Nutrition Research Highlighted at Showcase

By Ben Boulden

Researchers, students and faculty mingle and learn about the latest in nutrition research during the Showcase of Medical Discoveries.

Nov. 24, 2014 | “You are what you eat.” College of Medicine researchers gathered Nov. 12 for the Showcase of Medical Discoveries: A Focus on Nutrition with the data to prove or deny this familiar adage.

The event, held in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, welcomed about 100 investigators, research staff, students and community members. It was the latest in a series of events sponsored by the UAMS College of Medicine.

Scientists representing 14 research projects were on hand to discuss their work and possibly develop future collaborations.

“This is a great event to get scientists at UAMS and scientists at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Nutrition Center to collaborate,” said Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D. UAMS vice chancellor for research. “It’s all about team building.”

Cornett introduced Sean Adams, Ph.D., as the new director of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Nutrition Center. Adams is also professor and section chief of developmental nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine.

Reza Hakkak, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition in the UAMS College of Health Professions, and professor in the College of Medicine, and Department of Health Policy and Management in the College of Public Health, discussed his research on how a soy diet can reduce the occurrences of fatty liver disease.

“Any kind of intervention we can do to reduce fatty liver is a good thing,” Hakkak said. “Obesity has been linked to the development of several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and fatty liver. One of the dietary factors that have been shown in my lab to reduce fatty liver is a soy protein diet.”

The Showcase of Medical Discoveries series grew out of discussions among College of Medicine faculty about their desire for more opportunities to interact socially regarding their scientific work. 

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:

·         Feasibility and Acceptability of Tailored Dietary Sodium Intervention and Its Effects on Sodium Reduction, Symptoms, and Quality of Life in Patients with Heart Failure. Researchers: Seongkum Heo, Ph.D., R.N.; Jean McSweeney, Ph.D., RN; Elaine T. Prewitt, Dr.Ph.; Jeannette Y. Lee, Ph.D.; Debra K. Moser, D.N.Sc., RN; Allison Shaw-Devin, M.D.; and Audrey Fier, R.N.

·         The Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center History, Mission, Vision and Accomplishments. Researchers: Sean H. Adams and Thomas M. Badger.

·         Maternal Programming of Offspring Metabolism: A Translational Approach to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Researchers: Keshari Shakali, Meghan Ruebel, Forrest Lindsey, Thomas Badger, Elisabet BØrsheim, Aline Andres and Kartik Shankar.

·         Metabolomic Influences in Maternal and Neonatal Programming. Researchers: Maria Elena Diaz-Rubio, Horacio Gomez-Acevedo, Lindsay Pack, Shanggong Yu, Sudeepa Bhattacharyya, Kelly E. Mercer and Nianbai Fang.

·         Effects of High Isoflavone Soy Diet vs. Casein or Arginine-Supplemented Casein Diet on Liver Steatosis. Researchers: Reza Hakkak, Starrett William, Xinyu Tang and Soheila Korourian.

·         A Substantial Proportion of Pregnant Women are Marginally Biotin Deficient Early and Late in Pregnancy. Researchers: Katelin Estes, Anna Bogusiewicz, Horace J. Spencer, David Kasper, Jeffrey H. Moran, Zachary Stowe and Donald M. Mock.

·         Structured Food Experiences: A Preliminary Evaluation of the WISE Curriculum. Researchers: Taren Swindle, Ph.D., and Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Ed.D.

·         Metformin and Soy Bioactives Limit the Frequency of the CD133+ CD44+ Epithelial Sub-population in Human Colon Cancer Cells. Researchers: Maria Theresa E. Montales, Adam R. Brown, Rosalia C.M. Simmen and Frank A. Simmen, Ph.D.

·         Relationship Between Childhood Food Allergies and Family Quality of Life. Researchers: A. Colvin, T. Crook, L. Christie D. Gonzales, J. Phelps, L. Maddox, R. Hakkak.

·         Dietary Influences on Psychological, Physiological and Neurocognitive Development and Function in Children. Researchers: R. Terry Pivik, Aline Andres, Xiawei Ou, Patrick H. Casey, Mario A. Cleves and Thomas M. Badger.

·         Effects of Obesity on Development of Oxidative Stress and DNA Damages in Liver of the Obese Zucker Rat. Researchers: Reza Hakkak, Soheila Korourian, Teresa Evans, Oleksana Pavliv and Stepan Malnyk.

·         The Role of Dietary Factors in Skeletal Development. Researchers: Jin-Ran Chen, Oxana P. Lazarenko, Aline Andres, Martin J.J. Ronis and Thomas M. Badger.

·         Physical Activity and Energy Metabolism Unit. Researchers: Elisabet BØrsheim, Leybi L. Ramirez, Eva C. Diaz, Nicholas M. Hurren, Eugenia Carvalho, Matthew Cotter, Aline Andres, Kartik Shankar, Thomas Badger and Sean Adams.

·         Early Diet Impact on Gastrointestinal Tract and Immune Function. Researchers: Laxmi Yeruva, Nicole Spencer, Anne Bowlin, Martin Ronis, Thomas Badger and Roger Rank.