The goal of this application is to further develop an integrated, multidisciplinary and translational Center
for Childhood Obesity Prevention (CCOP) that will be sustained within the Arkansas Children’s
Research Institute. Childhood obesity is a national public health threat that is disproportionately worse in
Arkansas. In the United States, nearly 1 in 5 school age youth have obesity (1). Among school-age youth in
Arkansas, 23% have obesity and 17% are classified as overweight (2). Further, the prevalence of hypertension
(4-6), and other obesity-related co-morbidities, have increased dramatically over the last two decades.
Additionally, obesity and obesity-promoting behaviors are also linked to a variety of cancers (16). To address
this complex problem, a group of emerging scientists recruited in Phase 1 will continue to build their
collaborative work in elucidating causes, and testing interventions, to stop the rise and ultimately reduce the
prevalence of child overweight and obesity and corresponding comorbidities.
In order to establish a broad-based, multi-disciplinary disease prevention center, rooted in a team
science approach, projects span the full translational continuum, bringing together research in complex
disease origins, epidemiology, and social systems. Ongoing recruitment of additional research project leaders
and pilot study investigators will continue to build a critical mass of scientists focused on building the base of
evidence for strategies to address the childhood obesity crisis and improve child health.
Specific Aim 1: Further enhance the research infrastructure established in Phase 1 to support
the Center. Critical institutional support and strong collaborations with multiple key institutional and community
partners have been established, and will continue to be enhanced, to provide junior investigators’ access to
state-of-the-art biomedical research facilities and resources to pursue inquiry focused on the theme of
childhood obesity prevention.
Specific Aim 2: Continue to build on the successful faculty development program implemented
in Phase 1. The career development training program established in Phase 1 in partnership with the UAMS
CTSA’s Research Fundamentals program will continue to be strengthened. A “best practices” senior mentoring
program combines a Senior Mentor Rights and Responsibilities contract with guidance from a Senior
Mentoring Leadership Team approach.
Specific Aim 3: Ensure robust operations and pathway to sustainability for the Center for
Childhood Obesity Prevention. Comprehensive operational procedures for managing the Center’s fiscal,
regulatory, project development, and research core viability processes were established, and will continue to
be strengthened. Significant institutional investment has been secured, and will be leveraged to ensure long
term sustainability of the Center.