UAMS Researchers See 12% Increase in Grant Funding for FY2021

By David Robinson

It is the second consecutive year with double-digit increases in research funding that comes from outside the institution. Last year, UAMS received $158.1 million in grants, a 43% increase over the previous year.

“Our grant funding growth reflects the dedication of UAMS’ talented and innovative researchers,” said Shuk-Mei Ho, Ph.D., vice chancellor for Research and Innovation. “I am proud of their grant success because it is critical to our mission of addressing important health issues in Arkansas and beyond.”

The bulk of the funding is from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal sources.

UAMS researchers work on the UAMS main campus, its regional campuses, and at its affiliates Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI), and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS). They compete for grants with their counterparts at research institutions across the United States.

Researchers based at the main UAMS campus in Little Rock and its regional campuses accounted for outside funding of $142.8 million in fiscal year 2021. The funding supports 326 projects and represents a 13.8% increase over 2020’s $125 million.

Note that these are annual totals, not cumulative award amounts. For example, a researcher may have received a five-year, $5 million grant, but for this report, the amount is $1 million.

At ACRI, UAMS researchers in fiscal 2021 acquired $26.1 million, a 9.4% increase from the $23.8 million last year. ACRI researchers, with expertise in basic science and clinical and community-based research, are addressing a broad spectrum of children’s health concerns including childhood nutrition, childhood obesity, food allergy, diabetes-related complications, and numerous childhood diseases including asthma and cancer.

At CAVHS, UAMS researchers in fiscal 2021 successfully competed for $8.5 million in grants from the Veterans Affairs Research and Development program and nonprofit Biomedical Research Foundation, compared to $8.8 million last year. Funded research centers at CAVHS include the Pharmacogenomics Analysis Laboratory; the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center; the South Central Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; the Center for Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research; and the Behavioral Health Quality Enhancement Research Initiative.

CAVHS’ basic and translational research include aging and cognitive decline, suicide prevention, bone metabolism, atherosclerosis, and more recently, COVID-19.

The top 10 funded researchers for FY 2021 are (with annualized grant amounts):

  • Jeannette Lee, Ph.D., professor, UAMS Department of Biostatistics; four grants totaling $9,121,137 (Of this total, Jessica Snowden, M.D., is co-principal investigator on a single grant of $7,795,485. Snowden is an associate professor in the College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics.)
  • Eduardo Ochoa Jr., M.D., associate professor, College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics; two grants totaling $9,071,196
  • Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., MBA, associate professor, vice chancellor of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus, director of the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research and associate director of Community Outreach and Engagement at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute; 10 grants totaling $8,456,217
  • Marjan Boerma, Ph.D., professor, College of Pharmacy and director of the Center for Studies of Host Response to Cancer Therapy; five grants totaling $6,165,794
  • Kristine Patterson, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine; one grant totaling $5,673,639
  • Alan Tackett, Ph.D., professor, deputy director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and holder of the Scharlau Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research; three grants totaling $5,240,681
  • Fred Prior, Ph.D., professor and chair, College of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Informatics; 11 grants totaling $4,710,113
  • Laura James, M.D., professor, director Translational Research Institute and UAMS associate vice chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research; one grant totaling $4,608,197
  • Richard Turnage, M.D., executive associate dean for Clinical Affairs, College of Medicine; one grant totaling $3,980,232
  • Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., professor, College of Medicine, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology; one grant totaling $3,757,778