Pennington Biomedical Research Center to confer first honorary degree

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Released: Thursday, August 11, 2005

BATON ROUGE – The Pennington Biomedical Research Center does not teach classes or grant academic degrees; it is strictly a research institution, but the executive director has worked to change that a bit.

“Thanks to the support of the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, we are going to grant our first honorary degree,” said Claude Bouchard, Ph.D., “This is another milestone we’ve reached, the ability to honor a colleague in a meaningful way.”

Called an Honoris Causa Doctorate, or honorary doctorate, the new degree will be handed Saturday to Douglas Coleman, Ph.D. for research on diabetes and obesity that, according to a description accompanying the degree, “provided the foundation for spectacular advances in the understanding of the central and peripheral regulation of energy balance in mammals, including humans.”

Energy balance, according to Bouchard, is the notion that all energy we consume in the form of food is either used by the body for living and activity or stored as fat. Therefore any increase in our activity level can lead to an increased use of food energy rather than storage as fat. Coleman’s work published more than 30 years ago provided the foundation for the understanding of how our brain and nervous system maintain energy balance. The honorary degree will be offic

ially granted by the LSU Health Science Center (LSUHSC), but will also recognize the name of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center on its face. “We truly appreciate the chancellor’s help in creating this degree and look forward to the ceremonies,” Bouchard said.

Coleman earned his academic Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1958 from the University of Wisconsin. Until his retirement, Coleman conducted his research at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. He will give a special seminar Friday morning to the faculty of the Center and will travel to New Orleans Saturday to take part in the LSUHSC commencement for the Allied Health Professions, where Bouchard will deliver the commencement address.

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts both clinical and basic research. It is the largest academically based nutrition research center in the world, with the greatest number of obesity researchers on faculty. The Center's nearly 600 employees occupy several buildings on the 234-acre campus.


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. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.