Dr. Kennon-McGill’s work primarily focuses on prenatal drug exposure and its effects on the neurodevelopment of children who were exposed in utero. Her current focus is prenatal cannabis and cannabinoid use and their effects on brain development and neurobehavioral outcomes in children. She utilizes liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to quantify THC and CBD metabolites in the maternal, umbilical cord, and neonatal blood and correlates levels of exposure to various neurodevelopmental outcome measures.
UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health
Associate Professor Dr. En Huang is an expert on food safety and microbiology. Foodborne pathogens, which cause foodborne diseases in 1 out 6 Americans every year, pose a heavy burden to public health. Salmonella is the leading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks. Reducing Salmonella on broiler carcasses may constitute an effective control strategy to reduce human salmonellosis. The continuing emergence and rapid dissemination of antibiotic-resistant pathogens are becoming a major threat to public health. Infections caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), were recognized as an urgent threat among patients. Dr. Huang’s lab discovered a novel antibiotic, paenipeptin, that showed potent activity against drug-resistant pathogens and biofilms. The results were published in Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, and Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Dr. Huang’s research was reported in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2022. You can read the article here.
Dr. Hsu is a tumor biologist, with specific training and expertise in molecular epidemiology and environmental exposure including tobacco, heavy metal, and small molecule metabolites. She runs two fully equipped environmental exposure and biomarker laboratories in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and Biomedical research building II. I am the PI of the Arkansas Rural Community Health (ARCH) Study that consists of around 26,000 women from all 75 counties in Arkansas. Her goal is to identify the drivers of health disparity in rural underserved communities and hope our studies can make impact to improve the quality of life and extend lives.
Dr. McGill is a sought-after expert in liver injury caused by xenobiotics, which are chemicals foreign to the body such as drugs, pesticides, and dietary supplements. He is also a fellowship-trained clinical chemist. In addition to his research and teaching at UAMS, he has held numerous roles within scientific and professional organizations, including Vice President of the South Central chapter of the Society of Toxicology (SOT). He has also received several significant awards, including the prestigious Pinnacle Research Award from the American Association of the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Foundation.
Dr. Boysen’s research interest has been in understanding the interplay between chemical exposure and nutritional or other lifestyle habits, such as diet selection and physical activity and how these and be used to improve prevention and treatment of lung cancer. To achieve this, he utilizes analytical chemistry tools to study carcinogen metabolism, how this is modified by nutritional components and the underlying mechanisms regulating corresponding enzyme activities. More recently he has focused on common metabolic pathways, using targeted and un-targeted mass spectrometry-based metabolomic approaches to improve diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.
Rachel Hale, MA, an Instructor in our department, recently secured a $20,000 feasibility grant from the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education at the University of Texas at Tyler for their project, Assessing the health and climate change risk perceptions of small farmers through application of the Health Belief Model. The project will survey small farmers in Arkansas to collect information on their current health status and their beliefs and risk perceptions about how our changing climate may impact their health. Additionally, the survey will ask farmers about any regenerative agricultural practices they use on their farms.
Climate change is a pressing public health issue that threatens the overall health of small agricultural farmers. Small farmers are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change on their physical and emotional health. As our world continues to warm, farmers will face an increased risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, stroke, and cardiovascular issues, alongside work-related injuries and death. Small farmers are a unique population as they may have increased exposure and sensitivity to the effects of climate change on their health due to socioeconomic factors increasing their vulnerability.
Small farmers will have access to either an English or Spanish survey in three different ways: online, paper, or over the phone with a member of the research team. This survey will help us know where are we now, which is essential in furthering research and developing projects to reduce work-related illnesses and injuries and improving the overall well-being of small farmers in Arkansas.
In addition to the Health Belief Model, this project will use the Total Worker Health (TWH) Approach. TWH approach is defined as “policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness-prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.” The use of this approach aligns with this project’s target population, owners/co-owners of small farms, as a defining element of TWH is developing leadership commitment to occupational safety. In addition, the information gathered from the survey will be viewed from the lens of future interventions to “eliminate or reduce safety and health hazards and promote worker well-being,” with the worker being the small farmer. The survey is the starting point by capturing baseline data to be used in co-developing interventions with small farmers to improve their overall well-being and occupational safety. TWH provides a hierarchy of controls that provides different levels to incorporate in future interventions.
The goals of this project are: 1) To assess the current health status of small farmers in Arkansas and current adaptive agricultural practices; and 2) To assess a small farmer’s perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits of taking action, perceived barriers from taking action, cues to action, and self-efficacy in regard to climate change affecting their overall health.
Our department chair is passionate about dietary supplement (DS) research. DS constitute a widely used group of products comprising vitamin, mineral, and botanical extract formulations. DS of botanical or herbal origins (HDS) comprise nearly 30% of all DS and are presented on the market either as single plant extracts or multi-extract-containing products. Despite generally safe toxicological profiles of most products currently present on the market, rising cases of liver injury caused by HDS – mostly by multi-ingredient and adulterated products – are of particular concern. Here we discuss the most prominent historical cases of HDS-induced hepatotoxicty – from Ephedra to Hydroxycut and OxyELITE Pro-NF, as well as products with suspected hepatotoxicity that are either currently on or are entering the market. We further provide discussion on overcoming the existing challenges with HDS-linked hepatotoxicity by introduction of advanced in silico, in vitro, in vivo, and microphysiological system approaches to address the matter of safety of those products before they reach the market.
While summer in Arkansas may often restrict options for physical activity, our Faculty and Staff strive to achieve the goals even in these conditions. For example, Education II (ED II) building’s 9th floor walking route offers a unique opportunity to decompress and walk a mile or two during our lunch break while visiting with colleagues.
UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson and College of Public Health Dean Mark Williams give an update on the latest COVID-19 forecasts for Arkansas. Watch the video for the week ending March 28.
Read the full report:
For questions, contact Ashley McNatt, Communications Specialist for COPH, or the UAMS Office of Communications and Marketing.
Soon after the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared in Arkansas, the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health (COPH) at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences developed a pulse poll to measure opinions and beliefs about COVID-19 among adult Arkansans. The poll uses random digit dialing to contact a representative sample of adults in Arkansas. The poll asked Arkansans about food security, use of and access to medications, physical and mental health, and job security during the pandemic. The focus of this report is on testing for COVID-19.
Below are published reports of the AR Pandemic Poll:
E-Newsletter #1: Opinions of Arkansans over 60 – Aug. 7, 2020