By Ben Boulden
UAMS’ Teresita Bellido, Ph.D., an internationally known leader in bone research, was named an Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) Scholar at a Dec. 5 news conference at the State Capitol.
Bellido, who will receive $500,000 from the ARA to further her research, was presented with a certificate by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA.
The ARA program recruits highly respected researchers to Arkansas with the goal that through collaboration and innovation, the research can lead to jobs and economic opportunity.
“The ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows ignites Arkansas’ success,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “ARA Academy members open new doors and pioneer new pathways into the future.”
In September, Bellido was named chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the UAMS College of Medicine and will be at UAMS fulltime July 1. She joins UAMS from the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine Currently she is a tenured professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.
She is not new to UAMS, having been on faculty of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine and a researcher in the UAMS and VA Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases from 1993 to 2009.
“We are thrilled to have her back,” Patterson said. “Dr. Bellido’s lab focuses on the mechanisms of signal transduction in bone cells with a particular emphasis on osteocyte biology in health and disease, bone cell apoptosis and mechanisms of action of bone active hormones. Her presence and work will be a great asset to the university.”
Bellido holds multiple major grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as a Veterans Administration Merit Award. She serves on the Skeletal Biology Development and Disease Study Section for the NIH. Bellido is president of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR), becoming the ninth woman among 40 presidents in the society’s history and the first female president originally from Latin America.
Bellido will also bring strong commitment to mentorship and faculty development to her new role at UAMS.
For her scientific and mentoring efforts, Bellido was awarded the IU Women Faculty Leadership Award and the Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award in 2015 and the ASBMR 2015 Paula Stern Achievement Award. The Paula Stern award recognizes a woman in the bone research field who has made significant scientific achievements and who has promoted the professional development and career advancement of women.
She also received the ASBMR Gideon A. Rodan Excellence in Mentorship Award in recognition for outstanding support by a senior scientist who has helped promote the independent careers of young investigators in bone and mineral metabolism.
Other ARA Scholars from UAMS are Peter Crooks, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the UAMS College of Pharmacy; David Ussery, Ph.D., director of the Arkansas Center for Genomic and Ecological Medicine at UAMS; and Hong-yu Li, Ph.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Also recognized as a new ARA Scholar at the news conference was Justin Zhan, Ph.D., professor of data science at the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
The ARA Scholars program helps recruit and support world-class researchers to universities where their work helps strengthen the competitiveness of the state. ARA Scholars focus on innovations in artificial intelligence, plant biochemistry, drug discovery, nanoscience, microbiology, big data, nutritional improvements, electronics research, and more at the state’s five research institutions — UAMS; Arkansas State University; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff — as well as the National Center for Toxicological Research in Pine Bluff.
The ARA Fellows program, launched in 2014, recognizes research leaders who are currently working in Arkansas at one of the state’s five research campuses. The program was created to advance the mission of ARA by supporting world-class researchers whose work strengthens the competitiveness of the state through research.
Previously named ARA Fellows from UAMS are Laura James, M.D., director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute; Michael Owens, Ph. D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D., professor in the UAMS Department of Microbiology and Immunology and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses; and Clint Kilts, Ph.D., the founding director of the Brain Imaging Research Center at the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute, an associate director of the institute and a professor in the UAMS Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine