LITTLE ROCK, AR. (April 21, 2022) – Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) is awarding two early-career investigators up to $75,000 each to fund their work as the 2022 Marion B. Lyon Revocable Trust New Scientist Development recipients.

The annual award supports highly promising beginning researchers in their efforts to become independent investigators and fosters an environment where young scientists can flourish.

The 2022 honorees are:

Akilah A. Jefferson, MD, MSc 

Akilah A. Jefferson, MD, MSc, an assistant professor of Allergy and Immunology in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine who also sees patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). With research focused on asthma and health disparities, Dr. Jefferson has a special interest in population health, health policy and social determinants affecting asthma outcomes. Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children in the United States, affecting more than 5.5 million children nationwide and roughly 1 in 10 children in Arkansas. Dr. Jefferson’s Lyon-funded project will leverage ACH’s electronic medical record (EMR) to identify at-risk children and assess relevant measures in reducing asthma risk. The ACH electronic medical record will give the study access to a large sample of children across the state who receive their care through Arkansas’ only pediatric health system. Population-based risk prediction has the potential to guide interventions to improve health and reduce children’s burden of living with asthma.

Jennifer Rumpel, MD

Jennifer Rumpel, MD, an assistant professor of Neonatology in the UAMS College of Medicine, who also practices at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Her principal research interest is acute kidney injury in premature newborns, which affects at least 30% of babies admitted to neonatal intensive care units. Acute kidney injury results in short- and long-term consequences for premature newborns, raising their risk of chronic kidney disease and greatly increasing their chances of dying. Dr. Rumpel’s Lyon-funded project will create and validate a model to predict which babies with acute kidney injury face the highest risks of mortality. With an understanding of modifiable risk factors, continued research can focus on reducing those risks and helping premature newborns live longer, better lives. Healthcare providers could also use the proposed risk stratification score while caring for individual babies, tailoring clinical care to create better outcomes.

The Marion B. Lyon New Scientist Development Award is made possible through a generous gift from the late Frank Lyon, Jr., honoring his mother, Marion B. Lyon. It was established over two decades ago as a competitive award, with honorees selected by a panel of expert researchers. The Lyon family is long-known for their generous philanthropy, investing in numerous charitable, medical and educational organizations throughout Arkansas.

“A crucial role of Arkansas Children’s Research Institute is ensuring young scientists have opportunities to push their ideas and discoveries to new heights while also obtaining the essential training required to be successful independent investigators,” said Pete Mourani, MD, president of ACRI and senior vice president and chief research officer of Arkansas Children’s. “Drs. Jefferson and Rumpel infuse collaborative energy and curiosity into every problem they set out to solve. By funding their projects, ACRI and the Lyon family demonstrate an unyielding commitment to the future of child health.”


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. 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; a 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. 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 3,047 students, 873 medical residents and fellows, 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 Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.