UAMS, Baptist Health, Arkansas Children’s Working Together To Expand Cancer Treatment in Arkansas

By Susan Van Dusen

The UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and Baptist Health  have formed a joint venture to locate a radiation therapy center at Baptist Health Medical Center – North Little Rock, where UAMS physicians will provide radiation therapy starting in January 2021.

The Board of Trustees also approved a joint venture between UAMS, Arkansas Children’s and Baptist Health to develop and operate a proton therapy center on UAMS’ Little Rock campus.

Proton therapy is a highly sophisticated radiation-based technology for cancer treatment that has the capability to deliver safer, high-dose radiation to cancer patients compared to traditional X-ray radiation treatment. It is widely used to treat children with cancer, as children are particularly sensitive to the effects of radiation therapy.

“The UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute provides exceptional cancer care in all areas, including state-of-the-art radiation therapy,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “By working with Baptist Health and Arkansas Children’s, we will ensure that more Arkansans have access to the state’s most advanced treatment options and highly trained radiation oncologists.”

“This is another example of how strategic collaboration with other leading health care providers can improve the health of Arkansans. Baptist Health has a long history of bringing innovative technologies to our state and to join forces with UAMS to expand access to cancer care on our North Little Rock campus is extremely exciting,” said Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health.

“Arkansas Children’s is pleased to play a role in bringing proton therapy to Arkansas. This effort is part of our continuous commitment to the children of Arkansas to provide state-of-the-art care.  Pediatric cancer patients will benefit greatly through this collaborative venture,” said Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s.

The proton therapy center will be the first in Arkansas and one of only about 40 in the country. It will be located in a building to be constructed on the east side of the UAMS campus.

“Not only will these joint ventures provide vital cancer therapies for the people of Arkansas, they also will expand the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute’s statewide reach and advance our efforts to achieve National Cancer Institute Designation,” said UAMS Cancer Institute Director Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., who is also a UAMS vice chancellor.

Achieving National Cancer Institute Designation would provide multiple benefits, including a significantly increased ability to receive federal research funding; improved access to clinical trials unavailable elsewhere in the state; and the creation of new, high-paying health care jobs.

The Department of Radiation Oncology in the UAMS College of Medicine has active clinical, educational and research programs. The department is home to Arkansas’ first radiation oncology residency program, which provides specialized training beyond medical school for physicians interested in radiation therapy. Fen Xia, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

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 eight 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, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community 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.