UAMS College of Pharmacy Researcher Named ARA Scholar

By Holland Doran

Gov. Beebe, Dan Rahn, Hugh McDonald, Peter Crooks

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe speaks as (far right to left) UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., ARA Chairman Hugh McDonald and Peter Crooks, Ph.D., look on.

Aug. 24, 2011 | Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe today hailed the addition of a world-renowned researcher to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy as, “a key asset to the state’s forward-moving economic development goals.”

The remarks came as Peter A. Crooks, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the UAMS College of Pharmacy, was named by the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) as this years ARA Scholar. The award includes a three-year grant worth $500,000 for Crooks and his team of more than a half-dozen doctoral-level researchers to discover and develop new cancer treatment drugs, agents to improve patient outcomes after radiation therapy and medication to treat acute and chronic pain. Crooks and his team will complement ongoing research in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and in the College of Pharmacys Division of Radiation Health.

“Cutting-edge researchers and the work that they do have proven to be able to provide an economic boom,” Beebe said. “But you need support from a state with programs and institutions like Arkansas who are able to see and grow that potential. I’m proud that we’ve been able to do that and were lucky to have been able to recruit such talent.”

Crooks joins Daohong Zhou, M.D., a professor in the Division of Radiation Health of the UAMS College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, as two of the first three researchers in Arkansas to be named ARA Scholars. Zhou was among the two inaugural scholars awarded the honor last year.


ARA Scholar Peter Crooks, Ph.D., thanks the ARA as UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., watches.

“We are extremely fortunate to have someone like Dr. Crooks join the staff at UAMS and are excited about the ARA program and its potential for our institution and for the state of Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “Dr. Crooks research is the kind that will not only contribute to economic development, but its also the kind that will change lives.”

Formed from funds appropriated by the state Legislature and authorized by the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority in 2007, the ARA aims to strengthen economic development in the state by championing university-based research and innovation in defined strategic focus areas. Today’s news conference at the State Capitol was to announce Crooks as an ARA Scholar, who was chosen through a rigorous vetting and review process conducted by an external advisory committee.

“The ARA Scholars Program recruits highly respected thought leaders with the goal of adding value to existing research programs through collaboration, innovation, and eventually commercialization, which is the economic development component that will lead to more jobs and successful businesses in our state,” Beebe said.

Crooks was recruited to UAMS from a joint faculty appointment at the University of Kentucky in the Graduate Center for Toxicology and the College of Pharmacy as the George A. Digenis Professor in Drug Design and Discovery. He previously studied at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, where he earned bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. He also previously worked as a research associate in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale Universitys Sterling hall of Medicine.

Dan Rahn with Pharmacy Dean Stephanie Gardner, Peter Crooks, Daohong Zhou, Larry Cornett

(Left to right) UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.; UAMS College of Pharmacy Dean Stephanie F. Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D.; ARA Scholar PeterCrooks, Ph.D.; inaugural ARA Scholar Daohong Zhou, M.D.; and UAMS Vice Chancellor of Research Larry Cornett, Ph.D.

His track record speaks for itself, said Stephanie F. Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., dean of the UAMS College of Pharmacy. We are extremely honored to benefit from the ARA program twoyears in a row and to have had the opportunity to bring renowned researchers like Drs. Zhou and Crooks to UAMS.

Crooks has authored more than 500 peer-reviewed research articles and 600 symposium abstracts. He has served as the regional editor of the Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry and editor in chief of the Open Journal of Natural Products.

In addition to earning an international reputation in drug discovery, Dr. Crooks has an outstanding record of achievement in commercialization, Rahn said. UAMs has high expectations for him and his research team and for their vision of a UAMS drug development program.