The Arkansas Children’s Research Institute has received an $11.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop the Center for Translational Pediatric Research to devise new treatment and therapy for children.

Dr. Alan Tackett, an expert in systems biology, will direct the center in using technology and systems biology to study how pediatric diseases develop.


Explained a news release:

Systems biology is a holistic approach that enables researchers to simultaneously study all of the events occurring in a cell that are leading to a particular outcome or disease.

“Historically, science has answered one question at a time,” Dr. Tackett said. “By employing a more comprehensive systems biology approach, we can ask many questions at the same time, which allows us to more quickly understand the fundamental reasons that a disease is occurring and how to more specifically develop treatments.

“To my knowledge, there is not a pediatric research center in the U.S. and probably in the world that focuses on utilizing these specific approaches. In that way, we are uniquely positioned to develop ways to improve children’s health in Arkansas and our nation.”

The NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program will fund the CTPR as one of NIH’s prestigious Centers of Biological Research Excellence (COBRE). These grants create world-class research environments for young faculty who are identified as the next generation of excellence in research. The awards focus on building research in states that have historically had low levels of NIH funding. This first phase of COBRE funding will start in July of 2017 and last five years. A total of 15 years of funding is available through this federal program, and Tackett’s award is the second COBRE grant ACRI has received from NIH in the last year.

The research institute is on the campus of Arkansas Children’s Hospital and fosters research by UAMS faculty.


Not to be a spoilsport, but Donald Trump’s budget calls for a huge cut in the budget of the National Institutes of Health. And Republicans are hungering to slash Medicaid, the major source of funding for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. But more than 60 percent of Arkansas voters can’t be wrong.