Current Scholars Bios

Cohort 8 (2016)

Lisa Brents, Ph.D.
Rosemary Nabaweesi, Dr.P.H.
Carolina Schinke, M.D.
Sufna John, Ph.D.

Cohort 8 (2016)

Lisa Brents, Ph.D.

Project Title: The Metabolic and Pharmacodynamic Profile of Deuterated Buprenorphine

Lisa Brents, Ph.D.Lisa Brents, Ph.D., is an instructor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine. The KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award will support her project that attempts to improve buprenorphine treatment of opioid use disorder during pregnancy by reducing fetal exposure to an active metabolite of buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine.

Opioid abuse during pregnancy often leads to withdrawal in the neonate, which can be painful and difficult to treat and requires prolonged, costly care in neonatal intensive care units. Buprenorphine is a highly effective treatment for pregnant women who have opioid use disorder and considerably improves maternal and neonatal outcomes; however, because buprenorphine is an opioid, it too can cause neonatal withdrawal symptoms. Several lines of evidence suggest that fetuses of buprenorphine-treated women are exposed to significant amounts of norbuprenorphine, an active metabolite of buprenorphine that is a powerful opioid and can contribute to fetal opioid dependence that leads to neonatal opioid withdrawal. This project will use in vitro and rodent models to test a modified version of buprenorphine that is expected will resist metabolism to norbuprenorphine but will otherwise retain the pharmacological properties of buprenorphine. It is anticipated that this modification will successfully treat maternal opioid use disorder while reducing fetal exposure to norbuprenorphine and neonatal withdrawal severity.

Brents joined the UAMS College of Medicine faculty in 2016 and was an inaugural recipient of the UAMS Fellow-to-Faculty Award. She was a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) T32 postdoctoral fellow in the Brain Imaging Research Center with the UAMS Department of Psychiatry. Brents completed her doctoral dissertation in 2013 in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine.


Anna Radominska-Pandya, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UAMS College of Medicine

Jeffery Moran, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UAMS College of Medicine; Branch Chief, Division of Environmental Chemistry

Michael Owens, Ph.D., Professor, Wilbur Mills Endowed Chair in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UAMS College of Medicine

Rosemary Nabaweesi, Dr.P.H.

Project Title: Developing Safe Sleep Interventions for Rural Underserved Communities

Rosemary Nabaweesi, Dr.P.H.Rosemary Nabaweesi, Dr.P.H., is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, in the UAMS College of Medicine.

Nabaweesi‘s research work is focused on injury-related infant mortality prevention and reduction of health disparities for rural and underserved populations. Specifically, her research seeks to help rural minority communities achieve better health status for their children by using applied research tools to develop creative solutions, which reduce infant mortality due to SIDS and unsafe sleep practices. Her KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award project uses an implementation approach to: 1) explore barriers and facilitators to safe sleep adherence and 2) adapt a safety baby shower as a safe sleep intervention and to identify implementation support strategies using an evidence-based quality improvement process.

Barriers associated with knowledge, attitudes, and behavior hinder parental adherence to safe sleep recommendations especially among minority populations in rural underserved communities. Nabaweesi’s KL2 project is the first study engaging community advisors in a needs assessment to inform a safe sleep intervention adaptation.

Successful completion of her work will lead to an enhanced safe sleep intervention (SSI); with appropriate implementation strategies, which once tested for feasibility and clinical effectiveness will promote increased safe sleep messaging uptake, fidelity, and sustainability in rural underserved communities. An adapted and pilot tested SSI may potentially reduce infant mortality by keeping infants safe during sleep and contribute to future reduction of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), which includes Sudden Infant Death (SIDS), and health disparities.

Prior to joining the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute and UAMS faculty in 2014 as a health services researcher at the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE), Nabaweesi was at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Children’s Center. She also has an adjunct appointment with the Department of Health Policy and Management in the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.


