The Center for Teaching & Learning welcomes Dr. Tino Unlap.

Tino UnlapTino Unlap, PhD (Biotechnology Program, Clinical & Diagnostic Sciences Dept., School of Health Professions) joined the Center for Teaching & Learning on August 25 in a part-time role. Dr. Unlap will be working to expand faculty enrichment opportunities. 

Dr. Unlap is a geneticist/biochemist with considerable experience teaching STEM undergraduate and graduate students.  He has received multiple teaching and mentoring awards, the most recent being a recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Faculty News

Complex contact lenses from UAB Ophthalmology keep disabled vet rolling
Complex contact lenses from UAB Ophthalmology keep disabled vet rolling
One eye, two contact lenses and a veteran’s life is changed forever.

Jeff Henson has been riding bikes for years. In 2012, he rode a bike coast to coast across the United States. Before that, the Army veteran did a long bike ride in France, and several in the American Northwest, always on a tandem bike and always from the back seat. He was not allowed to ride on the front seat, the steering seat.

Jeff Henson was legally blind during those rides.

Henson, a native of Heflin, Alabama, who served as a demolition specialist in the Army for nine years, developed vision issues caused by arthritis and inflammation that first struck his right eye in 2000.

“I woke up one morning and I had this really bad headache,” Henson recalled. “My eye was watering so much that I couldn’t control the tears running down my face, and my head was hurting so bad I couldn’t stand for my wife to walk on the floor. Every time she took a step, I felt like my head was going to explode.”

His vision rapidly deteriorated. About a month later, the same thing happened to his left eye. In short order, Henson lost all vision in the right eye, while his left eye fell to 20/200.

“I didn’t have any vision at all,” he said. “I was at the point where I was running into doors; I couldn’t see steps and would just run into walls. It was pretty life-changing.”

Henson went through rehabilitation for the blind and received mobility training. He got a white cane and Chauncey, a service dog. And he started riding bikes. He rode with veterans groups that held rides for disabled servicemen and women. But he had to ride tandem, on the back seat.

“I always wanted to ride by myself, but of course I couldn’t,” he said.

Then in 2013, during a routine visit at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Birmingham, things changed. Henson’s physicians told him they were sending him to a special eye doctor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Carol Rosenstiel, O.D., is an optometrist who is the chief of the contact lens service in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology. Rosenstiel specializes in using contact lenses to correct severe vision issues, particularly in cases like Henson’s, where surgery or eyeglasses are not an option.

“We went through multiple trials of different contact lenses before I was able to determine that he actually had very, very good visual potential,” said Rosenstiel. “I remember asking him if he was ready for his life to change. And he said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Henson’s cornea was badly scarred from inflammation. Light entering the eye scattered and did not focus on the retina properly. Rosenstiel prescribed a hard, gas-permeable lens which created a new spherical refractive surface on the front of the eye which allowed light rays to focus accurately on the retina. It worked. Henson could see, but the hard contact on his damaged cornea hurt.

“She put the hard lens in and I could actually see the lines on my hand,” said Henson. “But it hurt so bad I couldn’t wear it. She told me don’t worry about it, she would fix that, too.”

Rosenstiel added a second contact lens, a soft lens that Henson would wear underneath the hard lens.

“We put a soft lens on the cornea first, and then placed the rigid lens on top of that,” she said. “We use that piggyback approach when the patient needs the hard lens for the optical correction, but we are unable to achieve an adequate fit and/or comfort with just the rigid lens. We use the soft lens as a bandage to help with fit and comfort.”

The two-lens combination did the trick. Henson could see, and the lenses were comfortable.

“She had told me she was going to change my life, and I thought, ‘Right, I’ve heard this before,’” said Henson. “I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, to be honest with you. But she really did change my life.”

With his contacts, Henson’s vision in his left eye is nearly normal. And now, Jeff Henson has a solo bike. With 12 other veterans with disability, he rode his solo bike from Ottawa, Canada, to Washington, D.C., in the CanAm Veterans Challenge ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports this past summer.

“The other rides were great, but I couldn’t see anything as we rode,” said Henson. “I rode across country but didn’t know what it looked like. On the CanAm ride, I was able to see everything.”

Henson dedicated the CanAm to the person who made it possible: Dr. Carol Rosenstiel.

“I call her my hero,” said Henson.

He still has a tandem bike, and he’s still going to use it. But now, he’ll be the guy in the front seat, helping a less fortunate rider.

“I think of where I came from to where I am today,” said Henson. “I’m just going to enjoy the vision I have and use it. And try to encourage other people. You could be down, but sometimes you are not out.”  

