Tackling a National Epidemic from the Heart of Louisiana

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Decadence and indulgence often go hand-in-hand with Louisiana. Incredible cuisine, libations, and festivals like Mardi Gras give the impression that the party never stops in our fun-filled state. While our culture plays a part in what makes Louisiana so great, it can also exacerbate systemic issues impacting our health.

Obesity is considered by many to be the greatest health threat facing Americans today. It is a driving force behind many of our nation's most prevalent diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. As it currently stands, Louisianans are among the most severely impacted, with nearly 40 percent of adults and over 20 percent of children falling into the obese category. Simply put, we are a state in crisis, and Metamor was founded with the mission of averting the disaster that looms ahead.

"Louisiana has some of the highest rates of metabolic disease in the country," notes Aryelle Stafford, Director of Marketing, Metamor Institute. "Obesity and diabetes alone cost the state nearly $9 billion a year. Better treatment options for these diseases are necessary to ensure a future for Louisiana where healthier individuals live in healthier communities."

Initially founded as the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute in October 2019, Metamor is a public-private partnership of Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, LSU Health New Orleans, Louisiana Economic Development, and the Office of the Governor of Louisiana. Together, these entities joined science, clinical research, and a variety of treatment modalities under a single roof to create a world-class metabolic disease institute right in the heart of Louisiana. Then, they recruited one of the nation's leading experts on the matter to serve at the helm.

Dr. Philip Schauer's storied career in treating obesity and metabolic disease has included more than 350 scientific papers, 60 textbook chapters, three full textbooks, and over 8,000 surgeries. Most recently, he served as Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute (BMI). Still, even while working at one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world, Dr. Schauer could not deny the exceptional nature of what was being created in Louisiana.

"I don't think there's any other place quite like this in the country that has married all of this expertise on the science side and healthcare delivery side to treat arguably the biggest public health problem we have in America," says Dr. Philip Schauer, Director of Metamor Institute. "It was a unique opportunity that I, personally, could not step away from."

The uniqueness of Metamor lies in numbers – the number of scientists and healthcare providers focused solely on obesity and metabolic diseases, as well as the number of treatment approaches being utilized. Whereas most facilities focus on a single aspect of weight loss, such as bariatric surgery, Metamor's treatment options include lifestyle interventions, drug and combination therapies, and surgical procedures, all within a single practice. As a result, it has not only become a life-altering treatment facility for citizens of Louisiana, but it has also become a medical destination for others across the country and the globe.

"We are building a world-class program and team that can deliver cutting-edge care to the people of Louisiana while also drawing in people from across the globe who have the resources to go where the best care is available," explains Aryelle.

Naturally, the economic impact of such a facility is another significant benefit for all of Louisiana. The burden of long-term health costs can be reduced, individuals who undergo treatment can become more productive in their work, and patients can be drawn in from out-of-state, along with corporations such as pharmaceutical and medical device companies. When envisioning a Champion of Louisiana, it is hard to imagine a more perfect fit than an organization whose work is not only making drastic improvements in the health of citizens but in the financial prosperity of our state as well.

As Dr. Schauer and the Metamor team continue their work to address our state and nation's obesity epidemic, their Louisiana Loyal focus never strays. They see the impact of metabolic conditions on their neighbors and state communities daily. They also see the dramatic shift in hope and health that comes with the treatment they offer.

"We measure success not just in the number of patients we treat, but also in the effect treatment has on their lives," says Dr. Schauer. "Reducing obesity and the effects of obesity, that's how we elevate Louisiana."

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