ACHE hires research leader to help launch health and wellness center

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,972 views 

Dr. Jeffrey Osborn will join the Fort Smith-based Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) as the vice president of research. The hiring is part of the college taking another step to advance medical research at the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Osborn to ACHE. His contributions to science, excellence as an educator, and expertise as a leader will launch the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center into the future,” said Kyle Parker, ACHE president and CEO.

Osborn’s official start date with ACHE was July 1. He said he moved to the area from Kentucky the week of Aug. 15. He joins ACHE from the University of Kentucky where he served as a full tenured professor of biology for nearly 20 years. His research on the importance of kidney function in the regulation of high blood pressure (hypertension) earned national and international recognition and honors, a news release said.

Following a nearly 20-year stint at the Medical College of Wisconsin focusing on the relationship between balancing water and salt to regulate blood pressure,Osborn received a prestigious Nobel Fellowship to conduct research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

“The breadth of Osborn’s research reflects his understanding of the changing healthcare landscape and the need for flexibility and rapidly adjusting research thought processes to modern day healthcare practices,” a news release said.

Upon completion of the fellowship, Osborn founded the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science, a ninth through 12th-grade magnet school focused on expanding math and science literacy in the Greater Hartford, Conn., region. The secondary school was the second of its kind founded by Osborn, having served as the founding director of the Medical College of Wisconsin Center for Science Education, which has now transitioned to a program of the Milwaukee Academy of Science, a fourth through 12th-grade charter school.

Dr. Jeffrey Osborn

Osborn intends to combine his desire to expand research and a drive to educate the next generation in order to craft the ACHE research program with the same tenacity he has focused on in his previous endeavors, noted a news release.

“The rapid growth and development of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education as the major healthcare center in the state has been conducted with precision and focuses on innovation in healthcare for all people. I am humbled and excited to bring my passion for biomedical science and discovery to the ACHE family,” Osborn said.

As the vice president of research, Osborn will help build an internationally and nationally recognized research institute for ACHE, he said. He will recruit top faculty and biomedical scientists from across the country who are willing to work together in research for the benefit of clinics and industry to help combat the ailments that plague the Arkansas-Oklahoma region, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and drug addiction.

“We purchased a wonderful building and are in the process of building an excellent center that will be internationally recognized,” Osborn said.

A $32.3 million anonymous donation to ACHE in 2021 was earmarked to support a holistic approach to health and wellness and include partnerships with public schools, art centers, a community garden, and a Northwest Arkansas based culinary study center. The donation created an endowment that will pay for staff, program costs and construction. ACHE acquired the five-story former Golden Living headquarters at 1000 Fianna Way in 2020 for the purpose of housing a medical research facility and a health and wellness education center. Work on the five-story facility – now known as the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center – is underway and should be complete next year, Parker has said.

Parker said research at the institute will focus on the major healthcare problems plaguing people in the Fort Smith region, such as diabetes and hypertension.

“Understanding the causes of these diseases is essential to prevention, intervention, and improved healthcare. Dr. Osborn looks forward to attracting the brightest scientists in the nation and around the world to join in this effort and knows the Fort Smith community will be welcoming and supportive. Dr. Osborn’s previous research experience focusing on the underlying causes of high blood pressure will provide the basis for a center focused on the needs of the community,” Parker said.

ACHE was formed when Fort Smith-based Degen Foundation used part of $70 million from the sale of Sparks Health System in November 2009 to what was then Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates to build the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) at Chaffee Crossing. The $32.4 million college and its 103,000 square feet is now home to 600 medical students.

ACHE has since built a 66,000-square-foot College of Health Science building on the campus that is home to physical therapy and occupational therapy degree programs. The ACHE School of Physician Assistant Studies is under development.