Dec. 28, 2015 | UAMS experienced a year of growth and transformation in 2015 that reached all areas of patient care, education and research.
During this time of development, UAMS saw many changes in leadership. In January, Jeanne Heard, M.D., Ph.D., announced her retirement as provost effective June 30 after more forty years at UAMS. She was succeeded by Stephanie Gardner, Pharm. D., Ed.D., dean of the College of Pharmacy.
In July, Gardner’s successor as college dean, Keith Olsen, Pharm. D., Ed. D., was announced. Olsen began at UAMS Nov. 1 after serving as chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy in Omaha.
Also in July, Pope Moseley, M.D., became dean of the College of Medicine and executive vice chancellor succeeding retiring Dean G. Richard Smith, M.D. Patricia Cowan, Ph.D., R.N., was named dean of the College of Nursing, replacing Lorraine Frazier, who left UAMS in January to take a position in Texas.
Nancy Gray, Ph.D., joined UAMS as director of UAMS BioVentures. Tim Hill, who had served UAMS for several years in various positions, was named vice chancellor of UAMS Regional Programs in August, filling the position held by Mark Mengel, M.D., who retired in May.
Many of the men and women who took on new positions in leadership of UAMS are and will be focused on a new effort to improve health care quality while lowering health care costs for patients and providers throughout Arkansas. UAMS joined in October to form The Partnership for a Healthy Arkansas, a Shared Services Organization. UAMS’ partners in it are Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Baptist Health, St. Bernards Healthcare and Washington Regional Medical System.
In keeping with the spirit of the partnership, UAMS in 2015 led in initiatives to make the quality of care more transparent to patients, their families and the public at large by becoming the first medical center in Arkansas, and one of the first in the nation, to display patient ratings and comments about its physicians online.
The physician ratings not only give patients much greater access to information in selecting doctor, but the ratings systems gives the medical center important feedback for improving the quality of care.
Other major accomplishments include:
- On July 1 UAMS implemented the Integrated Clinical Enterprise, which restructured its system of care around service lines to better coordinate patient care. With service lines, everyone involved in the care of patients — from physicians to nurses to technicians — is organized under the same framework, rather than the traditional organization of an academic medical center that aligns by academic departments.
- Also in July, UAMS joined with other state leaders in health care, education, business and government to launch a comprehensive 10-year plan to improve the health of all Arkansans called Healthy Active Arkansas. The plan contains several focus areas including: nutritional standards, physical education and activity in schools, healthy worksites and access to healthy foods.
- Nine cancer physicians at UAMS and its Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute were named to Newsweek/Castle Connolly’s list of 2015 Top Cancer Doctors. Only 10 Arkansas cancer physicians made the list. In April, nearly 200 of the 387 Arkansas physicians named to the Arkansas Best Doctors list compiled by Best Doctors Inc. were on staff at UAMS.
- UAMS welcomed its first dental residents as part of a yearlong, postgraduate dental residency program at its Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation Oral Health Clinic.
- UAMS opened two Neighborhood Clinics — on Rahling Road in west Little Rock and in Maumelle — to offer more convenient primary care access to residents in those areas.
- UAMS Northeast in Jonesboro moved a new, larger location in that city, offering improved accessibility to patients and greater efficiency to family medicine residents and their patients.
- Led by Martin Hauer-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., a team of UAMS researchers secured a $10.5 million grant to establish a center to study side effects of radiation therapy and other types of cancer therapy. The Center for Studies of Host Response to Cancer Therapy will be the first research center of its type in the United States.
- The UAMS Myeloma Institute in April received a generous gift of $10 million from Celgene Corporation for the creation of The Bart Barlogie Center for Molecular Diagnostics and to establish the Celgene Distinguished Endowed Chair in Molecular Therapeutics.
- InterveXion Therapeutics LLC received two federal grants totaling $14.5 million for development of drug therapies to help methamphetamine users break their addiction.
- Over the summer, UAMS became home to The Cancer Imaging Archive of the National Cancer Institute. The archive moved to UAMS on Oct. 1 with Fred Prior, Ph.D., when he left his previous position at Washington University to chair the newly established Department of Biomedical Informatics in the UAMS College of Medicine. The archival database that Prior has transferred here will be a vital asset to the Cancer Institute and will give UAMS even more credibility with the rest of the nation’s cancer researchers as the database expands into the future.
- UAMS cancer researcher Ling Gao, M.D., Ph. D., identified a patient’s genetic mutation that led Gao to an existing drug that eliminated the patient’s stage IV Merkel-cell carcinoma. Gao’s findings, made in collaboration with UAMS’ Fade Mahmoud, M.D., and Mallory Shiver, M.D., were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Researchers at UAMS, led by Daohong Zhou, M.D., and other institutions reported the discovery of the first broad spectrum drug that can potently kill senescent (or aging) cells in culture and effectively clear the cells in animals by specifically targeting a pathway that is critical for the survival of senescent cells. Their findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.
- Other grants received included $1.7 million for melanoma research, $3.9 million to fund biomedical research fellowships, $3.75 million to continue the work of the Arkansas Prevention Research Center at UAMS and $2.4 million to support its part of a statewide research consortium focusing on nanomedicine.
- The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation gave a $7.9 million grant to the UAMS Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program. The grant supports operations for five years at the Schmieding program’s eight training sites around Arkansas. The program provides education and skills training to family members and paid caregivers caring for older adults in the home, allowing older adults to have the option to age at home.
- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded The Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative at UAMS a $2.3 million grant to provide geriatric training for geriatric work force professionals, primary care practitioners, first responders, direct care workers and lay caregivers who provide service in poor and rural areas of Arkansas.
- A $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in August will enable the university to train more nurse practitioners to provide health care for aging adults in Arkansas.
- Some of UAMS’ newer programs continued to mature and reach important milestones. The residency program at the northwest Arkansas campus of UAMS gained accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education while the Commission on Dental Accreditation accredited the university’s new dental residency program.