El Dorado News Times El Dorado native awarded grant to study cancer, Lyme disease

By Special to the News-Times

This article was published today at 5:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Professor Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D., an El Dorado native, has been awarded $11 million in federal funding for Phase II of a program that supports microbiology and immunology research.

Phase I of the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2012 at $10 million. Phase II began May 1 and is $11 million.

The first COBRE grant allowed Smeltzer to establish the UAMS Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses. Its focus is pathogens – bacteria, viruses and microorganisms – and the disease responses they cause in humans.

COBRE grants include funding for individual projects by junior research faculty — those who have just received their first academic appointments. The first grant supported projects on viruses and malaria. The $11 million award continues funding of the center, with individual projects on cancer, Lyme disease, pneumonic plague and chlamydial infection.

Smeltzer, who studies staphylococcus aureus, is one of the most-well-funded faculty in the UAMS College of Medicine. He has more than $14 million in current grant funding and has received more than $30 million in external grant funding. His current NIH funding ranks him 46th out of 993 microbiology faculty nationwide.

Smeltzer was born in El Dorado and spent his formative years in Norphlet.

“And that is something I hold as important. I am absolutely proud that I’ve been able to contribute in any fashion, because I am a native Arkansan and I want this to be a great place,” Smeltzer said.

Smeltzer co-directs the center along with Richard P. Morrison, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Microbiology…

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