Donor Story: Leaving a Legacy

Dr. Claude Bouchard and Monique Chagnon.
Monique Chagnon and Dr. Claude Bouchard.

Recently, the LSU Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to award a Boyd Professorship to Claude Bouchard, Ph.D., the John W. Barton Sr. Endowed Chair in Genetics and Nutrition and professor and director of Pennington Biomedical’s Human Genomics Laboratory.

For nearly half a century, Bouchard’s research has contributed to the understanding of the genetics of obesity and the genetics of human biological adaptation to exercise. Bouchard has published more than 1,000 scientific papers and has written or edited more than 30 books. He has also been awarded 6 doctorates honoris causa from institutions in Canada, Europe and the U.S.

In the world of scientific research, Bouchard’s name is synonymous with groundbreaking obesity and exercise biology research. However, here in Baton Rouge, Bouchard is also widely recognized for something else—his commitment to philanthropy.

During his tenure as executive director at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center from 1999 to 2010, Bouchard frequently encouraged the Pennington Biomedical staff to give of their time, talents and dollars for the betterment of other local organizations. Likewise, he inspired the community, donors and the state to invest in the growth of Pennington Biomedical. Years later, the community and the Center are still reaping the benefits of his philanthropic leadership.

Even after returning to research full time, Bouchard and his wife, Monique Chagnon, remain just as determined to insure the future of Pennington Biomedical Research Center. While they are members of the Council of 100, Chagnon and Bouchard have also decided to make a legacy gift.

During his career, Bouchard has trained, lectured and been honored at institutions around the world. Yet, Pennington Biomedical remains a special place to this internationally renowned researcher and his wife. Both Bouchard and Chagnon have worked at Pennington Biomedical.

“Monique and I are convinced of the value of philanthropy for all institutions—particularly public institutions because they tend to get less attention than the private ones,” he begins.

“When we arrived in Baton Rouge, we found a warm and welcoming community and wonderful people with whom we have developed close friendships,” Chagnon explains. “It became important for us to give back to an institution that we cherish so much and to join other generous donors who believe as much as we do in the mission of the Pennington Biomedical.”

Even though Bouchard has long been associated with the Human Genomics Laboratory, the couple intends for their contribution to enter the unrestricted fund. “We are presenting this legacy gift to the Foundation to invest in partnership with the Center where it is strategically most useful,” he explains. “We plan to leave to the institution the final decision in allocating these funds where they will have the most favorable impact.”

During his tenure as the executive director and now as a faculty member, Bouchard believes in Pennington Biomedical’s untapped potential to make a significant difference in the health of people in Louisiana and around the globe.

“There are not many institutions that are totally invested in the broad field of preventing common diseases associated with our way of life,” he says.

In addition, the couple consider Pennington Biomedical a sound investment.

“I know that Pennington Biomedical generates extraordinary value for the dollars invested,” Bouchard says. “The return is large and not only in terms of economic activities but in gains of knowledge and abilities to augment preventive medicine in both the public health and disease-specific contexts.”

Furthermore, “In Louisiana, Pennington Biomedical is one of the best places to invest because the pay-off is almost guaranteed,” he says. “It is a win-win. The investment will translate either in new knowledge that will improve disease prevention and prevent premature death or will result in the transfer of technologies that can contribute to the economy. But often, with the right investment at the right time, it is both.”