News Release

LSU Health’s Lazartigues receives NIH director's transformative research award

Grant and Award Announcement

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Eric Lazartigues, PhD

image: Eric Lazartigues, PhD Professor of Pharmacology & Neuroscience at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine view more 

Credit: LSU Health New Orleans

New Orleans, LA – Eric Lazartigues, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology & Neuroscience at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has been awarded one of 19 NIH Director’s 2021 Transformative Research Awards. It is among 106 grants the National Institutes of Health awarded this year to support highly innovative and broadly impactful biomedical or behavioral research by exceptionally creative scientists through the Common Fund’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program.

            The NIH Director's Transformative Research Award, established in 2009, promotes cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches and is open to individuals and teams of investigators who propose research that could potentially create or challenge existing paradigms.

            Dr. Lazartigues is part of a research team awarded $2.6 million to establish mouse models of SARS-CoV-2 infection in order to test whether the virus can infect the brain and determine the cell types most affected by the virus. The project will also test whether brain infection alone can cause disease in animal models and determine the effect of infection on respiration control by the brain.

            “The science put forward by this cohort is exceptionally novel and creative and is sure to push at the boundaries of what is known,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “These visionary investigators come from a wide breadth of career stages and show that groundbreaking science can happen at any career level given the right opportunity.”

            Since 2003, Dr. Lazartigues’ research has focused on ACE2 (the SARS-CoV-2 receptor) in hypertension and diabetes, using gain and loss of function in mouse models. After showing ACE2 expression in the brain, his group identified post-translational mechanisms involved in ACE2 downregulation. Current work investigates the clinical relevance of these mechanisms in cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and COVID-19. His research is currently supported by grants from NIH/NHLBI, Veterans Affairs Merit Awards, and the American Diabetes Association. Current projects involve autonomic regulation of blood pressure in salt-sensitive hypertension, perinatal epigenetic regulation of the autonomic nervous system, role of angiotensin receptors in COVID-19, and impact of nicotine inhalation and vaping on cardiovascular function.

            Dr. Lazartigues received his PhD from the University Paul Sabatier of Sciences in Toulouse, France in 1999. He completed his postdoctoral work at The University of Iowa School of Medicine and joined LSU Health New Orleans in 2005. He joined the Department of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center in August 2005 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in July 2011. He was promoted to Professor with tenure in July 2015. In 2018, Dr. Lazartigues was admitted into the Veterans Affairs Non-Clinical Research Program and appointed Research Physiologist at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans HealthCare System in 2019.


LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's flagship health sciences university, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine with branch campuses in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit,, or                                                   




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