UAMS, Governor Celebrate Clinical Trials Day

Betty Fortner, a cancer survivor and clinical trial participant, briefly told her story to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and UAMS and ACRI research leaders during a photo opportunity for Clinical Trials Day.

Betty Fortner, a cancer survivor and clinical trial participant, briefly told her story to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and UAMS and ACRI research leaders during a photo opportunity for Clinical Trials Day.

| A celebration of Clinical Trials Day was a chance for Gov. Asa Hutchinson to shake hands with UAMS researchers and hear the story of Betty Fortner, a cancer survivor and clinical research advocate.

Appearing with Gov. Asa Hutchinson are (l-r), Pamela Christie, Kristin Zorn, M.D., Clare Nesmith, M.D., Betty Fortner, Laura James, M.D., Sherry Courtney, M.D., Hutchinson, Barry Brady, Amy Jo Jenkins, Thomas Burrow, M.D., David Avery, Rohit Dhall, M.D., and Stacie Jones, M.D.

Appearing with Gov. Asa Hutchinson are (l-r), Pamela Christie, Kristin Zorn, M.D., Clare Nesmith, M.D., Betty Fortner, Laura James, M.D., Sherry Courtney, M.D., Hutchinson, Barry Brady, Amy Jo Jenkins, Thomas Burrow, M.D., David Avery, Rohit Dhall, M.D., and Stacie Jones, M.D.

During a photo shoot at the state Capitol on May 20, Clinical Trials Day, Fortner briefly became the center of attention when Hutchinson asked about her story.

“I told him I spit in a cup, which started the process of me learning I had the BRCA mutation,” Fortner said.

Inherited mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, as well as other cancers.

Hutchinson, who listened closely along with several research leaders from UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI), asked about her children. She said her test results have led to genetic testing by other members of her family – some finding they also have the BRCA mutation.

Fortner, of Hot Springs, was invited to the Capitol event by her doctor, UAMS’ Kristin Zorn, M.D., director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the UAMS College of Medicine.

Darri Scalzo, UAMS research compliance officer, and Laura James, M.D., director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute, help celebrate Clinical Trials Day.

Darri Scalzo, UAMS research compliance officer, and Laura James, M.D., director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute, help celebrate Clinical Trials Day.

The governor’s Clinical Trials Day proclamation was initiated by the UAMS Translational Research Institute, which helps researchers conduct clinical trials. The proclamation includes a brief history of Clinical Trials Day, which celebrates the first randomized clinical trial – the famous study in 1747 that determined citrus fruit could prevent scurvy.

Clinical Trials Day is celebrated around the world, recognizing clinical research professionals and volunteer participants for their contributions to the medical advances achieved through clinical trials.

John Kilgore, a research study participant, joined the Clinical Trials Day celebration.

John Kilgore, a research study participant, joined the Clinical Trials Day celebration.

UAMS’ celebration of Clinical Trials Day included information booths in its hospital lobby and Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute lobby, both high-traffic public areas. Research staff from the Translational Research Institute, Cancer Clinical Trials and Research Affairs office and Office of Research Compliance handed out snacks, including citrus fruit, and provided information about clinical trials at UAMS. ACRI, a UAMS affiliate, sponsored a similar event.

UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, officially kicked off the Clinical Trials Day celebration in the hospital lobby, expressing his appreciation for researchers and the participants who make clinical trials possible.

Thanks to advances in genetic testing, Fortner was able to catch her ovarian cancer early and is a five-year survivor. She reads a lot of medical information, and her appreciation for clinical research has led her to volunteer for two clinical trials.

She was ineligible for one because she is in remission, but she was able to participate in a study on the benefits of eating healthier and exercising to prevent a recurrence of ovarian cancer.

“Clinical trials not only help those of us in remission, but also hopefully in the future when someone gets a diagnosis like this, there will be new ways to help treat it,” Fortner said.