Here are this week’s Accolades, a roundup of some of the honors and accomplishments of College of Medicine and UAMS faculty, staff, residents, fellows and students I’ve heard about recently!
National Recognition for Championing Research
Congratulations to Dr. Lawrence Cornett, Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Cell Biology, on receiving the prestigious W. Fred Taylor Ph.D. Award in recognition of his extensive contributions to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program. Dr. Cornett was honored in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)/IDeA Coalition and Foundation. Dr. Alan Tackett, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Deputy Director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, highlighted Dr. Cornett’s impact at the state and national level in a talk at the event.
As Director of the Arkansas IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program since 2001, Dr. Cornett has strived to expand research infrastructure and capacity at undergraduate campuses across Arkansas. In his current role and in past leadership posts at UAMS including Vice Chancellor for Research, he has helped to bring in more than $200 million in IDeA funding, championed the funding of six Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) programs and much more.
At the national level, Dr. Cornett has served as Chair of the EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation Board; as an Executive Committee member, and as a National Committee member for the National Association of IDeA Principal Investigators. In short, this is a very well earned national honor. Read more in the UAMS Newsroom.
‘Basic Science’ for the 21st Century
Data and population health management are sometimes dubbed the new “basic science for the 21st century” as a reflection of the need for future physicians to develop a new skillset to provide effective and equitable care. Dr. Riley Lipschitz, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, and Dr. Karina Clemmons, Assistant Dean for Medical Education and an Associate Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, are co-authors on an article on the topic published in the Society of General Internal Medicine Journal. The article describes an innovative curriculum, developed by Dr. Lipschitz at UAMS and Dr. Shira Yun at the University of Michigan Medical School, for teaching medical students about data and population health management. UAMS graduate Dr. Zain Alfanek, now a second-year Internal Medicine resident at Brown University, also is a coauthor on the article.
National Academies Presenters
Dr. Corey Hayes, an Assistant Professor in the departments of Biomedical Informatics, Psychiatry and Pharmacy Practice, and Dr. Bradley Martin, a Professor in the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy Practice, Division of Pharmaceutical Evaluation and Policy, were invited presenters at a meeting sponsored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The March 9 session focused on evaluating the effects of opioids and benzodiazepines on all-cause mortality in veterans. Dr. Hayes and Dr. Martin presented virtually on their research into prescribed opioid use and associated issues.
International Leadership in Pediatric Neurosurgery
Dr. Eylem Öcal, Associate Professor in the Pediatric Neurosurgery Division of the Department of Neurosurgery, has been elected Vice-Secretary for the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgeons. The organization promotes the health and welfare of children around the globe who require neurosurgical care, through research and international cooperation. At Arkansas Children’s, Dr. Öcal practices the full range of pediatric neurosurgery with an emphasis on the management of infants with myelomeningocele and other congenital anomalies.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Insights
Dr. Amit Agarwal, Associate Professor in Pediatric Pulmonology, is an author on two recent articles relating to bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a common complication of preterm birth, both of which were published in Pediatric Pulmonology. He was the senior author on a review article on transitioning children with severe BPD from the intensive care unit to a portable home ventilator. As a member of a multicenter BPD collaborative, he was a co-author on an article about validation of an outpatient questionnaire for BPD control. Dr. Agarwal also has been invited to serve on the editorial board for Pediatric Pulmonology. In another national role, he is serving on the planning committee for the 2023 annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society.
Neurosciences Chairs Conference
Dr. Gwen Childs, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, was an invited speaker for two panels at a recent conference of the Association of Medical School Neurosciences Chairs. Dr. Childs presented information about managing change and unexpected events in department leadership in a “New Chairs Boot Camp.” She also was a panelist for a session focusing on space and finance. Dr. Paul Drew, Professor and Vice-Chair, also attended the conference, which was open to Vice-Chairs for the first time.
Virtual Reality & Brachytherapy
Dr. Gary Lewis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, shared his expertise in the use of virtual reality technology in conjunction with gynecologic cancer radiation/brachytherapy at the annual Virtual Reality and Healthcare Global Symposium in Philadelphia this month. Brachytherapy is an essential component of standard-of-care treatment for gynecologic cancers. Unfortunately, many patients do not receive brachytherapy as recommended, resulting in decreased survival for these patients. Virtual reality has the potential to mitigate contributing factors including lack of patient understanding, lack of access to practitioners skilled in brachytherapy, and suboptimal patient experience during the treatment. Dr. Lewis has opened a pilot clinical trial at UAMS studying the use of virtual reality to improve the patient experience during gynecologic brachytherapy.
UAMS Hosts International Training Course in Digital Health
A shout-out to the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation (IDHI) for hosting a three-day digital health training course for 13 health and technology professionals from developing countries around the world. The course, conducted in partnership with the U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute, provided a comprehensive overview of UAMS’ digital health programs and how to develop a multiple-site digital health network. I join with IDHI Director Dr. Joseph Sanford in thanking all of the staff and faculty who contributed to the course. Read more in the UAMS Newsroom.
Groundbreaking Lung Cancer Trial
Under the leadership of Dr. Matt Steliga, Professor and Chief of Thoracic Surgery, UAMS contributed to a ground-breaking lung cancer clinical trial demonstrating that select patients with early-stage lung cancer can be treated with sublobar resection instead of the more-aggressive lobectomy. The trial results were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Steliga was among the surgeons at 83 centers across the United States to enroll patients in the Phase 3 study. The findings are welcome news for Arkansas, where lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death. Our thoracic surgeons – Dr. Steliga, Dr. Katy Marino and Dr. Jason Muesse – are all experienced in sublobar resection, to offer the best treatment options for Arkansans. Read more in the UAMS Newsroom.