UAMS’ Kristie Hadden, Ph.D., learned this month that she is receiving a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Starting in April, she will use the funds to test a diabetes education and health literacy program in patient-centered medical homes at UAMS regional centers across Arkansas.

Hadden, director of the UAMS Center for Health Literacy and an early-career investigator, said her first NIH grant has roots in TRI support that dates to 2013. Early that year she pitched the idea of inviting a “dream team” of national level health literacy researchers to UAMS as part of a seminar series.

“I said we need to be doing health literacy research at UAMS because it is so relevant to translational research,” Hadden said. “As we develop and implement new interventions, if we fall short in communicating about this research and treatment options, we’re not going to benefit like we should, and communities won’t benefit.”

After receiving her formal proposal, TRI sponsored the seminar series featuring five prominent health literacy researchers from across the U.S. Throughout the series, Hadden developed strong, unofficial mentoring relationships with the speakers. When the Center for Health Literacy was established in 2014, two of the speakers, Michael Wolf of Northwestern University and Terry Davis of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, agreed to become formal advisers to Hadden for one year.

Wolf and Davis, now co-investigators on Hadden’s study, identified the UAMS Regional Programs’ Patient-Centered Medical Homes around the state as the ideal platform for testing a diabetes education/health literacy intervention. The two also suggested that she pursue the NIH grant.

“It all started from those visits in 2013 and 2014,” she said. “If the Translational Research Institute hadn’t made the lecture series possible, I really don’t believe I would have been able to establish those relationships this early in my research career.”