Dentistry’s Kinderknecht elected to Board of Directors of The American Equilibration Society
Dentistry’s Kinderknecht elected to Board of Directors of The American Equilibration Society
The AES is the largest organization in the world to investigate and study proper diagnoses and treatments of diseases that cause bite problems and TMJ.

kinderknechtKeith Kinderknecht, standing, instructs his prosthodontic residents.Keith Kinderknect, DMD, professor in the Department of Prosthodontics in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry, has been elected to the Board of Directors of The American Equilibration Society.

Kinderknecht, who joined UAB’s faculty in 2006 and has more than 40 years of experience in academics and clinical care, also is the director of the Advanced Education Program in prosthodontics. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics and a Fellow of the American College of Prosthodontists. He also is a consultant to the National Naval Dental Center Postgraduate Dental School and is active in providing continuing education courses on all aspects of prosthodontics care and Temporomandibular Disorders.

The AES is the largest organization in the world to investigate and study the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of dental occlusion (bite problems) and disorders of the temporomandibular joint and associated muscles. The AES is international in scope and encompasses general dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, prosthodontists, orthodontists and allied health care professionals.

The AES is the pre-eminent society recognized as the source of excellence in the pursuit and sharing of knowledge related to the form, function, and pathology of the masticatory system.

It sponsors education and research that focuses on the evaluation, diagnosis, management, and restoration of the oral health and function embracing all the disciplines of dentistry.

New hope for potential prostate cancer patients
New hope for potential prostate cancer patients
It has been more than 30 years since the last major advancement in prostate cancer screening technology, and the latest advancement is now available in the Southeast only at UAB.

nix bahramiSoroush Rais-Bahrami, far right, and Jeffrey NixThe latest advancement in prostate cancer detection is magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound fusion-guided biopsy, which offers benefits for both patient and physician.

The only place in the Southeast offering the MRI-US image fusion technique is at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Program for Personalized Prostate Cancer Care.

It is estimated that 2014 will see more than 240,000 new cases of prostate cancer, and more than 29,000 deaths from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Jeffrey Nix, M.D., along with colleague Soroush Rais-Bahrami, M.D., both assistant professors in the UAB Department of Urology, studied the MRI-US image fusion as fellows at the NCI. Nix and Rais-Bahrami are two of a select few urologists in the United States trained to utilize this technology; together they have five years’ experience using this approach.

Nix and Rais-Bahrami say this new technology offers a “targeted biopsy,” which refers to direct tissue sampling of suspicious areas seen on MRI as opposed to the traditional method of random, systematic sampling that is essentially performed “blindly” in different “ZIP code” regions of the prostate.

“We are utilizing prostate MRI and fusing it with real-time ultrasound for image-guided prostate biopsies; this can detect prostate cancer with high accuracy, and it accurately targets lesions of concern defined by MRI,” Nix said. “This improves overall detection compared to standard biopsy and, more importantly, has the potential to give clinicians and patients a more accurate picture of their true disease burden by allowing improvements in staging.”

Studies of this new technique have shown that it increases the overall cancer detection rate, increases the high-risk cancer detection rate, and improves staging for patients who are considering active surveillance, which is when your doctor closely monitors your low-risk prostate cancer for any changes.

Studies of this new technique, Nix says, have shown that it increases the overall cancer detection rate, increases the high-risk cancer detection rate, and improves staging for patients who are considering active surveillance, which is when your doctor closely monitors your low-risk prostate cancer for any changes.

“The technique is expected to be especially helpful in cases of men with a history of negative biopsies who are still suspected of having cancer due to a persistently unexplained elevated prostate-specific antigen level, patients with enlarged prostates and patients being guided toward active surveillance for improved staging,” said Rais-Bahrami.

Rais-Bahrami adds that MRI-US fusion-guided biopsy is a clinic-based procedure that can be performed under local anesthesia; the patient’s experience of this new biopsy versus traditional biopsy without MRI guidance is the same, but with more accurate outcomes based on the targeting approach.

“I have a patient who had five previous biopsy sessions over the past seven years, and he’s had persistently elevated PSA, yet each biopsy came back negative,” Rais-Bahrami said. “When he came to us and had the MRI-US fusion-guided biopsy, we were able to target areas that we identified with our radiologists as areas of concern, and one in fact came back as cancerous. This is probably what’s been there causing his PSA elevation all this time; however, it was hidden to all these biopsy sessions over the past seven years.”

“We’ve been offering this technology at UAB for the last year, and we’ve seen a lot of success,” Nix said. “I have had several patients who were on active surveillance, and the MRI-US fusion biopsy discovered significantly more extensive disease. Those patients were able to go on to treatment and to cancer cure. It turned out some patients had prostate cancer even after they had multiple biopsies that came back negative; this enabled them to make more informed decisions on appropriate treatment.”

“This is the first major advancement in prostate cancer detection in more than 30 years, and it’s a significant improvement,” Nix said.

Visit UAB Medicine to learn more, or call 205-934-9999 or 800-UAB-8816 to schedule an appointment. 


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