Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., Named UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Director

Michael Birrer

Michael J. Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., will join the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute as director by the end of 2019.

| LITTLE ROCK — Internationally recognized medical oncologist Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., has been named vice chancellor and director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Birrer specializes in gynecologic cancers and will join the university by the end of the year.

He formerly served as director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Birrer succeeds Laura Hutchins, M.D., who served as interim director of the UAMS Cancer Institute since June 2018.

“It is an honor to welcome Dr. Birrer as the new director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. As a highly regarded physician-scientist, Dr. Birrer is uniquely qualified to increase the Cancer Institute’s capacity for innovative research and advanced clinical care in the years ahead,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA.

As director of the UAMS Cancer Institute, Birrer will lead all cancer-related activities for UAMS, whose cancer clinics reported more than 150,000 patient visits during the last fiscal year. There are about 150 UAMS faculty members engaged in cancer-related research and clinical activities.

“I left a professorship at Harvard Medical School in an attempt to help a broader number of patients suffering from cancer. This position at UAMS will allow me to do that for cancer patients throughout Arkansas,” said Birrer, who also will hold the position of Cancer Service Line director.

“Dr. Birrer possesses the strong leadership experience needed to move the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute toward the goal of achieving designation by the National Cancer Institute,” said Christopher Westfall, M.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of the UAMS College of Medicine. “He will no doubt be an outstanding addition to the Cancer Institute and to UAMS as a whole.”

NCI Designation is awarded through a highly competitive assessment process during which cancer centers must demonstrate outstanding depth and breadth of high-quality cancer research. Receiving designation brings substantial benefits, including the ability to access federal research funding and offer clinical trials not available to non-designated centers. It also is expected to result in a $72 million economic impact on Arkansas and create about 1,500 new jobs over five years.

In support of the Cancer Institute’s efforts of achieve NCI Designation, the Arkansas House and Senate unanimously passed in March 2019 Senate Bill 151, which established an account into which funds supporting NCI Designation could be deposited.

Then, with the support of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, an annual amount of at least $10 million was designated for efforts related to the institute’s quest for designation. The funds will be used to recruit top grant-funded scientists to bring their research dollars to UAMS to meet the requirements set by the NCI.

“Given the state support, UAMS and philanthropic support, we estimate a $70 million investment over the next five years in the Cancer Institute, which will strengthen our chance at NCI designation,” said Birrer.

“We look forward to working hand in hand with Dr. Birrer to ensure the Cancer Institute is actively serving the cancer care needs of all Arkansans, while also pursuing dynamic and forward-thinking research,” said Steppe Mette, M.D., interim vice chancellor for clinical programs and chief executive officer of the UAMS Medical Center. Mette served as chair of the director search committee.

“As I step down as Cancer Institute interim director, I am confident Dr. Birrer has the skills and desire to advance our mission and move the institute forward in many vital areas,” Hutchins said.

Birrer completed his medical degree and doctorate of philosophy in 1982 in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Following a medical internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Birrer entered the Medical Oncology Fellowship program at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. After his fellowship, Birrer was appointed senior investigator (with tenure) and established the molecular mechanism section in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

In 2008, Birrer was appointed professor of medicine at the Harvard School of Medicine and assumed the position of director for both Gynecologic Medical Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Gynecologic Oncology Research Program at the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

In 2017, he accepted the position of director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he served as professor of medicine, pathology and OB-GYN.

Recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in gynecologic oncology, Birrer’s primary research interest is in characterizing the genomics of gynecologic cancers to improve the clinical management of these diseases. His clinical interests include ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer.

Birrer has approximately 400 publications, including peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters and review articles. He served as chair and chair emeritus of the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program, chair of the Committee for Experimental Medicine of the Gynecologic Oncology Group, chair of the Translational Science Working Group of the Gynecologic Cancer Intergroup, and a member of the Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee.


UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state's Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Childrens Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

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March 19, 2020

Robert Griffin, Ph.D.

