UAMS’ Andrew Morris, Ph.D., Recognized with Prestigious VA Research Career Scientist Award

By David Robinson

Andrew Morris, Ph.D., works with his research associate, Lauren Havens, in his lab.

Andrew Morris, Ph.D., works with his research associate, Lauren Havens, in his lab.

Morris is the UAMS Mehta/Stebbins Chair in Cardiovascular Research and a professor in the College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

“I am deeply honored to receive the VA’s Research Career Scientist Award,” said Morris, who has been recognized for ranking among the top 2% of most influential researchers. “This recognition is a reflection of the hard work of my dedicated and talented research team and the unwavering support and collaboration of my esteemed colleagues and mentors.”

Morris has been funded by the VA since 2007, both individually and with his wife, the late Susan Smyth, M.D., former College of Medicine dean, for studies of lipid metabolism and signaling in vascular inflammation and thrombosis. Morris developed and now directs an analytical laboratory at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS) that provides biomonitoring services to support health research studies of veterans and active-duty military personnel. A current focus is on per- and polyfluorinated substances, which are pervasive, manmade surfactant chemicals with toxic effects.

Shuk Mei-Ho, Ph.D., UAMS vice chancellor for Research and Innovation, said the award underscores the vital research alliance between UAMS and the VA.

“Our partnership with CAVHS has enabled talented UAMS faculty like Dr. Morris to deliver meaningful, high-quality research to the benefit of Arkansas and beyond,” Ho said.

Recipients of the Research Career Scientist Award are selected through a competitive peer review process. Morris’ award totals $750,000 and will provide him with five years of additional salary support. His work is also funded by grants from the VA, National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense, which support the six members of his research team.

Ho noted that while the honor typically goes to researchers at larger VA-affiliated universities, multiple UAMS faculty, including herself, are recipients.

Other UAMS awardees include Teresita Bellido, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology; and Alexei Basnakian, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Robert J. Reis, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Geriatrics, received the VA’s Senior Research Career Scientist Award, which provides seven years of funding.