LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

LSU Health New Orleans Physician Lead Investigator on Groundbreaking Sepsis Test

January 18, 2023

blood sample

Sepsis is the No. 1 cause of death in hospitals and Louisiana leads the country with the highest rate of sepsis mortality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Hollis O’Neal, MD, Critical Care Physician at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine Baton Rouge Campus and Medical Director of Research at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, was the national principal investigator that led to the creation of an FDA-cleared test for sepsis.

This test was a result of the partnership between Our Lady of the Lake Health, LSU Health Sciences Center and medical diagnostics company Cytovale. Their crucial work researching and testing for sepsis has led to a new way to detect it. Much of the research and clinical studies for this new technology took place in Baton Rouge, at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and its Emergency Department. Since 2015, Our Lady of the Lake has partnered with Cytovale on more than half a dozen studies that led to this groundbreaking tool, its IntelliSep® test. The test received FDA clearance, which will aid clinicians in early detection.

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“Early detection of sepsis is an invaluable capability for healthcare professionals. Quickly identifying sepsis is critical to saving lives, but until now, we’ve lacked a reliable tool to either recognize the condition or explore alternate diagnoses,” Dr. O'Neal said.  

The IntelliSep test examines blood samples taken from patients as they enter the emergency room to see if white blood cells behave in a certain way that would indicate a septic or non-septic patient. In under 10 minutes, the test provides results that can empower emergency department teams with the means for time-sensitive decision-making and life-saving outcomes.

Hollis O'Neal, MD
Sepsis happens when the immune system overreacts to a serious infection, attacking more than just the infection itself. If not treated early enough, it can result in tissue damage, organ failure and death. Sepsis is the leading cause of death worldwide and responsible for more than 270,000 deaths every year in the United States, according to the Sepsis Alliance.

Healthcare costs in the United States associated with the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis amount to $62 billion a year. Healthcare professionals in emergency departments operate under intense pressure to quickly assess medical needs, and until now there has been no timely “gold standard” test to identify sepsis early, leading to the possible misallocation of medical resources and the overuse of antibiotics.

“IntelliSep is truly a game changer,” said Dr. O’Neal. “The test provides hospital staff with information needed to identify and treat septic patients efficiently and reduce the financial and health burdens of overtreatment for hospitals and patients.”

Our Lady of the Lake Health’s research in partnership with Cytovale dates to the very first studies conducted to model the IntelliSep test. In fact, the first patients to be tested using the diagnostic tool were patients at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. 

Cytovale’s research utilized resources shared with LSU, Our Lady of the Lake Health’s Championship Health Partner. Innovative research is one of the pillars of the LSU partnership, advancing medical research and clinical treatment to address significant health issues around Louisiana and making Baton Rouge a nationally recognized hub of research excellence.

“You have to have an excellent clinical partner to create this kind of success. Our research and laboratory teams have provided that environment for Cytovale,” said Christopher B. Thomas, MD, Critical Care Physician at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine Baton Rouge Campus and Medical Director of Quality and Patient Safety for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. “To be part of this journey from beginning to end speaks to our clinical excellence as well as our diverse team of top-tier researchers who lend their expertise to some of the premier research institutions in the country.”

IntelliSep is expected to be available to healthcare facilities in early 2023 and Our Lady of the Lake will be among the first to implement the technology as part of its sepsis learning health platform, aiding in the recognition and treatment of patients at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

“Our Lady of the Lake Health is excited to have contributed to this breakthrough technology. This goes to our core mission as a Catholic health system to care for those most in need when they come into our emergency departments,” said Chuck Spicer, president of Our Lady of the Lake Health. “Cytovale’s innovative technology will help drastically decrease the number of sepsis-related deaths in hospital settings, and we are honored that, since day one, we have been a part of the research that led to this technology. It speaks to the expertise of our incredible research team at Our Lady of the Lake Health that we were able to provide key insights and on-site research work for the IntelliSep test.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSU Health New Orleans) educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's health sciences university leader, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine with 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, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous annual 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

Cytovale is committed to improving human health by pioneering early detection technologies powered by insightful assessment of immune activation. Made up of an extraordinary team of life scientists, engineers, clinicians and dreamers, Cytovale intends to accelerate the time it takes to get from triage to life-saving therapies. For more information, visit

The CIRQLE’s mission is to accelerate the connection between research and timely integration into evidence-based practice. With an active partnership with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, members are committed to implementation of investigator-initiated novel diagnostics, researching available analytics for optimal implementation, and collaboration with national partners in initiating clinical best practice. The mission is to enhance patient-centered clinical outcomes in sepsis care, educate future physician leaders on the importance of an integrated research and quality interface, and optimize clinical intelligence through utilization of analytics. Core to its mission is the desire to create equitable disease outcomes through an iterative evaluation of social determinants of health. For more information, visit

Our Lady of the Lake Health is a not-for-profit Catholic healthcare ministry based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with more than 7,500 employees committed to serving the Capital Region and building a healthy community through excellence in patient care and education. With an 800-bed Regional Medical Center, a dedicated Children’s Hospital, a 78-bed hospital in Gonzales, Louisiana, two freestanding emergency rooms in outlying parishes, and a 600+ provider Physician Group, Our Lady of the Lake Health provides comprehensive healthcare services for common to complex conditions. Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is a primary teaching site for graduate medical education programs in partnership with LSU, and is recognized in the areas of heart and vascular, trauma and emergency care, stroke, cancer care, minimally invasive procedures and more. Our Lady of the Lake is part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System and is driven by its mission to serve all God’s people, especially those most in need. For more information, visit