Two UAMS Doctoral Students Awarded Prestigious Research Grants Totaling $30,000

By Nate Hinkel

Diane Robinson was awarded a 12-month, $19,764 dissertation grant provided by the RWJF’s Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program as part of its new Strategic and Targeted Research Program (STRP). Michael Preston, director of cancer control in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, secured a one-year, $10,000 grant from the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR), made possible by the RWJF. Both are doctoral students in the Health Systems Research program offered by the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health and the UAMS Graduate School.

“These awards demonstrate that our students can compete on a national level and that other health systems researchers are starting to recognize our budding program,” said J. Mick Tilford, director of the Health Systems Research program

Robinson’s dissertation grant was given to support students in accredited doctoral degree programs whose research interests require the use of public health law research methods. Her research is in behavioral economics, courts and child welfare, and focuses on the child welfare system and child maltreatment, both in how parents, attorneys, caseworkers and judges involved in the child welfare system make decisions and how those decisions affect children’s outcomes.  Robinson will use quantitative methods to examine the length of time in the court system and the legally-defined outcomes of child welfare cases.

Preston is among nine promising investigators recently awarded grants to conduct research that will provide public health practitioners with valuable information – evidence that will help guide financial and workforce decisions critical to the future of the public health system in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. The Center’s sixth round of Junior Investigator Awards will not only produce evidence needed by the public health community, but also will help develop new qualified investigators in PHSSR. The field aims to examine the organization, financing, and delivery of public health services.

The goal of Preston’s research is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of health care reform on overall colorectal cancer screening, disparities in screening, and the role of provider recommendation in mediating these efforts.

The UAMS Department of Health Policy and Management in the College of Public Health offers a new program of instruction leading to a doctoral degree in Health Systems Research awarded by the UAMS Graduate School. The program provides students with the theoretical and methodological foundations necessary to conduct creative and independent research on health systems, with the ultimate goal of discovering new pathways to improve the organization, financing, and delivery of health services.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health 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 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit or