Newswise — The University of Arkansas at Little Rock announced a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to support the development of potentially life-saving bone regeneration technology during a Nov. 15 visit from Sen. John Boozman. The visit celebrated on-campus research initiatives that the senator championed for federal support. 

Pioneered at the UA Little Rock Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences, the NuCress™ scaffold is a multifunctional device designed to promote controlled, robust bone regeneration in fractures, gaps where bone is missing, and major injury defects, including previously untreatable catastrophic injuries. Such a technology is highly needed by a wide variety of patients, including wounded soldiers, victims of major accidents and trauma, and those with various bone diseases.

The $750,000 grant, provided by the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program, will investigate the scaffold’s ability to combat infection while regenerating bone. Earlier this fall, UA Little Rock received a $5.6 million grant from the Department of Defense to fund the pre-market development of the same bone regeneration technology. Sen. Boozman supported both grants during the application stages. 

“The commitment by DOD to continue advancing bone regeneration technology demonstrates the importance of this research and the opportunities it presents for our wounded warriors,” Sen. Boozman said. “I’m proud to support this award so we can discover breakthroughs, spark innovation, and achieve things we might have thought were impossible. This and other important research being conducted at UA Little Rock is essential to moving us forward and gives Arkansas something to be very proud of.”

During the visit to UA Little Rock’s nanotechnology center, Sen. Boozman met with faculty and student researchers and toured the labs in which the NuCress™ scaffold  materials are developed. The bone regeneration research is led by researchers at UA Little Rock (principal investigator Dr. Alexandru Biris), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (principal investigator Dr. Mark Smeltzer), and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (principal investigator Dr. David Anderson).

“We are honored by both the DOD’s and Sen. Boozman’s continued support of our research,” Biris said. “Without it, we could not continue to develop this potentially life-changing technology.”

The NuCress™ bone regeneration scaffold also recently received a TechConnect Defense Innovation award for the second consecutive year. Judged by a team of military and industry experts, the award is given to the top 15 percent of submissions to the annual Defense TechConnect Summit and Expo. Award selections are based on the potential positive impact the technology will have for the military and national security. The award was presented to NuShores Biosciences LLC, the licensee of the NuCress™ scaffold. 

“The recognition of our NuCress™ technologies by the Expo judges is gratifying and much appreciated,” NuShores CEO Sharon Ballard said. “This year’s conference validated the marketplace need for our initial orthopedic product and for applying our NuCress™ technologies to new medical indications.”


The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 839 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work is supported by the Department of Defense, through the Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program under Award No. W81XWH1920014 and through the Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program under Award No. W81XWH1910742.  Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.