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Mentors

Center mentors include both internal and external senior level administrative and research faculty, all of whom have demonstrated excellence in their respective fields. The mentors provide project specific guidance on, the development and progress of the junior investigator research projects by:

  • Meeting with the junior investigators to discuss the following:

  • subject enrollment

  • issues (including budget)/barriers; potential solutions

  • accomplishments

  • recommendations and goals for the next quarter

  • Connecting junior investigators with potential collaborators, consultants, and opportunities to enhance their research

  • Meeting quarterly or as needed with Dr. Weber to discuss the project’s progress

  • Attending Work-in-Progress meetings, monthly training sessions and external advisory committee meetings


Mentors

Aline Andres, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Associate Director for Clinical Research, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center

Dr. Andres is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  Her research focus is on examining the effects of prenatal and postnatal nutrition on Anthropometrics, body composition, metabolism and physical activity of infants and children. She is funded from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for studies addressing childhood obesity. Dr. Andres obtained her PhD in Nutritional Sciences in 2007 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and completed her postdoctoral training in Physiology in 2008, at UAMS.

 

Sarah Blossom, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics &  Microbiology/Immunology
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Dr. Blossom is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology/Immunology in the College of Medicine at the Unviversity of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her research goal is to advance understanding of how environmental exposures, primarily to the solvent and common environmental pollutant tricholorethylene (TCE), alter CD4+ T cell function. She approaches her research from a mechanistic and pathways perspective. Dr. Blossom obtained her PhD in Immunology (Autoimmunity) in 1999 from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and completed her postdoctoral training in Immunotoxicology at Arkansas Children's Research Institute. 

 

Geoffrey Curran, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Implementation Research
Professor, Departments of Pharmacy Practice and Psychiatry
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Research Health Scientist
Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
 

Dr. Curran is a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His research interests include implementation science, diffusion of innovation, and quality improvement. Dr. Curran obtained his PhD in Sociology in 1996 from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He completed his postdoctoral training in Substance Abuse Research at the University of Michigan. He completed additional postdoctoral training in Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. 
 

Jonathan Dranoff, M.D.

Jerome S. Levy Professor of Medicine
Director, Division of Gastroenterology & Heptology
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Chief, Gastroenterology Service
Central Arkansas VAMC


Jonathan Dranoff, M.D., completed his training in Gastroenterology at Yale University in 1999. During his fellowship, he began work on basic studies on the function of bile duct epithelia, the targets of the "cholangiopathies", including primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and biliary atresia. Dr. Dranoff was invited to join the faculty of Yale University in 1991, where he remained until early 2011, rising to the rank of Associate Professor. During his time at Yale, Dr. Dranoff expanded his laboratory efforts to the study of liver fibrosis and he is one of the few investigators worldwide who has interest in both bile ductular function and basic mechanisms of liver fibrosis. His academic efforts have been recognized internationally, as he has been award two NIH/NIDDK R01 awards, an AALD Advanced Heptaology Fellowship, and an American Heart Association Grant-in-Aid, and has received multiple invitations to present his work at national and international fora. As recognition of his scientific progress, Dr. Dranoff was inducted into the American society for Clinical Investigation in 2010. Dr. Dranoff currently serves on multiple major committees and advisory panels, including the NIH HBPP Study Section, the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Physiology/GI and Liver Physiology, and as a Councilor of the AGA Institute Council for the Liver & Biliary Section.  

 

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

Jones Chair in Community
Professor
Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice
University of Arkansas

Dr. Fitzpatrick is the Director of the Community and Family Institute at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Dr. Fitzpatrick is a University Professor and the Bernice Jones Chair in Community and is a community researcher with over 30 years of experience in primary studies that examine the intersection of place and health. His work includes extensive research on homelessness, obesity and food insecurity, and exposure to violence among low-income, minority adolescents. Dr. Fitzpatrick obtained his PhD in Sociology in 1985 at the State University of Albany. Prior to coming to the University of Arkansas in 2005, he spent 20 years in the department of sociology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

 

Pearl McElfish, Ph.D.

Associate Vice Chancellor – Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus
Director, Office of Community Health and Research
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – NW

Dr. Pearl McElfish began her tenure as Associate Vice Chancellor of the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus on October 1, 2016 and is the second person to serve as leader of the regional campus.

In addition to her role as Associate Vice Chancellor, Dr. McElfish oversees the Office of Community Health and Research, serves as Co-Director of the Center for Pacific Islander Health, and holds faculty positions in the UAMS Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. She is the founder of the Office of Community Health and Research at UAMS Northwest Regional Campus and of the Center for Pacific Islander Health at UAMS. Since late 2014, she has been awarded more than $10 million in federal and private foundation grants for investment in community health in Northwest Arkansas.

Dr. McElfish holds a PhD in public policy, a master’s degree in community and economic development, and a master’s degree in business administration. She is a certified Project Management Professional and a Certified Community Developer and has more than 15 years of experience working in health care administration and community health.

Dr. McElfish’s research focuses on reducing health disparities with Pacific Islander and Hispanic Communities. She also conducts food systems research, and methodological research related to the best methods for conducting community-based participatory research and for disseminating research results to participants and communities. She has a history of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other private foundations.


Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Ed.D.

Professor, Department of Family & Preventative Medicine
Director of the DFPM Research and Evaluation Division (RED)
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
 

Dr. Whiteside- Mansell is a Professor in the Department of Family & Preventative Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Whiteside-Mansell's research program focuses on the family, environmental, and maternal factors linked with poor psychosocial and physical development for young children in families living in poverty. She is particularly concerted with the food and parenting environment for families living in poverty. She and her colleagues have developed a research-based intervention that resulted in a classroom curriculum targeting young children living in low-resource homes. Dr. Whiteside-Mansell obtained her Ed.D. in Methodology/Statistics at the University of Memphis. 

Robert Wolfe, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Translational Research in Aging & Longevity
Jane and Ed Warmack Chair in Nutritional Longevity
Professor
Department of Geriatrics, College of Medicine
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Dr. Wolfe is currently a Professor in the Department of Geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Wolfe’s primary area of interest is the regulation of metabolism at a physiological level.  His work has focused entirely on macronutrient metabolism in human subjects.  Over the past 15 years his work has dealt primarily with protein metabolism.  In particular, Dr. Wolfe’s research has investigated the role of essential amino acids in controlling rates of protein synthesis and breakdown.  He has developed and utilized methods utilizing stable isotope tracers to quantify metabolic reactions.  He has published approximately 600 original research articles, reviews, and book chapters that have been cited more than 50,000 times according to Google Scholar (h index= 123).

Dr. Wolfe has mentored more than 50 research fellows, many of whom have become nationally and internationally recognized for their accomplishments.  He has also been the primary advisor for 11 PhD students.  He has taught a course in tracer methodology for more than 20 years that has attracted more than 2,000 scientists from every state and 221 countries.    

 

 
11 Children’s Way, Little Rock, AR 72202
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CCOP@uams.edu
The Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM109096. The content of this website and research reported in publications resulting from work performed under this Award are solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.