Michael Thomsen, Ph.D., invested in Governor Sidney S. McMath’s inaugural Chair in Obesity Prevention

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Thomsen (seated) is flanked by Gardner (left) and Williams (right), who presented him with the medallion and chair. Behind him is Phillip McMath, son of the late Governor Sid McMath.

Provided by Bryan Clifton

“To be entrusted with this endowment is the honor of my career,” said Thomsen. “But it’s more than that, and it’s bigger than me. It’s a gift that amplifies our ability to work together as an institution, and it’s a responsibility to give back and make a difference to the good in the life of the Arkansans. “

Thomsen joined UAMS in 2021 as a professor and director of the Center for the Study of Obesity at UAMS College of Public Health. Thomsen’s research focuses on the interface between the food distribution system and human health. His work has improved understanding of the environmental factors of excessive weight gain in Arkansas children and has helped identify student populations at high risk for childhood obesity. It also studies the role of nutrition programs in addressing food insecurity and improving food and health outcomes.

An endowed chair is one of the highest academic distinctions a university can bestow on a faculty member. A chair is established with donations of at least $ 1 million, which are invested and the interest proceeds used to support the educational, research and clinical activities of the chair holder. Those appointed to chairs are among the most renowned scientists, physicians and professors in their fields.

Thomsen and his family

Thomsen with family members (left to right): wife Judith Wang and daughters Amanda and Sophia Thomsen.Bryan clifton

“I would like to congratulate Dr. Thomsen on his accomplishments, which have earned this honor,” said Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Marshal and Director of Strategy. . “And I would like to especially thank those who are here today who made this chair a reality.

The Governor Sidney S. McMath Chair was created from settlement funds obtained by the McMath Woods law firm in a multi-state health-related lawsuit.

McMath, Governor of Arkansas from 1949 to 1953, is considered by many to be the father of modern UAMS because of his advocacy for a 2-cent cigarette tax to build the University Hospital, today hui UAMS Medical Center, and to relocate the MacArthur campus. Park at its West Markham site.

The chair was created with a $ 1 million donation from the law firm McMath Woods to promote and improve research related to obesity, to help develop the College’s Center for the Study of Obesity UAMS Public Health Department and provide leadership in developing a plan to address major nutrition and diet issues in Arkansas.

McMath, who died in 2003, was a native of Columbia County, a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a decorated veteran of the Pacific Theater during World War II. He would become a leading figure in the Southern reform movement, making major contributions to race relations, labor relations, rural electrification and other issues that aided the Arkansans.

“Governor McMath understood how issues like lack of electricity limited people’s lives,” said Thomsen. “He has developed and led successful efforts to connect the citizens of our state to a larger world of opportunity. As a lawyer, he advocated for laws that fight inequality, and he used the law to benefit those who needed and deserved help.

The efforts of the former governor were crucial in the construction of the UAMS campus and the nearby state hospital, as well as in the establishment of the UAMS Department of Psychiatry.

“Governor Sidney S. McMath’s Chair in Obesity Prevention is a fitting tribute to his legacy,” said Mark Williams, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Public Health. “Obesity is one of the chronic diseases, if not the most important in Arkansas. We expect Dr. Thomsen to be an exemplary scientific leader at UAMS and the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, and throughout the state of Arkansas.

“Mike was a farm boy from Utah, and he left to study agricultural economics,” said Andrew McKenzie, Ph.D., longtime colleague, associate director of the Department’s Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence. of Agriculture and Agri-Food Economics at the University of Arkansas, in a video recording. “But somewhere along the line, he got interested in how the food system shapes human health.”

“Mike has such a wide range of expertise in human health, which gives him a unique perspective on how to solve health problems and work with scientists in different fields,” McKenzie said. “Congratulations Mike. I know you will take your research and teaching programs to the next level in your new position.

In addition to the honor of being named the chair, Thomsen received a commemorative medallion and an engraved wooden chair.

“Over the years, I have been fortunate to have wonderful colleagues, like Dr. McKenzie,” said Thomsen. “These colleagues also include many here at UAMS, the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, and the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. In fact, our research into the economics of obesity and nutrition has been successful through these partnerships, and that’s why I’m at UAMS today.

“I am convinced that the opportunities here at UAMS to understand the mechanisms leading to unacceptably high and disparate obesity rates are unprecedented,” said Thomsen.

Thomsen received his BSc and MSc in Agricultural Economics from Utah State University in 1993 and 1994, respectively. He received a Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota in 1998.

Thomsen comes to UAMS from the University of Arkansas and the Agriculture Division of the UA System, where he has worked for the past 23 years. Most recently, he was a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Agri-Food Economics.

Thomsen will develop active research programs related to obesity prevention, collaborate with UAMS researchers on obesity-related work, and contribute to the college’s various doctoral and postdoctoral programs.

Thomsen’s mentoring and teaching has been recognized with the Jack G. Justus Endowment for Teaching Excellence and the Alumni Society Outstanding Advising Award at the AU.


UAMS is the only health sciences university in the state, with faculties of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, health professions, and public health; a higher school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a regional campus in northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation . UAMS comprises UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS ‘clinical activities, including its hospital, regional clinics, and the clinics it operates or employs in cooperation with d ‘other providers. UAMS is the state’s only Level 1 adult trauma center. American News and World Report recognized the UAMS medical center as the best hospital for 2021-2022; ranked their ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationally for third year; and named five high performing areas: Colon Cancer Surgery, Diabetes, Hip Replacement, Knee Replacement and Stroke. Forbes The magazine ranked UAMS seventh nationally on its list of Best Diversity Employers. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationally on Forbes’ List of Top Employers for Women and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide patient care to UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, VA Medical Center and by Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

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