is making UAMS clinical data, as well as data from other institutions, more accessible to researchers.
Read The TRIbune.
is making UAMS clinical data, as well as data from other institutions, more accessible to researchers.
Read The TRIbune.
Erika Petersen, M.D., saw the outlines of her career when she was just 16. As a participant in a summer research program at Duke Cancer Institute, she gained insights beyond the lab work.
“As part of the program, I got to stand beside an anesthesiologist and watch open-heart surgery,” she said. “That was the moment I knew I was interested in medicine.”
Petersen, a UAMS neurosurgeon and associate professor in the College of Medicine, also noted at the time how her Duke mentor, a breast oncologist, was able to run a research lab in addition to seeing patients.
“That helped me see a model of how doctors could do research in different ways,” she said.
Petersen came to UAMS in 2010 and sees patients at the Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute. Her expertise in neuromodulation is unique to the region, futuristic even, with her ability to use deep brain stimulation and implant other devices to treat movement disorders and chronic pain.
“I have a friend who jokes that I’m creating cyborgs,” she said.
She’s not, of course. But by working at the cutting edge of medicine, she can help patients who don’t respond to conventional therapies.
“When you meet people who have seen dozens of practitioners, and they come to you saying, ‘I’ve heard great things about you, can you please help me?’ you want to offer every single possibility you can,” Petersen said.
Unfortunately, some of her work isn’t covered by insurance because the procedures are still considered experimental. It’s distressing for her and her patients.
“The compassion to treat versus the business decision of coverage is frustrating, so I’m motivated to create the evidence that will remove the disconnect between the two,” she said.
Although she has no protected time for research, Petersen has been a prolific principal investigator. She is overseeing two active industry-sponsored clinical trials and three more are in the works. The active studies are testing implanted nerve stimulation devices for chronic amputation pain and diabetic neuropathy. The pending studies will test devices designed for treating chronic back pain (failed back surgery syndrome), and headache pain, including migraines. Another study involves the use of stem cells for stroke patients.
Her leadership of multiple clinical trials is a lot of extra work, but it’s doable for a couple of reasons: One, she is able to blend the trials into her clinical practice, and two, she can get the clinical trial services she needs from the Translational Research Institute (TRI).
“A single clinician with a single nurse doesn’t have the institutional context like TRI for navigating the regulatory issues, the budget negotiations, and legal negotiations,” Petersen said. “Having the team of coordinators at TRI who are backing each other up also ensures that a research participant always has support, and that’s been essential.”
TRI has also helped her promote her research to the general public. “A clinical trial is only as successful as what you can do through recruitment,” she said. “Working with TRI, we’ve done a lot in terms of media and outreach and in identifying subjects in the UAMS Epic (electronic medical record) system. So having those resources to help with recruiting is phenomenal.”
Despite her busy schedule, Petersen has appeared on four local broadcast stations to advocate for the amputation pain study and diabetic neuropathy study. Her public education efforts, which also include an active Twitter account, have contributed to her growing national reputation in the field. UAMS is among a select group of institutions chosen to conduct neuromodulation research. In fact, she said UAMS’ management of the amputation pain study will be a model used by Neuros, the sponsor, for the remaining research centers preparing for participant enrollment.
“When you have a good system and support to successfully manage the research, it leads to ongoing partnerships across multiple studies,” Petersen said.
The Translational Research Institute (TRI) was named winner of the Unity Award during the UAMS 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, sponsored by the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs.
The Unity Award celebrated the legacy of service advocated by King with a challenge to UAMS groups to partner with others on community service projects. TRI and its partner on the project, the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, were recognized for a donation drive to benefit the Promise Garden, a community garden at 12th and Peyton streets in Little Rock. Their efforts were bolstered by participation from the women’s sorority Order of the Eastern Stars, Tariq Chapter #6.
Billy Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., vice chancellor for diversity, said the center hosts the event not just to celebrate King, but to remind the campus and the broader community that his work is still ongoing.
