August 26, 2020

Alan Tackett receives $10.6 Million Grant to Expand National Proteomics Resource at UAMS

By Susan Van Dusen

Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins that can lead to the development of new therapies and screening approaches for many diseases, including cancer.

The five-year grant was awarded to Alan Tackett, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and associate director for basic science at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Tackett serves as an administrative director of this new national resource.

Other key contributors at UAMS are Rick Edmondson, Ph.D.; Samuel Mackintosh, Ph.D.; and Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.; as well as Michael Kinter, Ph.D., at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation who serves as a co-administrative director.

The national resource was initially created through the Arkansas INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) — an NIH program that promotes biomedical research for undergraduate students and faculty. Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Physiology and Biophysics, serves as principal investigator and director of Arkansas INBRE.

“With this new funding, we will transition our proteomics resource to an NIH National Resource and expand our ability to provide highly advanced research support to scientists in underfunded areas throughout the United States,” said Tackett, who holds the Scharlau Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at UAMS.

Certain regions of the United States, designated as the IDeA Network, have historically received low levels of research funding from NIH. Scientists in these regions face challenges for accessing state-of-the-art proteomics resources.

The IDeA National Resource for Quantitative Proteomics at UAMS was established to address these gaps in services.

“Due to a lack of federal funding, it is often difficult for scientists in the IDeA Network to access the advanced instruments and trained personnel needed to analyze and interpret their research data. With this new funding, we will now be able to serve a diverse group of IDeA investigators for their research, which ranges from studies on model organisms to diseases such as cancer,” said Tackett, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UAMS College of Medicine.

The expanded national resource will support researchers by providing highly advanced data analysis, outreach opportunities and education to scientists across the nation.

“Our goal is to increase the ability for scientists in the 23 IDeA states and Puerto Rico, as well as other NIH-supported investigators across the nation, to perform innovative research by providing unmatched access to advanced quantitative proteomics platforms and staff skilled in interpreting and analyzing complex biological data,” Tackett said.

The educational opportunities offered by the national resource include workshops that are designed to help faculty and student researchers across the nation better utilize proteomics in their research.

This federal grant will bolster the Cancer Institute’s ongoing efforts to receive National Cancer Institute Designation. To achieve designation, cancer centers undergo a highly competitive assessment process that demonstrates an outstanding depth and breadth of research in three areas: basic laboratory, patient/clinical and population-based. The designation brings with it many benefits, including expanded access to federal funding for researchers and improved access to clinical trials for patients.