UAMS Radiation Researcher Receives International Honor

By David Robinson

Boerma received the Michael Fry Research Award from the Radiation Research Society during its annual meeting Aug. 28 – Sept. 1, which was held in conjunction with the 14th International Congress of Radiation Research in Warsaw, Poland.

The Michael Fry Research Award recognizes junior scientists who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of radiation research.

Boerma was nominated for the award by Martin Hauer-Jensen, M.D., Ph.D., a world-renowned radiation researcher who serves as associate dean for research in the College of Pharmacy, professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and director of the Division of Radiation Health. He also is a professor of surgery and pathology in the UAMS College of Medicine.

“I follow the field of normal tissue radiation injury closely and can say with confidence that Marjan’s work in radiation-induced heart disease is second to none and that she has developed into an international leader in this area in a short time,” Hauer-Jensen said in his nomination letter. “She has already accomplished a great deal during the seven years since receiving her Ph.D. degree, and she shows wonderful promise for the future of our science.”

Radiation-induced heart disease is a side effect of radiation therapy of tumors in the chest. Recent studies have shown that the heart is more sensitive to radiation injury than previously thought, but little is known about the biological mechanisms behind it, and there is no treatment for radiation-induced heart disease.

Boerma aims to understand those mechanisms and to identify strategies for preventing or treating the cardiac side effects of radiation therapy.

Boerma’s research is supported with funding from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: 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, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 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. Visit or