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Counseling and Activity Lifestyle Modification (CALM)

Background: Obesity rates are rising in the United States, especially among low-income and racial/ethnic minority individuals. Exploring motivators and barriers related to the engagement of physical activity is imperative. Our objective is to evaluate the efficacy of aerobic exercise in conjunction with a counseling intervention compared to aerobic exercise alone on markers of physiologic/metabolic health and emotional outcomes in sedentary overweight women.
Specific Aims: Our central hypothesis is that a counseling intervention will provide greater improvements in physiological and psychological quality of life (QOL) measurements than aerobic exercise alone. The central hypothesis will be tested by pursuing the following specific aims: 1) Evaluate the efficacy of an Exercise + Counseling (ExC)intervention in determining physiological and psychological functioning among adult women versus an Exercise (Ex) only intervention, 2) Determine the effectiveness of the counseling component in reducing attrition among participants enrolled in an exercise intervention, 3) Evaluate differences in health knowledge, health skills, and health attitudes related to exercise, nutrition, and stress management.

Effects of Aerobic Exercise Training and Exercise Intensity on Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Function in Premenopausal Women

The proposed project by the investigative team (Fisher, Hunter, Plaisance, Bamman, and Gower) will build on the current study, entitled “Exercise Intensity, Metabolic Rate, and Insulin Sensitivity” (PI: Gary R. Hunter), which is investigating the effects of exercise training on energy expenditure, fat metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. To date we have found significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism following 12-weeks of exercise training at the whole body level, additionally we have also demonstrated an improvement in fat oxidation at the mitochondrial level. The current proposal will build upon these findings to explore the potential molecular mechanisms involved in these adaptations. We specifically would like to identify key proteins that are associated with the changes in insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial function and/or biogenesis, mitophagy, and skeletal muscle fatty acid metabolism. Data from this study is predicted to demonstrate that improvements in insulin sensitivity following exercise is associated with an improvement with both proximal and distal insulin signaling pathways (specifically a decrease in serine phosphorylation of IRS-1 and an increase in tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1, and increases in Akt and AS160 phosphorylation) and an increase in transcriptional regulation of mitochondria and overall function of mitochondria. Additionally, we hope to identify key proteins that may be involved with the whole body changes in fat metabolism and mitochondrial fission and fusion. We anticipate that these data will provide novel insight into future therapies that target behavioral strategies, specifically identifying an optimal exercise-dose response to improve metabolic health. It is anticipated that completion of this project will enable the PI, Gordon Fisher PhD, to obtain pilot data to submit an R01 research grant to investigate the mechanisms of skeletal muscle mitochondrial dysfunction/morphology and alterations in redox signaling that mediate the pathophysiology of insulin resistance, and compare the effects of high intensity versus moderate intensity exercise training for improving these outcomes. The goal of this project and the ensuing R01 grant is to demonstrate that mitochondrial function has a specific role in the etiology of type 2 diabetes, which will provide a functional explanation for the well document effects of exercise training on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The proposed team has collaborated on a number of previous investigations and have a proven track record of research and publication. It is anticipated that findings from the study will lead to extramural funding from the NIH and at least three highly ranked peer-reviewed manuscripts.

   Gordon Fisher, Gary Hunter, Eric Plaisance, Marcas Bamman, & Barbara Gower

English as a Second Language

About: Promotes Best Practices for enhancing the language acquisition and academic achievement of English language learners.

Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership Needs Assessment

Background: It is fairly well documented that the best school predictor of student outcomes is exposure to high-quality, effective teaching (Goldhaber, 2002; Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000; Hanushek, Kain, O’Brien, & Rivkin, 2005; Rockoff, 2004; Wright, Horn, & Sanders, 1997). As Alabama implements the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS), it is crucial to develop and research coherent, comprehensive, and sustained professional development (PD) approaches that empower teachers to move toward a focus on student sense-making and to gather empirical evidence that this approach results in gains in student achievement. The Greater Birmingham Mathematics Partnership (GBMP) professional development model is designed to transform mathematics instruction to support the CCSS with emphasis on the Mathematical Practices and develop sustainable instructional leadership and professional mathematics culture at the school level. One of the major obstacles to widespread and sustained shifts in classroom practice has been the absence of a formal initial needs assessment. Collecting and analyzing needs assessment data well before the implementation of PD would benefit the partnership and participants in that it would:
  1. help to build an evidence-based case for the alignment of the model with participant needs to secure future large-scale funding for full implementation at the selected school,
  2. allow for GBMP to tailor professional development to the specific needs and deficits in the selected school without compromising the fidelity of the model or placing unrealistic expectations on teachers or administrators,
  3. diminish the necessity for dramatic mid-course shifts in the implementation plan that would upend the smooth functioning of the model,
  4. allow for the setting of challenging but attainable goals, outcomes, and benchmarks that would increase the probability of long-term success and sustainability.

MidSouth Reading & Writing Institute

About:  Each summer, the MidSouth Reading/Writing Institute provides the southeastern United States with top-notch professional development. Keynote speakers are brought in from around the world who are experts in the field of literacy. Local presenters provide practical workshops to help teachers bridge theory and practice.

The Peace Corps and its Master's International Project

About:  The School of Education has partnered with the Peace Corps to offer a Master’s International Program (MIP) for teaching English as a Second Language. MIP students complete 24 credit hours at UAB and then begin their service as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). They finish their master’s degree while serving overseas for two years as English teachers or as English teacher trainers.

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  (205) 934-8357
  Susan Spezzini

Red Mountain Writing Project

About:  Promotes teacher leadership and empowerment through dialogue, confidence building, and application of best practice in the teaching of writing.