Robert Griffin, Ph.D.ProfessorDepartment of Radiation OncologyUAMS College of Medici

Professor Department of Radiation Oncology UAMS College of Medicine Research Interest Statement I have more than 20 years of experience as a radiation biologist doing cancer research, moving to UAMS in late 2006. Much of my work has been studying the interactions of normal and tumor microvasculature with tumor cells in the context of blood…


UAMS Scientists Awarded Grants for Cancer Research

Seeds of Science grant recipients

The 2020 Seeds of Science cancer research grant recipients are (from left) Michael Bauer, Ph.D.; Carolina Schinke, M.D.; Kimberly Stephens, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N.; and Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.

| Newly awarded grants are advancing research efforts at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

Three Seeds of Science small grant awards of $50,000 each were presented March 5 to UAMS cancer researchers at “The Doctor is in” event hosted by the Envoys volunteer advocacy group. The event included a research poster showcase highlighting ongoing cancer-related projects.

Funding for one of the awards was made possible by proceeds from the 18th annual Village Walk for Cancer Research, held Sept. 28, 2019 in Hot Springs Village. Organized by volunteers, the walk unites the community located one hour southwest of Little Rock, in support of cancer research.

The 2020 walk is scheduled for Sept. 26 at Balboa Pavilion in Hot Springs Village and will include the option to kayak in Lake Balboa.

HSV Walk grant recipient

Kimberly Stephens, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., (second from right) received a grant funded by proceeds from the Hot Springs Village Walk for Cancer Research. Representatives from the walk joined Stephens and Cancer Institute Director Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., (far right) at the awards reception. They are (from left) Corina Hickman, Gloria Lyda, Donna Aylward and Christy Etheridge.

“We’re a grassroots group that is really passionate about finding a cure for cancer. Over the last 19 years, we’ve raised about $500,000 for research programs at the UAMS Cancer Institute. Knowing the money we raise is used to advance cancer research right here in Arkansas is very satisfying for those of us who organize the walk and participate in it,” said Melanie Pederson, chairman of the walk.

The other two awards were provided by the Envoys, an advocacy group of the UAMS Cancer Institute.

“These grants are extremely important as they support pilot cancer research projects and young investigators as they pursue new ideas,” said Jenny Long, president of the Envoys.

Award recipients were:

  • Carolina Schinke, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, and Michael Bauer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, both in the UAMS College of Medicine

Schinke and Bauer are working to understand the importance of myeloma’s surrounding bone marrow microenvironment in the development of the disease and its role in progression and relapse. They hope the results of their study will lead to new treatments aimed at modifying changes in that microenvironment that contribute to the development of myeloma and its resistance to treatment. This project was supported by a grant from the Envoys.

Jenny Long

Envoys President Jenny Long speaks to the crowd.

  • Kimberly E. Stephens, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., assistant professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics

Stephens hopes to identify the genomic regions associated with the initiation and progression of chemotherapy-induced nerve damage, which is often resistant to existing treatments and associated with adverse health outcomes in cancer survivors. While substantial advances have been made, current understanding does not explain what causes the development of nerve damage during chemotherapy.  This grant was provided by the Village Walk for Cancer Research.

  • Analiz Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery

The aggressive brain tumor glioblastoma has a grim prognosis with a median survival of 15 months and limited treatment options. In her study, Rodriguez hopes to establish a new way to examine molecular characteristics of clinical specimens and rapidly screen different treatment regimens, which could one day help guide clinical management of these deadly tumors. Rodriguez’s grant was supported by the Envoys.

The Seeds of Science program has provided funds to jumpstart small cancer research projects at the Cancer Institute since 2009. The goal of the program is to provide “seed” funding that will allow researchers to make discoveries that can be used to apply for larger federal grant awards.


Arkansan’s Golf Swing Breaks Back, Leads to Myeloma Diagnosis

“When you get a diagnosis like that, your world crumbles and you don’t know what to expect,” said Buffy Bennett, the wife of myeloma patient Wade Bennett of Hackett, Arkansas.

| In 2017, Wade Bennett of Hackett, Arkansas, was 50, and physically active, both in his work as the owner of his company, WB Drywall, and in his leisure time.

He also thought he was in good health.

“I had a golf tournament coming up and I was swinging an eight iron in my yard and I broke my back,” said Bennett, now 53. “At the time, I didn’t really know it was broken; I just thought I’d popped something.”

