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TRI Calls for Community Partner Award Nominees

Naomi Cottoms and the Tri County Rural Health Network won the Chancellor’s Award in 2016.

Do you know a UAMS community or institutional partner that should be recognized for their collaboration with UAMS? The Translational Research Institute (TRI) is seeking nominations from faculty and staff for its fifth annual UAMS Community Partner Celebration on Nov. 17. This celebration recognizes the outstanding community partners that have helped make our various endeavors possible, whether it involves research, education and training, or services.

This year, we are happy to announce four new awards:

  • Community Partnership Student Award
  • Institutional Health Partner Award
  • Community-Based Organization of the Year Award
  • Community Advisory Board of the Year Award

We’re also seeking nominees for the Chancellor’s Community Research Partner Award.

Learn more and submit your community partner nominees!

See our honorees from past years.

The deadline for submissions to recognize community partners and submissions for the Chancellor’s Community Research Partner Award is Oct. 12. For more information, contact Camille Hart or 501-454-1467.

TRI Research and Career Development Seminar Series Begins Sept. 22

The TRI Research and Career Development Seminar Series resumes Friday, Sept. 22, 8:30 – 10 a.m., in the ED II Building, G112 A/B.

Jean McSweeney, Ph.D., R.N., will present, “ARresearch – UAMS’ Research Volunteer Registry.” Learn about the ARresearch Registry, how TRI recruits, and how you can use it for your research.

McSweeney is associate dean for research and professor and co-director of the Ph.D. program in the UAMS College of Nursing. She is the TRI liaison to Recruitment Innovation Centers and faculty leader for the TRI Recruitment Unit Team.
The seminar series is sponsored by the TRI KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Program.

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First TRI Open House Draws More than 100

Sarah Rhoads, Ph.D., D.N.P., visits with TRI’s Nia Indelicato and Amy Jo Jenkins.

The first Open House for the UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) drew more than 100 attendees from UAMS’ research community interested in learning about the resources and services offered by TRI.

TRI held the open house as a fun way to introduce itself to new researchers and for others to learn more about what all TRI has to offer. In addition to the 19 featured research services, the event included food and wine, as well as door prizes.

Both new and veteran UAMS researchers echoed their approval.

Hari Eswaran, Ph.D., a long-time professor in the College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said he was familiar with many of TRI’s offerings, but he discovered more during the open house.

TRI-supported services and resources on display included those of its Clinical Trials Innovation Unit, community engagement, participant recruitment, pilot awards, KL2 scholar awards, biostatistics, biomedical 

informatics, implementation science and entrepreneurship initiatives.

“Everybody knows TRI but probably not the whole gamut of what they do,” Eswaran said. “For example, I didn’t know about their implementation science function.”

Carolyn Greene, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry who is new to UAMS, said she was pleasantly surprised by the event.

“I’m really impressed by all the resources in one place,” she said. “Everything I need is right here.”

Sarah Rhoads, Ph.D., D.N.P., was also happy with the event. “I like how I can see everything that TRI offers, from A to Z, in one place.”

TRI’s Kate Stewart, M.D., M.P.H., and Anna Huff, (seated) speak with attendees about TRI’s Community Engagement Program.

TRI Director Laura James, M.D., said she plans to hold the Open House annually.

TRI Faculty Recognized for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Drs. Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., (second from left) and Martha Rojo, Ph.D., R.N., were joined following the awards ceremony by UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., (far left) and Billy R. Thomas, M.D., Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion.

UAMS Translational Research Institute faculty Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., and Martha Rojo, Ph.D., R.N., were among those recognized Wednesday at UAMS’ 2017 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Awards Ceremony.  Boateng won the faculty award, while Rojo was a faculty nominee. Both are dedicated to their work for TRI and making health care and research more diverse and inclusive at UAMS.

As an evaluator for TRI, Boateng works to improve diversity among researchers at UAMS. In 2016, she led a campus-wide survey to assess the institutional climate on diversity and inclusion, including its effect on the recruitment and retention of a diverse academic body.

Additional indicators of Boateng’s commitment to diversity are:

  • Her work with the UAMS Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) where she collaborates with the Graduate School to provide workshops on developing electronic career portfolios. This project supports underrepresented minority students in UAMS’ biomedical graduate programs.
  • Her service as a mentor on the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), which is made up of mentors and trainees nationally and provides trainees with evidenced-based mentorship.