  (205) 934-7896
  Tonya Perry, Director

Role of Energy Restriction and High-Intensity Interval Exercise Training on Adaptive Thermogenesis and Metabolism

Background: The ensuing accumulation of adiposity during chronic positive energy balance is strongly linked to disordered lipid metabolism, insulin resistance (IR), and additional co-morbidities during the development of obesity. Lifestyle modification achieved through energy restriction (ER) produces weight loss and beneficial effects on biomarkers of metabolic disease, but is often less than expected from the magnitude of ER employed (1, 2). The lower than predicted weight loss and high rates of recidivism observed with ER has been primarily attributed to poor dietary adherence (2) and decreased resting energy expenditure (REE) (1, 3, 4). The decrease in REE is related, at least in part, to reductions in circulating triiodothyronine (T3) concentrations and fat free mass (and to a lesser extent fat mass) (5). A major challenge of the field is to develop a greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which ER reduces thermogenesis and to develop novel strategies that oppose ER-mediated reductions in REE.
Specific Aim 1: Test the hypothesis that HIIT will produce an increase in FFM and sympathetic outflow leading to greater weight/fat loss than ER or ER + MIT
Specific Aim 2: Test the hypothesis that HIIT increases BAT and WAT thermogenesis leading to beneficial remodeling of lipid metabolism between tissues The combined in vivo and in situ approaches incorporated in the proposed studies will provide mechanistic insight into how ER and HIIT are sensed and translated by the effector systems which produce the beneficial responses. This multifaceted approach will draw upon complementary expertise within the research team (Human Studies and Nutrition Sciences) to provide an integrated experimental strategy. The critical unanswered question addressed herein is how HIIT impacts adaptive thermogenesis, metabolic health and energy balance in the presence of ER.

   Gary R. Hunter, Gordon Fisher, Daniel Smith, & Tim Nagy

UAB Children's Creative Learning Center

About:  Serving children from all over the Birmingham area, the enrichment program seeks to encourage children to select their daily plan of study, work at their own pace, and enhance their academic development. Whether it is a science experiment with everyday food items or writing and publishing a newspaper, children discover how exciting learning can be.

  (205) 996-3540
  Jennifer Summerlin, Director

Urban Teacher Enhancement Program

About:  A teacher preparation program designed for those who do not already hold teaching certificates but are interested in teaching careers in Birmingham City Schools. UTEP is available at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Alabama Learning Exchange

About: The Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) is the state educational Web portal directed by Technology Initiatives, Alabama State Department of Education. The ALEX project collaborates with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to ensure the program meets PK-21 Educator and student needs. ALEX provides a free, one-stop resource for every student, parent, school leader, and teacher in Alabama. ALEX convenes Alabama's finest teachers to develop reading, social sciences, math, and science resources and trains PK-21 teachers, library media specialists, teacher-preparation faculty, and after-school educational programs to use these resources as well as develop video/audio podcasts and lesson plans for hosting to ALEX. The web portal contains over 65,000 links to games, interactives, videos, lesson plans, learning strategies, and includes CCRS teaching/learning resources.
  Stephanie Baird, Program Manager

Collaboration for Excellence in Science And Math Education

About: The Collaboration for Excellence in Science And Math Education (CESAME) provides scholarships to future math and science teachers who are pursuing initial teacher certification through the Alternative Master’s Program. This scholarship program is administered by UAB’s Center for Community Outreach Development (CORD).
  (205) 934-5171

UAB Regional In-Service Center

About: The UAB Regional In-service Center (UABRIC) is one of 11 regional in-service centers established by the Alabama Legislature in 1984 to enhance the training opportunities for public school personnel in critical need areas.  The UAB Regional Inservice Center, operated through the UAB School of Education, provides free training, resources and services for teachers and administrators in eight school districts in Jefferson County (Bessemer, Birmingham, Fairfield, Jefferson County, Leeds, Midfield, Tarrant and Trussville School Systems).
  (205) 934-2316
  Boyd Rogan, Director

Community Counseling Clinic

About: The UAB Community Counseling Clinic aims to provide affordable mental health counseling services to residents of Jefferson County, while also providing an innovative training experience for graduate counseling students. Our clinic strives to become an exemplar to the counseling profession through innovations in research, practice, teaching, and clinical training.

  (205) 996-2414
  Sean Hall, Director

Exercise Physiology Laboratory

About: The lab is well equipped to perform a wide variety of physiological tests including:
•Oxygen consumption during exercise via indirect calorimetry. Cardiovascular responses are monitored using an electrocardiograph  and/or with telemetric heart rate monitors.
•Body composition via skinfold assessment

  Gary Hunter, Director
  Gordon Fisher, Co-Director

Exercise and Nutritional Physiology Laboratory

  Gordon Fisher, Co-Director
  Eric Plaisance, Co-Director

Center For Educational Accountability

About: To promote the improvement of educational outcomes of students, schools, and agencies through responsive and valid data-based decisions focused on reform.

  (205) 975-5388
  Scott Snyder, Director

Center for Urban Education

About: The Center for Urban Education (CUE) is an alliance of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Birmingham City Schools, other school districts in the Birmingham metropolitan area, and local and national partners.  The mission of the CUE is to promote quality education for socially and economically disenfranchised groups residing in urban areas.  Specifically, the CUE prepares high-quality teachers and administrators to work in urban school districts.

  (205) 934-7896
  Tonya Perry, Director

Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center

About: To sustain Dr. Maryann Manning’s legacy of commitment and work in the field of literacy, the Maryann Manning Family Literacy Center will support and disseminate research in literacy, provide professional development for teachers and students, centralize the operation and organization of numerous projects begun by Dr. Manning, and create innovative literacy projects, both locally and globally.

  (205) 934-8358
  Lynn Kirkland, Director