UAMS receives $10.6 million federal grant to expand national proteomics resource

Health News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) announced Wednesday they received a $10.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In a news release sent Wednesday, UAMS officials say the grant will allow the university to expand its proteomics resource.

Officials say the grant will establish the IDeA National Resource for Quantitative Proteomics as the first NIH National Resource in Arkansas, which will serve biomedical researchers across the nation.

Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins that can lead to the development of new therapies and screening approaches for many diseases, including cancer.

According to the news release, the five-year grant was awarded to Alan Tackett, Ph.D., associate director for basic science at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Tackett is also an administrative director of the new national resource.

Officials say other key contributors at UAMS are Rick Edmondson, Ph.D.; Samuel Mackintosh, Ph.D.; and Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.; as well as Michael Kinter, Ph.D., at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation who serves as a co-administrative director.

According to the news release, the national resource was initially created through the Arkansas INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence), an NIH program that promotes biomedical research for undergraduate students and faculty. Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Physiology and Biophysics, is also the principal investigator and director of Arkansas INBRE.

“With this new funding, we will transition our proteomics resource to an NIH National Resource and expand our ability to provide highly advanced research support to scientists in underfunded areas throughout the United States,” said Tackett, who holds the Scharlau Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at UAMS.

Some regions of the United States, designated as the IDeA Network, have received low levels of research funding from NIH. Scientists in these regions face challenges for accessing state-of-the-art proteomics resources, according to UAMS officials.

Officials say the IDeA National Resource for Quantitative Proteomics at UAMS was established to address the gaps in services.

“Due to a lack of federal funding, it is often difficult for scientists in the IDeA Network to access the advanced instruments and trained personnel needed to analyze and interpret their research data. With this new funding, we will now be able to serve a diverse group of IDeA investigators for their research, which ranges from studies on model organisms to diseases such as cancer,” said Tackett, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UAMS College of Medicine.

According to officials, the expanded national resource will support researchers by giving highly advanced data analysis, outreach opportunities and education to scientists across the nation.

“Our goal is to increase the ability for scientists in the 23 IDeA states and Puerto Rico, as well as other NIH-supported investigators across the nation, to perform innovative research by providing unmatched access to advanced quantitative proteomics platforms and staff skilled in interpreting and analyzing complex biological data,” Tackett said.

Educational opportunities offered by the national resource include workshops designed to help faculty and student researchers across the country better utilize proteomics in their research.

According to the news release, the federal grant will bolster the Cancer Institute’s ongoing efforts to receive National Cancer Institute Designation. Officials say to achieve the designation, cancer centers undergo a highly-competitive assessment process that shows an outstanding depth and breadth of research in basic laboratory, patient/clinical and population-based. The designation brings with many benefits, according to officials, including expanded access to federal funding for researchers and improved access to clinical trials for patients.

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