Arkansas Research Alliance Selects UAMS Researchers as Scholar, Fellow

By Benjamin Waldrum

John Imig, Ph.D., an accomplished scientist focused on cardiovascular, metabolic and kidney diseases, was named an ARA Scholar, and Antiño Allen, Ph.D., a researcher known for his insight into the effects of radiation on brain function, was honored as an ARA Fellow.

Imig will receive $500,000, and Allen will receive $75,000 to further their research.

“We are so proud to have these two exceptional researchers at UAMS as an ARA Scholar and ARA Fellow,” said UAMS Chancellor and UAMS Health CEO Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “Both Dr. Imig and Dr. Allen have made tremendous impacts in their respective fields, and we are fortunate to have them in leadership roles at UAMS. I look forward to seeing their accomplishments in the coming years.”

The ARA Scholars program helps recruit and support world-class researchers to universities where their work helps strengthen the competitiveness of the state. The ARA Fellows program recognizes research leaders who are currently working in Arkansas at one of the state’s five research campuses.

“The College of Pharmacy is grateful for collaboration with the ARA, as it has opened doors to recruit the best and brightest talent across the country and allowed us to recognize the excellent faculty within our ranks,” said Dean Cindy Stowe, Pharm.D. “Drs. Imig and Allen are incredible faculty members and innovative scientists who build successful research teams while educating and mentoring future generations. They are accelerating the research mission of the college and UAMS.”

“Each ARA Scholar and Fellow is a research powerhouse in their own right,” said Bryan Barnhouse, ARA president and CEO. “Combined in partnership with the state and the researchers’ host institutions, the ARA Academy represents a collaborative juggernaut of research talent pursuing bold, interdisciplinary ideas to support statewide economic development.”

Imig joined UAMS in September as chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy.

From 2008-2022, Imig was a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he was an Eminent Scholar and inaugural director of its Drug Discovery Center. A vascular and renal biologist, Imig’s laboratory is dedicated to understanding the mechanisms by which certain fatty acids, called eicosanoids, influence kidney and cardiovascular function. He and his team have developed novel eicosanoid-based drugs to treat hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, diabetes and other kidney diseases.

Imig has active research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute that he brought to UAMS. Over his career, Imig has received more than $35 million in grant support as a principal investigator or co-investigator. He holds five U.S. patents for treatments including metabolic syndrome, renal and cardiovascular disease, among others, with several pending applications in the U.S. and internationally.

Allen is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, as well as graduate program director in the College of Pharmacy’s Division of Radiation Health.

A former captain in the U.S. Army, Allen’s research focuses on the effects of radiation on brain function, specifically on normal tissue response, cognitive impairment and neurogenesis. He is also interested in the role of oxidative stress and trauma in the development of these effects, as well as the combined injury that may occur during space irradiation.

Allen has been awarded multiple grants and research support, and has been recognized for his research and leadership contributions with various honors and awards. He has served on grant panels for the National Institutes of Health and has been a member of professional societies including the Radiation Research Society and the Society for Neuroscience.

Other ARA Scholars from UAMS are Peter Crooks, Ph.D., professor and former chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; David Ussery, Ph.D., director of the Arkansas Center for Genomic and Ecological Medicine at UAMS; Hong-yu Li, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Teresita Bellido, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the College of Medicine; and Edward T.H.. Yeh, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine in the College of Medicine.

Other ARA Fellows from UAMS are Alan Tackett, Ph.D., deputy director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Clint Kilts, Ph.D., founding director of the Brain Imaging Research Center at the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute; Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the College of Medicine; and Laura James, M.D., director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute.