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As parents of graduates facing the toughest job market in years, what can you do to assist your son or daughter in transitioning from the secure world of classes and residence halls to the unknown reality of what lies ahead? Here are some suggestions:

Ask how you can help
Your daughter may have specific ideas about ways you can assist her. Your editing skills may be the second pair of eyes needed to critique a resume; your managerial skills could be useful as a mock interviewer; your research skills might uncover some new job leads. Think about how your role as something other than mom or dad could be helpful. But don't be pushy: Let her take the lead.

Suggest a visit to the campus career center
The campus career center provides a wealth of job search resources: Job postings, career fairs, resume assistance, and career counseling, just to name a few. Make sure your son or daughter is aware of the office. If your new grad isn't near his alma mater, suggest that he call the career services offices at local colleges and ask if help is available.

Offer networking contacts
Networking is the most effective way to find jobs in the hidden job market—where many opportunities are discovered. With your son's permission, talk to your co-workers about your son's job search. Discuss it with neighbors and friends. You never know who may know of a job opportunity.

Be ready to hear new ideas
Your son may mention attending graduate school. Or, your daughter, who has discussed a career in journalism for years, may suddenly talk about sales. Listen to your new grad's ideas with an open mind, making positive suggestions when appropriate.
Ask your new grad open-ended questions: This will show your son or daughter that you're interested—and the answers will help your new grad think through the new ideas they're considering.

Provide a sounding board when frustrations overflow
The nightly news about unemployment is stressful. Imagine trying to complete your studies and conduct job search, too. If your daughter calls to talk, but she really needs to vent, listen to her. Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all.

Give an early graduation present with the job search in mind
Don't wait until May to say congratulations. Now is a great time to give a graduation present that will be used during the job search and first year on the job. Looking for ideas? Interview suits, briefcases, portfolios, and memory sticks are great gifts for the new grad.

Reassure your new grad that this bad job market is temporary
The ebb and flow of the economy is constant, and brighter days lie ahead. You've likely experienced similar ups and downs. Convey your experience to them.

Look and listen for signs of depression
If your son or daughter talks about skipping class, exhaustion, or loss of appetite, he or she might need some help. If your student is still on campus, contact appropriate campus representatives (residence life offices, counseling centers, etc.) for help.

Remind your new grad that you are proud of his or her accomplishments
A sour economy should not take away the success of earning a college degree. Be sure your son or daughter knows that you are proud of this achievement. Send a card or make a phone call to specifically convey this message.

From an article by Kelli Robinson

UAB News

  • UAB awarded Gates Foundation Grand Challenge awards to address maternal-fetal health in South Africa
    UAB receives two grants from the Gates Foundation to address pregnancy-related problems in developing countries.
    Written by Kendra Carter
    Media contact: Bob Shepard, bshep@uab.edu

    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.”

  • Landefeld named to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
    UAB’s Landefeld named to government panel that helps determine recommendations on preventive health measures.

    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.

  • Landmark Type 2 diabetes study continues — volunteers still needed
    Research volunteers are needed for a UAB study to determine which combinations of Type 2 diabetes drugs work best for different groups of people.

    Volunteers with Type 2 diabetes are still needed for a continuing national study of the long-term benefits and risks of four widely used diabetes drugs in combination with metformin, the most common first-line medication for treating Type 2 diabetes.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of 50 institutions across the nation participating in the Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness Study, or GRADE study. GRADE is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health with a goal of enrolling 5,000 patients nationwide.

    “The GRADE study is the first comparative effectiveness study which will look directly at the four major treatments for diabetes, compare them, and try to determine which one or ones are the best for treating Type 2 diabetes,” said Andrea L. Cherrington, M.D., associate professor of preventive medicine and co-primary investigator at UAB. “At present, there is little consensus on which combinations of the current diabetes drugs in conjunction with metformin will best serve different patient populations.”

    Metformin is widely accepted as the first medication that should be used to treat Type 2 diabetes; however, most patients eventually require an additional medication to manage the disease. The results of GRADE will help doctors guide the management of individuals with Type 2 diabetes in the future and might provide more immediate benefits now to those who participate.

    Phil Ferguson has been enrolled for more than a year. He knew his blood sugar levels had been rising over time, but he did not fully grasp the need to take control of his diabetes until he became involved in the study.

    “The best part of this study has been the people conducting it,” Ferguson said. “They are informative and compassionate and really help you understand how diabetes affects you. I’m in a much better place now for having joined the GRADE study, and I’ll miss it when it wraps up in a few years.”

    People with Type 2 diabetes may be eligible to join the GRADE study if they:

    • Have had Type 2 diabetes for less than 10 years
    • Are over 30 years old
    • Are American Indian and over 20 years old
    • Take only metformin (Glucophage®) for their diabetes
    • Are willing to take a second diabetes medication
    • Are willing to make four office visits per year for the next four to six years

    Participants in the GRADE study will receive:

    • Close follow-up from an expert diabetes care team at no cost
    • Diabetes medications and supplies at no cost
    • Diabetes care visits and lab tests at no cost
    • Diabetes education at no cost

    The GRADE study is looking to enroll a cross section of patients with Type 2 diabetes of any age, gender and ethnicity. The study will follow its participants for seven years and will provide free medications and diabetes care. Contact Dana Golson at 205-996-4015 or ccnrn@uab.edu for more information on enrolling in the study.

    “It is estimated that nearly one in three children, and one in two minority children, born after the year 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes,” said W. Timothy Garvey, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, director of the UAB Diabetes Research Center, and co-primary investigator at UAB. “Type 2 diabetes progresses gradually, and this study will help us understand how different combinations of medicines affect the disease and the people who are taking those medications over time.”

    Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic that threatens to become the century’s major public health problem and poses enormous human and economic challenges worldwide. Nearly 26 million Americans are affected by diabetes, and 79 million have pre-diabetes.

    GRADE (ClinicalTrials.gov number: NCT01794143) is supported under NIH grant U01DK098246. Additional support in the form of donation of supplies comes from the National Diabetes Education Program, Sanofi-Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novo Nordisk, Merck, BD Medical and Roche Diagnostics.

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