Get to Know our Scientists – Dr. Thomas Gettys

Dr. Thomas Gettys, a scientist by day but a craftsman by night, was recruited from the Medical University of South Carolina to LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center by Dr. Claude Bouchard over 17 years ago. Dr. Gettys has three major passions: science, teaching, and woodworking.

Gettys has loved always knowing how things work and has a specific interest in biology, so science was the obvious career choice. While he originally thought he would become a teacher like his parents, a research-based college course changed his mind. Here, at Pennington Biomedical, Gettys has been an active advocate for the development and implementation of the COBRE program where he is able to use his love of teaching to mentor young faculty and help them obtain independent funding for their work.

When he isn’t busy working in his lab, Dr. Gettys is an avid craftsman. Jewelry boxes, vintage clock reproductions and Adirondack chairs are just a few of the things he has built in his spare time. A very special piece is a beautiful desk lamp made from white oak leftover from the construction of the Basic Sciences Building. And if you walk around the lake here at Pennington Biomedical, you will notice some beautiful birdhouses that Dr. Gettys has made by hand.  His attention to detail shines through in his craftsmanship, as well as his research.

Gettys is the recipient of the John Henry Hernandez Endowed Professorship and is extremely grateful for this additional resource that allows him to work on research and provides opportunities for projects which would otherwise not have funding. The goal of his work is to translate knowledge of essential amino acid nutrition into therapeutic diets that limit weight gain, maintain insulin sensitivity, and prevent the development of metabolic disease. Dr. Gettys’ recent studies have begun to identify the signaling systems that sense and respond to specific changes in dietary composition. His work has established that essential amino acids are the components of dietary protein that are being sensed, and that limiting the dietary content of specific essential amino acids produces a highly beneficial series of physiological responses. His research is not only fascinating, but it is also invaluable to Pennington Biomedical.

Having basic, clinical, and population scientists all under one roof is one of the factors that sets PBRC apart from the rest. Basic scientists create the foundation for the clinical trials; clinical scientists then run human studies that give the basis for population studies; and population scientists apply this to our real world situations. Every member of the team is essential, and Dr. Thomas Gettys, mentor, craftsman and scientist extraordinaire, is no exception.