His primary care doctor referred him to a neurologist in Fort Smith. Meanwhile, the pain became worse.

“It finally got so bad, my wife and I called an ambulance to come get me.”

The neurosurgeon told him his back was broken and put him in a brace but also mentioned there was a bone lesion and ordered a PETscan.

Bennett then saw Varant Arzoumanian, M.D., an oncologist in Fort Smith, who diagnosed him with myeloma but declined to treat him.

“He said he wasn’t going to treat me and that he was going to send me to the UAMS Myeloma Center instead; he said this was the place to be,” Bennett said. “And he was right.”

Bennett was diagnosed in July 2017 with low-risk myeloma and was treated with chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, and two additional rounds of chemotherapy. Today, he is in complete remission, and in maintenance, seeing his physician Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., every four months for testing and checkups.

“Everything is dedicated to the type of cancer I have,” he said. “I’m fortunate I only live 2 ½ hours away and can come here for treatment. Dr. van Rhee pretty much told me, give me a year of your life and I’m going to get you back.’ And he did.”

“When you get a diagnosis like that, your world crumbles and you don’t know what to expect,” Bennett’s wife, Buffy, said. “But his care at the UAMS Myeloma Center has been impeccable.  Our first visit here, we left feeling so much better. We had so much hope. The team, including Dr. van Rhee’s nurse Dianne Glendening, was amazing from the minute we checked in. They were all so positive and uplifting. And sometimes, they’ll call us to check on him.”

That caring attitude was evident even before treatment for myeloma began. First, Bennett needed surgery to stabilize his spine. While in the hospital after back surgery, he developed a fever.

“The minute there was the slightest complication, Dr. van Rhee was in our room and he and his team took over immediately,” Buffy Bennett said.

“Between Dr. van Rhee, his nurses and everyone in Infusion 4, we got wonderful care,” Wade Bennett said. “Dr. van Rhee truly cares about his patients; you’re not just a number.”

“He is off the charts,” agreed Buffy Bennett, who works as a technician in cardiology near Fort Smith. “I can’t rate him; they don’t make the ratings high enough. There are no words to describe it.”

 


February 26, 2020

Snehalata Pawar, Ph.D.

Snehalata Pawar, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Division of Radiation Health UAMS College of Pharmacy Research Interest Statement My overall research objective is directed toward understanding the molecular mechanisms of radiation-induced normal tissue injury with the goal of developing therapeutic interventions to prevent normal tissue injury, while improving the efficacy of cancer radiotherapy. Radiation therapy is…


UAMS Breast Cancer Survivors Honored at Little Rock Trojans Pink Game

breast cancer survivors

UAMS breast cancer survivors (l-r) Kristina Payne, Teletha Leonard, Cindy Jones and Laurie Shell were honored by the Little Rock Trojans women’s basketball team.

| Kristina Payne wants to show the world there is life after breast cancer.

“It’s scary, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Payne, a three-year survivor and access manager at UAMS.

Payne was one of four breast cancer survivors, along with hematologist oncologist Issam Makhoul, M.D., honored by the UALR women’s basketball team at their annual Pink Game on Feb. 15.

The survivors and Makhoul were introduced and presented bouquets of pink roses before joining the Little Rock Trojans on the court for the national anthem prior to their game against the University of Texas at Arlington.

national anthem at basketball game

UAMS breast cancer survivors joined the Little Rock Trojans women’s basketball on the court for the national anthem.

They were recognized again during a timeout and each received a basketball autographed by the team members.

Diagnosed in 2018, cancer research nurse Cindy Jones said she would not consider undergoing treatment anywhere but the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

“The Cancer Institute is a family. It’s organized, patient-centered and the best place to go,” she said, adding that she thinks it’s important for people to see survivors who are healthy and thriving.

“I think it’s important to show that breast cancer can be survivable. It actually made me a stronger person,” she said.

Donning a pink necktie in honor of the survivors, Makhoul shared hugs and words of encouragement with the women during the game.

“It’s always an honor to be with our survivors and their families. It’s so important to have a support system when you are dealing with an illness like breast cancer. It’s very special to join them here today and recognize the challenges they have overcome,” said Makhoul, professor and director of the Division of Medical Oncology in the UAMS College of Medicine.

