Showcase Brings Researchers Together

By Ben Boulden


About 75 people gather Nov. 28
for the Showcase of Medical Discoveries.

Philip Mayeux, Ph.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine, discusses his research Nov. 28 at the Showcase for Medical Discoveries.

Jerry Ware, Ph.D., left, a College of Medicine professor, talks with Peter Crooks, Ph.D., a College of Pharmacy professor, at the Showcase of Medical Discoveries.

Dec. 5, 2012 | About 75 people, most of them University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences research scientists and physicians, gathered Nov. 28 in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute rotunda to do something they often don’t get a chance to do — talk to each other.

The Showcase of Medical Discoveries: Focus on Cardiovascular Research was an informal wine and cheese reception featuring UAMS researchers discussing their work and findings.

“We’re trying to stimulate collaboration among the faculty to do more science and research. That’s what it’s really about,” said Larry Cornett, Ph.D., UAMS vice chancellor for research.

The event drew scientists from all areas at UAMS.

“I think this Showcase of Medical Discoveries is a good initiative to bring people together here on campus,” said Marjan Boerma, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Radiation Health of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy.

“You’d be amazed how difficult it seems to be for people from different departments to connect and find out what others are doing. Everybody is so busy with their daily things and their research,” she said.

“I see my colleagues from other universities at conferences,” said Jerry Ware, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics. “I see and speak more with some of my UAMS colleagues at out-of-town conferences than I do right here. Hopefully, this type of event will foster more people talking and exchanging ideas.”

Cornett said the Nov. 28 showcase is the first of at least two such events sponsored by the College of Medicine. A second one this winter will focus on nanomedicine.

The idea for the showcase grew out of a series of roundtable discussions Cornett and Debra Fiser, M.D., dean of the UAMS College of Medicine, had with College of Medicine faculty. Each discussion group involved 10-12 faculty members, and nearly every group expressed a desire for more opportunities to interact with fellow faculty members on a social basis but around their scientific work.

“This is what we came up with,” Cornett said. “We decided to try it a couple of times and see what happens. We want the science to be a part of it.”

Whether there will be more showcase events after February will be determined by what the participating faculty thought about how well they promoted communication and by other outcome measures like new collaborations, Cornett said.

Cornett said he was pleased with the diversity of the crowd at the Nov. 28 reception, which included clinicians, scientists and even some invited guests from outside UAMS.

Boerma and Ware also were upbeat about the gathering.

“It’s a great idea,” Ware said. “It’s always good to have some kind of social interaction between scientists to get them out of their laboratories.”

Posters at the showcase, using text and graphics, described the work of many different research project groups that include dozens of basic and clinical scientists as well as trainees. They were:

·         Predicting Heart Attacks in Women: Recognizing Early Symptoms. Researchers: Jean McSweeney, Mario Cleves, Ellen Fischer, Martha Rojo, Christina Pettey.

·         LOX-1: A Novel Target for Cardiovascular Diseases. Researchers: Sadip Pant, Dayuan Li, Changping Hu, Jingjun Lu, Xianwei Wang, Zufeng Ding, Kottayil Varughese, Magomed Khaidakov, Jay Mehta.

·         The TRPC3 Channel as a New Target for Antihypersensitive Drug Therapy. Researchers: Asif Pathan, Brandi Bowlin, Khaled Machaca, Joel Abramowitz, Fang Zheng, Nancy J. Rusch.

·         The Power of Platelets. Researchers: Jerry Ware, Judith Dent, Susan Russell, Ankit Bhargava, Adam Corken.

·         Scaffolding of Potassium Channels in Cerebral Arteries and its Potential Implication for Stroke during Beta-Blocker Therapy. Researchers: Christopher Moore, Bhavya Chandrika, Piper Nelson, Mathew Steephan, Nancy Rusch, Sung Rhee.

·         Identification and Preclinical Evaluation of New Therapeutic Targets to Treat Sepsis-Induced Kidney Injury. Researchers: Joseph Holthoff, When Wang, Naeem Patil, Philip Mayeux.

·         Successful Microbubble Sonothrombolysis Without Tissue Plasminogen Activator in a Rabbit Model of Acute Ischemic Stroke. Researchers: William Culp, John Lowery, Aliza Brown, Leah Hennings, Paula Roberson, Jeff Hatton, Sean Woods, Rene Flores, Michael Borrelli.

·         Personalized Genomic Approaches to Enhance the Cardiovascular Health of Arkansans. Researchers: Ryan Farris, Charla Wiley, Elvin Price.

·         Biological Mechanisms and Potential Treatments of Radiation-Induced Heart Disease. Researchers: Marjan Boerma, Viji Mohanseenivasan, Preeti Tripathi, Ben Lieblong.

·         Upregulation of MicroRNAs 21 and 223 in an Animal Model of Pulmonary Hypertension. Researchers: Igor Gubrij, Amanda Pangle, Li Pang, Larry Johnson.

·         Weekend Admissions Predict Higher Mortality in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation — Nationwide Analysis. Researchers: Abhishek Deshmukh, Sadip Pant, Gagan Kumar, Zoran Bursac, Hakan Paydak, Jawahar Mehta