Alabama Recruitment banner photo

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.


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 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 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 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 Bernard 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 GomezBeryl Gomez 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 LandryRobin 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 SolisJeanne 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 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.

The Franklin Parish Community Advisory Board includes:

Edwina Eley is the Chairperson of the Community Advisory Board for the RURAL Heart and Lung Study in Franklin Parish. She serves as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the Tensas School-Based Health Center as well as at Tensas Community Health Center. Member of First Baptist Church in Wisner and Member of Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners. She is a mother of two and a passionate advocate for health and education. A native and current resident of Franklin Parish, she cares deeply for the community she calls home, continually pushing for better health outcomes in the area.

Keiona Wesby – CAB Co-Chair – Franklin Parish Police Juror for District 5.

Lisa Kiper is a longtime resident of Franklin Parish and can be found involved in many good causes around the area. Formerly the Community Development Coordinator at Winnsboro State Bank, she served multiple terms as President of the Winsboro/Franklin Parish Chamber of Commerce. She is active in roles with the Childrens Coalition, the MERIT Program, and the CHOW Program, as well as actively volunteering with the Healthy Communities Coalition.

Tanya Cobb is a resident of Franklin Parish. She is the mother of two, Hannah and Baylor, and the wife of Kevin, who is the Sheriff of Franklin Parish. She graduated from Winnsboro High School, received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from NLU, and a Master of Science in Nursing from Grambling. She currently serves as the School Nursing Supervisor at the Franklin Parish School Board and is active in the Ladies’ Ministry, Music Ministry, and has spent 8 years in the Youth Ministry at Life Church in Winnsboro.

Julia Casiday is a family nurse practitioner in Winnsboro, LA. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of South Alabama in 2013. She provides primary care services and serves as the Rural Health Clinic Director for Franklin Medical Center. Julia is passionate about improving the lives of others by providing quality healthcare. Julia has lived here in Franklin Parish for over ten years. Her husband, Jarred Casiday, is a third generation farmer from Crowville, LA. They have four beautiful children – Connor, Duke, Beau and Molly. When Julia is not busy with work or kids, she enjoys running, sewing, and tending to her chickens.

Jerry Martin retired from the Army National Guard, Jerry Martin is Representative of the Louisiana Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs. Jerry is a Vietnam veteran and a passionate advocate for servicemembers and their families. For years Jerry was a schoolteacher, and he continues in his dedication to education. He is an active member of First Pentecostal Church in Winnsboro.

LaLisa Wade DNP, APRN, FNP-BC has been a nurse for 21 years and a family nurse practitioner for 15 years. She has worked in various specialties as a RN inclusive of post-op surgery, MICU, CCU, Med Surg, Endo, & Recovery. Her Background as a family nurse practitioner includes the primary care, urgent care, emergency care, and the school-based health setting. Her educational background includes a BSN degree from Grambling State University in Grambling La., a MSN degree from Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss., and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Loyola New Orleans University in New Orleans, La. She is currently employed at Catahoula Parish Hospital District # 2 as a family nurse practitioner.

Mark Hutto a lifetime member of Franklin Parish’ farming community, Mark has used his knowledge and years of experience to great effect as a realtor at RecLand Realty. He serves in the ministry at Jigger Apostolic Church.

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

Secured By miniOrange