“Dr. Boateng’s diversity efforts expand beyond individual characteristics to cross-professional inclusion,” her nomination letter states. In collaboration with UAMS’ Mary Aitken, M.D., and with the support of TRI, Boateng, an associate professor in the College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, has been working for more than two years to enhance mentorship at UAMS. She kicked off these efforts by facilitating a mentor training session led by visiting faculty from the University of Wisconsin and followed up by receiving facilitator training in 2016. In 2017, Boateng spearheaded the first independent training at UAMS, a one-day overview workshop for mentor development. Her efforts to include a diverse group of faculty in the effort and the positive impact it had on attendees was evident in their feedback.

Rojo serves on TRI’s Recruitment Unit Team, where she has led efforts to recruit research participants from the Hispanic community.

An assistant professor in the UAMS College of Nursing, Rojo “brings a focus and commitment in her many roles at UAMS with one common denominator: the priority to engage and integrate special populations into clinical research and educational outreach programs,” her nomination letter states.

Wednesday’s awards ceremony kicked off a series of UAMS events related to diversity and inclusion during September.

TRI Issues Call for Pilot Award Applications!

The UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) is pleased to invite applications for TRI Pilot Awards. This request for applications (RFA) is seeking proposals with a focus on implementation science.

Implementation science is the study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice, and, hence, to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services.

For more information on implementation science, please refer to An introduction to implementation science for the non-specialist and NIH National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences’ website.

High priority areas for funding will be the development and pilot testing of implementation strategies in preparation for future large-scale research studies (e.g., R01), and implementation research in the context of rural and underserved populations and/or clinical locations.

These funding priorities serve the mission of TRI to develop new and novel approaches that will measurably address the complex health challenges of rural and underrepresented populations.

Budgets up to $50,000 will be considered.

Cover pages and letters of intent (LOI) are due by noon, Sept. 11, 2017, to Please contact Nia Indelicato at 501-526-0363 if you have any questions.


View the Request for Applications.

Download the Letter of Intent Cover Page.

Other key dates:
Full Applications InvitedSept. 18, 2017
Full Application Due Date/IRB Submission DateOct. 23, 2017
Announce AwardeesNov. 13, 2017on
Earliest Project Start DateNov. 15, 2017
Latest Start Date/IRB Approval DateJan. 1, 2018
Project End DateNov. 30, 2018

July/August TRIbune

Our latest TRIbune newsletter highlights data from the database of nearly 3,500 registrants that is sure to be of interest to UAMS researchers. This issue’s TRIbutary reflects on our Research Mentoring Workshop held this summer, and our TRI & Me features Jonathan Young, a leader in our Clinical Trials Innovation Unit (CTIU). You’ll also want to check out all the new publications by UAMS researchers who cited TRI for its support.

 Download PDF

TRI Open House Aug. 29!

The UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) will host an open house to showcase its many clinical and translational research services, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 4-5:30 p.m., in the Cancer Institute, 10th floor rotunda. We’ll have wine (starting at 4:30) and hors d’oeuvres as well as prize drawings. Best of all, you’ll get to meet the dedicated TRI employees who are providing these important services.

We’ll help you navigate the research process and arm you with the information needed to execute your study as efficiently as possible. Come see what you’ve been missing!

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TRI Issues Call for KL2 Scholar Applications

The UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) is pleased to invite full applications for 2017 TRI KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Scholar Award Program. The KL2 Scholar Awards provide support for early career UAMS faculty with a professional degree (M.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., D.N.P., Dr.PH., D.O., etc.) who are committed to an academic career in multidisciplinary clinical or translational research.

The KL2 Scholar Award is a two-year program of intensive training in clinical and/or translational science research, combining an innovative educational program with mentored clinical/translational science research.

KL2 Scholars will receive:

  • Salary support/stipend of up to $95,000 (including fringe) per year.
  • Up to $25,000 of support per year for research, tuition, travel and educational materials.

Important Dates

  • August 23, 2017: KL2 Informational Session (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Stephens Spine Institute Building 11th floor conference room, or join session via Blackboard Collaborate)
  • August 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.: Letter of Intent (LOI) due
  • September 15, 2017 at 12 p.m. (noon): Full applications due
  • September 29, 2017:  Awardees announced
  • October 1, 2017:  Scholar start date and earliest possible project start date


Read the Request for Applications

Read our Frequently Asked Questions



The Translational Research Institute’s Camille Hart, program manager for community engagement, attended NCATS Day with an eye for information that would be of interest to community partners — both organizations and individuals — back in Arkansas. Daniel Soñé Photography.

To gain more insight about patients’ needs and discuss opportunities to integrate the patient perspective into translational research, NCATS convened the first NCATS Day on June 30, 2017, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. More than 150 people attended, including patients, their families and other caregivers, and representatives of more than 75 patient and disease advocacy groups.

With a theme of “Partnering with Patients for Smarter Science,” the all-day event enabled participants to learn more about NCATS and research supported by the Center. It also served as a forum for NCATS staff and researchers to hear directly from patients about their needs, establish new communication channels or strengthen existing ones and identify ways to enhance patient participation in research.

Read the full story…

Strong Mentorship Helps Researcher Discover Success

UAMS’ Craig Forrest, Ph.D., (left), credits his former mentors, Usha Ponnappan, Ph.D., and Xuming Zhang, Ph.D., D.V.M., with his early success.

Craig Forrest, Ph.D., recalled the day four years ago when one of his Department of Microbiology and Immunology mentors, Xuming  Zhang, Ph.D., D.V.M., came looking for him.

Forrest had sought input from Zhang and mentor Usha Ponnappan, Ph.D., on his first NIH National Cancer Institute grant application. Zhang found him in a fifth-floor lab of the Biomedical One building. There, standing at the freezer, the two had one of the more consequential mentoring sessions of Forrest’s early career.

“This is all wrong,” Zhang said, presenting his marked-up copy with an outline and arrows showing Forrest how to more effectively make his case.

“He knew exactly what he was doing,” Forrest said.

Ponnappan, who joined UAMS 25 years ago, and Zhang, who joined UAMS 20 years ago, said their approaches to mentoring are grounded in their own experiences as junior faculty.

Zhang, as an early career researcher, recalled his own need for the kind of detailed review he gave Forrest’s application. He loved getting thorough critiques from his mentors and colleagues because it gave him a better chance of being funded. Today, Zhang can bring to bear his expertise in the field and experience as an NIH reviewer to help mentees.

“Based on my own experience, for basic science faculty you have to have an NIH grant to be successful,” he said. “Without a grant, you can’t get promoted.”

Leading up to his grant submission, Forrest would pop into the offices of Ponnappan and Zhang to ask questions. “I bothered them constantly.”

Their advice was incorporated into his application, which achieved a rare perfect grant score and a five-year NCI grant totaling $1.83 million. The grant is helping further work on his discovery of a protein with a significant role in controlling herpes infections. Forrest’s early data gathering and a surprise discovery that were cornerstones of his grant application were supported by a UAMS Translational Research Institute pilot award and a COBRE grant.

The NIH application reviewers said they anticipate that his research “may reveal novel therapeutic targets,” and concluded, “In sum, there is considerable enthusiasm for the talented new investigator (Forrest) and the proposed work ….”

Forrest and his team have published three papers so far, and have three more in the works. He’s also filed a patent application through BioVentures.

Mentoring traditionally has been an informal practice, although some departments, such as Microbiology and Immunology in the UAMS College of Medicine, have a prescribed process. Department Chair Richard P. Morrison, Ph.D., started an official mentoring program eight years ago.  He describes it as “simple, straightforward and non-overbearing.”

Each junior faculty member has a three-person mentoring committee. The committees meet with the mentees once a semester to discuss progress and goals, followed by a written report.

Over the program’s eight years, the department’s five most senior junior faculty have produced five R01’s, three R21’s and three K22 awards – and all have received promotion and tenure, Morrison said.

Ponnappan and Zhang also helped Forrest become an associate professor, marking the official end of a six-year mentor-mentee relationship.

“Once they got me through the tenure process, it was kind of over,” Forrest said. “I’m on my own now, although I haven’t completely been away from them.”

Ponnappan said Forrest was a like a sponge and a pleasure to mentor. “He lives science,” she said. “His success is his own success. We just pointed him in right direction, that’s all.”

Forrest is now breaking new ground as a mentor himself, sitting on mentoring committees where he can learn from senior faculty.

He already has a key piece of advice for junior faculty, telling them, “Make sure you use your mentors.”

Seats Still Available for TRI-Sponsored Mentoring Workshop

UAMS researchers are invited to a free, day-long workshop June 22 to help improve their mentoring skills.
The workshop will be 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Reynolds Institute on Aging, Room 1190.
Lunch will be provided.
Sponsored by TRI, the mentor training workshop is modeled after the nationally recognized University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) curriculum. Facilitators Mary Aitken, M.D., M.P.H., and Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., have received CIMER certification to offer mentor training at UAMS.
Contact: Donna Mattingly,, or (501) 614-2287.

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