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Research Programs

Over 120 pediatric researchers with expertise and experience that span the breadth of medica disciplines comprise ACHRI’s roster of investigators who work to fulfi ll its mission to improve children’s health, development, and well-being through high quality research.  A few of our major research programs are described below.

Center for Pediatric Comparative Effectiveness Research (PCER)
The goal of the PCER is to grow and develop comparative effectiveness research among the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)/Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) pediatric faculty. ThePCER aims to provide consultation, mentoring, and/or partnership to clinicians to pursue comparative effectiveness research questions for publication and funding, provide connections to a network of experts and cores in various aspects of comparative effectiveness research; support training in comparative effectiveness research; etc. To learn more about the PCER, visit

Endocrinology and Diabetes Research Group
The Endocrinology and Diabetes Research Group is a collaborative effort among ACHRI investigators who share a common interest in the study of Type I and Type II diabetes in children and adolescents. Currently, this group has research efforts exploring new interventions to control diabetes, how new bio-markers may help to detect and prevent complications of diabetes, and how diabetes may impact previously underappreciated target tissues, such as bone. ACHRI, through its ongoing support and efforts of this focus group, plans to bolster their ongoing efforts to increase extramural funding, enhance scientific discovery, and augment the institution's national and international status among Children's' Research Hospitals.

Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention
The Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention seeks to reduce the prevalence of birth defects in Arkansas and the nation and to reduce the economic, social, and psychological impact of birth defects at a state and national level. To accomplish this goal, the Center conducts research on the etiology and prevention of birth defects through the successful completion of high-caliber epidemiologic studies. In addition, the Center is establishing a Genomic Research Laboratory Core that will support the Center in its epidemiologic research. These resources will include high-throughput genotyping, mutation and polymorphism detection, physical mapping, sequencing and expression analysis.

Center for Respiratory, Asthma and Allergic Disorders
The Center for Respiratory, Asthma and Allergic Disorders addresses the childhood disease asthma. Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. This center will provide the faculty and facilities to focus upon three major needs: a) excellence in clinical care for children with asthma; b) effective and innovative education of patients, parents and referring physicians in the state; and c) a true asthma research center with the capability of participating in national multi-center studies and conducting much needed rural healthcare delivery research.

Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center
The Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center is currently one of six national human nutrition centers funded through the United States Department of Agriculture. This center focuses specifically on diet and nutritional status of human development, using state-of-the-art procedures, equipment and facilities to determine how dietary factors and nutrition can affect brain development, learning, and attention span, as well as how early dietary intervention can prevent diseases of development and aging.

Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit
In 1993, ACHRI was selected to house one of the first Pediatric Pharmacology Research Units (PPRU) funded by the NIH. These centers were established in response to concerns that many medications commonly used to treat a variety of childhood illnesses have not undergone carefully controlled clinical trials to establish dosing, safety, and effectiveness in children. The PPRU Network partners with the pharmaceutical industry and other investigators nationally and locally to generate dosing, safety, and efficacy data for the use of drugs in children. ACHRI’s PPRU is a collaborative effort with numerous pediatric investigators from the following specialties: neurology, critical care medicine, pulmonary, infectious disease, nephrology, cardiology, neonatology, and general pediatrics.

Acetaminophen Toxicity Laboratory
Acetaminophen, the most commonly drug used in the treatment of pain and fever worldwide, is a major cause of acute liver failure in the US. Although generally considered safe when used in manufacturer recommended doses, acetaminophen at excessive doses can result in fatal liver injury. Current diagnosis of acetaminophen toxicity is measurement of blood levels of acetaminophen within 24 hours of overdose. Published findings from ACHRI’s Acetaminophen Toxicity Research Laboratory show that acetaminophen adducts are present for up to 12 days following large overdoses in children and adults broadening the diagnostic window. Under funds from a Small Business Technology Transfer award by NIH, our investigators are developing approaches for the measurement of adducts that could be widely used in hospitals.

Autism Research Program
At ACHRI, leaders in the field of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are conducting basic, clinical, and translational research to help children affected by ASDs and their families. Their research works towards a deeper understanding of the psychological, behavioral, and physiological mechanisms that cause ASD and prevent recovery. Current research projects include measuring the impact of oxidative stress, mitochondrial function, and environmental stressors on ASD. The clinical program incorporates investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored clinical trials, development of an autism clinical diagnosis and care system, and collaborations with neurologists, psychiatrists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, and others. Together, these efforts will improve the development of novel behavioral and medical therapies to accelerate and optimize recovery of children diagnosed with ASD and develop strategies for preventing ASD from developing in high-risk children.

Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program
ACHRI's Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program conducts state-of-the-art clinical, translational, and community-based research and provides leadership and coordination between various local and state partners to obtain evidence that can be used to develop strategies leading to the prevention of childhood obesity. Specifically, the program 1) conducts research to further our understanding of the causes of childhood obesity, 2) partners with the state and communities to develop strategies for the prevention of childhood obesity in Arkansas, 3) works to develop an evidence base upon which state and local policymakers can create new approaches to reduce overweight and obesity in Arkansas children, and 4) serve as an educational resource center for childhood obesity prevention programming.

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