Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center Awarded $7.4 Million To Fund Groundbreaking Research on Development, Childhood Obesity and Disease Prevention


LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Sept. 21, 2017) – The Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC) will receive $7.4 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to fund research in the areas of child development, maternal health and disease prevention.


The funding will continue the center’s 23-year history of innovative research into how nutritional status, physical activity and dietary factors shape human development and influence susceptibility to childhood diseases, as well as those illnesses that initiate early in life but do not appear until adulthood.


Located on the Arkansas Children’s Little Rock campus, the ACNC is a major research center of the Arkansas Children’s research enterprise and is funded by the USDA-ARS as part of the Human Nutrition Research Centers program.  This longstanding partnership between USDA-ARS and Arkansas Children’s benefits from ACNC’s role as a catalyst for developmental nutrition research for both ACRI and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


Sean Adams, PhD, ACNC director and UAMS professor of Pediatrics, highlights the unique bond that his team has developed with the community.


At ACNC, our faculty and staff have a single motivation,” Adams said. “Improving the health and well-being of families, and figuring out which factors drive optimal child development and prevention of disease. This is right in line with the missions of USDA-ARS and Arkansas Children’s, giving immediate impact to the team’s research.”


The ACNC is one of only two Human Nutrition Research Centers in the nation that are dedicated entirely to exploration of issues affecting children, and the only one focused on this population in a rural setting.


Arkansas Children’s Research Institute President Greg Kearns, PharmD, PhD, FCP, FAAP, also senior vice president and chief research officer, identifies ACNC as a true capstone research program for both Arkansas Children’s and the UAMS College of Medicine. 


“The cutting-edge research performed by ACNC scientists leads the field of pediatric nutrition research,” Kearns said. “Their expansion of knowledge and translation of discoveries into important interventions play a huge role in making the children of Arkansas and our nation better today and healthier tomorrow.”


Studies that determine how breastfeeding and formula differ in their long-term effects on bone, brain function and metabolism are among the projects that will benefit from the renewed funding.  As well, center investigators also are exploring the link between obesity and exercise during pregnancy and its effects regarding growth and metabolism in the developing infant over the first two years of life. 


ACNC employs more than 60 scientists and staff, and many of the faculty also receive independent research support from the National Institutes of Health and other extramural funding agencies.  



Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only health system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 336-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 trauma center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally recognized transport service. It is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, neonatology, pulmonology and urology. A sister campus is under development in Northwest Arkansas and will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that corner of the state. Arkansas Children’s also blankets the state with outreach programs that include telemedicine, mobile health, and school-based health solutions. A private not-for-profit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit

ACRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research center which provides a research environment on the ACH campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who are investigating questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators at ACRI and the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses and preventing disease and thereby, improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.


Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) is a national Human Nutrition Research Center established as a partnership between the Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) and the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). ACNC is a premier research venue for the study of maternal-child health and early childhood development.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; 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, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS and its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


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