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Vascular Anomalies Expert Receives First Liam’s Land Grant for Lymphatic Malformation Research

LITTLE ROCK, AR. (May 4, 2012) - A vascular anomalies expert at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is the inaugural recipient of a new grant from Liam's Land, a non-profit that champions research into lymphatic malformations.

Gresham Richter, MD, a surgeon and researcher on the ACH campus, will receive the $20,000 Kathryn Barton Hobbs Medical Grant each of the next two years to continue his investigations into what causes lymphatic malformations, as well as finding treatment options and prevention strategies. Dr. Richter is also an associate professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology in the UAMS College of Medicine.

"Children with lymphatic malformations deserve more answers and a cure," Richter said. "We are excited to have Liam's Land as a resource to help kids affected by this disorder."

Lymphatic malformations are clusters of channels and cysts that fill with a type of fluid that is difficult for the vascular system to process, resulting in intense swelling. They typically develop in the neck or underarm areas, though they may affect any part of the body. Researchers have yet to find a cause of lymphatic malformations, though there is evidence they begin during fetal development. More than 1 in 6,000 children are born with lymphatic malformations, and they usually undergo dozens of surgeries before adulthood.

The program where Richter works at ACHRI is one of only a few in the world dedicated to identifying a cure for lymphatic malformations and other vascular anomalies affecting children.

"Identifying what drives lymphatic malformation growth is vital information. If Dr. Richter and his lab can identify what promotes this development, there is great hope for finding an antidote to stop growth and cure this challenging disease," said Janet Steffen, RN, founder and executive director of Liam's Land Organization (501c3). The Steffens' son, Liam, was born with lymphatic malformation in 2010.  Just over 2 years old, Liam has already endured multiple surgeries and MRIs. The organization's first grant is named in honor of Kathryn Barton Hobbs, who lost her life to lymphatic malformation more than 10 years ago.

Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children. The campus is celebrating 100 years of providing Care, Love and Hope in 2012. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children's health and development. For more information, visit www.archildrens.org.

ACHRI provides a research environment on the ACH campus to meet the needs of the UAMS faculty.  Research scientists at ACHRI conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses, preventing disease and improving the health of children everywhere. 

UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute.

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