The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education have signed an agreement to collaboratively pursue research efforts, marking the beginning of a broader partnership between the schools.
UAFS and ACHE have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to “establish a mechanism for the parties to plan and initiative cooperative research activities.” The memorandum will take effect July 1.
Through this agreement, the two educational entities will collaborate on research projects housed in UAFS’ College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, as well as future projects being planned at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine within ACHE. Those projects include combining nanomaterials – materials that are one-billionth of a meter in size – with biological molecules for medical purposes, as well as studying the potential of different chemotherapeutic drugs.
UAFS faculty members involved in the research include Dr. Brandy Ree, assistant professor of biological science; Dr. Jen Jamison, assistant professor of chemistry; and Dr. David McClellan, professor and department head of biological sciences. ACHE faculty include Dr. Lance Bridges, chair of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology; and Ross Longley, associate dean of biological sciences and research.
While the agreement focuses solely on research, it’s one of several ways in which the two schools will work together in the future, according to Dr. Ron Darbeau, dean of the College of STEM. Darbeau said future collaboration could include tours of ACHE campus for students and the use of its facilities, while also receiving “mentorship in preparing students for postgraduate education.”
“It’s a mutually beneficial partnership in which we can work with ACHE and ARCOM to help prepare students for entrance into medical school,” Darbeau said. “While exposing students to ACHE campus and its facilities helps the college recruit our graduates, it also enhances the educational experience for our students.”
Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, said the partnership would be beneficial to the greater Fort Smith region.
“We are excited to partner with the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in this worthwhile endeavor,” Beran said. “Teaming up to conduct research is but one piece in a larger collaboration effort between the two institutions. It’s important for UAFS and ACHE to partner to improve the health and well-being of our residents, whether it be through research or exploring ways to further prepare our students for post-graduate success.”
Dr. Kenneth Heiles, vice president and chief academic officer of ACHE, also stressed the importance of collaboration between the two institutions.
“The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education, and in particular the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine within the ACHE, are in a unique position to collaborate and promote each other’s missions through appropriate cooperation and the shared values of service to Arkansas through growing higher education and increasing opportunity for healthcare,” Heiles said.