LITTLE ROCK, AR. (April 16, 2024) – Investigators at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will use a $3.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health to lay the foundation for a new treatment that could transform quality of life for children with lymphatic malformations.

A type of vascular anomaly of the lymphatic system, these malformations often cause breathing and feeding difficulties for children. Patients also frequently experience pain, infections and disfigurement.

Dr. Graham Strub, a pediatric otolaryngology-head and neck surgeon at Arkansas Children’s and an associate professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at UAMS, will lead the research team during the five-year study. He and members of his laboratory have been collecting tissue and blood from lymphatic malformation patients with the goal of developing new treatments to reverse their growth and development.

Using the novel approach of comparative multi-omics, Dr. Strub’s laboratory discovered the abnormal expression of several genes that appear to drive lymphatic malformation growth. Multi-omics is a holistic approach that combines data from genomics, transcriptomics, epigenetics and proteomics to understand molecular changes that contribute to normal development, cellular response and disease.

Collaborating with Dr. Robert Griffin, a professor of Radiation Oncology at UAMS, they will study how microRNAs, which are small molecules that silence the expression of specific genes, can reverse this abnormal gene expression.

The teams are hopeful this novel technology will improve treatment outcomes, reduce side effects and expand the understanding of the epigenetic regulation of the lymphatic system.

“Current treatments for lymphatic malformations have many limitations and often require multiple interventions over a long period of time,” Dr. Strub said. “The development of transdermal microRNA therapeutics that silence the genes responsible for lymphatic malformation growth could significantly improve the quality of life of these children.”

With this NIH award, Dr. Strub is a graduating Research Project Leader from the Center for Translational Pediatric Research, an NIH-supported Center of Biomedical Research Excellence at ACRI.

This research is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HL173107.


Arkansas Children's is the only health care 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); and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Arkansas Children’s is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in seven pediatric subspecialties (2023—2024): Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Nephrology, Orthopedics, Pulmonology & Lung Surgery 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. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer, with more than 12,000 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, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.