Mary E. Aitken, M.D., MPH, Director

Founded in 1990, the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE) seeks to improve the health of children in Arkansas and the nation through research in the areas of child health services, pediatric injury prevention, and child health development and nutrition. Research results at CARE have influenced child health policies in Arkansas and throughout the country.

CARE is one of the few divisions in a Department of Pediatrics nationally that offers multi-disciplinary applied research focusing on the health of children, their families, and communities.Patient writing on chalkboard

Interactive disciplines include:

  • Epidemiology
  • Health policy
  • Health services research
  • Obesity
  • Nutrition
  • Pediatrics

Research is conducted in three major areas:

  • Child Health Services Research identifies cost-effective practices and policies that result in improved health for children.
  • Pediatric Injury Prevention focuses on interventions designed to reduce and prevent pediatric injuries.
  • Childhood Obesity Prevention focuses on scientific discovery in the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of pediatric obesity along the full translational continuum, including basic science, clinical trials, behavioral interventions, and implementation/dissemination science.
  • Child Health, Development and Nutrition research investigates child health, behavior, and nutrition in relation to development and family functioning.

Faculty Members:

Affiliated and Emeritus Faculty:

  • John Chelonis Effects of drugs and toxicants on complex brain function in human children and non-human subjects
  • Patrick Casey Physical growth and development in high-risk preschool children, interventions to enhance growth and development, community interventions to improve child health/nutrition
  • James Robbins Health services research, outcomes of child health care, birth defects, child health status, adolescent mental health
  • R J Elbin sports-related concussion


Mary E. Aitken, M.D., MPH, Director

The Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE) is a multidisciplinary group of researchers including faculty representing Pediatrics, Epidemiology, Medical Sociology, Health Economics, Health Services Research, and Nutrition.  CARE is committed to improving the health of children and families through research focused on children, their families, and their communities.  Research is ongoing in four primary areas: child health services, pediatric injury prevention, childhood obesity prevention, and child health development and nutrition.

Child Health Services Research

Anthony Goudie, Ph.D. Health services research and policy focusing on patient safety, childhood obesity, vulnerable populations, and health impact of system level changes in insurance

Mary E. Aitken, M.D., M.P.H. Pediatric injury prevention, General pediatrics

Joseph W. Thompson, M.D., M.P.H.
Evaluation of delivery system quality and health care policies impacting physical, developmental, and emotional well-being of children and their families

Emily S. English, DrPH, MPS. Development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies and systems aimed at increasing access, availability, and consumption of healthy foods to address population health outcomes; farm to school and early childhood  education, school and community gardens, urban and rural food systems, and food insecurity.

Rosemary Nabaweesi, DrPH. Trauma systems evaluation and injury-related infant mortality prevention in underserved populations using implementation science methods

CARE houses health services research faculty devoted to child health services research. CARE faculty members study health services utilization and outcomes of health care for children and their families. Recent projects have evaluated outcomes of children following trauma, impact of injuries on rural populations, the health effects of hearing loss, quality of care in the pediatric intensive care unit, and the management of infants hospitalized with birth defects. Research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau among others. Faculty participate in multi-site collaborative research networks studying the quality of hospital care, outcomes of traumatic brain injury and other trauma, and the etiology of birth defects. CARE faculty has expertise in pediatrics, epidemiology, public policy, medical sociology, and health economics.

For further information on Child Health Services Research activities, please contact Dr. Goudie at

Child Health Development and Nutrition

Patrick H. Casey, M.D. Physical growth and development in high-risk preschool children; intervention methods to enhance their growth and development; community interventions to improve child health and nutrition

CARE faculty members study the nutritional status of children and their families. CARE also participates in the national Children’s Health Watch Program funded by the Kellogg Foundation. Children’s Health Watch is a multi-site research study evaluates the impact over time of Welfare reform on the health and nutrition status of young children and food security of their families.

For further information on Nutrition Research activities, please contact Dr. Casey at


Pediatric Injury Prevention

Mary E. Aitken, M.D., M.P.H. Pediatric Injury Prevention, General Pediatrics

Rosemary Nabaweesi, Dr.PH. Trauma systems performance and evaluation, injury-related infant mortality prevention, health disparities, underserved populations, implementation methods

CARE is home to the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  Goals of the IPC are to reduce injury-related deaths and disability among the children and youth of Arkansas. Strategies include research, public awareness and education, professional training, and identification of evidence-based policies to promote safety in motor vehicles, in recreation, and in the home. Particular focus areas for Arkansas include the increased and proper use of seatbelts and car seats for children, safer teenage driving initiatives, and the safe operation of all-terrain vehicles.


Childhood Obesity Prevention

Judith L. Weber, Ph.D., R.D. Pediatric obesity prevention and access to healthy foods

CARE is home to the Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention (CCOP) at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI), directed by Dr. Weber.  The Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention was funded in 2016 as an NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), the first of its kind to be located at ACRI. In its first five years, a COBRE focuses on developing research infrastructure and providing junior investigators with formal mentoring and research project funding to help them acquire preliminary data to successfully compete for independent research grant support in the specific thematic area – in this case, childhood obesity prevention. The first 10 projects funded under the CCOP are focusing on protein turnover and skeletal muscle health, oxidative capacity in obese children, novel biomarkers of obesity-related child health, maternal metabolic factors that affect obesity-related child health, obesity-promoting behavioral factors in early childcare settings, and environmental factors that affect obesity rates in Arkansas. The CCOP is currently in the second year of a 5-year Phase I COBRE, and will be eligible for another 5-year Phase II award in 2021.

Dr. Weber is also director of the Access to Healthy Foods Research Group, which focuses on the development, delivery, and evaluation of individual and environmental-level interventions such as farm to school, school and community gardens, and support for increased local and healthy food production, distribution, and consumption.

Associated Programs

Under the direction of John Chelonis, Ph.D., CARE provides administrative support for the Complex Brain Function Lab (in association with the National  Center for Toxicological Research) that compares the behavior of normal children with those having diagnosed psychological or physiological conditions.


Contact information

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Pediatrics/CARE   Slot 512-26
Arkansas Children’s Hospital
1 Children’s Way
Little Rock, AR   72202

Phone 501.364.3300
FAX 501.364.1552

CARE faculty members maintain a close affiliation with the Complex Brain Function Lab, Division of Biostatistics, Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, UAMS College of Public Health, and Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

Additional links:

Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center
Injury Prevention Center
Center for Birth Defects Research
Arkansas Children’s Research Institute
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement