UAMS Researcher Charlesworth Awarded $720,000 Grant to Study How Cells Multiply

By Kevin Rowe

LITTLE ROCK – A scientist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has been awarded a $720,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study how cells replicate and form tumors.


The four-year grant was presented to Amanda Charlesworth, Ph.D., director of the Molecular Biology Core Facility in the UAMS Center for Translational Neurosciences.


“Humans always have a low level of cell growth and death occurring naturally in their bodies. What we are studying is how cell growth is normally controlled so that we can learn how it goes wrong when cells sometimes replicate themselves uncontrollably to the point that they form tumors,” said Charlesworth, who also is a research assistant professor in the UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences.


In normal cells, proliferation is controlled by an orderly series of events known as the cell cycle, which is divided into phases. The phase known as M-phase occurs when a single cell is divided into two daughter cells.  


In cancer cells, the cell cycle is not properly controlled and cells proliferate at an abnormal rate. By preventing M-phase, Charlesworth will attempt to stop the cell cycle, prevent the uncontrolled proliferation and stop tumors from growing.  


“We understand many parts of the cell cycle, but other parts of it are still not fully understood. If we can find what drives these parts of the cell cycle and identify the factors that control cell replication, we hope to be able to find new targets for cancer drugs,” she said.


Because some factors identified in this study may be specific to the cell cycle in eggs, Charlesworth hopes that the results could lead to very specific treatments of some gynecological cancers.


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 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 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. Visit