Mary Aitken, M.D., M.P.H., Professor, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Co-Director, TRI KL2 Scholar Program

Geoffrey Curran, Ph.D., Director, Center for Implementation Research; Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, and Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine

Keneshia Bryant-Moore, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P.-B.C., Associate Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, College of Public Health

Carolina Schinke, M.D.

Project Title: The Role of Pl-IF 19 as a Promoter of Tumorigenicity and Therapeutic Target in Multiple Myeloma

Carolina Schinke, M.D.Carolina Schinke, M.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the UAMS College of Medicine and is based at the Myeloma Institute. The KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award will support her research in determining yet undiscovered pathologic pathways in multiple myeloma and identifying new therapeutic targets.

Multiple Myeloma is a hematopoietic malignancy of differentiated plasma cells that reside within the bone marrow. It is the second most common hematologic cancer that remains incurable in the majority of patients with a low rate of survival and a need for development of new treatments. The disease course is typically characterized by recurrent relapses and increasing drug resistance that will eventually lead to aggressive disease proliferation and patient death. Preliminary work has identified PHD finger protein 19 (PHF19) as a promoter of tumor growth, drug resistance and a marker of poor prognosis in multiple myeloma. PHF19 is the main regulator of a pathway known to cause transcriptional repression and genetic silencing through histone methylation at the DNA level. It is thought that this genetic repression leads to under-expression of tumor suppressor genes resulting in a more aggressive disease phenotype.

The current project will provide functional and mechanistic data on PHF19 as a disease promoter in multiple myeloma. It is anticipated that uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which PHF19 regulates multiple myeloma will determine yet unknown pathologic pathways that will lead to the discovery of new therapeutic targets and treatment interventions.

Schinke joined the Myeloma Institute in 2014 after completing her medical residency and hematology-oncology fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY. She received her medical degree from the University of Halle-Saale, Germany and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in the subspecialties of Hematology and Medical Oncology.


Brian Walker, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Director of Research, UAMS Myeloma Institute

Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Director of Developmental and Translational Medicine, UAMS Myeloma Institute

Amit Verma, M.D., Professor, Department of Medicine and Department of Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y.

Sufna John, Ph.D.

Project Title: Improving Outcomes for Young Children with Behavior Disorders: A Coordinated Care Model

Sufna John, Ph.D.Sufna John, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry/Division of Psychology in the UAMS College of Medicine. The KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award will support her project examining the impact of early childhood education factors on the effectiveness of therapy services for preschool-aged children who present with disruptive behaviors. This project will also pilot a coordinated care model to enhance outcomes for young children and families who receive services across settings.

Behavior disorders are the second most common mental health condition in youth, with up to 20% of children nationally meeting full criteria for diagnosis. Behavioral difficulties during early childhood predict high-risk behaviors during adolescence (e.g., substance abuse) and severely problematic outcomes in adulthood (e.g., criminality). These behaviors tend to persist without effective treatment, thus representing a significant public health concern. Fortunately, several evidence-based treatments (EBTs) exist for young children who exhibit these difficulties (e.g., Parent-Child Interaction Therapy – PCIT). Given that disruptive behaviors manifest across settings, children are often targeted for both clinic-based and childcare-based services. However, no research to date has examined the compatibility between or impact of receiving both services across settings. Anecdotally, parents and teachers frequently report utilizing conflicting behavior-management strategies, thus giving children inconsistent opportunities to improve their behavior. The goal of my study is to improve the trajectory of young children with disruptive behaviors through enhancing the compatibility and coordination of the services they receive.

John joined the College of Medicine faculty in 2015 after completing both her pre-doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at UAMS. She received her doctorate in Child Clinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. She is a nationally-certified clinician in several EBTs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers (including PCIT).


Teresa Kramer, Ph.D., Professor and Chief Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, UAMS College of Medicine

Nicola Conners Edge, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UAMS College of Medicine

Nicholas Long, M.D., Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UAMS College of Medicine

Michael Anthony Cucciare, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UAMS College of Medicine