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Monthly Archives: November 2015


TRI Offering Research Forums

Research Forum participant Aliza Brown, Ph.D.

Research Forum participant Aliza Brown, Ph.D.

Nov. 30, 2015 | Do you have a research idea and need some assistance moving forward? Have you submitted a grant application that did not get funded? The Translational Research Institute (TRI) may be able to help through its Research Forums. Research Forums are individually tailored help sessions to address your specific needs. They are private meetings between you and a panel of experts that can help you move your research ideas and projects forward.

Over the past year, TRI has hosted 10 Research Forums for researchers from UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, and the UAMS Northwest Campus. You can request a Research Forum at

Read here about the Research Forum experience of UAMS’ Aliza Brown, Ph.D.

Dec. 8 Seminar: ‘Introduction to Methods of Financing a Startup’

December 8 2015 Dickey and SmithThe next monthly Health Sciences Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HSIE) seminar will be Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., Cancer Institute, 10th floor, Walton Auditorium. The seminar, “Introduction to Methods of Financing a Startup,” will be presented by two Innovate Arkansas advisors: Ted Dickey, a chartered financial analyst and general partner of CDFP Capital’s real estate fund; and Mike Smith Jr., a managing member of Gravity Arkansas, a member-managed angel fund.
Sponsored by the UAMS Translational Research Institute and UAMS BioVentures, the seminar series is open to all. It is available via WebEx. Get details.

Join WebEx meeting

Meeting number:  808 443 283

Join by phone: +1-855-749-4750 U.S. Toll Free

+1-415-655-0001 U.S. Toll

Access code: 808 443 283

Global call-in numbers  |  Toll-free calling restrictions

Add this meeting to your calendar.

Can’t join the meeting? Contact support.

TRI Research Grants Support UAMS Collaboration in Other States

Nov. 24, 2015 | The UAMS Translational Research Institute announced recipients of two pilot grants aimed at stimulating collaborative research with institutions in other states.

UAMS’ Joshua Kennedy, M.D., is the co-leader of a one-year project with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM HSC).  Another project is co-led by UAMS’ Sean Adams, Ph.D., with John Thyfault, Ph.D., at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

The competitive awards were made available through the Western States Consortium Pilot Awards program. The consortium includes the University of Utah in addition to UAMS, KUMC and UNM HSC. Of the eight applications submitted, three one-year pilots of up to $50,000 were awarded, with costs shared by the institutions.

“Collaboration is essential in successful translational research, and I am proud that UAMS researchers represent two of the three projects selected for the 2015 program,” said TRI Director Laura James, M.D.

The UAMS – UNM HSC project, “Host-Pathogen Genomic Determinants of Pediatric Respiratory Infection Severity,” will study the role of genetics in children with acute respiratory infections.

Kennedy is 2013 recipient of the Translational Research Institute’s KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award. His primary collaborator at UNM, Darrell Dinwiddie, Ph.D., is also a KL2 recipient.

Sean Adams, Ph.D.

Sean Adams, Ph.D.

The pilot award is expected to strengthen their ongoing KL2 research programs by uniquely blending their expertise in genetics, next-generation sequencing, virology, clinical infectious disease, and allergy and immunology.  The project, which will enroll 100 pediatric patients, involves two distinct populations with differing respiratory infection patterns.

The UAMS – KUMC project is titled “Metabolomics Signatures That Occur in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Patients With and Without Type 2 Diabetes in Comparison to Controls (non-AD) With or Without Type 2 Diabetes.”  The two institutions are combining their expertise in Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes (KUMC), and metabolomics and bioinformatics in metabolic disease states including type 2 diabetes (UAMS). They anticipate their work will provide key information on the links between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It will also provide metabolic-based information on the cause and development of Alzheimer’s and possibly highlight therapeutic targets.

Other researchers on the project are UAMS’ Kartik Shankar, Ph.D., and KUMC’s Jill Morris, Ph.D., and Brian Piccolo, Ph.D.


UAMS TRI, Community Groups Celebrate Research Partnerships

Nov. 20, 2015 | Twenty-five community groups were honored Nov. 13 for their contributions to research at the 3rd annual Community Partner Celebration sponsored by the UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI).

TRI Community Advisory Board members Naomi Cottoms, Charles Moore and Ann Huff with Kathryn Hall-Trujillo (center).

TRI Community Advisory Board members Naomi Cottoms, Charles Moore and Anna Huff Davis with Kathryn Hall-Trujillo (center).

The celebration, at the Center at University Park in Little Rock, included welcome remarks from TRI Director Laura James, M.D., and UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. The keynote speaker was Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, M.P.H., founder of the Birthing Project USA, which began as a community project to assist pregnant women and has been replicated in other countries.

The key message to the 88 attendees representing 21 grassroots community organizations and four advisory boards, was how important their work is to finding solutions to society’s most challenging health problems.

Rahn noted that Arkansas ranks at or near the bottom on virtually every key measure of health. No matter how much knowledge there is about obesity, diabetes or cancer deaths, he said, it is of no value without new, innovative approaches to improving health.

“If we keep doing what we’ve been doing we’ll get what we already got,” Rahn said. “We don’t know what to do about the different health outcomes, the health disparities that disproportionately impact on people of color, people in rural areas, people in poverty, and people with low educational attainment.

UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., welcomed UAMS' partners to the celebration in their honor.

UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., welcomed UAMS’ partners to the celebration in their honor.

“The future hinges on some new ways of thinking and developing new knowledge and new methodologies to actually change the future,” he added. “That’s what you can help us with. We thank you for doing this, we thank you for partnering with us. We truly need our partners to help us chart a course for a healthier tomorrow.”

