Biomedical Engineer Praises Arkansas Biosciences Institute

Jeff Wolchok
University Relations

Jeff Wolchok

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jeff Wolchok, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arkansas, spoke at a March 29 press conference with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on how seed funding from the Arkansas Biosciences Institute has helped scientists across the state to win over half a million dollars in external funding.

Wolchok told the media the process of acquiring funding for scientific research isn't an easy one.

"Gone are the days when you can expect to receive funding just for an idea or an interesting question," he said. "You really now need a solid track record with preliminary data and demonstrated productivity in your area of research, which then [raises] the question: How do you get funding to collect the preliminary data that you need in order to get funding?"

The answer, Wolchok said, lies in institutions like the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, which began in 1998 when state healthcare leaders were looking for a productive way to disperse Arkansas' share of a nationwide tobacco settlement. They decided to create the ABI as a conduit for research that could help reduce or prevent smoking-related illnesses. Arkansas voters endorsed the proposed Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000, and the Arkansas Legislature enacted the provisions of that proposal as Acts 1569 through 1580 of 2001.

Part of that legislation established the Arkansas Biosciences Institute as a consortium of five research institutions: the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas System’s statewide Division of Agriculture, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas State University and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. 

Over the years, researchers like Wolchok have worked through the institute to leverage the initial tobacco settlement funding into considerably greater research funding.

"We've used this seed funding to support students, to develop animal models, to either build or purchase important instruments that we've used to collect preliminary data that we then use to publish foundational papers," Wolchok said.

This foundational work, he said, has now enabled him to receive a half billion dollars in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation during the past couple of years.

Over the past three years, Wolchok estimated that the faculty members of the Department of Biomedical Engineering have been able to leverage Arkansas Biosciences Institute funding to receive approximately $4 million in federally funded grants, which benefit not only the faculty members themselves, but the multitudes of undergraduate and graduate students that the department recruits, teaches, and trains.

As a result of the lab experience they receive through grant funding, Wolchok explained, U of A's biomedical engineering students "are more competitive [candidates] for graduate school, medical school, and industry positions."

The Arkansas Biosciences Institute has helped scientists across the state of Arkansas to win $508 million in total external funding, from both private and public sources.




Elizabeth DeMeo, media specialist
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Camilla Shumaker, director of communications
College of Engineering


Communication Professor Stephanie Schulte to Lecture on 'Internet'

Schulte will offer a preview of Honors College Signature Seminar coming next spring during a lecture at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, in Gearhart Hall Auditorium.

Athletic Training Master's Students Win Scholarships, Research Grants

Three students in the graduate athletic training program — Eric Schwartz, Kristen Peterson and Mariellen Veach — won scholarships and research grants from the Southwest Athletic Trainers' Association.

U of A Professor Co-Authors Piece on Political Correctness for Chronicle of Higher Education

Bob Maranto, a professor in the Department of Education Reform, argues in a Chronicle of Higher Education article that worries of university students being swayed to liberal viewpoints is overblown.

Arkansas Teacher Corps Now Accepting Fellowship Applications for 2018

The Arkansas Teacher Corps works to recruit, train and support individuals from all majors and backgrounds to serve as outstanding teachers for Arkansas students.

Ma, Williams Join Faculty, Research Team in Human Development and Family Sciences

Weiyi Ma and Amanda Williams have joined the faculty in the U of A's School of Human Environmental Science's human development and family sciences program.

Newswire Daily