UALR basketball game timeout

The survivors and Issam Makhoul, M.D., were presented autographed basketballs during a timeout.

Each of the survivors were current or former UAMS employees and were treated at the UAMS Cancer Institute.

Former employee Laurie Shell said she was in the right place at the right time when she was diagnosed 10 years ago.

“Since I worked at UAMS, I knew the doctors and felt comfortable with them. I always felt like I was a priority with them, although I know they treat all their patients that way,” she said.

UALR alumna Teletha Leonard was happy to return to her alma mater and share the afternoon with her fellow survivors.

“I’m happy to do anything to raise awareness and let people know that a breast cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean your life is over,” said Leonard, senior HR director for benefits and employees services at UAMS. “You can make it.”

This is the third year the Little Rock Trojans have honored UAMS breast cancer survivors at their annual Pink Game.


UAMS Program Starting March 31 Offers Support to Children of Cancer Patients

| LITTLE ROCK – A group to help children ages 6-12 better cope with their parent’s cancer diagnosis is set to begin March 31 at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

CLIMB, which stands for Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery, will be offered from 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays from March 31-May 5 at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

There is no cost to participate, and pre-registration is required. To register, call Carrie Calhoon at (501) 603-1612.

CLIMB is a dual program, designed to support both children and their parents at the same time.

While children participate in art and other projects to help them process emotions such as sadness, anxiety and fear, their parents meet separately to discuss ways to support their children throughout their illness.

Oncology social workers lead both the children’s group and parents’ group. Siblings are welcome to attend together.

CLIMB is a national program sponsored by The Children’s Treehouse Foundation.

 


UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state's Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Childrens Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

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Car Crash Leads to Discovery of Brain Tumor, Now in Remission

Matthew Koshinksi

Matthew Koshinksi

| Matthew Koshinski believes the car crash he was in two years ago saved his life. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2018, he wasn’t feeling his best. But the 22-year-old supervisor at UPS went in to work anyway.

“I didn’t think much of it. I just thought I’d push through it.”

He ended up leaving work after a few hours because he vomited twice. The next thing he remembers, he was in a hospital room.

“I was told I’d made it all the way to the airport and crashed into a pole,” he said. “I made a right instead of a left for some reason.”

Analiz Rodriguez, M.D, Ph.D.

Analiz Rodriguez, M.D, Ph.D.Bryan Clifton

Koshinski arrived at UAMS as a trauma patient. He was initially evaluated using imaging that showed he may have had a stroke. But there was no bleeding. Health care professionals did an MRI to get a more detailed picture, which showed he had a brain tumor.

“We surmise he had a seizure and was unable to keep control of his car,” said Analiz Rodriguez, M.D, Ph.D., director of neurosurgical oncology at UAMS and a research scientist.

“That’s when I got involved in his care. It was an aggressive brain tumor the size of a small lime called an anaplastic astrocytoma .”

Rodriguez removed the tumor, which was located near some of the pathways responsible for vision. Koshinski had chemotherapy and radiation after his surgery and was also followed by neuro-ophthalmologist Joseph G. Chacko, M.D.

“This type of tumor is uncommon for someone in their 20s,” Rodriguez said. “We typically we see tumors like this with someone in their 60s.”

Koshinski’s maternal grandmother died from a glioblastoma three weeks after her diagnosis and six weeks before he was born. His mother, JoAnn Putt, said when she found out about her son’s diagnosis, her first thought was that it was genetic and thought about her other children. Rodriguez put those fears to rest.

As a researcher, Rodriguez analyzes her patients’ tumors after she removes them. Genetic sequencing showed it didn’t have a genetic component.

“Taking care of people like Matthew really inspires us to try to understand how we can develop more therapies for cancer,” Rodriguez said.  “He and other patients are extremely brave. And they’re not only thinking about themselves, but they’re helping by their willingness to participate in our research efforts.”

Koshinski has been in remission since December.

“It was scary, but he survived and I’m very proud of him,” Putt said.

“I’m more appreciative of little things and more likely to look for the positive in everything,” Koshinski said. “You never know when you’re on your last day. If I didn’t have that car crash, my tumor would’ve continued to grow and I could’ve died from it.”


February 12, 2020

Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.

Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology UAMS College of Medicine Director of UAMS Bioinformatics Core Research Interest Statement Dr. Byrum’s research is two-fold: 1. Understanding the epigenetic mechanisms of triple negative breast cancer and 2. Developing bioinformatics tools for multi-omics data. Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women and the second…


Day at the Races March 19 to Benefit UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

| View News Release Here

LITTLE ROCK — An upcoming event will offer the chance to enjoy an afternoon of thoroughbred racing while supporting cancer research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Day at the Races, an annual event presented by the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, is set for 11:30 a.m. March 19 at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs.

Tickets are $50 and include a buffet lunch. Purchase tickets in advance at giving.uams.edu/dayattheraces or by calling (501) 686-6450. Seating is limited.

All proceeds from the event benefit the UAMS Cancer Institute, which offers research-driven, world-renowned cancer treatment. Clinical trials offer access to therapies unavailable elsewhere in Arkansas. A full range of treatments provided by highly trained specialists are available, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. An array of support programs provides comfort and assistance from diagnosis through survivorship.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


Proteomics Symposium Draws Leaders from Across the Country

proteomics workshop

Participants at the Proteomics Facility Staff Symposium listen to a presentation by UAMS’ Rick Edmondson, Ph.D.

| To conduct biomedical research, scientists must be able to identify, analyze and compare proteins in biological samples. This complex process requires facilities – known as proteomics cores – that house the specialized equipment and highly trained staff required for such a task.

The fourth annual Proteomics Facility Staff Symposium on Jan. 29-30 at UAMS brought together 30 proteomics core directors and staff members to learn how best to operate and maintain these facilities at their institutions.

All of the participants came from IDeA (Institutional Development Award) states and Puerto Rico, all of which have been identified by the National Institutes of Health as historically receiving less grant funding for biomedical research than other states.

“The first symposium was in 2017, and it has grown each year since. By getting together on a regular basis, we can learn from each other, share our successes and ensure we all have the support and knowledge to meet the needs of our researchers,” said Alan Tackett, Ph.D., associate director for basic science in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

people at proteomics symposium

Thirty proteomics core directors and staff members attended the annual event at UAMS.

Tackett also serves as co-director of the IDeA National Resource for Quantitative Proteomics, a partnership between the Arkansas INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) and Oklahoma INBRE.

The national resource combines the strengths of the two INBREs to guide and assist other IDeA states where core facilities may be underfunded or lack resources.

“At UAMS, our discovery phase proteomic capabilities are very strong, while Oklahoma has a state-of-the-art, targeted validation proteomics program. Together we offer expertise and access to equipment that facilities in other IDeA states may lack,” Tackett said.

Mike Kinter, Ph.D., of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, serves as co-director of the national resource with Tackett.

The INBRE program supports research in public and private four-year colleges by building research capacity and raising awareness about career opportunities in biomedical research. It is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Development Award (IDeA), which was established to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research.

Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Physiology and Biophysics, serves as principal investigator and director of Arkansas INBRE.

Symposium participants took part in breakout sessions and heard speakers on administrative topics related to operating a proteomics core and establishing a rate structure, as well as information on topics such as sample preparation and data collection. Sessions were led by UAMS faculty Sam Mackintosh, Ph.D.; Rick Edmondson, Ph.D.; and Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.

“We covered a wide range of topics to help core directors and staff develop and maintain programs that will succeed at their universities,” said Tackett, who also serves as a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The Proteomics Core at UAMS is one of several core facilities where technology, tools and collaborative services are pooled together and made available on a pay-per-use basis to investigators both within and outside of UAMS who may not otherwise have access to them in their individual labs.

In the Proteomics Core, staff use a process known as mass spectrometry to help researchers identify proteins. The core is a one-stop-shop, where staff not only process the samples but can help researchers design experiments and analyze results.

A Discovery-Phase Proteomics Faculty and Student Workshop is scheduled for Feb. 27-28 at UAMS and will emphasize new approaches that researchers can implement in their own laboratories and how to best use the resulting data to be more competitive for extramural funding.


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