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Science

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Jill Lafleur
/
inobraodcasting.com
Peter Ricchiuti, Chenzhong Li and Susanna Lamers, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Chenzhong Li discovered an early diagnosis for Alzheimer's, Susanna Lamers does ground-breaking genomic testing, all in New Orleans.

At some point, most of us encounter a life-altering medical condition. Either our own or someone around us.

When you come face-to-face with Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, HIV, cancer, or any of the serious conditions the human body can fall victim to, it’s not uncommon to find yourself asking, “Why haven’t they found a cure for this yet?” And to hope that somebody, somewhere, right now, is working on a cure.

The questions you probably don’t think about, are, who exactly are “they” who haven’t found a cure for this. And who exactly is the “somebody somewhere” who is hopefully unravelling the science of disease.

Well, two of those people are Peter's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch.

Dr. Chenzhong Li is a world-renowned scientist. He’s an inventor of breakthrough medical technology in the fields of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and infectious diseases.

Dr. Li is the holder of 18 medical patents, including for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer. He’s a member of a very prestigious body of medical professionals, the National Academy of Inventors. And Dr Li is a Professor at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Diagnostics at Tulane University.

If you’re thinking it’s extraordinary that somebody of Dr Li’s stature is working in a lab in downtown New Orleans, wait till you hear what’s going on in Thibodaux.

Thibodaux is home to a company called BioInfo Experts. BioInfo Experts is a tech company that works on a branch of science called pathogen genomics. They sequence the genomes of infectious diseases. Then they use computational analytical tools to improve the identification, tracking, and treatment of infections. It’s part biology, part computational science, and part statistical analysis.

The founder and CEO of BioInfo Experts is Susanna Lamers. Susanna started out working in a lab in Florida back in the days of the AIDs epidemic and pioneered the science of collating disease data and turning it into digital tables. She turned those skills into a business and relocated to Thibodaux to run it remotely long before the next major US epidemic was going to turn remote work into a commonplace modus operandi.

Anyone who lives in New Orleans can tell you, the city we live in is vastly different from the impression you get of the place from the outside. Sure, local New Orleanians enjoy Mardi Gras and music festivals, and we might even occasionally wander around the French Quarter with a cocktail. But beneath the fun exterior, there’s a city of business, industry, and science that’s equal to just about any place you could name.

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And check out more lunchtime conversation about breakthrough science from right here in New Orleans.