Sam Karlin

Donna Ryan, a world-renowned obesity researcher and professor emerita, was named the interim executive director for the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The current executive director, William Cefalu, was named as the chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association.

“We are pleased to name Dr. Donna Ryan as the interim executive director at Pennington Biomedical,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “She is well-respected among her peers and has the experience to lead Pennington Biomedical during the search for the next executive director. We look forward to working with her to continue the progress Pennington Biomedical has seen under Dr. Cefalu’s leadership.”

Ryan served as an associate professor, professor and as then associate executive director for clinical research at Pennington from 1988-2012. She also serves as president-elect of the World Obesity Federation.

Ryan is a consultant and advisor on obesity and chronic disease. She was instrumental in a number of landmark nutrition, diabetes, weight loss and military health research studies, according to a press release.

“Pennington Biomedical is a long-treasured feather in the cap of LSU and the state of Louisiana,” Ryan said. “I know firsthand just how unique and special a place it is. The researchers at Pennington Biomedical and the science they produce has been trusted and relied on for nearly three decades to improve health and nutrition here at home and around the world. I’m truly honored to be asked to return to a place that I love and, with the support of President Alexander, to serve LSU once again.”