LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – The Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC) will receive $7.4 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to fund research in the areas of child development, maternal health and disease prevention.
The funding will continue the center’s 23-year history of innovative research into how nutritional status, physical activity and dietary factors shape human development and influence susceptibility to childhood diseases, as well as those illnesses that initiate early in life but do not appear until adulthood.
Located on the Arkansas Children’s Little Rock campus, the ACNC is a major research center of the Arkansas Children’s research enterprise and is funded by the USDA-ARS as part of the Human Nutrition Research Centers program. This longstanding partnership between USDA-ARS and Arkansas Children’s benefits from ACNC’s role as a catalyst for developmental nutrition research for both ACRI and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Sean Adams, PhD, ACNC director and UAMS professor of Pediatrics, highlights the unique bond that his team has developed with the community.
“At ACNC, our faculty and staff have a single motivation,” Adams said. “Improving the health and well-being of families, and figuring out which factors drive optimal child development and prevention of disease. This is right in line with the missions of USDA-ARS and Arkansas Children’s, giving immediate impact to the team’s research.”
The ACNC is one of only two Human Nutrition Research Centers in the nation that are dedicated entirely to exploration of issues affecting children, and the only one focused on this population in a rural setting.
Arkansas Children’s Research Institute President Greg Kearns, PharmD, PhD, FCP, FAAP, also senior vice president and chief research officer, identifies ACNC as a true capstone research program for both Arkansas Children’s and the UAMS School of Medicine.
“The cutting-edge research performed by ACNC scientists leads the field of pediatric nutrition research,” Kearns said. “Their expansion of knowledge and translation of discoveries into important interventions play a huge role in making the children of Arkansas and our nation better today and healthier tomorrow.”
Studies that determine how breastfeeding and formula differ in their long-term effects on bone, brain function and metabolism are among the projects that will benefit from the renewed funding. As well, center investigators also are exploring the link between obesity and exercise during pregnancy and its effects regarding growth and metabolism in the developing infant over the first two years of life.
ACNC employs more than 60 scientists and staff, and many of the faculty also receive independent research support from the National Institutes of Health and other extramural funding agencies.
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