Research Resources


Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development (OVPRED)

Leadership for all administrative research units serving the research enterprise at UAB. OVPRED oversees Core Facilities, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and Institional Review Board.

Integrated Research Administration Portal (IRAP)

Electronic submission of funding applications and compliance forms for future research initiatives.

UAB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The nexus for UAB innovation, entrepreneurial educational models, applied research, and management of intellectual property.

Funding Sources and Grant Opportunities

Presentations and general information related to effective grant writing.

Office of Postdoctoral Education

UAB is committed to the development and success of outstanding postdoctoral scientists.

Conflict of Interest Review Board (CIRB)

Charged with the ongoing development of policies and procedures related to conflicts of interest in sponsored research, review of disclosures of financial interests submitted by investigators, and the development of conflict of interest management plans.

Research News

Carter earns physiology postdoctoral research award
Carter earns physiology postdoctoral research award
Stephen Carter will attend the Experimental Biology Conference in late March to receive his award.

Stephen J. CarterRS12572 Stephen Carter 8RT scr, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Human Studies and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center, has been awarded the American Physiological Society’s Environmental and Exercise Physiology (EEP) section Partnership for Clean Competition New Investigator Award.

The award recognizes outstanding experimental research in environmental, exercise or thermal physiology by a postdoctoral fellow involving ergogenics and detection of performance-enhancing drugs or impact of training/environmental stress on hematological profiles. Carter will travel to the Experimental Biology Conference in late March in Boston to receive the award.

“It’s always a great feeling to be recognized for your work, but this award is truly special,” Carter said. “The Experimental Biology Conference is something I look forward to every year. It provides a wonderful setting to learn from respected researchers from around the world and a chance to foster new relationships.”

Carter is first author on an abstract, “Race Differences in Erythropoietin, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and Hemoglobin Before and After Weight Loss in Women,” that is currently under review in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. Co-authors from the UAB schools of Education and Health Professions include Gary Hunter, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology, Eric Plaisance, Ph.D., and Gordon Fisher, Ph.D., both assistant professors in kinesiology, Jose Fernandez, Ph.D., vice chair for education and professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, and Barbara Gower, Ph.D., vice chair for research and professor of nutrition sciences.

Because African-American women commonly exhibit lower hemoglobin levels compared to women of European descent and calorie restriction is known to influence the regulatory pathway involved in the creation of red blood cells through changes in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and testosterone, this study focused on the potential for race-specific adverse effects of weight-loss on hemoglobin. A cohort of 64 overweight, premenopausal women were placed on a calorie-restricted diet until they reached a body-mass index of less than 25kg/m2. The results showed that significant calorie restriction to achieve weight-loss lowers hemoglobin, but that fat mass-reduction increases serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Participants who had the largest increase in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D also had the smallest decrease in hemoglobin, which highlights the role of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in red-blood-cell regulation.

“This work has not only expanded my knowledge base but has really been a period of growth as a scientist,” Carter said. “I’m indebted to Dr. Gary Hunter, who has played a central role in my development and provided me with a fantastic opportunity to learn.”

Carter also has been accepted into a new mentoring program in the EEP and will be matched with Lisa Leon, Ph.D., an expert in inflammatory pathways that mediate organ damage, from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Carter plans to continue his research in cardiovascular physiology, expanding his focus into the reasons some breast-cancer survivors respond favorably to exercise for reducing persistent fatigue and others do not.

School of Nursing receives $3.5 million NIH R01 grant
School of Nursing receives $3.5 million NIH R01 grant
National Institute of Nursing Research’s five-year grant is for ENABLE: CHF-PC study to determine whether palliative care is a best practice for heart-failure patients.

marie bakitasUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing professor and Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair Marie Bakitas, DNSc, has received a five-year, $3.5 million R01 grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research for a study to determine whether palliative care provided when advanced heart-failure patients are still well will result in better quality of life, improved mood, and less symptom distress/burden for patients and/or caregivers, when compared to usual heart-failure care.

