Donor Story: Investing in Rising Stars

Jim Parks.

Before the 222-acre tract of land at 6400 Perkins Road opened its first building, or hired its first scientist or staff member, the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority was on board. CEO Jim Parks says the organization recognized the potential of LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and wanted to be a part of bringing C.B. “Doc” Pennington’s dream of a world-class nutrition research facility to fruition.

“We saw Doc’s vision, and we thought that we could help turn it into something great—something that would transform Baton Rouge, LSU and the world through the discovery and research that could be accomplished,” says Parks. “Our mission is job creation, economic development and helping to cultivate a better life for the citizens of Louisiana. We knew right off the bat that helping to open Pennington Biomedical was a smart investment in the future of our community and our community’s health.”

Aiming to invest in the future, LPFA awarded $330,000 in grant funding to the founders of Pennington Biomedical in 1987 and 1988 to help them recruit top scientists. LPFA financing generated the operating funds that enabled the facility to open in 1988.

Through the years, LPFA has remained a strong supporter of Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation and the Center, enabling groundbreaking research and growth by aiding in the creation of endowed chairs and professorships. With LPFA’s help, a new basic science research building was constructed in 2004, allowing more space for scientists to pursue their search for the triggers of chronic diseases.

In 2015, LPFA’s continued investment allowed Pennington Biomedical to convert an LPFA endowed chair to an endowed fellowship supporting a post-doctoral research position. This helped fulfill a key strategy in equipping the next generation of scientists and provides Pennington Biomedical the opportunity to recruit some of the best and brightest young researchers from around the world.

“We like to say that we have Pennington Biomedical’s back,” says Parks. “Whatever we can do, we are here to help. We are immensely proud of Pennington Biomedical and what it has become.

“What Pennington Biomedical does, it’s a higher mission,” Parks continues. “We were proud to be a part of Pennington when it opened, but its innovation and development has far exceeded that original vision. We are honored to be a part of this work that is enriching the lives of Louisianans and changing the lives of people around the world.”