Although we’re living in an age of hyperbole where headlines and politicians are apt to cast everything in terms of absolute disaster or unprecedented achievement, it might be surprising but no exaggeration to claim that there are institutions and scientists in Baton Rouge that are world leaders in healthcare.

Dr John Kirwan, Executive Director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Dr John Kirwan, Executive Director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Dr. John Kirwan is Executive Director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Pennington” as it is mostly referred to locally, is a 30-year-old facility in Baton Rouge that is arguably the most prestigious research institute in the world focused on chronic diseases diabetes and obesity. Recently Pennington has become home to a bariatric treatment center that is expected to attract the most severely obese patients from around the world.

Dr. Kirwan came to Pennington in 2017 from the famed Cleveland Clinic, where he was working on a cure for type II diabetes. When he came here he brought a couple of dozen researchers with him, along with their millions in federal research dollars, making John Kirwan his own Baton Rouge mini economic development engine.

Dr. Barbara Griffith, Chief Executive Officer of Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge

Dr. Barbara Griffith, Chief Executive Officer of Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge

Dr. Barbara Griffith is Chief Executive Officer of Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. The hospital is one of the largest birthing centers in the world, delivering more than 8-thousand babies a year, as well as providing a host of other healthcare services to women and babies.

Dr Griffith started out as an emergency medicine doctor with 20 years clinical experience. She had only been in the position of CEO of Woman’s Hospital when she was met the emergency nobody saw coming: the global coronavirus pandemic.

Healthcare has been a hot topic for years, decades, probably forever, but at no time in recent memory has it become more important than in this era of COVID-19, as we as a state, nation and planet try to navigate a pandemic that has upended every aspect of our lives and society, and especially our healthcare system. It’s extraordinary how work being done in Baton Rouge is so central to the path of healthcare worldwide.

Photos by Jill Lafleur. And check out more lunchtime conversation about the changing world Baton Rouge healthcare.

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