This National Institutes of Health randomized controlled trial, “ENABLE: CHF-PC (Educate, Nurture, Advise Before Life Ends: Comprehensive Heartcare for Patients and Caregivers),” will compare the quality of life, symptom burden and mood in 380 older adults with stage III/IV heart failure and their family caregivers. Half of the patient participants will be randomized to the intervention, and half will receive usual heart-failure care.

The focus of this palliative care model is on coaching patients and their family caregivers in problem-solving, communication, symptom management and health care decision-making with a goal of empowering them to be better prepared to meet the challenges of progressive illness.

“Despite treatment advances, 50 percent of heart-failure patients will die within five years,” said Bakitas, who also is associate director of the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. “Increasing age and rural environment are risk factors associated with the greatest heart-failure complications and death. And, in the year before death, research shows heart-failure patients will experience multiple hospitalizations and personal and economic costs of unrelieved physical and emotional suffering. The overall goal of this study is to test the efficacy of a heart-failure palliative care telehealth model in reducing the suffering and burden from symptoms associated with living with advanced heart failure.”

Palliative care, Bakitas says, has been demonstrated in other diseases to reduce end-of-life suffering, hospital readmissions and health care costs; but only 16 percent of Alabama hospitals have palliative care programs, compared with the national average of 53 percent.

Bakitas adds that, of Alabama’s 67 counties, 55 are categorized as rural, and the incidence of heart failure in these rural counties is greater than that of the state’s urban counties, making an intervention such as this a key to improving quality of life for rural Alabama residents with heart failure and their families.

“There is an urgent need to increase palliative care access to older adults with advanced illness, especially in the South, which has the lowest availability to these services,” she said. “It is critical to understand how to best make this care accessible to this population.”

The focus of this palliative care model is on coaching patients and their family caregivers in problem-solving, communication, symptom management and health care decision-making with a goal of empowering them to be better prepared to meet the challenges of progressive illness, Bakitas says. This is a telehealth intervention, meaning patients and their caregivers do not have to leave home to participate after a single in-person palliative care assessment. The in-person consultation is followed by a series of phone sessions for a period of 48 weeks, specifically tailored to meet the needs of a rural population.

Bakitas and others have demonstrated in advanced cancer that concurrent palliative care offered from the time of advanced diagnosis achieves beneficial quality of life, symptom burden, depression and, in some cases, survival outcomes. The intervention in this study is adapted from Bakitas’ successful palliative care model for cancer (ENABLE: Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends).

Advanced heart failure affects nearly 6 million Americans, and less is known about how this illness affects the 80 percent of heart-failure patients ages 65 years and older because research tends to focus on younger patients. Currently, Bakitas says, only 19 percent of Medicare-age heart-failure patients and their family caregivers access palliative care services, compared with more than half of advanced cancer patients.

“Older patients with heart failure and their family caregivers rarely have access to palliative supportive care services because the disease is unpredictable, and in the current health care system, palliative treatment may not be provided until after other medical treatments have been tried,” Bakitas said.

Also important to the study is the impact that palliative care has on caregiver burden. This study will examine the impact of the intervention on caregivers’ self-reported quality of life, mood, health and caregiving burden.

“This is important because caregivers can spend an average of eight hours each day assisting the patient with their care,” she said. “This takes a toll on their physical and psychological well-being. Caregivers will often ignore their own needs, and ultimately, without assistance that this coaching is designed to provide, caregiving studies have documented that they can have higher rates of illness and death.”

New UAB macular degeneration research looks at lesions behind the retina
New UAB macular degeneration research looks at lesions behind the retina
UAB researchers are probing the secrets of subretinal drusenoid deposits, which may be a leading factor in the onset of age-related macular degeneration.

zhang 2Yuhua Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded a $1,837,500 grant from the National Eye Institute to characterize extracellular lesions associated with age-related macular degeneration, a common, vision-stealing disease.

AMD affects more than 10 million Americans and can lead to severe vision impairment. To date, effective treatments are available for only the late stages of disease. Despite its prevalence, the factors that lead to development and progression of AMD are not completely clear.

Zhang aims to expand scientific understanding of the disease by characterizing subretinal drusenoid deposits, lesions recently recognized as conferring risk for progression to advanced AMD. Zhang will use an instrument he built to study retina changes related to these lesions at an unprecedented resolution. He seeks to develop imaging-based biomarkers and biometrics for assessing the progression of AMD. New knowledge about the role of SDD could help inform novel approaches to treatment.

Zhang, an optics engineer with expertise in adaptive optics imaging, has been mentored by two eminent scientists in the Department of Ophthalmology, Christine A. Curcio, Ph.D., and Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D. Curcio was the first to identify SDD in human donor tissue, and Zhang’s work builds upon Curcio’s findings.  

“These lesions may impact vision by preventing the traffic of key nutrients to and wastes from the light-sensing photoreceptors and by directly exposing these cells to toxic compounds,” Curcio said. “They also may stimulate the ingrowth of abnormal blood vessels and indicate changes in the underlying blood supply to the photoreceptors.”

AMD affects more than 10 million Americans and can lead to severe vision impairment. To date, effective treatments are available for only the late stages of disease. Despite its prevalence, the factors that lead to development and progression of AMD are not completely clear.

A generous donation by Songs for Sight, an organization founded by Alie B. Gorrie to raise awareness and understanding for low vision, helped jump-start Zhang’s initial research after his recruitment to UAB in 2008. This $170,000 strategic investment paved the way for the new grant from the NEI for nearly $1.8 million. 

“The department is dedicated to the establishment of a translational research team that will develop novel cures and biomarkers for macular degeneration,” said Chris Girkin, M.D., professor and chair of Ophthalmology. “The efforts of Drs. Zhang, Curcio and Owsley, along with others in our department, represent critical steps in these efforts to stamp out this blinding disease.”

$2 million gift to bolster Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance research efforts
$2 million gift to bolster Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance research efforts
Donation from Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company and Protective Life Corporation will aid new disease-changing therapies in the ADDA pipeline.

dai ichi 2Tokyo, Japan-based Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited, and Birmingham-based Protective Life Corporation announced today a $2 million gift to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in partnership with Southern Research. 

The $2 million gift over the next two years will go toward the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance, a collaboration between UAB and Southern Research, that funds, tests and develops new drugs to combat diseases. 

“This generous gift from Dai-ichi and Protective Life will strengthen a longtime, productive partnership between our university and Southern Research,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D. “We have about 18 new disease-changing therapies with tremendous commercial potential in the ADDA pipeline, and we are pushing hard to bring them to market as rapidly as possible. This gift will help us accelerate that process for these new treatments that promise such an incredible impact on patient care and our economy.”

Among the treatments in the ADDA discovery pipeline are therapies for diabetes, kidney disease, myeloma dysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, many types of cancers and more.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company and Protective Life Insurance for investing in UAB, our city and our state,” said Shirley Salloway Kahn, UAB senior vice president of Development, Alumni and External Relations. “Both companies’ visionary philanthropy will help UAB through our collaboration with Southern Research and the ADDA to continue to pursue groundbreaking research to ultimately create new treatments and potential cures for cancer and other devastating diseases. This gift will play a vital role in enhancing UAB and Southern Research’s reputation as leaders in research and development and help boost economic development in our city and state.”

The $2 million gift over the next two years will go toward the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance, a collaboration between UAB and Southern Research, that funds, tests and develops new drugs to combat diseases.

UAB’s School of Medicine, the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center are all crucial collaborators with Southern Research as part of the ADDA. The ADDA network aligns scientists with necessary chemists, pharmacologists, clinicians and intellectual property professionals to develop new disease treatments. 

The ADDA facilitates drug discovery and development in utilizing the resources that exist at both UAB and Southern Research, funding pilot projects at different stages of the drug discovery and development process. 

The pledged funds from Dai-ichi and Protective Life will be used to assist efforts across all stages of ADDA’s drug discovery process, from testing to clinical trials. 

UAB, the University of Alabama and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens each received significant gifts from Dai-ichi and Protective Life, whose formal merger was effective Feb. 1. The three groups are the recipients of the company’s initial $4 million of a total $23 million, five-year commitment in community gifts. 

