July 23, 2018 | A prestigious grant has been renewed for $742,840 over five years that gives Ph.D. students in the biomedical sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) an added foundation in pharmacology and toxicology research.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences awarded the Institutional Predoctoral Research Training Grant (T32) to the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine. The funding will allow the department’s Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology (SPaT) Training Program to provide two trainees a year with a stipend, specialized coursework, research mentorship and training in entrepreneurship, career development, networking, leadership and grant writing.
“The prestige of the grant helps us recruit the best trainees from across the country to our program,” said Philip Mayeux, Ph.D., SPaT program director and professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
UAMS is one of only 31 pharmacology and toxicology training programs in the nation to receive the funding. Others include Vanderbilt University, Emory University, Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“We are the smallest program to receive funding, and renewal was by no means guaranteed,” said Mayeux, who wrote the original and renewal grants for the funding. “We underwent a site visit and the reviewers were impressed with our trainee’s publications, awards and national recognition.”
The trainees come from a variety of areas of interest and pursue research that combines these interests with a focus on pharmacology and toxicology. Trainees supported by the first grant worked on drug abuse and behavior; cancer; drug toxicity; and bone, kidney and cardiovascular health.
“The ultimate goal is increasing drug discovery and drug development to benefit patients,” Mayeux said. “We would like to have more biomedical scientists in industry and academia who also have a background in drug development, so that – even if they don’t directly develop the drugs themselves – they know how to work collaboratively with pharmacologists to help scientific discoveries translate from the research stage to the development of medications and therapeutic interventions.”
Thirty-one UAMS faculty have partnered with the SPaT Fellowship to provide training and mentorship. SPaT is a partnership of the UAMS’ Graduate School, College of Public Health and College of Pharmacy; Arkansas Children’s; and the National Center for Toxicological Research, which is part of the Food and Drug Administration. The UAMS College of Medicine and Arkansas Biosciences Tobacco Research Committee provide matching funding for the grant, allowing there to be one additional SPaT trainee each year along with the two funded by the federal grant.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.