The importance of The College to the community

By Cynthia Ryan, associate professor of English specializing in composition and rhetoric.

Kairos. The ancient Greeks coined the term to describe the opportune time and place for action. The savviest folks in the courtroom or at the agora, a common meeting place back in the day for deliberating with fellow citizens, were those who knew not only how to craft a stellar argument, but also when and how to deliver it to achieve the desired result. While we’re a long way from ancient Greece in 2014 Birmingham, we in the College of Arts and Sciences know a thing or two about embracing ideas when the time is right, the iron is hot, the planets align . . . you get the idea.

Cynthia Ryan. Cynthia RyanAs the stories in this issue reveal, students and faculty across CAS are engaged in the kinds of cutting-edge research and energizing collaborations that will make this a year to remember. Our new dean, Robert Palazzo, set the stage when he described the college as “a platform for the collision of ideas.” Over time, we’ve come to value what happens when you gather lots of folks, not of the same mind, to tackle issues that affect multiple disciplines and stakeholders. The result can be pure magic.

Several of the alumni entrepreneurs profiled in the magazine illustrate the point. For instance, Stephen Brossette, M.D., Ph.D., launched the company MedMined after recognizing that data he was gathering for one purpose could be used to solve another problem of significant import: tracking infection rates in hospitals and among specific populations to assist in predicting and responding to disease. Surrounding himself with engineers, UAB professor of optometry Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., saw that the exciting ideas and products they were co-developing could be shared with a much wider audience — a decision that’s taken both him and his discoveries into outer space.

The brand of storytelling that comes to life in UAB’s Digital Media Lab also reflects kairos at its best. As director of the center Rosie O’Beirne notes, a new media landscape requires that students from many orientations come together to do what they do best in collaboration to create the kinds of multimodal projects that define how we know what we know in the 21st century. Writers. Graphic designers. Musicians. Videographers. By working in tandem at this pivotal time in The College, these student-experts are dabbling in the innovative methods for creating texts that will carry them forth into meaningful, ever-evolving contexts that we can only imagine at this historical moment.

Kairos brings us together with those outside UAB, too. An excellent example is the growing partnership between the National Science Foundation, UAB’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Birmingham Business Alliance — work that will lead to applications using diamonds for a variety of purposes, among them knee implants, lasers, and sensors. As Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., professor of physics and associate dean in The College explains, the synergy between scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovative centers in the area is anticipated to help all involved “move ideas from the laboratory across the hurdles separating them from commercial use.”

All of these instances reveal people embracing opportunities to put thoughts into action when and where they will be of value.

And let’s not forget the tasty sea urchins growing in the aquaculture lab of Stephen Watts, Ph.D. While Watts’ research makes for entertaining television, it more importantly addresses a vital need: a sudden drop in the population of the species due to overfishing and an accompanying loss of jobs. It’s an endeavor whose time has come. The ancient Greeks would be proud.

CAS Alumni Entrepreneurs are rooted in their UAB education

Seeds.

By Gail Allyn Short

Stephen Brossette, M.D., Ph.D.

At UAB, New Orleans native Stephen Brossette found just what he was looking for — an opportunity to participate in the Medical Scientist Training Program, a combined M.D./Ph.D. program that prepares students for careers as physician researchers. For his doctorate, he opted to enroll in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences (CIS). He completed his CIS studies in 1998 and finished medical school at UAB in 1999.

While working on one research project, Brossette decided to gather data on hospital infection rates and soon realized that mining databases to analyze hospital records was a more accurate way to track the spread of infections and antibiotic resistance in hospitals and communities.

It wasn’t long before Brossette’s data-mining research caught the attention of a company that wanted to commercialize it. But he saw the offer as confirmation that he could go into business for himself.

Stephen Brosette. Stephen BrosetteSo in 2000, he co-founded MedMined Inc. with Patrick Hymel and G. T. LaBoede. The company used patented data-mining techniques to efficiently identify and report infection outbreaks to the public and provide opportunities for hospitals to change their processes to prevent future infections.

“The growth was hard won,” he says “A lot of people look at the story of MedMined and think, wow, this company was an overnight success, but it wasn’t. There was nothing about it that felt like an overnight success. There were three of us that started the company, and we worked for years before we turned the corner to really become a successful business.”

In 2006, when Cardinal Health bought MedMined, Brossette stayed on as vice president for three years. But during that period, he and his original business partners began brainstorming ideas for a new business. They discussed misidentification of medications, the difficulties some patients have in keeping track of all of them and how technology could help.