James said the perspective of UAMS’ grassroots partners is key.

“We need to interact with our community partners, and we need to partner with you to do research that is the most meaningful to Arkansans,” James said. “What’s important about tonight is we are celebrating and thinking about how we can in partnership take scientific discoveries or new findings and push them into the homes and families and communities and churches out in the state to improve the health of our state.”

Featured speaker Hall-Trujillo, an Arkansas native whose Birthing Project has become an international model for helping pregnant women, praised the work of the attendees.  A key to the success of her project was realizing the need for communities to understand how important systems and resources work, such as university, medical, education, housing and legal systems.

“The resources we brought to the table were partnered with people who had resources,” Hall-Trujillo said. “What we need to do is be the best relationship builders, the best ambassadors and best liaisons for the families we support.  I can see by looking at this room, that that is exactly what you’re doing, and I applaud you for doing it, and I can see a better place.”

Laura James, M.D., TRI Director, applauded the work of UAMS' community partners.

Laura James, M.D., TRI Director, applauded the work of UAMS’ community partners.

The community organizations honored this year are:

Arkansas Community Health Worker Association (ARCHWA)

Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind

Cisneros Center for New Americans

Divine Deliverance

East Arkansas Family Health Center

El Zócalo Immigrant Resource Center

First Baptist Dew Drop Church

Representatives of King's Chapel with their award.

Representatives of King’s Chapel with their award.

Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas

House of Benjamin

Human Rights Campaign

King’s Chapel

Lee County Cooperative Clinic

New Light MBC

Oak Forest United Methodist Church

Planting A Seed Foundation

Pleasant View Ministries Church

Representatives of Oak Forest United Methodist Church with their award.

Representatives of Oak Forest United Methodist Church with their award.

Regenerated Missionary Baptist Church

Rural Community Alliance

Seeds of Liberation

Washington Regional Medical Center Employee Education Department

Young Adult Opportunity Center

The community advisory boards honored this year are:

Arkansas Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Task Force

Thomas & Lyon Longevity Clinic Patient

and Family Advisory Council

TransForm Health Arkansas Research Working Group

UAMS Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council




TRIbune Newsletter

The November issue of TRI’s newsletter, The TRIbune, is now available. This issue features our clinical trials services, our promotion of health sciences innovation and entrepreneurship, KL2 Awardee Ling Gao, M.D., Ph.D., published in the NEJM, and TRI-cited publications.  



Request a Mock Study Section by Dec. 4 for February Proposals

TRI is pleased to be able to offer Mock Study Sections for any researcher seeking review of an external grant application. Reviews are available for laboratory, animal and human

TRI Mock Study Section

TRI Mock Study Section

participant study proposals. New submissions and resubmissions will be considered. Interested researchers can request a Mock Study Section through the TRI Portal ( and should submit draft copies of their proposal, budget, and biosketch, as well as comments from a previous submission (if applicable).  The request deadline for review of February proposals is Dec. 4, 2015.

Mock Study Sections are intended to be learning experiences and investigators should plan to be present. Collaborators are also encouraged to attend. Participating investigators will be expected to provide TRI with follow-up information on grant submission outcomes, scores and funding awards.

UAMS Clinical Trials Medicare Coverage Analyses

Dec. 3, 2015 | The Medicare National Coverage Determination (NCD) for Clinical Trials outlines items and services that are not billable to Medicare. These include “items and services customarily provided by the research sponsors free-of-charge for any enrollee in the trial.”  The NCD provides no further clarification for this language.

Historically UAMS has not negotiated when a sponsor offered to pay for an item or service; as a result that offer was accepted as a term of the final agreement. An item or service that is paid by the sponsor is not billable to Medicare and must be designated “research,” even if it would otherwise be considered conventional care.

Based upon a recent review of our process with the Office of Institutional Compliance, UAMS has determined that the sponsor’s offer to pay for such items and services is merely a part of the overall negotiation of the final clinical trial agreement. A number of statements, FAQs, and other language from CMS was analyzed as a part of this review, including the following from a proposed replacement Clinical Trial NCD:  “Medicare does not cover usual patient care when such care is provided free to the Medicare beneficiary or when the study sponsor agreement with investigator sites or the informed consent documents provided to the patient specify that the care will be provided free to participants (§1862(a)(2); 42 CFR 411.4).”

Accordingly, investigators will be able to use the sponsor exhibit as a guide in negotiations rather than something that must be accepted exactly as written. However, once negotiations are complete and the contract is signed, the final signed contract must be followed exactly as written. Once signed, these items will be analyzed as they have been, according to language in the contract, protocol and consent.

The TRI Research Finance Team will now perform coverage analyses in which they initially do their analyses based on the protocol, consent, sponsor exhibit and CTA. However, the team will also provide notes regarding any item or service subject to a proposed sponsor payment that may be billable to Medicare or other payors as conventional care. The research team will have this information available for their negotiations with the sponsor. The final coverage determination for items and services will occur upon completion of the signed clinical trial agreement.


One issue has arisen under this new approach. Billing rules may limit a sponsor’s ability to pay for various activities that occur during certain visits or procedures. For example, where a visit/procedure is bundled, that is, where the services may not be itemized individually for payment, neither the sponsor nor UAMS may pick and choose which items can be invoiced to the sponsor and which can be billed as routine care. The TRI Research Finance Team will identify these instances for investigators as part of the coverage analysis.

For any questions related to this new approach please contact Kennetha Newman, TRI program coordinator, at 501-526-7665.