Twenty-four groups from across Arkansas were honored Dec. 4 at the 2nd Annual Community Partners Celebration for their work in support of research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Sponsored by the UAMS Translational Research Institute, the annual celebration dinner included a welcome from Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., and remarks by Karen Yeary, Ph.D., a researcher in the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, and the Rev. Jerome Turner, director of special projects for the Boys, Girls, Adults Development Center in Marvell, and pastor of the Mt. Everett and New Hope Baptist Churches in rural Phillips County.

“Our search for solutions to improve Arkansas’ health status isn’t confined to a laboratory on our campus,” Rahn said. “We have about 50 researchers conducting community-based research, and their success depends on a highly collaborative relationship with communities across the state.”

The Translational Research Institute’s mission includes helping UAMS researchers establish and sustain community partnerships that will help UAMS better address the state’s many health issues, particularly where health disparities exist in communities at high risk for poor health outcomes.

Of the nearly 100 community partners attending the Dec. 4 event were members of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Community Advisory Board are (l-r): Melva Trask, Mary Olson, Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D., and Edlund Marshall.Of the nearly 100 community partners attending the Dec. 4 event were members of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Community Advisory Board are (l-r): Melva Trask, Mary Olson, Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D., and Edlund Marshall.
For example, the institute has supported UAMS research partnerships with the Tri County Rural Health Network based in Helena to study the role of “community connectors” who help connect the elderly and disabled to health services in the Delta. College of Public Health researchers found that $2.6 million in Medicaid savings could be achieved by keeping older adults out of long-term care facilities by connecting them with home health care services. That study has been expanded to 15 counties with support from the National Institutes of Health.

Laura James, M.D., director of the Translational Research Institute, noted that because the burden of poor health is not evenly distributed across the state, UAMS must work closely with communities to design new ways of addressing entrenched health issues such as chronic diseases related to poor lifestyle choices.

“Our community partners are a driving force behind our research, even guiding the research questions that we pursue,” James said. “UAMS is among the leaders of this relatively new approach to research, and we are grateful to have such involved communities.”

Another example of UAMS-community partnership is that of Yeary and Turner, who created the Faith Task Force, a coalition of pastors from African-American churches in the Delta, local government officials, community-based organizations, and UAMS to address obesity and other health issues that lead to chronic diseases. Established nearly 10 years ago, the Faith Task Force is collaborating on a study that involves 450 participants from the Arkansas Delta to address obesity, and the study of a depression intervention that will enroll 72 participants across two counties.

The Rev. Jerome Turner and Karen Yeary, Ph.D., a UAMS researcher, gave the keynote address at the UAMS Translational Research Institute Community Partner Celebration. The Rev. Jerome Turner and Karen Yeary, Ph.D., a UAMS researcher, gave the keynote address at the UAMS Translational Research Institute Community Partner Celebration.
“The Faith Task Force has been an equal partner in all aspects of the research, including issue identification, study design, intervention development, evaluation development, intervention implementation, and dissemination of research results,” Yeary said.

The groups honored Thursday were:

Community Organizations

Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese
Arkansas Disability Coalition/Arkansas Family-2-Family Health Information Center
Arkansas Epilepsy Association
Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center
CARE Coalition
East Arkansas Enterprise Community Inc.
Feed Communities
Gaps in Services to the Marshallese Taskforce
Greater Macedonia Baptist Church
Holman Community Development Center
Mid Delta Community Consortium
Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission Inc.
Neighbors that Love
Promise Neighborhood Advisory Board
Tri County Rural Health Network

Representatives of the Translational Research Institute attending the event included (l-r), Cornelia Beck, Ph.D., R.N., associate director, Camille Hart, program manager of the Community Engagement Program, and Kate Stewart, M.D., director of the Community Engagement Program.Representatives of the Translational Research Institute attending the event included (l-r), Cornelia Beck, Ph.D., R.N., associate director, Camille Hart, program manager of the Community Engagement Program, and Kate Stewart, M.D., director of the Community Engagement Program.
Community Advisory Boards (CABs)

12th Street Health and Wellness Center CAB
Arkansas Center for Health Disparities Community Engagement Core CAB
Community Advisory Committee to the Texarkana Regional Center on Aging
Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas Advisory Board
Faith Task Force
Jefferson County Faith Task Force
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) CAB
Prevention Research Center CAB
Translational Research Institute CAB
The UAMS Translational Research Institute’s mission is to help accelerate research that will improve the health and health care of people in Arkansas and across the country. TRI is one of 62 recipients of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).