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A newly restarted campaign at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s new Hill Student Center will again offer specially engraved bricks, with funds raised to help students.
The Pave the Way campaign benefits the Undergraduate Student Government Association’s Student Emergency Loan Fund, to assist students in need. For $100, purchasers may have a brick engraved with a message.
“Through the USGA Emergency Loan Program, we were able to grant small, interest-free loans to 32 students this past year to meet expenses that helped them focus on classes,” said USGA treasurer Weslie Shannon in 2015. “Being able to offer this and help fellow students in a stressful situation is what the UAB spirit is all about.”
Each paver is 6 inches by 12 inches and may be engraved with as many as two lines with 16 characters each. The message may show school spirit or be offered in honor or memory of a student, faculty or staff member. The pavers are included in a common area of the new building, which officially opened for the spring semester in January 2016. A limited number of pavers are available.
With 162,000 square feet of space for student activities, gatherings and services, the UAB Hill Student Center provides meeting, conference and auditorium space; student organization spaces; upgraded dining facilities including Full Moon Bar-B-Que, Mein Bowl, Starbucks and soon-to-be-open Panera Bread; a ballroom that can be divided into four sections; a stadium-style theater; a two-story bookstore; a technology store; the Campus Visit Center; and the One-Stop Student Service center for admissions, course registration, student accounting, parking, financial aid and student ID functions.
A full listing of all departments and services, as well as a building map, reservation request forms and more, is available at www.uab.edu/studentcenter. The new center replaces the former Hill University Center, at the corner of University Boulevard and 14th Street South.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine is partnering with researchers at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria, South Africa, to address pregnancy-related problems in developing countries, funded by two $2.5 million grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Gates Foundation’s All Children Thriving initiative received 54 letters of intent — or preliminary applications for funding — in the current funding round. UAB investigators submitted five of the 54. The All Children Thriving initiative focuses on creating new tools and methods that ensure safe, healthy births for both infants and mothers.
Rubin Pillay, M.D., Ph.D., assistant dean for global health innovation at the UAB School of Medicine and professor of health care innovation and entrepreneurship in the UAB Collat School of Business, says nine proposals — including three from UAB — were invited to make full submissions. “Of those, three grant awards were made, and UAB received two,” he said.
In the first project, UAB researchers are looking to develop a low-cost, one-time blood test for gestational diabetes, a disease that increases the risk of birth injury, cesarean delivery and stillbirth and has lifelong adverse health consequences for both mothers and infants. Currently, the diagnosis of gestational diabetes relies on glucose tolerance testing, which is expensive and time-consuming to administer. UAB researchers are working to develop an improved diagnostic method that is reproducible, inexpensive, requires only one blood draw, and can be performed at a wide range of gestational ages.
Doctors and researchers at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University will recruit pregnant South African women at 20 to 28 weeks pregnant who will be screened for gestational diabetes with routine glucose tolerance testing. Metabolomics analyses, an innovative technology that can measure thousands of analytes simultaneously, will be performed to identify unique biomarkers of gestational diabetes, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Researchers will then identify the biomarkers with the greatest sensitivity and specificity for gestational diabetes and combine them into a single test.
The second project aims to develop an easy-to-use and cost-effective cervical pessary — a device placed at the opening of the cervix to close it — with sensors to detect and prevent preterm labor. In South Africa, approximately eight out of every 100 infants are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation, according to Pillay. This amounted to approximately 84,000 preterm births in South Africa in 2011.
|“These projects give UAB the opportunity to partner with a new medical school in South Africa for truly innovative research that could have a transformative impact on the lives of women and children in developing areas. The fact that we received two of the three project awards shows our competitiveness in patient-centered research and highlights our successful efforts to increase UAB’s impact on global health care delivery.”|
A short cervical length is one of the best predictors of subsequent, spontaneous preterm birth. Pillay says the two best interventions to prevent preterm birth are the use of vaginal progesterone and the placement of a cervical pessary, but significant barriers to care in developing countries — such as access to needed medical equipment and patient compliance — limit effectiveness and success of the treatments. The UAB pessary would have sensors to detect preterm labor that link to a mobile phone to alert women of cervical shortening and dilation and would also contain progesterone, which would be administered directly to combat cervical shortening.
Pillay says the research and development effort is a multidepartment, multischool collaboration across UAB and includes the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the School of Medicine; the School of Engineering; the Department of Computer and Information Science in the College of Arts and Sciences; and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint department in the Schools of Medicine and Engineering.
“These projects give UAB the opportunity to partner with a new medical school in South Africa for truly innovative research that could have a transformative impact on the lives of women and children in developing areas,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. “The fact that we received two of the three project awards shows our competitiveness in patient-centered research and highlights our successful efforts to increase UAB’s impact on global health care delivery.”
Pillay thinks that the product development experience could produce long-lasting benefits for the Birmingham economy, as well as for patient care in the United States.
“While we’re developing the cervical pessary, we’re also hoping to spin off other products, like for example, a sensor-based device to monitor cervical dilation of women in labor, so women don’t need to be digitally examined every hour,” he said. “A big part of the future of health care is going to involve sensor-based technology, so I think this project will provide invaluable lessons and expertise for local scientists and researchers. This project is going to help us build capacity locally.”
C. Seth Landefeld, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been appointed to theU.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The task force is an independent, volunteer panel composed of experts from many health-related fields, including internal medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics/gynecology, and nursing. Each is appointed by the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Each year, the task force examines the evidence base for preventive health services — such as screenings, counseling services and preventive medications — and delivers an annual report to Congress with recommendations about whether specific clinical preventive practices help or harm the health of Americans. While its recommendations have sometimes been controversial, specifically related to mammograms for women under 50 and prostate cancer screening, the task force has had a positive impact on the role of prevention in routine doctor visits over the past 20 years.
“We are proud to congratulate Seth on this prestigious new appointment,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “We are confident that his experience, skill and leadership will serve the task force well.”
Landefeld is internationally known for his work in geriatrics, general internal medicine and health care research, with the emphasis of his work aiming to personalize health care for the elderly and to improve their outcomes. He is a thought leader on the safe delivery of medicines and care delivery models that improve geriatric outcomes.