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.  

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children's, Inc. is the only healthcare system in the state solely dedicated to caring for Arkansas' 710,000 children, giving the organization a unique ability to shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas and transform the health of children throughout the region. The private, non-profit organization includes two pediatric hospitals, a pediatric research institute and USDA nutrition center, a philanthropic foundation, a nursery alliance, statewide clinics, and many education and outreach programs.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is a 336-bed, Magnet-recognized facility in Little Rock operating the state’s only Level I pediatric trauma center; the state's only burn center; the state's only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit; the state's only pediatric intensive care unit; the state’s only pediatric surgery program with Level 1 verification from the American College of Surgeons; and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Additionally, ACH is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in five pediatric subspecialties (2019-2020): Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Pulmonology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW), the first and only pediatric hospital in the Northwest Arkansas region, opened in Springdale in early 2018. ACNW operates a 24-bed inpatient unit; a surgical unit with five operating rooms; outpatient clinics offering over 20 subspecialties; diagnostic services; imaging capabilities; occupational therapy services; and Northwest Arkansas' only pediatric emergency department, equipped with 30 exam rooms. Generous philanthropic and volunteer engagement has sustained Arkansas Children's since it began as an orphanage in 1912, and today ensures the system can fundamentally transform the health of children in Arkansas and beyond. To learn more, visit

About Arkansas Children’s Research Institute

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.

About Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC)

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.

About UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.