They came up with an app that could capture the images of several pills at one time and match them against images in a database of more than 4,000 medications. The app, Brossette says, would give doctors, nurses, and pharmacists a way to identify a patient’s different medications within seconds. Moving forward with their idea, the team founded MedSnap LLC in 2009.

MedSnap is now marketing the technology, MedScan ID, to hospitals and insurers. Earlier this year, Brossette and his team introduced the MedScan ID to a group of UAB physician assistant students in the School of Health Professions so they could try it out.

Brossette, who is the chief science officer for MedSnap, says he and his business partners are now in the process of designing an app that will let patients and caregivers snap a picture of medications that need identification from home.

Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D.

Larry DeLucas. Larry DeLucasFormer astronaut and UAB professor of optometry Larry DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from UAB in 1972 and 1974 respectively. “The reason I ended up majoring in chemistry was due to the faculty I interacted with in the chemistry department,” DeLucas says. “In particular, I worked during the summer for Dr. Thomas St. Pierre who was a polymer chemist on the chemistry department faculty. He really gave me the confidence to believe that I could be successful as a scientist.”

A native of Syracuse, DeLucas continued his education at UAB with a second bachelor’s degree in physiological optics in 1979, followed by an optometry degree in 1981 and a doctorate in biochemistry in 1982. He later taught optometry courses at UAB and conducted studies on x-ray protein crystallography, a technology used to examine the structure of proteins, which is important for developing new drugs. By 1985, DeLucas was director of the purification and crystallization laboratory and associate director of the UAB Center for Macromolecular Crystallography.

Then in 1992, DeLucas became the first optometrist to go into space when he orbited the earth for 13 days aboard the space shuttle Columbia as a NASA payload specialist. The idea to start a business came, DeLucas says, while he was trying to build technologies to NASA’s specifications so he could send experiments on future space shuttles. He hired a staff of engineers to help him build protein crystallization hardware that would meet NASA’s flight hardware standards.

“Having engineers around me who could design and fabricate prototype hardware using the UAB research machine shop helped me develop new biotechnologies. [That] led me to consider forming a company to commercialize the technologies,” says DeLucas, who also directs the UAB Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering (CBSE). DeLucas, who became CBSE director in 1994, launched Diversified Scientific Inc., in 1997. The company licensed some of his technologies for protein crystallization through UAB’s Research Foundation (UABRF).

Seeds sprouting. Diversified spawned other spin-off companies such as the 2007 biotech venture Vivo Biosciences Inc., that uses a proprietary human-based media to culture cells, grow three-dimensional tissue and perform biological assays. DeLucas’ newest company, Soluble Therapeutics Inc, was established in 2009. It licensed from the UABRF a protein solubility technology developed by DeLucas, members of the CBSE, and Dr. William Wilson, a colleague from Mississippi State University. The technology has applications in fundamental protein research and protein therapeutics such as vaccine development. So far, DeLucas has registered more than 30 patents.

“I think that in science it’s really important that you work hard, but you want to also be innovative,” he says. “You want to always be thinking of solutions to problems. What’s a better way to do something?’”

David Graves, Ph.D.

David Graves, Ph.D., is both an alumnus and the chair of the Department of Chemistry. The Gardendale, Alabama, native entered UAB as an undergraduate student in 1970. Influenced by his physical chemistry professor, Dr. Charles Watkins, Graves found himself well prepared by his mentor. “I’ve been doing physical biochemistry for about 30 years as a professor, so that course put me on the track that I have made a career out of in terms of my research.”

While in school, Graves worked part-time in the UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology reproductive endocrinology laboratory, which he says helped influence his decision to earn a doctorate degree in biochemistry.

David Graves. David GravesAfter earning his Ph.D., Graves completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester. He accepted a job as a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Mississippi in 1984, where he taught chemistry for 20 years, eventually reaching the role of Distinguished Faculty Fellow in 2002.

His plan was to retire at the University of Mississippi, Graves says, but he started getting inquiries from individuals at UAB about returning to his alma mater to become chair of the chemistry department — stepping in for Larry Krannich, Ph.D., who was retiring.

After accepting the chairmanship in 2003, one of his major areas of focus was exploring ways to enhance chemistry faculty collaborations with researchers across campus on projects involving drug discovery, biophysical chemistry, and structural biology, and to conduct basic science investigations that could dovetail into translational research — taking basic science research to the clinical setting — that was taking place at UAB.

Graves became a senior scientist with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and eventually teamed with two center researchers, Katri Selander, M.D., Ph.D., and Kevin Harris, M.D., to develop a blood test that could tell doctors within hours whether a particular chemotherapy treatment was working. The test had the potential to save cancer patients from undergoing repeated rounds of chemotherapy before a clinical determination could be made on whether the patient’s tumor was shrinking.

The group consulted with the UAB Research Foundation in applying for a patent on the extracellular telomere assay. In 2011, they launched Blondin Biosciences to further develop the assay.

Operating in the business world required a new set of skills, and Graves and his partners took advantage of classes offered through the Birmingham Business Alliance and Innovation Depot, UAB’s business incubator. There they learned the fundamentals of developing a business plan, ways to pitch their product to potential investors, and how to convey the science behind the blood test in layman’s terms.

A year later, Blondin Biosciences was a finalist in the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama’s Alabama Launchpad competition, providing a real-world, working example of UAB’s brand: ”Knowledge that will change your world.” The group is now working to refine proof-of-concept and refine the diagnostic test while at the same time securing funding for their business.

Theresa Harper Bruno, M.A.

When Orlando, Florida, native Theresa Harper Bruno chose to study history at UAB, she was at a career crossroads. She previously had studied at the Juilliard School of Music with dreams of becoming a concert pianist, but she was forced to consider other options when the arduous, 10-hour-a-day practices injured her hand.

Theresa Bruno. Theresa BrunoBruno set out to find an occupation where she could still be both creative and practical. She returned to Birmingham, where she had strong family ties, chose advertising and marketing, and later became the advertising director for Regions Bank. She then spent 10 years as a creative director and partner at the Birmingham-based marketing and public relations firm Perry, Harper & Perry, which opened in 1989. Meanwhile she had enrolled at UAB to pursue a master’s degree in history, she says.

“I felt that I was under-educated outside of the arts,” she says, “and I was also considering going to law school at the time. I liked the Women’s Studies program and the personal attention by the professors.”

Bruno received her master of arts degree from UAB in 1990. She continued working in advertising. Then in 2005, Bruno opened her own firm, Theresa Harper Bruno Inc., a holding company offering services such as strategic planning and consulting and film production.

Bruno says that she had always dabbled in design over the years, and soon she began creating her own line of jewelry using pearls and other precious stones.

A sapling grown from the seeds. In 2010, she launched Jordan Alexander Jewelry, and the success of the line was almost immediate. Not long after the launch, her pieces were featured in The New York Times. Then she got a call from the White House saying that First Lady Michelle Obama planned to wear some of her jewelry to a state dinner. Today her jewelry is sold in 40 luxury stores around the country, and now she is introducing a line of furniture, she says.

“I’m a creator by heart,” she says. “It’s just sort of in the genes. It’s a creative bent and a drive to really run hard in business.”

These days, when she is not traveling to promote her furniture and jewelry, she is active in supporting and promoting UAB’s Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center. She is chair of the ASC Corporate Board, and says getting to meet some of the artists who have come to perform at the ASC has been a joy. “It’s like I got the best gift in the world,” she says.

Bruno has now taken on a new role as co-chair of UAB’s recently announced comprehensive, philanthropic campaign to raise $1 billion by the end of 2018, which will be the largest fundraising campaign in UAB’s history.

“Raising these funds is going to make a huge difference not only for UAB, but for all of Alabama,” she says. “I’m truly and honestly so humbled to have been asked to do this work.”

David Brasfield, B.S.

When David Brasfield was a freshman at UAB, he thought medicine was his destiny. But he soon concluded that pre-med was not for him and turned his attention to the emerging field of computer science.

David Brasfield. David Brasfield“Computer science wasn’t a big thing back in the 1980s, when desktop computers were in their infancy,” he says. “So the degree was fairly new, but I hopped in and liked the curriculum so much that I decided to change my major to computer science. I didn’t possess a crystal ball back then and didn’t foresee the explosion of computing technology that would produce PCs, iPads, cell phones, and mobile devices. But I did see that a computer could take lots of data and give us results very quickly.

“UAB was a great school because it had some of the newer technologies, and at that time, the program was just starting. It wasn’t like computer science had been out there for years like it is today,” he says.

Brasfield gained work experience at the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, and after graduating from UAB with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1984, he took a computer-programming job with NCR Corp. Then, in 1989, Brasfield decided to start his own software business, SBS Corp., to service financial institutions.

“ It was both exciting and scary,” Brasfield says. “When you have a good job that you like doing, it’s hard to leave it and strike out on your own. But I felt I could go do that myself, and the timing was good.”

About a year later, Brasfield moved the company into UAB’s former business incubator, the Office for the Advancement of Developing Industries (OADI), and took advantage of the classes and resources that were offered to new entrepreneurs.

“It was a great opportunity for a small businessperson to have full access to a variety of well-known experts in these different fields,” Brasfield says.

He launched his second company, Brasfield Technology, in 2001, after selling SBS Corp. Just four years later, in 2005, he sold Brasfield Technologies to the Metavante Corp. He opened his third firm, TriNovus, in 2009. Through TriNovus, Brasfield offered financial institutions the resources needed to help them comply with new federal rules. Last year, he soldTriNovus to a Swiss company.

His advice for students interested in starting their own businesses? “The hardest part is just doing it,” he says. “But know that if it doesn’t work out, you always have another direction you can follow, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you can do it.”

Introducing UAB Digital Media’s first-class of Media Fellows

By Karla Khodanian, UAB Digital Media Fellow

The Dream

Most creative leaders in this world got to where they are today because they are problem-solvers: they find a need and fill it. In fact, it was this determined mindset that led Rosie O’Beirne and Anna Lloyd to establish the program of their dreams: the UAB Digital Media Fellows.

The Founders

Student being filmed by UAB Digital Media.In the spring of 2011, Anna Lloyd, then a senior at UAB, was starting her job search.

After landing a position in Web Development in the UAB Provost’s Office, she saw how great the need was for digital media services on campus. At the same time, media studies professor Rosie O’Beirne had noticed the same need from non-profit organizations all over the city. “[Anna] saw the UAB demand, I saw the community demand, and we both saw the same model of students servicing that,” says O’Beirne. “I was looking around to see what tools were being used on campus and how I could incorporate them into the classroom from early on.”

It was that common realization that began the building of UAB Digital Media that O’Beirne now directs, which includes the Media Commons production space, managed by Chris Humphries, and the Media Fellows program, led by Lloyd.

The Program

“We decided early on that media fellows needed to be the cream of the crop in digital storytelling on campus,” says Lloyd. “And we believe that if you’re that good at what you do, you deserve to be paid.”

Media Fellows work 20 hours a week at $12 an hour. This wage was set to show students that they have just as much to offer as professionals do. And every dollar made by student projects with external clients goes right back into the program.

“We wanted to have some sort of extra cherry on top,” says Lloyd so in addition to the regular pay, Media Fellows also receive a technology stipend of $1000. Students can use this money to purchase new equipment such as lenses and laptops or even apply the money towards attending a conference.

Becoming a Media Fellow is more than just simply submitting a resume. O’Beirne and Lloyd made it clear that the application process was more about telling your story rather than boasting your experiences. “We wanted to attract students who were digital-savvy, of course,” says Lloyd “but we wanted to find students who are eager about learning and sharing knowledge with others, students who can work on a team, energize other people and be a leader.”

She goes on to say, “We wanted students who show a deeper understanding of what’s being communicated and know how to use the technology to do that. The technology is the medium, but you have to know how to tell a story first.”

The Fellows

So at this point you’re probably wondering who might these up-and-coming student storytellers be? Well there are seven of them, and each one is as unique as the digital skill they bring into the lab.

The UAB Digital Media Fellows. From left: Matt Drummond, Daniel Twieg, Karla Khodanian, Ryan Meyer, Betsy Cates, Kevin Peek, and Brent Caswell.Every team needs a great comedian to keep its morale up, and that’s where Daniel Twieg comes into play. He is a skilled animator, talented videographer, Addy-award-winning designer and friend to all. This year he has contributed to multiple video projects and is currently lead on a video project with local non-profit Bama Covered. Twieg is a senior finishing up an individually designed major in the digital arts.

Professional composer by day and electric rock star by night, music major Kevin Peek serves as the team’s resident audio engineer. Rather than paying money for stock music, UAB Digital Media utilizes Peek to create the powerful beats you hear in the background of every video project they produce. Peek’s talents were utilized beyond the lab earlier this school year when he was contracted to compose the pieces for the university’s syndicated commercials.

