Pennington Biomedical, Additional LSU Institutions Receive Major Grant for First Athletic Research Center in Louisiana

June 4, 2024 · Baton Rouge, LA

Coalition of Pennington Biomedical, LSU Health New Orleans, LSU Athletics, the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education, and Our Lady of the Lake win $250,000 grant from 2024 LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research.  

Pennington Biomedical researchers, and a team of clinicians and staff were selected to receive a research grant from the LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research to establish Louisiana’s first center for athletic research. The 2024 Provost’s Fund for Innovation is the largest internal funding program in LSU history, investing $1.2 million in interdisciplinary research teams. The team will be led by Dr. Guillaume Spielmann, who is an assistant professor in the LSU School of Kinesiology and an adjunct assistant professor at Pennington Biomedical. The research team also includes the Director of Pennington Biomedical’s Behavior Technology Laboratory, Dr. Tiffany Stewart. 

The Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research is distributed across six categories, including Big Idea Grants. The Big Idea Grant recipient research teams were categorized into 3 phases, with Phase 1 grants receiving $25,000 and Phase 2 grants receiving $75,000. The athletic research center project, formally named the Center for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, will receive a phase 3 grant of $250,000. The Center for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine will provide structured research and open future opportunities for funding to support the health and performance of LSU athletes. 

“I’m excited to be a part of two dynamic projects that have received support from the Provost’s Fund,” said Dr. Spielmann. “Aligned with the biomedicine priority, both projects support research to address health issues and discover ways to positively impact the lives of Louisiana residents and beyond. I look forward to collaborating with the respective teams, and I appreciate this articulation of LSU’s commitment to research.” 

In addition to Dr. Spielmann and Dr. Stewart, collaborators include Professor of Kinesiology Dr. Neil Johannsen of the College of Human Sciences and Education and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Pennington Biomedical as a member of the Preventative Medicine team; Shelly Mullenix, senior associate athletic trainer with LSU Athletics; Dr. Hollis O’Neal, associate professor of medicine at LSU Health New Orleans, and Dr. Robert Zura, professor of orthopedic surgery, also at LSU Health New Orleans. This project builds on the growing collaborations between the flagship LSU campus, LSU Health New Orleans, LSU Athletics and Pennington Biomedical, as well as the historic partnership signed by LSU and Our Lady of the Lake Health in 2022.  

“I am proud to be part of such talented and mission-driven coalition to bring to fruition the first center for sports medicine research in Louisiana,” said Dr. Stewart. “It is an honor to receive this recognition from Provost Haggerty and the LSU Office of Research and Economic Development, and to pursue research targeting health, physical and mental, performance, and resilience to support athletes in our state. In addition to athletes, the work of the center will also support our warfighters, astronauts and first responders.”

The Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research provides seed funding for research, scholarship and creative activity for projects aligned to LSU’s Scholarship First priorities: Agriculture, Biotech, Coast, Defense and Energy. In addition to the Big Idea Grants, the program supports project initiatives in other categories, including Research & Creative Activity Support, Seminar/Collaborator Support, Equipment Repair, and Internal Grants and Awards. 

“I would like to congratulate our Pennington Biomedical researchers and their respective teams for these awards and the tacit endorsement of their research by Provost Haggerty,” said Dr. John Kirwan, Executive Director of Pennington Biomedical. “Pennington Biomedical has a long history of collaboration with institutions across the state, country and the world, and these unique projects continue to exemplify the collaborative spirit shared among Pennington Biomedical and indeed all institutions within the LSU system.” 

In addition to the Center for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, other Pennington Biomedical-aligned projects received funding through the Provost’s Fund for Innovation. Dr. Johannsen and Dr. Guillaume are part of a research team that received a phase 1 $25,000 grant to conduct a 12-week trial on how taurine and resistance training can combat frailty, or cumulative decline in older African American adults. Additionally, Professor of Kinesiology Senlin Chen of the College of Human Sciences & Education and Fahui Wang, Professor of Geography and Anthropology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences received a $75,000 grant to map disparities of childhood health and health predictors in Louisiana communities, and to strengthen the connections between Louisiana Healthcare Connections and Pennington Biomedical.

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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 conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is a campus of the LSU System. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 530 employees within a network of 44 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 is 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