/////2006, 2007 Sees UAMS Building for the Future
2006, 2007 Sees UAMS Building for the Future 2018-01-05T09:15:55+00:00

DEC. 26, 2006 | The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) began 2006 with a bang, and as the year neared its finish, saw several construction projects under way to prepare the campus for the health care challenges of the future.

A more than $350 million campus expansion initiative, with several projects either under construction, completed or in planning, changed the campus scenery throughout the year. Other changes included new deans for two colleges, a faculty member tapped by peers as a national Physician of the Year and continued accomplishments in UAMS’ clinical, research, education and community outreach missions.

“2006 proved to be an exciting year with the campus expansion really accelerating,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “But even with the disruption that sometimes comes with construction, we never lost focus of our patients, students or our never-ending efforts to improve the state of health in Arkansas .”

On an icy February morning, UAMS imploded its old student dormitory. The implosion punctuated a year where construction projects dominated the campus – making orange construction fencing a regular sight.

As the year progressed, UAMS dedicated a five-floor expansion of its Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute and opened a new 177-unit Residence Hall. Groundbreaking ceremonies also marked the start of construction on the new Psychiatric Research Institute and a major expansion of the UAMS Medical Center at the site where the dorm once stood.

Planning for a much-needed expansion of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center at UAMS got under way when the state Legislature approved bond funding to support the project. Construction is expected to start in 2007, while the hospital and PRI are scheduled for completion in 2008.

A driving force behind the expansion effort was the need to graduate more health care professionals. In June, </FONT>UAMS documented that need in a report detailing the rising demand for health care with the coming retirement of the baby boomer generation compounding growing shortages across the health care work force. UAMS is continuing to expand its enrollment and considering a satellite campus in Northwest Arkansas as one way to further increase student numbers.

Construction was not the only story at UAMS in 2006. UAMS continued to make its mark in other areas.

Bart Barlogie, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UAMS Myeloma Institute for Research and Treatment, was named a national Physician of the Year by medical peers. Barlogie is one of the world’s leading experts in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, one of the least curable cancers.

The UAMS Colleges of Medicine and Nursing welcomed new deans in 2006. Debra Fiser, M.D., became the first woman to be dean of the UAMS College of Medicine while Claudia Barone, Ed.D., R.N., became the seventh dean in the history of the UAMS College of Nursing.

Here’s a roundup of other 2006 UAMS accomplishments, divided across the four UAMS missions:  

Patient Care

The prenatal program at UAMS, known as ANGELS, garnered a national award for innovation as it sought to improve the care of high-risk pregnancies across the state with improved access to care. The program also unveiled a new tool, called ANGEL Eye, which put Web-based video cameras in its Critical Care Nursery, where newborn infants can be viewed from anywhere by parents who have Internet access. 

UAMS continued to attract accomplished clinical experts in 2006, bolstering its Orthopaedic Surgery Department, adding another transplant surgeon and bringing a nationally recognized gastroenterologist to the state. Just a few months after arriving, joint reconstruction specialist Richard Evans performed a total knee replacement on a 100-year-old woman who flew more than 900 miles for the procedure because of his reputation. She was walking again the same day as the surgery.  

UAMS introduced to Arkansas a system to wirelessly transmit heart monitor data from the ambulance to a cardiologist – expected to significantly reduce the time a patient experiencing a heart attack receives treatment.

UAMS broke ground on a Comprehensive Pediatric Center in Lowell that will allow parents in Northwest Arkansas to have their children’s complex medical conditions treated close to home.  

Also, in 2006, it was a time to celebrate when 19 of the 28 liver transplant recipients at UAMS gathered in June to mark a successful year as Arkansas ’ only liver transplant program. Meanwhile UAMS Medical Center was recognized for its use of technology when a publication of the American Hospital Association named it one of the “Most Wired Hospitals” for the fifth time in eight years.  


UAMS researchers pushed medical knowledge in new directions across many disciplines from neuroscience to cancer treatment to pain. In the largest study of its kind, J.L. Mehta, M.D., Ph.D., found that cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins increased the life expectancy of elderly patients by an average of two years compared to non-statin users. Use of the drug thalidomide as a treatment for multiple myeloma continued to be examined as myeloma expert Bart Barlogie, M.D., Ph.D., reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that although it improved remission rates, the drug did not increase overall survival in patients with that cancer of the blood plasma.  

Philip Kern, M.D., a nationally known obesity researcher became the second in UAMS history to receive a highly selective MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding his research into the chemical mechanisms of fat cells with up to $2.79 million over 10 years.

UAMS, with breast cancer surgeon V. Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., as a principal investigator, participated in a large-scale trial of an osteoporosis drug’s effectiveness that showed promising signs in reducing breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women at increased risk of the disease.  

UAMS researchers had the lead article in the August issue of the Journal of Neuroscience citing their work showing that sex hormone receptors can indicate more aggressive brain tumors. The journal’s editors praised the research team, led by Ossama Al-Mefty, M.D, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, in an editorial in the same issue.

International scientific journal Nature pointed to the research of Dr. Kanwaljeet S.

“Sunny” Anand at UAMS and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, in an article in its Nov. 9 issue examining the debate over infant pain. Anand’s research reported responses to pain by premature babies, suggesting that the infants consciously perceived pain, and leading to his call for pain relief for premature infants.  

Another UAMS-ACHRI researcher, Laura James, M.D., showed that a test for acetaminophen poisoning developed by her team was effective on children as well as adults.

UAMS continued to add world-class researchers in 2006, including a research team of seven that joined the Jones Eye Institute.  

UAMS research also continued to produce marketable ideas as a skin cream developed by UAMS research pharmacist Bill Gurley, Ph.D., known as Dr. Teatrie’s Omnibalm, hit the stores. 


Four UAMS education programs were featured when the U.S. News and World Report’s “ America ’s Best Graduate Schools” came out in April. For the fourth year in a row, the UAMS College of Medicine’s geriatrics program was ranked in the nation’s top 10, while other UAMS program being ranked among the nation’s best included the College of Medicine’s primary care program, the College of Pharmacy and the College of Nursing’s master’s program.

Medical students got a new resource for gaining hands-on clinical experience with the March opening of the UAMS Center for Clinical Skills Education. 

UAMS also continued to grow its education programs to meet the changing health care environment. Two new programs were created: a doctoral program to prepare graduates to be faculty members and researchers in the fields of audiology and speech pathology; and the first master’s level radiologist assistant program west of the Mississippi River  


UAMS found a winning combination in 2006 when it teamed up with University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles , Beverly Healthcare and Wal-Mart to help those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Playbook, inspired in part by the former coach’s experience caring for his late wife, offers tips to help families meet the needs of loved ones who suffer from the neurological disease.  

Along with the many health screenings and public seminars held in 2006, UAMS reached out to survivors of Hurricane Katrina with free crisis support, introduced a screening program for teen suicide risk for use in schools and opened a new inpatient teaching unit for children and adolescents needing psychiatric care.

One of UAMS’ most successful outreach endeavors, its network of Area Health Education Centers across the state got a boost when a new $4 million Delta AHEC opened its doors in Helena-West Helena. The new facility, more than five times larger than its previous location, provides space for a library, auditorium and classrooms, which enables the Delta AHEC to expand education programs for the public and health care professionals.  

After one year, another outreach effort was reporting tremendous success at helping Arkansans quit smoking. The  Stamp Out Smoking (SOS) Quitline, a treatment program offered at no cost by the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, saw monthly calls rising from 169 calls in July 2005 to nearly 500 in June 2006.

For a complete list of news releases and feature stories from 2006, visit www.uams.edu/news/default.asp.