JAN. 9, 2006 | The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences marked 2005 with achievements that included the state’s first liver transplant, advances in medical research and improving the quality of health care across the state.
Accomplishments spanned UAMS’ four missions: education, patient care, research and community service.
UAMS, home of many Arkansas medical firsts, achieved another in May 14 with the state’s first liver transplant. Youmin Wu, M.D., director of the UAMS Solid Organ Transplant Program and professor of surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine, led the transplant surgical team. The team went on to complete two transplant operations on Memorial Day and by November had completed 12.
Also making headlines in patient care at UAMS in 2005 was the introduction of new treatment tools. UAMS was among the first hospitals in the nation to use a pill camera for diagnosis of acid reflux-related conditions of the esophagus. UAMS was the first in the state to install a new 3.0 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit, a powerful imaging device with both patient care and research capabilities.
UAMS continued to attract nationally and internationally recognized faculty, including Robert D.B. “Jake” Jaquiss, M.D., who in August became director of the pediatric cardiovascular program in the UAMS College of Medicine and at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
The reputation of UAMS as a leader in research was bolstered in 2005 as faculty members drew international recognition for their work and attracted millions of dollars in grants to further potential medial treatments.
In September, UAMS, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (UAF), the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and seven partner institutions announced a five-year, $16.7 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand and improve biomedical research in Arkansas. The grant followed a four-year, $9.3 million grant in 2001 to create an infrastructure for research in Arkansas that could lead to new medical treatments. UAMS serves as the administrative headquarters for the organization overseeing this work.
Another research first occurred at UAMS in August, when doctoral student Courtney Wilkins was lead author on a paper by UAMS researchers that first identified a new model for studying viruses. The paper was published in Nature, and is believed to be the first time a UAMS graduate student was lead author of a paper published in the international weekly science journal.
A breast cancer treatment developed by surgeon V. Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., has been shown in a clinical trial to reduce the need for repeat surgery following lumpectomy by 86 percent. Ronda Henry-Tillman, M.D., director of the Cancer Control Program of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC) at UAMS, was awarded $4.2 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to continue reducing cancer health disparities in minority and poor populations.
In October, UAMS announced plans to lead a national study of public health systems. Grant funding for studies at UAMS included $4.5 million to study addiction treatments and $2.2 million to study the relationship between obesity and diabetes.
During the year, UAMS also introduced new facilities for research, including the Center for Translational Neuroscience, one of the few such facilities in the country dedicated to quickly moving new treatments from research to the patient. The new Center for Addiction Research opened to further the understanding of the addiction process and find ways to break the cycle.
Four UAMS programs were featured in the national newsmagazine U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” which hit newsstands in early April. The UAMS College of Medicine geriatrics program placed in the top 10 geriatric programs in the nation for the third year in a row.
For the first time, the magazine ranked Colleges of Pharmacy, and the UAMS College of Pharmacy ranked 46th out of 54 top schools. The UAMS College of Medicine primary care program, which includes family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics, ranked 48th among top medical schools in the nation, up from 52nd last year.
The UAMS College of Nursing master’s program was ranked 39th out of 75 top schools for 2004. The magazine did not freshly rank nursing programs this year, but reprinted the 2004 list.
UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., in April became the first recipient of the Harry P. Ward Chancellor’s Chair, the first chancellor’s chair endowed at an Arkansas university. The endowed chair, named in honor of Chancellor Emeritus Harry P. Ward, M.D., who served as UAMS chancellor from 1979 to 2000, will bolster the UAMS chancellor’s ability to recruit faculty and administrators.
The education mission at UAMS also was boosted in 2005 with the continuing $255 million campus expansion, which included the start of construction on a $14 million residence hall. The existing student dorm will be imploded in 2006 to make room for a major expansion of the UAMS Medical Center and the new Psychiatric Research Institute.
UAMS named its College of Public Health for the late director of the Arkansas Department of Health, Fay W. Boozman. Boozman championed public health efforts that seek to change attitudes and promote healthier lifestyles statewide. The UAMS alumnus also played a key role in steering millions of dollars from a 1998 tobacco industry legal settlement to health-related causes, including the College of Public Health.
Funds from the tobacco settlement also enabled UAMS to start a program for helping Arkansans quit smoking at no cost.
In an April, UAMS dedicated the $4 million Fred W. Smith Conference Center, featuring an auditorium and board room, both with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment for lectures, distance learning and special events.
The complete list of news releases and features can be found at www.uams.edu/news/default.asp.
UAMS Researcher Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman Receives
$4.2 Million Grant from National Cancer Institute
UAMS Leading National Study of Public Health Systems
UAMS Opens Facility Dedicated to Advancing New Treatments
UAMS Opens Center for Addiction Research
UAMS Receives $4.5 Million Grant to Study
UAMS Researchers Receive Grants Totaling $2.2 Million
to Study Obesity, Diabetes Relationship
U.S. News and World Report Lists UAMS Graduate
Schools Among Best in Nation
UAMS Holds Investiture for First Chancellor’s Chair
Endowed at an Arkansas University
Construction Starts on $14 Million UAMS Residence Hall
Boozman Was ‘Tenacious’ in Fight for College of
UAMS Program Helps Arkansans Quit Using Tobacco
UAMS Dedicates $4 Million Fred W. Smith
Huckabee Joins UAMS, Stephens to Honor
Smith With Dedication
UAMS College of Pharmacy
College of Public Health