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New TRI Profiles Newsletter Helps Researchers Plug-In!

This month, the UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) introduces Profiles Plug-In, a newsletter that will be researchers’ monthly guide to all things Profiles. Each issue will cover a variety of topics, including user tricks and tips, updates and upcoming changes, successes, etc. We hope you find the newsletter useful and continue to read the Plug-In each month.

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The September TRIbune Newsletter is Here!

TRI’s September newsletter, The TRIbunefeatures a new initiative to help UAMS graduate students learn how to become entrepreneurs. Led by Nancy Rusch, Ph.D., and Nancytribune-september-2016_800 Gray, Ph.D., TRI co-sponsored the recent Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for graduate students. It was a hit! Special thanks to Phil Mayeux, Ph.D., whose T32 grant created an opportunity for supplemental funding to conduct the boot camp, and to Drs. Rusch and Gray for their successful application. You can read about it here, along with comments from several students.

In addition, Dr. Gray, director of UAMS BioVentures, offers her perspective on TRI in the TRI & Me feature, and you can read about the recent NIH grant to a large multidisciplinary team of UAMS researchers that stems from a TRI pilot award. We also list your publications that have cited TRI support. 

Read The TRIbune.

TRI-Supported Faculty Recognized for Diversity Efforts

diversity-inclusion-kate-beatrice600Strengthening diversity and inclusion in education, research and patient care is a top priority for the Translational Research Institute (TRI), and we are very proud to have TRI faculty recognized for their work in this area. Kate Stewart, M.D., M.P.H., won the 2016 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award (faculty), and Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., was a nominee for the award.
Stewart (left in photo) leads our community engagement team at TRI, and Boateng directs our evaluation program.

From the presentation ceremony/nomination:
“Over the course of her career, Dr. Stewart has built a reputation of being a champion for diversity and inclusion. She works tirelessly on behalf of underserved individuals, in particular for members of racial, sexual and gender minority groups. Kate has such a kind heart and a gentle spirit that she is able to welcome people of traditionally underrepresented groups. But don’t be fooled; just because she’s soft-spoken, she has a fire in her soul and a passionate commitment to creating an inclusive environment where everyone has equal access to healthcare and is represented equitably in every aspect of life in our communities. She has devoted her career to social justice work and demonstrates her commitment to the spirit of diversity by not participating on boards or committees unless they are diverse and inclusive of individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups. People trust her because they know she has their best interest at heart.”

“Dr. Boateng works to improve diversity among translational researchers at UAMS. She recently led a campus-wide assessment on the climate of diversity and inclusion and how it affects the recruitment and retention of researchers. She is involved in the UAMS Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity, and has worked to enhance mentorships at UAMS. She believes everyone has something to contribute and that there are no boundaries that cannot be overcome. She naturally brings diverse groups together, resulting in a greater good for everyone.”

Read the UAMS news story: http://bit.ly/2cCaKks

Boot Camp Stirs Students’ Commercial Aspirations

The Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp students and some of its presenters included: front row (l- r) Catheryn Wilson, Erin Bush, Amanda Stolarz, Samantha McClenahan, Xingui Liu, Dolapo Adejumobi, Carol Reeves, Ph.D., Walter Harrington, Nancy Gray, Ph.D., and Michael Owens, Ph.D. Back row: Brittney Garner, Clark Sims, Chuck Hay, Ithay Biton, Stephen Shrum, Jeffery Moran, Ph.D., Kai Carey, Lauren Russell, and Nancy Rusch, Ph.D.

The Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp students and some of its presenters included: front row (l- r) Catheryn Wilson, Erin Bush, Amanda Stolarz, Samantha McClenahan, Xingui Liu, Dolapo Adejumobi, Carol Reeves, Ph.D., Walter Harrington, Nancy Gray, Ph.D., and Michael Owens, Ph.D. Back row: Brittney Garner, Clark Sims, Chuck Hay, Ithay Biton, Stephen Shrum, Jeffery Moran, Ph.D., Kai Carey, Lauren Russell, and Nancy Rusch, Ph.D.

Sometimes the stars align and an experiment yields a “Eureka!” moment. That’s on par with what happened recently at UAMS’ Biomedical Research Center.

Nancy Rusch, Ph.D.

Nancy Rusch, Ph.D.

Led by Nancy Rusch, Ph.D., and Nancy Gray, Ph.D., the “experiment” was UAMS’ first Health Sciences Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for 16 graduate students. Rusch leads the UAMS Translational Research Institute’s workforce development efforts and chairs the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the College of Medicine. Gray is director of UAMS BioVentures and a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Even before the laudatory written evaluations came in, Rusch and Gray were excited by what they witnessed and what participants were telling them. Both were impressed with how quickly the students learned the language of entrepreneurship. That was evident on the final day of boot camp, when teams of students presented their commercialization ideas.