No digital collaboration is complete without the opinion of the in-house artist. Ryan Meyer, a senior in the BFA program, has the detailed eye and the skillful hand needed of a graphic designer. Meyer has been with UAB Digital Media since the lab opened, so his resume has grown with the program. He hopes to take creativity into the advertising world with him once graduating.

As the technology grows, the need for web designers grows with it. Betsy Cates, a senior Art Studio major, started as a Media Fellow with a knack for graphic design, but soon found a love for development. Betsy spearheaded the redesign of UAB’s Department of Art and Art History’s website as well as creating the site for the new AEIVA building. She also won a Silver Addy award for the Department of Art and Art History’s new logo design. Following graduation, Betsy will begin a full-time post-bac position with the Digital Media team.

The youngest student of the bunch, junior Business Management major Matt Drummond’s steady-hand has made him a powerful asset to the videography team. Ask any question about lenses, cameras or any other fancy videography equipment and he’s got your answer. Serving as the lead videographer for the TEDxBirmingham video project, Drummond’s skilled editing expertise and patience proved his place as one of the strongest storytellers.

A seasoned tech blogger with articles featured on Gizmodo, senior Political Science major Brent Caswell serves as the team’s guru for all things web-related. His passion lies in creating functional user interfaces and has devoted this passion in creating UAB Digital Media’s ‘Knowledge Jam,’ a website filled with articles, videos, and digital advice created by students working in the Media Commons.

And I suppose it’s at this point where I should introduce myself, your trusted author, as a Media Fellow as well. I’m the team’s social media addict whose face is usually buried in my iPhone composing what I believe to be the next great tweet. As a senior Public Relations major, I knew my love would lie in the communications side of all of our initiatives, but perhaps my greatest discovery as a Media Fellow is my love for producing. Through the TEDxBirmingham promo video project, I realized the passion I have for telling stories through as many digital tools as possible.

Expansion

Media fellows working in the UAB Digital Media lab. “In the future we want to expand Media Fellows program and offer students even more opportunities,” concludes O’Beirne. "Ultimately we are here to teach students that your knowledge has value and when you can, you should share it.”

Though it’s great to have a dollar value attached to my work, it’s even greater to have advocates like O’Beirne and Lloyd by my side championing my value as a creative professional. The experiences I have gained and the connections I have made in my time as a Media Fellow will be unrivaled.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that collaboration is key to a successful project. Without a good team motivating each other along the way, success would be far-fetched. Considering we won a Gold Addy award from the American Advertising Federation for our collaboration on the TEDxBirmingham promo video, I’d say we’ve nailed process down just right.

The UAB Digital Media staff has started recruiting for next year’s crop of Media Fellows. For more information on the program visit www.uab.edu/digitalmedia.

UAB’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility

By Dale Short

Seeing brighter and sharper images of inside the human body has long been a goal of researchers and physicians. X-rays were a major breakthrough, but more recently the science of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) was so revolutionary that it won two Nobel prizes for two different teams of scientists.

UAB’s new NMR facility is the largest and most advanced in the state. Its centerpiece is a Bruker BioSpin Avance III HD 850 MHz NMR spectrometer, equipped with a cryoprobe, a coil that’s cooled with a stream of very cold Helium gas to increase the probe’s sensitivity and reduce the level of thermal noise generated by the device’s components.

The NMR lab. “This puts UAB in the category of leading institutions that have this level of technology,” says N. Rama Krishna, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and director of the NMR facility. “This facility is a unique platform that merges both basic science and translational research — from structural biology of proteins to drug discovery, and NMR-metabolic profiling of biofluids to assess toxicity and physiological changes induced by drugs.”

Using technology that sprang from World War II radar designs, NMR devices use powerful magnets that target the hydrogen nuclei of proteins. The nuclei respond by producing signals that can be encoded by the machine and converted into data points of an image.

Big Lab On Campus

“The new facility has been intricately designed with power, HVAC, security, and vibration dampening capabilities,” Krishna says, “that make it one of the best designed NMR facilities in the U.S. The consolidation of the 19th Street and 14th Street NMR Cores into a central facility will allow for more efficient maintenance, scheduling and upkeep of the NMR systems, more economical usage of the cryogens involved, and the availability in one location of a critical mass of NMR scientists with expertise in mutually complementary areas to support the research projects of Cancer Center faculty members.”

