Community Activities in Louisiana

Are you interested in participating in our study, between the ages of 25-64, and live in either Assumption or Franklin Parish?

We are not yet recruiting in Louisiana but you are welcome to indicate your interest in participating here.

The soul and spirit of Louisiana lives in the core of its people. Reaching out and helping those people is what the RURAL Heart & Lung Study is going to do. Check out what’s going on and what we have planned in Assumption and Franklin Parishes!

2021 News and Events

In Louisiana, for Louisiana: LSU Fights Rural Health Disparities (April 2021)

Check out the article here!

Pennington Biomedical Hires Community Engagement Coordinators in Assumption & Franklin Parishes (2021)

Community Engagement Coordinators have been named in both Assumption and Franklin Parishes to coordinate the outreach and community engagement components of the study: Erin Theriot, of Napoleonville, in Assumption Parish and Kevin Carroll, of Liddieville, in Franklin Parish.

Both Theriot, a native and lifelong resident and Carroll, a longtime resident of their respective parishes bring to us a vast background of knowledge of the socioeconomic factors and demographics that will assist us immensely in carrying out the objectives of the study. In Assumption, prior to this engagement, Erin served the Assumption Parish Police Jury for over 13 years in a variety of roles including, but not limited to: grant coordination, public relations, social media management, and facility direction. Prior to her service to the local parish government, she served as the Outreach Coordinator for a federal grant specific to statewide education of the implementation of Medicare drug coverage for the Louisiana Rural Health Association. In Franklin Parish, Kevin previously served as Justice of the Peace for Franklin Parish’s 8th District. He was elected twice to that position. He has also served on the Republican State Central Committee, representing the 20th Representative District, Subdistrict B, and on the Franklin Republican Parish Executive Committee. Carroll earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Management from Western Governors University and is pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration Degree from the university.

Coordinated by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, The RURAL (Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal) Cohort Study will be conducted in rural counties/parishes in Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The study aims to address critical gaps in our knowledge of heart and lung disorders in designated rural areas in the southeastern US. Researchers from LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and other institutions will recruit 4,600 participants for the study that will help researchers learn what causes the high burden of heart, lung, blood and sleep (HLBS) disorders in designated counties/parishes in the aforementioned states and offer clues to alleviate them. In Louisiana, Assumption and Franklin Parishes have been selected as the parishes where the study will take place.  The scientists will recruit multi-ethnic volunteers from 10 of the most economically disadvantaged rural counties in the Southern Appalachia and Mississippi Delta regions.  Six of the counties are considered high-risk, having the highest age-adjusted mortality rates, while four of the counties are considered lower-risk. In Louisiana, the high-risk area is Franklin, and the lower-risk area is Assumption. Pennington Biomedical will recruit about 700 participants from these two parishes.

Dr. Stephanie Broyles, primary investigator of the Louisiana portion of the study and director of Pennington Biomedical’s Contextual Risk Factors Laboratory stated, “What is really novel here is that we are trying to figure out why some people living in rural areas are more resilient to heart disease while others living in what look to be similar areas, based on demographics and poverty, are less healthy.” She feels the study has immense potential for improving the health of rural communities.

Scientists will use a self-contained mobile examination unit, “a research center on wheels,” to conduct a detailed, four-hour baseline exam on participants.  Familial, lifestyle and behavioral factors, along with medical history including risk for heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders (HLBS) will be recorded. Environmental and economic factors will also be studied, and standard and novel risk factors for HLBS disorders will be assayed.  Investigators will use smartphones and wearable activity monitors to help collect the participants’ health and lifestyle information.

The Assumption Parish Community Advisory Board includes:

Ron Alcorn
Ron is a native of Assumption Parish and resides in Belle Rose. He is active in his community as well as throughout the parish in multiple civic and church organizations.  He currently serves as the Ward 1 Police Juror in Assumption Parish, representing the community in which he resides.

Mercedes Bernard
Mercedes is a native of Assumption Parish, currently residing in the Paincourtville area. She currently serves as the Special Programs Director of Assumption Parish, while serving on the Parish Emergency Food & Shelter Board and as the lead of the local Community Action Agency among other parish program leadership roles.


Beryl Gomez
Beryl retired from BellSouth management in 2003 after 35 years. She has served as a local community advocate for 10 years while also a member of Pierre Part Belle River Business Group, Museum board member, Recreation District Secretary/Treasurer and lead of the Pierre Part Belle River Community Advocates.

Robin Landry
Serves as the Community Advisory Board’s Co-Chair. Robin is a resident of Assumption Parish, former teacher and Retired LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent. In her careers, she has worked as an advocate for better education and health of Assumption Parish.

Jeanne Solis
Jeanne Solis is an advocate for health, education, and cultural arts in her professional and civic roles.  As an Assumption Parish citizen, she represents the Region 3 Office of Public Health on the RURAL Community Advisory Board. Jeanne received the 2020 Health Professional of the Year award from the Louisiana HOSA Future Health Professionals, and currently serves as a Board member for HOSA and Louisiana Emergency Medical Units.  She attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for graduate studies in Communications, undergraduate studies in Traditional Music Performance, and certification in Business Management. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recording Industry Management from Middle Tennessee State University.  Her personal interests include cultural activities, travel adventures, playing accordion, biking, vegetable gardening, time with her grandchildren, and boating in the lakes and bayous around Assumption Parish.

Anthanette Thomas
Anthanette is a native of Assumption Parish currently residing in the Belle Rose area. She is an educator in the Assumption Parish School system. She remains active in the community in several roles including being a member of the Library Board of Control.

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.  The Center conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is affiliated with Louisiana State University.  The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 450 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and other support personnel.  Pennington Biomedical is located in state-of-the-art research facilities on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  For more information, see

Pennington Biomedical Research Center
6400 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Additional Information

Click here to learn more about the RURAL Study’s Louisiana Team!

Check out the RURAL Study in Louisiana’s Facebook pages for Assumption Parish and Franklin Parish.

To learn more about the participant experience in the RURAL Study, visit the Study Participants webpage.

If you have any questions or comments, please call us at 1-888-RURALST (1- 888-787-2578) or email us at