Faculty and Staff

Clinical Faculty

Daniel Knight, M.D., Department Chair and former residency Program Director, joined the faculty in 1999.  He is board certified by the ABFM.  He was in private family practice for 6 years and was a full time Emergency Physician for 5 years prior to returning to UAMS.  Dr. Knight is a board member of the AAFP and a member of the UAMS Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee and the UAMS Council of Department Chairs.  He has completed the National Institute for Program Director Development Fellowship for residency directors.  He is a member of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the AAFP, and the STFM.  Dr. Knight serves the community as a board member of the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation, providing safe, affordable housing to lower-income members of the community. From 1999 to 2009, he served as the residency Program Director.

Tina Wells, M.D. joined the faculty in December 2013 as the residency Program Director.  Dr. Wells is a native of Louisiana and a graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and of the Family Medicine residency program of the Baton Rouge General Medical Center.  Most recently, she has been working as a family physician in Ketchikan, Alaska, where she was also the assistant medical director of the Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Health Center. Before that she practiced in Baton Rouge for many years.  She also was teaching faculty/rural preceptor for the FM residency programs in Baton Rouge and at Tulane University from 1998 to 2012, an AHEC rural preceptor for medical students from LSU (New Orleans and Shreveport) and Tulane Medical School, and a preceptor for nurse practitioners at Loyola University.

Shashank Kraleti, M.D. joined the faculty in 2012 at the rank of assistant professor.  He serves as Associate Director of the residency program and is a CME Medical Director.  Dr. Kraleti, who graduated from our program, was chief resident during his third year and was fundamental in implementing the night float system in the department.  He was also the recipient of the STAR Professionalism Award and the AAFP Scholarship Award.  In additional to his published research articles, Dr. Kraleti has had papers accepted for presentations in national arenas such as the North American Primary Care Research Group, STFM, and the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development in Canada.  He also has appeared on Little Rock television several times to discuss topics such as heat-related illnesses and adult immunizations.  When he is away from work, he enjoys listening to music, watching movies, traveling, and swimming.  Dr. Kraleti’s clinical interests include hypertension, diabetes, preventive care, behavioral medicine, and research.

Rajalakshmi Cheerla, M.D. joined the faculty in July 2012 and serves as Associate Director of Medical Student Education.  While a resident, she earned the Outstanding Resident Award, the TOP Professionalism Award, and the STFM Resident Teacher Award.  In addition she won the STAR Professionalism Award and the Medical Knowledge Award twice for earning the highest in-training exam score in the program, including one score that was in the top 1% nationally.  Dr. Cheerla was chosen for the two-year AHEC Academic Fellowship program, which provides advanced study for faculty members to learn application of new knowledge for the ongoing improvement of healthcare services and the educational needs of family medicine residents and students.  She is a member of the AAFP and the STFM, and she was board certified by the ABFM in June 2012.  Dr. Cheerla practices full spectrum family medicine with a special emphasis on resident and medical student education, women’s and children’s health care, preventive health, and quality improvement based on evidence-based medicine.  Her outside interests include reading, gardening, hiking, camping, kayaking, swimming, and spending time outdoors with her wonderful daughters and family.

Jamie Howard, M.D., is the Medical Director of the Family Medical Center which is the clinical teaching facility for the residency program. She directs the Preventive Occupational and Environmental Medicine Division and UAMS Student and Employee Health Services. She also oversees the clinical laboratory and is director of the Department’s Quality Improvement (QI) program. Women’s health, Continuous Quality Improvement, Practice Management and Medical Informatics are areas of personal interest and expertise. She is certified by the American Board of Family Practice.

Mark Jansen MD joined the faculty in 2013.  He comes from private practice in the college town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.  He is a 1981 graduate of UAMS and finished his family practice residency at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa Medical College in 1984.  Dr. Jansen has a special interest in dermatology and dermatological procedures and was fortunate enough to train with his father, who was chair of the Dermatology Department at UAMS for 25 years.  Additionally, he has extensive experience in colonoscopy and intends to be providing this service to our patients as well as assist the interested residents in acquiring this skill.  His wife Cynthia is a family practice nurse practitioner and pediatric APN.  His son Neal is an industrial recruiter for the state of Arkansas in Asia and his daughter Suzanne will receive her Doctor of Pharmacology from UAMS in 2014.

