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A $250,000 contribution today by AT&T Arkansas in honor of outgoing board member Patti Upton gave a significant boost to the nanomedicine research program in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
The contribution was presented to UAMS chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., by AT&T Arkansas president Ed Drilling in a ceremony at UAMS attended by Gov. Mike Beebe. Upton is president and CEO of the Heber Springs-based company Aromatique and served on the AT&T board of directors from 1993 to April 2011.
"We are honored to receive this donation in honor of Patti Upton, who has been a friend to UAMS for many years," Rahn said. "The field of nanomedicine is on the forefront of cancer research and has already offered many advances that were unheard of just a few years ago. We are thankful for AT&T's foresight in helping to fund this groundbreaking research."
Nanomedicine, the medical application of nanotechnology, involves the creation and use of materials and devices at the level of molecules and atoms, about one-billionth the size of a meter. Vladimir Zharov, Ph.D., is a senior scientist in the Cancer Institute, director of the Phillips Classic Laser and Nanomedicine Laboratory, and a professor in the College of Medicine.
"Nanomedicine has incredible potential for the future of health care in Arkansas and around the world," Beebe said. "We are fortunate to have an international leader in this field at UAMS in Dr. Zharov, and people like Patti Upton and the leaders at AT&T Arkansas who recognize and support this promising research."
"We are pleased to recognize the service of Patti Upton, whose leadership and business acumen have been invaluable to AT&T," Drilling said. "AT&T has a long history of serving Arkansas and, through the AT&T Foundation, supporting causes that address community needs. Patti is recognized as a pioneer in business, and it is fitting to honor her service to AT&T with this award that advances the pioneering research at UAMS."
"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of supporting advances such as we are witnessing in nanomedicine," said Peter Emanuel, M.D., director of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. "This is truly a field that offers some of our brightest hope for better cancer treatment and cures. This donation by AT&T will enable us to continue this valuable research right here in Arkansas for years to come."
"We are extremely excited to have received this donation, which supports our team in more quickly translating nanomedicine research to new treatments for patients," Zharov said.
Zharov's pioneer discoveries in nanomedicine were published in multiple issues of the magazine Nature. A recent finding by Zharov and his team involving the manipulation and fine-tuning of the specific color of of the ultrasharp rainbow gold nanoparticles to make cancer diagnosis more specific and therapy more efficient, was published in the March 2011 issue of Nature Photonics, a prestigious monthly journal featuring groundbreaking research in all areas of light generation, manipulation and detection.
The finding builds on Zharov's previous discoveries involving the use of cancer-detecting gold and magnetic nanoparticles, including the ability to inject them into the bloodstream to target, capture and eventually kill circulating tumor cells responsible for dangerous matastisis with the use of specialized laser-activated nanobubbles around nanoparticles.
Zharov's research has received about $3.8 million in grant funding during the past three years, including a $1.5 million National Cancer Institute grant, support from the National Science Foundation, and multiple grants from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Patti Upton and her husband, Dick, have been longtime supporters of UAMS and its Cancer Institute. Their donation of Aromatique products for an annual fundraising sale at UAMS has raised nearly $1 million to benefit the Medical Center Auxiliary, which uses the proceeds to directly support patients and families at UAMS.
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About University of Arkansas
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.
About Philanthropy at AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2010, more than $148.2 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.
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