“In these types of celebrations, we think about all of the things that Dr. King stood for and all the things that he did. But I think we should take this opportunity to build upon his legacy and leave this celebration with the idea that we can do things, not only individually but as an institution, to accomplish that,” he said.
The event included remarks from UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, as well as a keynote address from Tracey Steele, the first executive director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and a former state senator who is now the director of the Health Services Permit Agency.
Steele praised UAMS as a leader in diversity, and challenged staff and students to continue to lead the way.
“Here at UAMS you are a shining example,” he said. “I’m so proud of this institution. I brag on it everywhere I go. I tell people from all over the world of the health care they can receive at this institution. But even when you’re the best, it’s time to step it up. Because you can be even a greater example of what is right.”
In his remarks, Chancellor Patterson said he’s influenced by King in three ways: his urging to do the right thing and avoid doing wrong, the importance of doing the right thing even when facing adversity, and remembering that there is always a vision of a better world, even if it does not exist yet today.
“We cannot give up the struggle until we are there. While we may not get there in our lifetimes, we cannot give up,” Patterson said. “That’s the work that I invest myself in, and I’m reminded of that every year when we celebrate Dr. King.”
Patterson also shared his own favorite quote from King – “of all forms of discrimination and inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” – and used it as a call to action for the campus.
The Unity Award was given as part of the “Intentionally Inclusive Challenge” organized by the Chancellor’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This challenge required departments or divisions within UAMS to work together across campus both socially and in service. Five teams were recognized:
UAMS Translational Research Institute and Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System – Health and Wellness Committee: Collected and distributed items needed by the Promise Garden at 12th and Peyton streets in Little Rock. Collection included seeds and tools, as well as cash for chicken feed with the hope of offering sustainable assistance.
College of Medicine – Office of Admissions and UAMS student chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens: Leading up to Christmas, collected and distributed toys in a drive benefitting community service organization Integrity, Inc. and Bethany Christian Services.
Department of Lab Animal Medicine and Division of Endocrinology – Research: Organized a collection drive of bedding, linens, toiletries and other products and donated them to the Compassion Center, a shelter for homeless, transient, and displaced people in the Little Rock metro area.
Campus Operations – Operational Support Services and Institutional Compliance: Organized a collection for a variety of items, from toiletries to blankets to tents, and provided them to the Van, a nonprofit that reaches out and brings such essentials to homeless camps directly.
Office of Sponsored Programs Administrative Network, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Science Communication Group and Grants Management Program Alumni: Organized two fundraisers to supply Christmas gifts to students in three Head Start classrooms and arranged a collection to buy gifts for young people in the care of Immerse Arkansas, which serves youth in crisis not served by the state foster care system.
In an effort to encourage the message of community service so prominent in King’s work, the celebration included a volunteer fair, in which a number of local organizations in need of volunteers were invited to provide staff and students an outlet for community service. They included:
Arkansas Youth Challenge Program
Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas
Heart of Arkansas United Way
Hospice Home Care
Humane Society of Pulaski County
Jericho Way Day Resource Center
Literacy Action of Central Arkansas
Little Rock Zoo
UAMS Volunteer Services
Six UAMS faculty have received pilot awards in opioid addiction and pain research. The one-year awards of up to $25,000 each were made possible through the UAMS Office of Vice Chancellor for Research and are being administered by the UAMS Translational Research Institute. The pilot projects will provide important preliminary data for these research teams to submit future federal grants to expand opioid addiction and pain research at UAMS.
Below are the awardees, their research titles and their video summaries of their projects:
Corey Hayes, Pharm.D., MPH, Linking the Arkansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Data with the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database; https://youtu.be/ScgtR2OLZWE
The awardees were selected from a diverse and competitive pool of applicants. Seventeen Letters of Intent were submitted, and 12 were invited to submit a full application. Ten full applications were reviewed and scored by a study section of 29 faculty and community reviewers.
The project start date is Jan. 1, 2019.
Nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand when Curtis Lowery, M.D., asked if they used their smartphones for banking or making purchases. In welcoming UAMS’ first Digital Health
Conference on Nov. 30, he told the 80-plus attendees the health care industry has been frustratingly slower to follow the banking industry’s embrace of digital technology.
“It is unacceptable for me in women’s health to have maternal deaths that are preventable,” said Lowery, a nationally recognized pioneer and innovator in the use of telemedicine who chairs the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the UAMS College of Medicine. “We can do something about it.”
The conference gave researchers and health care providers an overview of the fast evolving digital health technologies and a chance to learn more specifically about the current lag in policies and regulations, and the endless opportunities this technology brings to providers and patients.
Digital health includes interactive video (telemedicine, telehealth), wearable devices, implantable devices, smartphone applications, robotics, augmented intelligence and machine learning.
UAMS digital health researcher Carolyn Greene, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, said the
day-long conference was a valuable use of her time.
“I loved that there was an opportunity to think about research and the promise of digital health in the future, but also we got a chance to hear about all the incredible digital health work that’s happening right now across the UAMS campuses and across the state,” she said. “As a clinician, you want to know about the shiny objects – you know, the exciting stuff – but sometimes your ability to really use it depends on being able to get reimbursed for it. I thought the conference did a good job of discussing some of those practical aspects also.”
The conference’s keynote speakers were Penny Mohr from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), where she is senior advisor for Emerging Technology and Delivery System Innovation Research Initiatives; and Mei Wa Kwong, J.D., executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, the federally designated National Telehealth Policy Resource Center.
“I really enjoyed hearing Mei Wa Kwong talk,” said Sarah Rhoads, Ph.D., D.N.P., a former UAMS faculty researcher and now a professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Memphis. “She did a great job simplifying and explaining the payment for mobile health and telehealth and telemedicine and the issues surrounding remote patient monitoring. It’s very important to know what the payers are willing to pay for when it comes to implementing technology.”
Rhoads also said she enjoyed Mohr’s perspective on what PCORI can and cannot fund. “It just provided a lot of clarity for me,” she said.
Health systems are behind other industries in adopting digital technologies in part because government policies haven’t kept pace with the advances, said Anita Walden, M.S., a conference organizer and instructor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the UAMS College of Medicine.
“Patients are looking forward to using digital technologies, and the industry companies and the payers are moving forward with trying to implement it,” Walden said. “They need the providers to catch up.”
Despite the challenges, Lowery said that UAMS, with the strong support of Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, will lead the state in adoption of digital health technologies.
“I think over the next few years we’re going to build the most modern, connected health care delivery system in the nation because we’re the only teaching hospital in the state and we have a lot of really rural and poor hospital systems everywhere,” he said. “I think all of us are committed to changing that.”
In the next five years, he predicted, the same percentage who are banking on their phones today will be receiving health care through their mobile devices.
John Paul Nolan, a research participant and Community Advisory Board member for a UAMS research study, urged Lowery and other UAMS leaders to take the lead in digital health care. Holmes, a veteran, said an expansion of telemedicine is desperately needed in rural communities. In small towns, residents notice whose vehicle is parked at a mental health clinic. Because of the stigma, people who need help often don’t get it. If mental health services could be provided via interactive video to a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, that scenario could be avoided.
“UAMS is poised to provide care,” Nolan said. With smartphones and other mobile devices, “In that moment of crisis, they don’t have to get out of the house. Those are the things we need to be looking at. UAMS brings a very powerful chip to the table because of its infrastructure, its national and international partners and the way that it is set up to study and to disseminate the information to make the public more aware of what’s going on.”
The Digital Health Conference was sponsored by the UAMS Office of Interprofessional Education, with support from the UAMS Center for Distance Health, the Department of Biomedical Informatics, South Central Telehealth Resource Center, and the UAMS Translational Research Institute.
The November–December TRIbune newsletter features the unique community engaged research of Keneshia Bryant-Moore, Ph.D., APRN, FNP-BC. Bryant-Moore, a TRI KL2 Scholar graduate, has secured five Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) awards. The funding supports her research in partnership with faith leaders to address depression and other health issues in underserved populations.