Arlo Kahn, M.D., is professor of Family Medicine and associate professor in the Health Policy and Management Department of the UAMS College of Public Health. Dr. Kahn holds the Harold Silberbush, M.D. Endowed Chair in Family and Community Medicine. His special interests include nutrition, prevention and health advocacy. Dr. Kahn, who is certified by the American Board of Family Practice, has extensive teaching experience in undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education.

David A. Nelsen, Jr., M.D., practiced medicine in rural Arkansas for five years and served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota before joining the Department. He completed a faculty development fellowship and a Master of Science in Family and Community Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He is an active clinician and is certified by the American Board of Family Practice. Dr. Nelsen is the Assistant Medical Director for Clinical Informatics for the UAMS campus. In this role he is the primary physician representative for informatics issues relative to inpatient and outpatient information systems.

Charles W. Smith, M.D., a nationally known family physician, serves as Executive Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs for the UAMS College of Medicine and Director of the Faculty Group Practice. Dr. Smith serves as a preceptor in the clinic, attends on the inpatient service, and provides clinical care to his patients in the department.  See more about Dr. Smith here.

Zuma Soultanova, M.D., Ph.D., earned her medical degree and Ph.D. at Moscow Medical Academy in Russia. Her dissertation topic was “Prevention of Thromboembolic Complications in Pregnant Women with Heart Disorders.” Dr. Soultanova worked as a staff OB/GYN doctor in a Moscow maternity hospital and later served as an assistant professor in the OB/GYN department for seven years at Moscow Medical Academy. After moving to the U.S. she worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the UAMS Department of Physiology. Later she completed the UAMS Family Medicine residency program and is now FM board certified. Dr. Soultanova’s medical interests include women’s health, family planning, and physiologic pregnancies.

Deipti Trehun, M.Djoined the faculty in 2011.  She is a graduate of the Little Rock Family Medicine residency program, where she served as a chief resident and won multiple awards, including the STAR Professionalism Award, the Goss Physician/Patient Relationship Award, and the Outstanding Resident Award.  Dr. Trehun‘s outside interests include karate (she is a black belt), swimming, reading, and watching movies.  Her clinical interests include diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

Non-Clinical Faculty

Diane Jarrett, Ed.D., is the DFPM Director of Education and the Assistant Director of the residency program.  Her duties include curriculum design, program evaluation, coordination of the noon conference series, and teaching residents on subjects such as becoming culturally competent and improving presentation skills.  Dr. Jarrett also directs the educational activities for the divisions of Continuing Medical Education and Medical Student Education and is a CME Medical Director.  She serves as the department webmaster, coordinates faculty development activities, and edits the alumni newsletter.  In recent years, she has made more than a dozen presentations at conferences around the U.S. and Canada.  She holds the rank of Assistant Professor, serves on the AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science communications subcommittee, is the DFPM faculty liaison with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is a member of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.  Dr. Jarrett’s master’s degree is in journalism and her doctorate is in higher education administration.  When she isn’t working, she enjoys writing about classic films.  She had two publications in 2013 in the international journal Films of the Golden Age — a cover story on the silent film career of actor William Boyd, and a featured story on stage, film, and TV actor George Macready.

Chris Rule, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., serves as the Behavioral Scientist for the department and has worked for the residency program in this role since 2008. He joined the UAMS faculty as an Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry in 2008 and earned a secondary appointment in the DFPM in 2011. He has worked in a variety of clinical, teaching and research positions, and currently divides his time between working with the Family Medicine residents and with students at a local independent school as a school-based counselor. He earned his Master’s of Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where he has also served as an Adjunct Instructor since 2005. He earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Yale University, which was where his long-held interests in working with adolescent mental health, schools and communities first began.

Community Research Group Faculty

Click here for information about the faculty in our Community Research Group.


Shannon Heard, B.A., is the Residency Coordinator who provides administrative support for the residency program.  She was originally hired in 2010 in the residency program as an Administrative Analyst for the HRSA grant project on service to underserved populations.  When the grant funding ended in 2012, she was hired by our Research division, where she ultimately became a Project Specialist.  In September 2013, she returned to the residency program as the Residency Coordinator.  Her B.A. is in economics (with distinction) from the University of the South, and she is currently an M.B.A. candidate at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.