LITTLE ROCK — Laura Hutchins, M.D., a hematologist oncologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) who has devoted her medical practice and research to fight breast cancer, melanoma and brain cancer, has been appointed interim director for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute effective immediately.
She succeeds Peter Emanuel, M.D., who recently resigned after leading the institute since 2007. A committee will be formed to conduct a national search for a permanent director.
Hutchins is a professor in the College of Medicine Division of Hematology/Oncology where she was division director from 1998 until September 2013. She also has served as director of clinical research at the Cancer Institute since 1998 and has held the Virginia Clinton Kelley Endowed Chair for Clinical Breast Cancer Research since 2007.
A New Jersey native, Hutchins graduated from the UAMS College of Medicine in 1977. She served her internship and residency at UAMS, followed by a fellowship in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. She joined the UAMS faculty in 1983 and is board certified in internal medicine, hematology, oncology, and hospice and palliative medicine.
She has been a co-investigator on numerous National Institutes of Health grants including those focused on detection of circulating melanoma cells, and using nanotubes to detect and purge circulating cancer cells.
She served as principal or co-investigator on multiple other grants focusing on projects ranging from the development of a South Arkansas Integrated Telehealth Oncology Program to weight management in breast cancer patients. She has been funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Foundation, Arkansas Breast Cancer Research Program and American Society of Clinical Oncology, among others.
Her research includes collaborating with Thomas Kieber-Emmons, Ph.D., a fellow scientist to study a UAMS-designed vaccine to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. That vaccine, now in a phase 2 clinical trial, is being used in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer to determine if the combination of the vaccine and standard chemotherapy improve the benefit of preoperative therapy.
For many years, Hutchins has championed efforts to promote and expand participation in research clinical trials through the use of shared data. She has enrolled patients in more than 70 industry-sponsored trials for breast cancer, melanoma and supportive care, providing new treatment options to Arkansas patients and research data to advance new therapy availability.
In 2007, Hutchins received a grant of more than $120,000 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to participate in the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), a virtual information network enabling researchers and doctors to more easily share information and accelerate progress in cancer research. With her leadership, UAMS used caBIG’s open-source tools to personalize its own information-sharing program, which received international recognition from peer institutions and a 2009 NCI Delivering Results Award.
Hutchins was appointed by the governor to the Arkansas Breast Cancer Research Program Oversight Committee from 2001-2004. From 2004-2012, she was appointed to serve on the state Breast Cancer Control Advisory Board, serving as chairman from 2007-2008.
Hutchins has published more than 200 journal articles, book chapters and abstracts, and has presented numerous lectures at courses, symposia, workshops and other events in Arkansas and across the country.
She is a member of the American College of Physicians, American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association of Cancer Education and the American Medical Association.