Alicja Urbaniak, a postdoc in the lab of Timothy Chambers, won second place in the Postdoctoral Category poster competition in the Division of Drug Discovery and Development, acknowledged by American Society of Pharmaceutical Therapeutics (ASPET) during Experimental Biology 2018 Meeting (EB 2018), San Diego, USA. Congratulations Alicja!
Congratulations to these Biochemistry students for their excellent performance UAMS Student Research Day.
Magdalena Delgado – 3rd place in graduate student division;
Alicja Urbaniak – 2nd place in postdoc division;
Magda Delgado tied with Brian Koss – 1st place for Bhuvan award for excellence in biochemistry research;
Kirk West – 2nd place place for Bhuvan award for excellence in biochemistry research;
Binyan Belachew – 3rd place place for Bhuvan award for excellence in biochemistry research
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $11.5 million to the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) to develop the Center for Translational Pediatric Research (CTPR). The award is the largest-ever grant award that ACRI has received from NIH. Under the direction of Alan Tackett, PhD, the center will result in new treatments and therapies developed specifically for children.
Dr. Tackett, an ACRI expert in systems biology, is the Scharlau Family Endowed Professor of Cancer Research and a professor of Biochemistry, Pediatrics and Pathology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
The Center for Translational Pediatric Research at ACRI will use state-of-the-art technology and a systems biology approach to study how pediatric diseases develop, with the ultimate goal of identifying points in the intersection of disease and development that will produce targets for therapeutic intervention and the development of new treatments for children.
Systems biology is a holistic approach that enables researchers to simultaneously study all of the events occurring in a cell that are leading to a particular outcome or disease.
“Historically, science has answered one question at a time,” Dr. Tackett said. “By employing a more comprehensive systems biology approach, we can ask many questions at the same time, which allows us to more quickly understand the fundamental reasons that a disease is occurring and how to more specifically develop treatments.
“To my knowledge, there is not a pediatric research center in the U.S. and probably in the world that focuses on utilizing these specific approaches. In that way, we are uniquely positioned to develop ways to improve children’s health in Arkansas and our nation.”
The NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program will fund the CTPR as one of NIH’s prestigious Centers of Biological Research Excellence (COBRE). These grants create world-class research environments for young faculty who are identified as the next generation of excellence in research. The awards focus on building research in states that have historically had low levels of NIH funding. This first phase of COBRE funding will start in July of 2017 and last five years. A total of 15 years of funding is available through this federal program, and Tackett’s award is the second COBRE grant ACRI has received from NIH in the last year.
“This award is a promise to the children of Arkansas that we will create a healthier tomorrow specifically for them,” said Gregory Kearns, PharmD, PhD, FAAP, president of ACRI and Arkansas Children’s senior vice president/chief research officer. He is also the Ross & Mary Whipple Family Distinguished Research Scientist Endowed Chair and a professor of Pediatrics at UAMS. “NIH sees that we have the potential to create a transformational center that will improve children’s lives directly where they live, learn and play.”
Dr. Tackett will serve as director of the CTPR and Sonet Weed, MS, will oversee the administration of the grant. The junior faculty that were selected to seed this center include:
- Jason Farrar, UAMS assistant professor of Pediatrics
- Xiawei Ou, PhD, UAMS assistant professor of Radiology and Pediatrics
- Laxmi Yeruva, PhD, UAMS assistant professor of Pediatrics
- Boris Zybailov, PhD, UAMS assistant professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Their research focuses on pediatric blood disorders, infant brain development in obese mothers, immune system development in breastfed infants, and pediatric chronic kidney disease – respectively.
All-in-all, the Center for Translational Pediatric Research will support 30 faculty – making it one of the largest centers of its kind. Located at ACRI, the CTPR will also partner with the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center and UAMS and its Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. The cutting-edge research technology investment will create discoveries in proteomics, genomics, and bioinformatics – overseen by:
- Rick Emondson, PhD, UAMS associate professor of Medicine
- Samuel Mackintosh, PhD, UAMS research assistant professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Stewart MacLeod, PhD, UAMS assistant professor of Pediatrics
- Stephanie Byrum, PhD, UAMS research assistant professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Galina Glazko, PhD, UAMS assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics
Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only health system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 359-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 trauma center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally-recognized transport service. It is one of the 25 largest children’s hospitals in the United States and is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in pulmonology and neonatal care. A sister campus is under development in Northwest Arkansas and will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that corner of the state. Arkansas Children’s also blankets the state with outreach programs that include telemedicine, mobile health, and school-based health solutions. A private not-for-profit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit archildrens.org.
ACRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research center which provides a research environment on the ACH campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who are investigating questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators at ACRI and the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC) conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses and preventing disease and thereby, improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS and its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health.
2017 Biochemistry graduates
Kevin Raney, Ph.D., Alan Tackett, Ph.D., Zach Waldrip, Ph.D., Maroof Zafar, Ph.D., and Robert Eoff, Ph.D. after graduation on May 20, 2017 at Verizon Arena.
LITTLE ROCK — Alan J. Tackett, Ph.D., was invested Dec. 13 as the inaugural recipient of the Scharlau Family Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology with secondary faculty appointments in pathology and pediatrics, all in the UAMS College of Medicine.
The endowed chair was established by a gift from Charles E. Scharlau III, J.D., retired chairman and CEO of Southwestern Energy Company. It will be used to further Tackett’s research efforts aimed at discovering new approaches to detect and treat metastatic melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
“Through Mr. Scharlau’s generosity, we are ensured that the highest level of cancer research will be continued here at UAMS for years to come. His foresight and dedication to Arkansas’ scientific community is greatly appreciated and will make it possible for our scientists, such as Dr. Tackett, to advance their life-saving research unlocking the pathways to new and innovative therapies,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.
An endowed chair is among the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member and is established with gifts of $1 million, which are invested and the proceeds used to support the educational, research and clinical activities of the chair holder. Those named to a chair are among the most highly regarded scientists, physicians and professors in their fields of expertise.
Tackett’s research involves using advanced technology to discover molecular pathways essential for the development of new therapies and finding new biological markers to assist in developing a personalized treatment for each patient’s specific needs.
Tackett’s research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) throughout his career, and his research endeavors have resulted in more than 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He has written multiple book chapters, been awarded four U.S. patents, acted as a scientific journal editor-in-chief, and served on more than 35 NIH extramural-funding review panels. Tackett oversees three biomedical research laboratories on the UAMS campus and one at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute.
“Dr. Tackett’s expertise as an academic research scientist is evident not only through his work in the lab, which I have witnessed since he came to work with me in 1998 but also by the influence he has on countless students and colleagues. He has served in more than 50 NIH-associated laboratories and as co-investigator for more than 20 NIH grants. We at UAMS are honored to work with Dr. Tackett and benefit from his knowledge first hand,” said Kevin D. Raney, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biologyin the UAMS College of Medicine.
Tackett serves as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) National Resource for Proteomics, director of the NIH Arkansas INBRE Research Technology Core, director of the UAMS Graduate School Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program and track, director of the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute’s Developmental Proteomics Laboratory, and co-director of the UAMS Proteomics Facility.
In 2011, Scharlau and his late wife, Clydene, endowed the Charles and Clydene Scharlau Chair for Hematological Malignancies Research, which is held by Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine in the UAMS College of Medicine and director of developmental and translational medicine at the UAMS Myeloma Center.
Following his wife’s death, Scharlau established the Scharlau Family Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at UAMS in honor of Kent C. Westbrook, M.D., distinguished professor in the UAMS College of Medicine, and Bart Barlogie, M.D., Ph.D., founder of the UAMS Myeloma Center.
“To find someone truly dedicated to the importance of cancer research, you need look no further than Charles Scharlau. By establishing two endowed chairs for cancer research at UAMS, Mr. Scharlau has made a long-lasting impact not only on our institution, but also on countless patients who will benefit from the discoveries these chairs enable,” Westbrook said. Scharlau also funded the Endowed Chair in Presidential Leadership to support the University of Arkansas System.
Scharlau has been associated with Southwestern Energy and its affiliates since 1951 when he joined the company as an attorney, and subsequently held various executive positions. He has been the director of several business corporations, including Arvest Bank, Fayetteville; First Arkansas Bankstock Corp., Little Rock; and C.H. Heist Corp., Florida.
A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Scharlau served on its board of trustees from 1997 to 2007, and as chairman of the board for the 2005-06 academic year. He is a member of the University of Arkansas Foundation board of directors and serves as chair of the audit committee and a member of the executive committee.
Speakers at the Dec. 13 ceremony included Rahn, Scharlau, Tackett, Raney, Westbrook and the following:
- Pope Moseley, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine and UAMS executive vice chancellor
- Lawrence E. Cornett, Ph.D., UAMS vice chancellor for research
- Jennifer L. Hunt, M.D., chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services in the UAMS College of Medicine
- Sean Dixon Taverna, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine