New MediFund Act Spurs Biomedical Economic Development in North Louisiana

July 1, 2013

SHREVEPORT–MONROE, La. — The MediFund Act, signed into law on June 2013 by Governor Jindal, could have a positive impact on North Louisiana’s biomedical and healthcare sectors.  The legislation establishes a statewide MediFund to promote biomedical economic development, by creating medical centers of excellence to drive destination healthcare and research commercialization.

Act 320 championed by Rep. Walt Leger received unanimous support in both the House and Senate and secured 43 co-authors, including Representatives Roy Burrell, Charles Chaney, Marcus Hunter, Jim Morris and Patrick Williams, and Senators Sherri Smith Buffington, Bob Kostelka, Neil Riser, Gregory Tarver, and Francis Thompson.  It was supported by North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Bossier Chamber of Commerce, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, New Orleans Downtown Development District, PHARMA, Pfizer, Tulane University, Ochsner Health Systems, Louisiana State Medical Society, BioDistrict New Orleans, New Orleans BioInnovation Center, and the City of New Orleans.

“By creating a statewide mechanism to appropriately finance and incentivize biomedical and healthcare projects and research commercialization, the MediFund will have a big economic impact on our region.  The Fund will support projects that create biomedical centers of excellence, resulting in better health services in North Louisiana. It also positions Louisiana as the place to go for top medical treatments in the medically underserved South,” said Scott Martinez, President, North Louisiana Economic Partnership. 

Both Shreveport-Bossier and Monroe-West Monroe are considered regional healthcare hubs. With 59 hospitals, a medical school and 5,122 beds combined, the healthcare sector in North Louisiana employs approximately 25,000 professionals.  It is one of the largest employers in North Louisiana and an economic driver for the region.  Additionally, North Louisiana supports major research institutions, including LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana Tech University and University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Pharmacy which could receive additional funding for their research projects.

“Act 320 provides our area with an additional tool to help the continual development of the bioscience/healthcare industry.  The establishment of the MediFund will further support the investment and collaboration in university research, increase career oriented workforce development, and help with recruitment and retention of new companies,” said Lisa Johnson, President and CEO, Bossier Chamber of Commerce. 

North Louisiana is well positioned to become a center for destination healthcare with world class hospitals and assets, including:
  • LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and EA Conway Medical Center provide services that span North Louisiana.
  • Feist-Weiller Cancer Center at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport provides comprehensive cancer care and treatments, prevention programs and development of new cancer research. 
  • Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport offers world-class medical care for children with a host of orthopedic and neuromusculoskeletal disorders and diseases.
Christus Schumpert Sutton Children’s Hospital in Shreveport is a 106-bed, children’s hospital, using state-of-the-art technology and pediatric specialists.

Willis-Knighton Health System in Shreveport offers three full-service acute care hospitals and employs some 6,000 employees on its campuses and in clinics throughout the region.
Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe, La. ranks in the Top 10% of the nation for heart surgery by HealthGrades and offers the area's only accredited chest pain center in its emergency department.
St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Monroe, La. is the largest health system in northeast Louisiana, employing nearly 2,600 employees at three locations and ranks as one of the top regional hospitals in the nation.

In the biolife sciences sector, North Louisiana's existing infrastructure, notable research facilities and skilled workforce offer tremendous opportunities for commercialization.  As the fifth largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world, Indian-based Dr. Reddy's Laboratories located a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Shreveport in 2008 and expanded its operations in 2010.

LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport offers a multidimensional research program through its School of Medicine. Currently, there are hundreds of research projects in progress which focus on a variety of diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. In addition, the school is actively working to help researchers market their discoveries to biomedical companies.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Pharmacy is currently engaged in high-caliber, cutting edge drug discovery research. In collaboration with government, private and industrial institutions, ULM College of Pharmacy faculty are conducting research in cellular and molecular biology that will ultimately provide novel approaches for drug discovery, delivery, and formulation.  Current research focuses on cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatments, improving the regulation of diabetes and preventing or inhibiting the progression of degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Louisiana Tech University’s Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) in Ruston has been an industry leader in cutting-edge research and development efforts, resulting in micro- and nanosystems for biomedical, biological and other applications.

About North Louisiana Economic Partnership

NLEP is a regional, public-private partnership dedicated to the positive and sustainable economic development of the 14 parishes it serves in North Louisiana. The NLEP and its many partners work with both existing and prospective companies to facilitate the attraction and retention of capital investment and meaningful job opportunities in our region.