance the postdoctoral researcher experience at Pennington Biomedical.

As one of the world’s foremost researchers in the genetics of obesity and related diseases, including type 2 diabetes and hypertension, the Bouchard laboratory has trained about 40 postdoctoral researchers throughout his career.

“I became very conscious that postdocs are critical to the success of the scientific research enterprise. They work hard, they master the latest technologies, they are eager to succeed and passionate about science. One could argue that they are the actual driver of research in a laboratory. They are not passive recipients; they challenge their mentors and everyone becomes wiser in the process,” said Dr. Bouchard, formerly the John W. Barton, Sr. Endowed Chair in Genetics and Nutrition and LSU Boyd Professor Emeritus.

In order to enhance the postdoctoral researchers’ experiences at Pennington Biomedical, Dr. Bouchard and Chagnon pledged $1 million to create the endowed Claude Bouchard-Monique Chagnon Fund to support postdoctoral fellows in basic research as well as in clinical and public health and population science.

Dr. Bouchard and Chagnon hope that their gift represents only the launch of the fund and that others who understand the value that postdoctoral fellows bring to science, specifically to the mission of Pennington Biomedical and Baton Rouge, will contribute to the enhancement of the fund over time.

“We are not rich people but have been lucky and successful enough in our careers to make such an investment in the future of Pennington Biomedical," said Chagnon.

“We prefer to give back to institutions and places where we lived and had great professional life experiences,” added Dr. Bouchard.

Dr. Bouchard served as Executive Director of Pennington Biomedical from 1999 until 2010, after being on faculty at Laval University in Quebec, Canada for more than 30 years. Under his leadership, Pennington Biomedical created a new Division of Education, whose mandate included supporting the training of postdoctoral fellows and networking with relevant units of the National Institutes of Health and the National Association of Postdoctoral Fellows to create the most welcoming and supportive environment for postdoctoral fellows at the Center.

The effort, coordinated by Professor Philip Brantley, led to Pennington Biomedical being recognized as one of the top 10 postdoctoral programs in the nation. In 2016, the LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to award Dr. Bouchard a Boyd Professorship, the most prestigious title that can be awarded to professors at LSU.

“This generous gift is part of a much larger legacy Dr. Bouchard has given to Pennington Biomedical,” said Pennington Biomedical Research Center Executive Director Dr. John Kirwan. “As the former executive director, he significantly shaped this institution, greatly increasing the number of postdoctoral researchers, increasing the impact of basic research, and enlarging the physical footprint of the campus. In addition, his own research career is second to none and he continues to rank among the most cited researchers in the world. We sincerely thank Dr. Bouchard and Ms. Chagnon.”

Rebecca Schutte, President and CEO of Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation, noted that his legacy also extends globally through the scientists who trained under him as postdoctoral researchers and are now conducting their own cutting-edge science throughout the United States and all over the world, including Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, and Sweden.

“We are so grateful to Claude and Monique for this gift that will greatly amplify our ability to recruit the best and brightest postdocs in the world,” she said. “Through their generosity, they are making a historic addition to Pennington Biomedical’s commitment to create a welcoming place for postdocs to train. We hope that many others will consider contributing to the growth of this fund entirely devoted to the success of the next generation of scientists.”

To contribute to the Claude Bouchard-Monique Chagnon Fund, please contact the Foundation at 225-763-2511 or visit


About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The Center architected the national “Obecity, USA” awareness and advocacy campaign to help solve the obesity epidemic by 2040. The Center conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is affiliated with LSU.

The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 480 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical a state-of-the-art research facility on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge.

For more information, see

Pennington Biomedical Research Center
6400 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808