Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., MBA, Named Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

By Susan Van Dusen

McElfish’s position will involve creating a state-wide community network to support rural and minority communities for cancer prevention, education, navigation to treatment and survivorship.

She is the outgoing vice chancellor for the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus in Fayetteville; however, she agreed to continue serving in the role until her replacement can be found.

“Community outreach and engagement is a critical component of the Cancer Institute’s mission, particularly as we work toward achieving National Cancer Institute Designation. Dr. McElfish has a proven record of working in Arkansas communities and producing significant research findings. We are fortunate to have her bring this expertise to the Cancer Institute,” said Michael Birrer, M.D., Ph.D., UAMS vice chancellor and Cancer Institute director.

McElfish is the founder of the Office of Community Health and Research and the Center for Pacific Islander Health at UAMS. She has been awarded more than $130 million in federal and private foundation grants for investment in community health in Northwest Arkansas and published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles.

Her research focuses on reducing health disparities among rural and minority communities. She also conducts methodological research related to the conducting community-based participatory research and dissemination of findings to community stakeholders.

She has a history of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other private foundations.

McElfish holds a Ph.D. in public policy, a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in community and economic development. She is a certified Project Management Professional and a Certified Community Developer and has more than 25 years of experience working in health care administration and community health.

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.