2120 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71103
The Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana (d/b/a BRF), a 501(c)(3) based in Shreveport, LA, was created in 1986 to serve as a cornerstone for a rebounding Shreveport economy. Shreveport had enjoyed a fairly robust expansion from the mid-1970’s to the early-80’s, driven in large part by a heavy dependence on the oil and gas industry. However, a sharp decline in the global price of oil in the mid-1980’s had a particularly devastating effect on Shreveport’s economy, forcing most of the city’s major employers to either close their doors or leave town.
In the wake of the oil glut, Shreveport’s Chamber of Commerce commissioned an economic study that focused on laying the foundation for a more diversified local economy. In 1986, the Biomedical Research Foundation was created to serve as one of the pillars of the new, multifaceted Shreveport economy. In 1994, BRF opened the $36M Virginia K. Shehee Biomedical Research Institute, the home of the state and region’s first Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Center. PET scans expedite the diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients, as well as advancing research on many other diseases. BRF also launched STEM education programs for local high school students to assist in educating future innovators and workers in the region.
In June. 2019, BRF engaged Crescent Growth Capital to pursue a New Markets Tax Credit financing for its $15M Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy (CMIT), and in summer, 2021, the team closed on a $5M Louisiana State NMTC financing to purchase state-of-the-art PET and CT scanning equipment for the new CMIT facility.
The new CMIT center will serve as a platform to host advanced clinical trials and cutting-edge healthcare solutions, while providing research opportunities for scientists from around the country. CMIT is capable of producing and distributing radiopharmaceuticals for speedy detection of medical conditions, while expanding the molecular imaging program through its two main divisions:
- The Radiopharmaceutical Division for expanded access to both existing and novel radio pharmaceuticals
- The Imaging and Therapy Division for expanded access to diagnostic scans and novel therapies
CMIT has evolved to also provide access to unique diagnostic probes as advanced medical tools for the local population as well as researchers. For example, CMIT offers cancer patients image-guided treatment options, and state-of-the-art advanced medical care via targeted alpha therapy. Similarly, CMIT patients with neurodegenerative disorders have access to radiopharmaceuticals specific to their disease that can assist physicians in customizing therapy to the individual patients. Such options are currently available only at select academic centers across the nation.
The $14.8M CMIT facility is expected to increase total employment from 16 to 41 FTE’s, with the 25 new positions earning an average of $60,000 annually. CMIT serves a patient base that is comprised primarily of referrals from the former LSU hospital in Shreveport, one of Louisiana’s two main safety-net hospitals. As a result, 70% of CMIT patients rely on Medicare/Medicaid, and 15% are uninsured: since 1995, CMIT has conducted 46,000 PET scans, including 10,000 free scans to uninsured and indigent patients. Furthermore, CMIT has a financial hardship assistance program that provides for varying levels of payment assistance depending on the patient’s family size and need.