“We worked diligently and in tandem with Protective leadership to identify recipients that align with our company’s mission of ‘By your side, for life,’” said Koichiro Watanabe, Dai-ichi president and representative director, and Shinichi Aizawa, managing executive officer. “Each recipient in some way reinforces our company values, our culture, and our commitment to improving the lives of the people and communities we serve.” 

“Through Dai-ichi’s tremendous generosity, Protective is able to enhance its level of corporate giving and provide extended assets to these and other entities over the next five years,” said John D. Johns, Protective chairman, president and CEO. “These pledgees reinforce the Protective Life Foundation’s commitment to the community and to the spirit of volunteerism, which will remain at the core of our daily operations.” 

New HPV vaccine shows promise to dramatically reduce cervical cancer
New HPV vaccine shows promise to dramatically reduce cervical cancer
Renowned UAB HPV expert Warner Huh says new nine-valent HPV vaccine has the potential to eradicate the majority of cervical cancer.

A multinational study on a diverse group of women shows that a new nine-valent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents infections and disease associated with the vaccine types, according to a paper published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine has the potential to dramatically reduce rates of cervical cancer, as well as the number of cervical exams a woman must have during her lifetime, says Warner Huh, M.D., professor and director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Gynecologic Oncology and one of the authors of the study.

“There is no question that the vaccine works,” Huh said. “Now, we have a second-generation vaccine that protects against 90 percent of the HPV viruses that cause cervical cancer. This vaccine can literally eradicate the majority of cervical cancer, if given widely and appropriately.”

The nine-valent HPV vaccine immunizes against nine genotypes of HPV known to cause cervical cancer. It is an advance from the four-valent HPV vaccine marketed by Merck & Co. as Gardasil, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006. Gardasil, which Huh helped to develop and test, targets four genotypes that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer. The new vaccine includes those four and five additional genotypes. Both vaccines are prophylactic, meant to be given before women are exposed to possible HPV infection through intimate contact.

The nine-valent vaccine trial included 14,215 women ages 16-26 from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Norway, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In January, Huh was the lead author of the most defining change in women’s cancer screening in the past 20 years. He led a group of cervical cancer-screening experts in writing a new interim guidance about the health advantages of using an HPV test alone, rather than the customary Pap smear, as the primary screen to find cervical cancer or its precursors.

“We’re really on the verge of a dramatic change that will positively affect all individuals, particularly women, in the United States,” said Huh, a senior scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The challenge will be to get the new vaccine into widespread use among young women.” Like the four-valent vaccine, the nine-valent Gardasil 9 vaccine requires three injections taken at day one, month two and month six. Gardasil 9 was approved by the FDA in December 2014 for use in females ages 9-26 and males ages 9-15.

“The real issue is we need to improve vaccination rates in this country. The population benefit seen in countries like Australia has been truly impressive. We should learn and adopt their vaccination practices,” Huh said.

In 2011, 12,109 U.S. women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,092 died, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is commonly known that most cervical cancer is caused by HPV infection of the cervix.

The lead author of the nine-valent HPV vaccine study is Elmar Joura, M.D., of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Huh is one of 26 other authors and provided significant intellectual input about the design and analysis of the vaccine trial.

In January, Huh was the lead author of the most defining change in women’s cancer screening in the past 20 years. He led a group of cervical cancer-screening experts in writing a new interim guidance about the health advantages of using an HPV test alone, rather than the customary Pap smear, as the primary screen to find cervical cancer or its precursors. Under that new guidance, the Pap smear, which dates back more than 80 years, would still be used for follow-up tests if an HPV test is positive, and the Pap smear will still be used for primary screening of women ages 25 and younger. This new guidance affects about 80 million U.S. women ages 25-65 — or 1.2 million women across Alabama — who should be screened periodically by their health care providers for cervical cancer.

Just like the public health need to increase rates of vaccination with HPV vaccine, there also is a crucial need to reach more women who continue to be unscreened or underscreened for cervical cancer, Huh says. Both of these improvements in clinical practice are vital pieces to ending cervical cancer for women.

John Simon Guggenheim



"Awarded to men and women who have ... exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."
For more information visit: http://www.gf.org/