NIH Awards Early Career Grants to Two UAMS Translational Research Institute–Trained Researchers

By Ben Boulden

In May, Kennedy, whose laboratory is at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital campus, received notice of a five-year $877,000 NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases K08 Award. He is an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, Division of Allergy and Immunology.

Swindle, an assistant professor in the College of Medicine Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, was recently notified that July 1 she will receive a four-year, $442,583 NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease K01 Award.

Kennedy’s grant provides salary and laboratory support for his investigation into how allergies and rhinovirus infections (common colds) work in tandem to create life-threatening symptoms for people with asthma. He will work with patients who experience critical asthma symptoms as a result of rhinovirus infections and allergies, and he will conduct laboratory experiments on donated lung tissue.
The K08 Award program is an intensive, supervised research career development experience, preparing clinical researchers such as Kennedy for careers that have a significant impact on the health-related research needs of the country.

Swindle’s research involves the study of a childcare-based nutrition intervention and development of a strategy for implementing the intervention. She will pilot test the implementation strategy and the intervention’s effect on child health outcomes.

The K01 award is designed to advance Swindle’s expertise and skills in implementation science, child and community nutrition, and community engagement. To help achieve her goals, she will take part in a comprehensive plan of mentored research, didactic education, cross-disciplinary collaborations and structured field studies.

Kennedy and Swindle said their awards were made possible by two years of research support and training they received through the UAMS Translational Research Institute’s KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Scholar Award Program. Kennedy and Swindle were selected for the competitive KL2 program in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“The KL2 provided the funds necessary to produce the preliminary data that supported the NIH K08,” Kennedy said. “The grant was reviewed by all of my KL2 award mentors, and the CTSA (NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award) consortium organized a special K club that provided valuable feedback and ultimately helped my application get funded.”

The KL2 has provided Swindle with training experiences in nutrition, grant writing, and qualitative methods that were critical to her conceptualization of the K01 grant and strengthening her qualifications as a K01 candidate, she said.

“The protected time for mentored research on the KL2 also allowed me to secure important preliminary data that I was able to use in my K01 application,” she added. “The review committee specifically mentioned my KL2 experience as a strength in my review.”

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 northwest Arkansas regional campus; 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, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,021 students, 789 medical residents and two dental 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 Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. Over the past century, ACH has grown from a small orphanage in Little Rock to a statewide network of care that includes an expansive pediatric teaching hospital and research institute, as well as regional clinics in several counties. ACH also reaches children across the state and nation through a range of telemedicine capabilities that ensures every child has access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. The hospital’s campus in Little Rock spans 36 city blocks and is licensed for 359 beds. ACH has a staff of 505 physicians, more than 200 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. A campus under development in northwest Arkansas will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that region of the state. A private nonprofit, ACH boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research — all dedicated to fulfilling its mission of championing children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow. For more info, visit

ACHRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research center which provides a research environment on the ACH campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who are investigating questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators at ACHRI and the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC) conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses and preventing disease and thereby, improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.