CDC Awards UAMS $3.75 million for Arkansas Prevention Research Center

By Spencer Watson

The grant follows a $1.7 million five-year CDC grant awarded in 2009 that established the center to help address the burden of chronic disease in Arkansas.

“The continued funding for the ARPRC furthers the college’s mission of improving the health of all Arkansans by helping us provide model programs in collaboration with our partners at the Arkansas Department of Health and in Arkansas communities,” said Jim Raczynski, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and director for the center.

The additional funding will enable the research center to implement and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a program to identify individuals with uncontrolled hypertension and help them adhere to medical recommendations to lower their blood pressure, using a “stepped-care” approach.

Over the grant period, individuals whose hypertension is not brought under control by early efforts to help them lower their blood pressure will receive more intensive but more costly care. The study will be able to show the effectiveness of each step, or level, of care, as well as the associated costs. The ultimate goal is to develop a model of care that minimizes costs while effectively helping Arkansans with uncontrolled hypertension control the disease.

“Hypertension is a huge problem in Arkansas with data showing that almost 1 out of every 3 adults have uncontrolled hypertension.  We are excited about testing the stepped-care approach to controlling hypertension, and to my knowledge, are the first to test such an approach,” said Raczynski.

“The cost analysis will help us develop a model for care which can be used across Arkansas and elsewhere,” said Martha Phillips, PhD, associate professor and a co-principal investigator for the center.

“These programs are likely to reduce the risk for major sources of disease and death among the populations that have the greatest disease burden,” said Joe Bates, MD, MS, deputy director at the Arkansas Department of Health, associate dean in the COPH, and a co-principal investigator for the grant.

The Arkansas center was one of 26 academic institutions in 25 states to be selected for continued funding. The initial funding period allowed for 37 such centers.

“Prevention Research Centers have reached up to 31 million people in 103 partner communities, some of which are the most underserved in the country,” said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “By involving communities in conducting and disseminating research, this network of centers ensures that effective and innovative health strategies can be readily shared and applied where most needed.” 

When the Arkansas Prevention Research Center was founded, researchers and communities in 19 counties in the Delta region came together to lay the groundwork for programs to improve public health practice and reduce risk for chronic disease, particularly in vulnerable populations.

In its first five years, the center, in partnership with the UAMS Arkansas Center for Health Disparities, the UAMS Translational Research Institute, and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, created the Public Health in Arkansas’ Communities Search website, a county-level, statewide database for health-related information. It also established a program to assist state and local agencies in evaluating the effectiveness of health initiatives, as well as worked with its 19 county partners in evaluating their food and nutritional systems. The center also partnered in building a track and playground in Hamburg and established a program in Dumas to encourage parents and their pre-school age children to be more active.


UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 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. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 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, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.