And the facility redesign brings an aesthetic bonus as well, says Dr. David Graves, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “There’s a big ‘wow’ factor with this facility and its view of the beautiful Campus Green,” he says. “We included as many windows as possible, to show off the facility and illustrate our commitment to research excellence. We can do a lot more collaboratively than we can do separately, and this partnership among the Department of Chemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, the School of Medicine, and the College of Arts and Sciences clearly reflects this synergy.”

“Drs. Rama Krishna and David Graves have built a world-class NMR facility at UAB,” says Tim Townes, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. “The 850 MHz NMR spectrometer with cryoprobe is a state-of-the-art spectrometer that can define the structure and dynamic movements of proteins at the atomic level.

“The facility provides state-of-the-art sensitivity and resolution for biomedical research and drug discovery . . .” — N. Rama Krishna
While the facility will be helping researchers solve puzzles of proteins for years to come, bringing the pieces together in their interdisciplinary framework was a major puzzle of logistics in itself.

Early in 2009, when Krishna’s High End Instrumentation grant for a 800 MHz NMR system with a cryoprobe was funded by the National Institutes of Health-National Center for Research Resources, the size of the magnet outshone the size of the loading dock’s corridor at the 19th Street facility known as CH19. Installing the machine there would require major construction and renovation, with a price tag to match. Krishna and chemistry chair David Graves, Ph.D. conferred about the option of relocating the 19th street facility instruments and combining them with the Department of Chemistry’s NMR systems operating at 700 MHz, 400 MHz, and 300 MHz.

This Plan B would have required upgrading the magnet to a “compact shielded” version, as well as renovating parts of the Chemistry building. The plan was proposed to UAB leadership. What happened next was, as Krishna puts it, “serendipity.” Twice.

First, the manufacturer of the Bruker-Biospin machine announced a new compact shielded version of their Ascend 850, which is small enough to fit in a single story lab such as the Chemistry Building. Not long afterward, the National Cancer Institute announced a new competition for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) supplements to Cancer Center Support (CCSG) Grants, of the type that help support the Comprehensive Cancer Center, which would be aimed at consolidating Cancer Center Cores.

Krishna and Graves wrote and submitted an application for consolidating the NMR instruments to a Chemistry Building location. The grant was funded, work began on renovating the space, and the new facility was set to house all four NMR instruments.

The largest device will mainly support structural biology studies on high molecular weight proteins and their complexes, Krishna says, and the 700 model will continue to support structural biology in addition to cancer drug discovery projects. The 600 system is dedicated to studies of metabolomics—chemical processes involving metabolites, which have been described as “the chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind” — in addition to work on peptides, smaller proteins, complex carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. The 500 system will assist in heteronuclear observation, and the 400 and 300 systems will be used chiefly for synthetic chemistry research.

The NMR ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new NMR facility grand opening was held in November. It has been intricately designed with power, HVAC, security, and vibration dampening capabilities.Collaboration

“One aspect of the new installation that will multiply its impact is its collaborative nature,” says Edward Partridge, M.D., director of UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This new facility is going to take biomedical research to the next level — not only with its state-of-the-art instrumentation, but most importantly, with the collaborative expertise of our researchers, who will better our understanding of disease and disease progression. UAB as a whole has long been recognized for its efforts in drug discovery and development. When it comes to cancer, this facility is going to play a pivotal role in creating therapeutic agents in the laboratory, helping us nurture it through the ‘research pipeline’ of tests, animal studies, and clinical trials before it’s ultimately brought to our patients.”

The installation’s name is as substantial as its equipment list: The Central Alabama High-Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility, which was derived from the title of Krishna’s successful High End Instrumentation grant funded by the NCRR. At 1,600 square feet and $3.5 million, the facility was created as a multidisciplinary partnership of the NIH-NCRR, UAB Health Services Foundation, National Cancer Institute, the offices of the vice president for Research and Economic Development and the deans of the School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Sciences.

According to director Krishna, the facility “provides state-of-the-art sensitivity and resolution for biomedical research and drug discovery” for a wide-ranging list of diseases including cancer, hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, HIV-1, Parkinson’s disease, and others. It combines the new machines with existing instrumentation from the university’s chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular genetics departments.

“These precise measurements are essential to gain insights into the proteins that cause disorders as diverse as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and cardiovascular disease. Equally important, the state-of-the-art NMR facility further strengthens the Structural Biology Program at UAB and helps us attract outstanding students into our Graduate Biomedical Sciences Program.”
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