National Alumni Society Member
Name: Beverly Laird
Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Ph.D., School of Public Health, UAB - 2003
Hometown: Paris, Tennessee
Current town: Birmingham, AL
Current employer and job: self-employed - owner of 3D Medical Concepts, LLC, Pelham, AL
How has UAB impacted your life? I am a breast cancer survivor, and that experience inspired me to go back to school and earn a doctorate in public health. I was thankful and delighted when Dr. David Coombs, then vice chair of the department of health behavior in the School of Public Health, offered me a full scholarship. However, Dr. Coombs attached an important “string” to the scholarship—that I promise to give back to UAB and my community upon graduation. My dissertation focused on the essential components of psychosocial care for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. This expertise and my passion for advocacy have allowed me to be a part of so many terrific programs. I am the co-founder of the American Cancer Society’s Young Survivors’ Group in Birmingham and have been a coordinator and trainer for Reach to Recover. I have been honored to serve on the National Cancer Institute’s Director’s Consumer Liaison Group, making sure that funding was available and was directed in ways that are meaningful to real patients.
What would you do if you were given more time each day? First, I would spend more time with my grandchild. Next, I would focus even more on patient advocacy. This past May, I spoke on behalf of the Komen Advocates in Science, at the Inaugural FDA Patient Network Annual Meeting in Silver Spring, MD. I addressed the value that patient perspectives provide for scientific dialogue, the critical step to understand the disease on a patient’s whole lifestyle, as well as the patient perception and evaluation of risks associated with medical treatment.
What do you do professionally? My brother, Harry Lee, and I own 3D Medical Concepts where we design, develop, prototype, and manufacture surgical products. Amazingly, surgeons and other frontline health care professionals generally lack outlets to explore their ideas to create or improve devices which could potentially reduce medical costs and/or increase efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of both surgeon and patient. We are highly interested in learning about these ideas and collaborating directly with surgeons to innovate new approaches and devices to improve health care.
Although Beverly is a faithful financial supporter of UAB, she has also more than abundantly fulfilled the “attached string” of her doctorate scholarship to give back through her tireless efforts as a patient advocate volunteer and her professional role in innovating new surgical devices and approaches.
Name: Matthew S. Loop
Current Area of Study: PhD student, Biostatistics
Graduation Year: M.A. 2012, PhD, 2015
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
What inspired you to pursue your major? The late statistician John Tukey once said, “The great thing about statistics is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.” My passion for Biostatistics lies in that simple joy. When I entered college as a freshman Biology major, I thought I would end up studying medicine at UAB. The only problem was that by my sophomore year, I realized I had no interest in being a doctor. As I spent the next year and a half wondering what career path to take, I realized that I did indeed like Biology, as well as Mathematics. I heard the word Biostatistics the next day.
How is UAB nurturing your academic development? The UAB community has many backyards. UAB has always boasted about having a collaborative environment, and it truly does. Whenever someone in the research groups I am involved in has a new idea, they never think, “Well, so-and-so already works on that, so we will have to be careful to not step on their toes.” The response has always been, “I will call them up and get them on the grant.” As a young scientist interested in learning how to use data to answer questions, an environment like this provides many opportunities, no matter what disease or method you would like to study.
Who are some of your favorite professors and how are they influencing your work? My research interests initially lay in clinical trial design, working with Dr. David Allison to estimate treatment effects on individual participants. Since then, I have worked with Dr. Leslie McClure, investigating air pollution’s effects on cardiovascular and cognitive health. Being the collaborative environment that it is, UAB has allowed me to work with NASA data sets, as well as data from the best nationwide study of stroke incidence that exists (the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke [REGARDS] study, run by Dr. George Howard in Biostatistics).
Playing in all of these backyards is fun, especially when you have a great mentor and department to come home to. With Dr. McClure as my mentor, Dr. Tukey is now my academic great-grandfather. I think he would be proud that his scholarly descendant is in an environment like the UAB School of Public Health.