“From Monday to Friday there was an amazing transformation,” Rusch said. “It was like a different group of students.”

Several of the participating students said the boot camp inspired them and either applied directly to their goals or opened their minds more fully to commercializing their ideas, even if they plan to continue in academia as “intrapreneurs.”

Erin Bush, R.N.C.-M.N.N.

Erin Bush, R.N.C.-M.N.N.

“The presenters that were brought in were absolute rock stars,” said Erin Bush, R.N.C., M.N.N., a graduate student in the UAMS College of Nursing. “One of the things that I most want to do with my nursing Ph.D. is be an entrepreneur and translate the nursing science that’s coming out of research into something that can be commercialized. So the boot camp has incredible applications for my career goals.”

Heavy Hitters

The boot camp’s success was aided by the participation of UAMS’ entrepreneurial faculty as well as other heavy hitters in Arkansas’ entrepreneurial community. The roster included the University of Arkansas’ Carol Reeves, Ph.D., whose MBA students have led the world in business plan competitions the last six years, and Paul Mlakar, MBA, a serial entrepreneur.

Other outside presenters included Jeff Stinson, MBA, director of entrepreneurship at Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub; Rebecca Norman, M.S., an innovation consultant at the Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center; and Lee Watson, president of The Venture Center.

“We’ve developed a wonderful spirit of collegiality with all of our presenters and there’s great cooperation between UAMS and UA, Fayetteville,” Rusch said. “Their participation really made this possible.”

A Rising Tide

The boot camp was supported by $50,000 in supplemental funding tied to a National Institute of General and Medical Sciences T32 Systems Pharmacology and Toxicology Training Program grant led by Phil Mayeux, Ph.D., who alerted Rusch about the supplemental funding opportunity. Rusch and Gray applied for the funding and developed the boot camp agenda.

There are now 58 faculty at UAMS with entrepreneurial experience. Their success is good for them as well as UAMS, which receives intellectual property revenues for the licensed technologies. UAMS’ intellectual property revenue is about $1.6 million per year. BioVentures has been involved in over 50 spinoff companies. Of those, 23 are still in operation and had an aggregate payroll of $7.2 million at the end of 2014.

Nancy Gray, Ph.D.

Nancy Gray, Ph.D.

Rusch said she hopes UAMS can increase these numbers through entrepreneurship training. She is leading the educational effort for the Translational Research Institute, and she credits institute Director/Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research Laura James, M.D., with the idea of making it a key component of TRI’s mission and Clinical and Translational Science Award application. The goal is to offer a certificate program.

“I see the need for entrepreneurship training with my students all the time,” Rusch said. “They come into my office and say ‘I have this idea and it could really improve clinical care, but I don’t know how to proceed.’”

UAMS faculty entrepreneurs who shared their stories at the boot camp:

  • Jay Gandy, Ph.D., professor and chair, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health; Founding Partner, Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health, LLC
  • Bill Gurley, Ph.D., professor, College of Pharmacy; chief science officer, Balm Innovations LLC
  • Amy Hester, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor, College of Nursing; chief scientific officer, HD Nursing, LLC
  • Laura James, M.D., professor, College of Medicine; director, UAMS Translational Research Institute; associate vice chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research; chief medical officer, Acetaminophen Toxicity Diagnostics, LLC
  • Jeffery Moran, Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Medicine; CEO and founding partner, Pinpoint Testing, LLC
  • Michael Owens, Ph.D., professor, College of Medicine, chief scientific officer, InterveXion Therapeutics

TRI Makes Community Engagement Resources Available to UAMS Investigators

hart_camille_tri_8-8-14-on-whiteResearchers who need participation from communities across the state can get the resources they need from the Translational Research Institute’s (TRI) Community Engagement component. TRI provides consultations and technical assistance, establishes one-time, study-specific Community Review Boards, and has an equipment library that includes electronics such as iPads, LCD projector and screen, and public address system; and other equipment, such as tents, misting fans, and folding tables with wheels. The community engagement team works closely with the Office of Community-Based Public Health at the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, as well as the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research and Center for Pacific Islander Health, both located at the UAMS Northwest Campus in Fayetteville.

Learn more

Additional TRI Services

TRI offers a range of services to investigators at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute and Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, including advice and consultation, biomedical informatics, biostatistics, regulatory matters, and protocol development. Visit our website to learn more about our services: TRI.uams.edu.