Laura James, M.D., Named Director of UAMS Translational Research Institute

By Nate Hinkel

James and Beck, both veteran UAMS researchers, were also named co-principal investigators of UAMS’ Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and supports the work of the Translational Research Institute.

“I am extremely pleased to have two strong, well-respected leaders in our research community willing take up the mantel for science that delivers better, faster results to improve health and health care,” Rahn said.

Curtis Lowery, M.D., is stepping aside as director and principal investigator to focus on his duties as chair of the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the UAMS Center for Distance Health. Lowery has served as principal investigator of the CTSA since 2008 and has been nationally recognized among the prestigious 62-member CTSA consortium.

“As director of the Translational Research Institute, Dr. Lowery has worked to build an important program that continues to make significant strides at UAMS in improvements to the translational research infrastructure,” Rahn said.

James is a professor in the College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics with a successful research career focusing on acetaminophen toxicity that addresses the study of mechanisms of toxicity and biomarkers of toxicity in animal models and clinical samples. She previously served as the director of the Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) and is section chief of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at ACH.

James also oversees clinical trials that are addressing the appropriate and safe use of a number of medications in children.

Beck is a professor in the College of Medicine Department of Geriatrics and the Louise Hearne Endowed Chair in Dementia and Long-term Care. She has served as a co-director for the TRI for the past five years. Beck’s research career has been focused on improving the care of persons with Alzheimer’s disease through clinical trials of non-pharmacologic interventions. She is also the co-director of the UAMS John A. Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence and has been responsible for the research arm of that center for the past 12 years.

The UAMS Translational Research Institute’s mission is to help accelerate research that will improve the health and health care of people in Arkansas and across the country. It was established with a five-year $19.9 million award from the NIH in 2009 and with significant support from UAMS. It is one of 62 NIH CTSA recipients. The CTSA program is managed by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.