We also highlight the work of Andrew Burrow, M.D., a rare diseases researcher who has found TRI to be vital in helping him achieve his goals. Our TRI New Study of the Month features an industry-sponsored clinical trial, led by Seth Berney, M.D., of a possible drug for systemic lupus erythematosus.
Better Community Development Inc. (BCD), which has a 25-year history of collaboration with UAMS, received the Chancellor’s Community Research Partner Award at the UAMS Translational Research Institute Community Partner Celebration.
UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, and TRI Director Laura James, M.D., presented the award to the Rev. William H. Robinson, Deborah Bell and Arlene Williams during a Nov. 16 celebration dinner at The Centre at University Park in Little Rock.
Other UAMS community partners receiving awards were:
Community Based Organization of the Year: Holman Heritage Community Center
The Holman Heritage Community Center, formerly the Holman School serving African American students in Stuttgart until 1970, was restored by Calvin Criner and the school’s alumni to serve as an educational, civic, recreational, and business development resource for their community.
For the past eight years, Criner, executive director of the Holman Heritage Community Center, has served as a community guide for UAMS College of Public Health doctoral students. Criner has demonstrated a commitment to bridging the racial divide in his community. By transparently sharing his extensive knowledge of the historical, geographic, and political landscape of his hometown, the students have learned how complex and deeply rooted the causes of health disparities can be.
Community Advisory Board of the Year Award: 12TH Street Health & Wellness Center Community Advisory Board
Members of the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center Community Advisory Board (CAB) represent various groups and interests of the midtown Little Rock area. The CAB has provided support for the clinic through advertisement of the clinic’s services, recommendation of services needed by the community, development of the first patient satisfaction survey, and volunteering at the night clinics. The CAB’s efforts have helped to make sure the clinic is no longer just another building in the community, but a valuable community asset.
Community Partnership Student Award: John Musser
John Musser, a second-year medical student in the UAMS College of Medicine. His vision for Rural Ophthalmology Optometry Treatment and Screening (ROOTS), predates his first year of medical school. This nonprofit partners with eye doctors to help children receive vision treatment. His group has hosted several screenings beginning with an outreach in the Little Rock School District. They provided glasses at no cost to the students and set up follow-up care. Additionally, ROOTS hosted a summer camp to educate children about eye health. Musser has a passion for helping others and is making a difference in children’s lives.
Institutional Health Partner Award: Benton County
Benton County has provided invaluable opportunities to collaboratively develop trainings, interventions, and evidence-based practices for vulnerable populations. Without their support UAMS would not have been able to pilot interventions (such as HIV education and training) that are now statewide and have resulted in over $1 million in revenue for prevention and research.
UAMS has worked with the Benton County Drug Court for over 13 years to enhance the treatment for substance abuse, co-occurring substance abuse and mental health, and wraparound health services offered through the drug court.
Without Benton County’s strong collaboration, much of UAMS’ research and evaluation of the health needs of Arkansas’ most vulnerable residents would not have been possible.
The Chancellor’s Community Research Partner Award: Better Community Development Inc. (BCD)
This award recognizes an outstanding community-based organization that has participated in health research. Previous winners are not eligible for nomination until three years has passed since they received this award.
BCD has been serving high-risk, low-income Arkansans for 37 years. UAMS colleagues from the College of Public Health and College of Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, have collaborated with BCD for 25 of those years. UAMS is now partnering with BCD in a three-year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)-funded project to decrease HIV and viral hepatitis (VH) transmission and improve health outcomes among 270 high-risk, low-income, adult African-American women in treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) in Pulaski County. The project is inserting HIV/VH education and testing and other evidence-based services as part of an existing women’s substance use disorder treatment program to increase client engagement and retention, knowledge and self-care behaviors to prevent HIV/VH and improve overall health and well-being.
Researcher Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D., threw down the gauntlet for the 10 graduates of the UAMS Community Scientist Academy.
