Laura Hutchins, M.D., Receives UAMS Endowed Chair Named for Virginia Clinton Kelley

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Laura Hutchins, M.D., today became the inaugural recipient of the Virginia Clinton Kelley Endowed Chair in Clinical Breast Cancer Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).


The endowed chair was established with more than $1 million in donations from combined sources, including the Barbra Streisand Foundation, numerous friends of Virginia Clinton Kelley, and the Arkansas Breast Cancer Act of 1997. The chair will allow Hutchins to continue her breast cancer-related research at UAMS’ Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC).


Hutchins is a professor, director of the UAMS Division of Hematology/Oncology and director of clinical research for the ACRC.


“For almost 30 years, Dr. Hutchins has been an exemplary member of the UAMS faculty,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “She is beloved by her patients and admired by her colleagues for her lifelong devotion to preventing, treating and someday helping to find a cure for breast cancer.”


Virginia Clinton Kelley, the late mother of President Bill Clinton, died of complications from breast cancer in 1994. A prerecorded video message by Clinton saluted his mother and her fight against breast cancer, as well as the doctors who treated her. Hutchins was a member of Kelley’s treatment team.


Representing the Clinton family at the event was Kelley’s niece, Marie Clinton Bruno, executive director of the Arkansas Literacy Councils. Additional speakers were Kent Westbrook, M.D., distinguished professor in the UAMS Department of Surgery; Debra H. Fiser, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine; and James Y. Suen, executive director of the ACRC.; and Arthur Haut, M.D., professor emeritus in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.


“Mrs. Kelley’s tenacity and courage were obvious throughout her battle with breast cancer,” Westbrook said. “She was an inspirational woman who put the love of her family above all else.  I think she would be honored to know that this chair has been established in her name by those who loved her in return.”


Hutchins received her undergraduate degree at Northeast Louisiana University and her medical degree at UAMS. She has served both her internship and residency at UAMS, followed by a fellowship in the Department of Hematology/Oncology. Since that time she has remained on the UAMS staff as a medical oncologist.


As the Hematology/Oncology Division director, Hutchins oversees an accredited fellowship program of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. She has been honored twice with a “Top Doctor” award from Castle Connelly and has received awards for Outstanding Woman Faculty, Distinguished Faculty and Humanism in Medicine.


Hutchins has contributed to several textbooks and has more than 60 journal publications. Her research interests have focused primarily on melanoma, breast cancer, immunotherapy and biologic therapy for cancer. She presides over 15 open clinical trials sponsored by industry and is the designated principal investigator for all SWOG (Southwest Oncology Group) trials at UAMS.


Hutchins’ non-industry research efforts include serving as co-investigator on a current U.S. Department of Defense grant to study the safety, tolerability and immune response associated with a breast cancer vaccine and a National Cancer Institute project to allow adoption and testing of its caBIG C3D clinical trials database system. Recently, Hutchins completed a three-year federal Health Resources and Services Administration grant to promote the use of telemedicine throughout Arkansas. 


At the appointment of the governor of Arkansas, Hutchins served as a member of the Arkansas Breast Cancer Research Program Oversight Committee from 2001-2004. In 2004, she was appointed by the governor to serve on the state Breast Cancer Control Advisory Board. In January 2007, she became chairman of the group.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit