LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Sept. 13, 2021) – Scientists at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will continue studying the impacts of childhood obesity after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $11.5 million in renewed funding to the ACRI Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention.

The NIH Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant will fund further improvements to the center’s existing research infrastructure and ensure development of more scientists with expertise in childhood obesity.

Led by Judith Weber, PhD, RD, the multidisciplinary Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention anchors the pediatric obesity program at Arkansas Children’s. Weber also serves as associate dean for Research and a professor in the UAMS College of Nursing, as well as a professor in the Department of Pediatrics.

“Our goal is a future where parents don’t have to worry about their child developing any of the countless complications children face because of obesity,” said Dr. Weber, who is also the project’s principal investigator. “This center continues to be a prime example of how research translates into interventions, creating a brighter future for kids right here in Arkansas and around the nation.”

The Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention was established in 2016 with a $9.4 million NIH Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant award to ACRI. The grant is part of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program aimed at building research capacities in states that have historically had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research.

COBRE programs focus on creating thriving research programs with some of the nation's most promising young scientists, supporting basic, clinical and infrastructure improvements.


Arkansas Children's, Inc. is the only healthcare system in the state solely dedicated to caring for Arkansas' more than 700,000 children. 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 — all focused on fulfilling a promise to define and deliver unprecedented child health. 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 (ACS); the state’s only magnetoencephalography (MEG) system for neurosurgical planning and cutting-edge research; and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Additionally, ACH is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in four pediatric subspecialties (2021—2022): Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Nephrology, Pulmonology and Urology. ACH is one of only five hospitals in the nation that have achieved Magnet Status, ACS Level 1 verification and a Beacon award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW), the first and only pediatric hospital in the Northwest Arkansas region, is a level IV pediatric trauma center. 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 deliver on its promise of unprecedented child health. To learn more, visit


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 recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six 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, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or


Arkansas Children’s Research Institute is a free-standing, state-of-the-art center offering a research environment on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital campus to foster discovery and scholarship for UAMS faculty. Participating scientists investigate questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. These investigators are devoted to improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.