“You can’t stop here,” Haynes, assistant professor in the UAMS College of Public Health, said in her keynote speech. She urged the group at their Oct. 30 graduation to share their experience in the academy on social media to help spread the word. She advised them not to be shy about letting UAMS researchers know about their interests and the needs of their communities.
“Don’t wait to find out what research projects are going on at UAMS,” Haynes said. “You come and ask us, ‘What’s going on? How can I get involved?’ Whatever it is you’re passionate about, ask us. You are health champions; you’re on the front lines.”
Haynes got enthusiastic applause, and academy graduate Ferrin Lunestad of Hot Springs said afterward that the call to action resonated with her.
“I’d love to be a science advocate in my own hometown,” Lunestad said. “I have a 6-year-old, and I love the appeal that she made to look at our communities and see what’s needed in a science direction — recommend research that needs to be done.”
The UAMS Translational Research Institute established the Community Scientist Academy in 2016 on the recommendation of its Community Advisory Board. Its purpose is to increase community understanding about the research process and offer research decision-making opportunities to communities, patients and other stakeholders. These opportunities include reviewing grants; advising on research projects; serving on community review boards, community advisory boards, and patient and family advisory councils; and assisting with ARresearch, the Translational Research Institute’s research participant registry.
Through five academies it has graduated 54 Arkansans from diverse communities and a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.
Below is a sampling of comments other graduates made at the Oct. 30 graduation ceremony:
“I wanted to learn more about research because I previously had an injury and my mother died from breast cancer.” — Sherita Williams, Little Rock
“I was interested because I have been a research participant and I was interested in looking at the other side of it. I learned that a whole lot of work goes into research; it takes years.” — Christine Murrell, Little Rock
“I learned a lot from this class. There’s probably six or seven (volunteer participant opportunities) that I checked off the list that I would be interested in.” – J.A. Young, Little Rock
People with frequent and recurring pain from an amputated leg are being enrolled in a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) research study of a device designed to reduce
Led at UAMS by Erika Petersen, M.D., a neurosurgeon and researcher, the study is part of a clinical trial being conducted at sites across the United States.
The study is testing the safety and effectiveness of an implanted device, Altius® High Frequency Nerve Block, that is designed to block nerve signals and reduce pain in an amputated limb. The investigational device sends a high-frequency electrical signal to targeted nerves to block the nerve transmission. It was developed by Neuros Medical Inc., in Cleveland, Ohio.
Called the QUEST study (High-FreQUEncy Nerve Block for PoST-Amputation Pain, ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02221934), it is a randomized, controlled clinical study of up to 180 patients, at up to 25 clinical study sites in the U.S.
Study participants will undergo surgery to be implanted with the device. It includes a cuff electrode, which is coiled around the nerve, and a pulse generator, which is similar to a pacemaker. Together they deliver an electrical signal to the nerve when activated. Once implanted, study participants can activate a 30-minute treatment session on demand, as needed for their pain. Participants will be followed for a year and seen in clinic once a month. They will also receive modest compensation for their time and travel.
Eligibility requirements for participating in the study include:
Those interested in learning if they are eligible may contact the UAMS Translational Research Institute study coordinator, 501-398-8622.
An earlier pilot study involving 10 participants demonstrated that the implant device may be safe and effective for post-amputation pain. (Soin A., Syed Shah N., Fang Z-P. 2015. High-Frequency Electrical Nerve Block for Postamputation Pain: A Pilot Study. Neuromodulation 2015; 18:197-206). DCO# 18-0030 / LB-0042 Rev. A / Effective May 23, 2018 Page 4 of 11.
The project described is supported by the Translational Research Institute (TRI), grant 1U54TR001629-01A1 through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
If you missed the ‘Revised Common Rule Overview,’ you can now view a recording of the Oct. 30 presentation by UAMS IRB Director Jennifer Holland, J.D., and IRB Program Manager Edith Paal, M.S.Journ., MPH. View it on UAMS Blackboard Collaborate.