Dr. William T. Cefalu is leaving his post as executive director of Pennington Biomedical Research Center to take a position as the new chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association, effective Feb 20.
Cefalu, a renowned educated and researcher, is replacing Dr. Robert E. Ratner at the ADA. Ratner retired on Dec. 31. Both the ADA and LSU announced Cefalu’s pending departure and his new position via news releases issued today.
Cefalu has been Pennington’s executive director since 2013 and currently holds the George A. Bray Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition. Prior to joining Pennington, he worked in both basic and clinical science, researching potential botanical treatments for insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity, a news release says. Cefalu also is widely published in journals and books, has edited several textbooks on the management of diabetes, and serves as editor-in-chief of the health care journal Diabetes Care.
LSU officials credit Cefalu with helping to elevate Pennington’s status in the field of scientific research, securing national and international chronic disease research collaborations and attracting more than $50 million in grants and contracts.
“It is a huge testament to the caliber of the research underway at Pennington Biomedical that one of our own has been asked to lead the fight against diabetes in such an important national and international role,” C. Kris Kirkpatrick, Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation board chairman, says in a prepared statement.
Louisiana citizens, LSU President F. King Alexander adds, will benefit from the work Cefalu did while at Pennington and from the work he will do at the ADA.
“While we are sad to see Dr. Cefalu leave Pennington Biomedical, his new position with the American Diabetes Association elevates one of our state’s greatest challenges to a national focus,” Alexander says. “Dr. Cefalu leaves Pennington Biomedical well-poised to capitalize on the work already done to expand the state’s biomedical research infrastructure and leverage existing partnerships into real impact on the health and well-being of Louisianans.”
In a statement, Cefalu, a native of Amite, says “only a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” could tear him away from his home state and his colleagues.
“There is still a great deal of work left to be done in the fight against diabetes—a chronic disease that affects so many Louisianans and costs the state billions of dollars each year,” he says. “I look forward to working with an organization that is leading the fight against this disease—and to continuing collaborations with Pennington Biomedical‚ in our efforts to create a healthier Louisiana and a healthier world.”
An interim director will be appointed prior to Cefalu’s departure, Pennington and LSU officials say. An international search for Cefalu’s replacement is expected to start soon.
Cefalu is a graduate of the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. He completed his internal medicine residency and served as chief resident at the University of California, Irvine, Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System.