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.

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

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

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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

UAB names VP IT/CIO after national search
UAB names VP IT/CIO after national search
Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., comes to UAB from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, where he served as vice chancellor and chief information officer.

kurt carver webCurtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., has been named the next vice president of Information Technology/chief information officer of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Carver comes to UAB from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, where he served as vice chancellor and chief information officer.

In his new role, Carver will serve as the senior IT leader at UAB, provide the strategic management and vision to guide the future direction of IT in support of the administrative, academic and research missions of UAB, and oversee the central IT organization in collaboration with the Health System Information Systems unit.

The VP IT/CIO reports directly to UAB President Ray L. Watts.

“Dr. Carver has a terrific background and reputation, and we are thrilled that he will be joining UAB,” Watts said. “This position is vitally important because IT touches all areas of the institution, and I want to thank the search committee that worked diligently to lead a national search and identify fantastic candidates. Dr. Carver is a great fit for UAB.”

Carver, who will lead development of a transparent, high-performing central IT organization with a culture of providing first-rate customer service and implementing reliable, state-of-the art technologies, is looking forward to moving to his transition.

“I am honored and excited to join the UAB team as it seeks to simply change the world,” Carver said. “Information technology can enable and empower that change by facilitating the work of others and creating business value. I look forward to moving to Birmingham, listening intently and setting about the work worth doing of enhancing the experiences of all members of the UAB family.” 

With the proliferation of big data computing in research, UAB IT will play a critical role in expanding UAB’s research capabilities across campus.

“I am excited Dr. Carver has accepted the VP IT/CIO position at UAB,” said Hemant Tiwari, Ph.D., head of the Section on Statistical Genetics in the School of Public Health and faculty representative on the search committee. “I am looking forward to working with him in strengthening Research IT to meet the demands of current and future needs of research scientists at UAB. I have full confidence in Dr. Carver to find the optimal solution to meet the needs of big data research at UAB.”

Carver, who will lead development of a transparent, high-performing central IT organization with a culture of providing first-rate customer service and implementing reliable, state-of-the art technologies, is looking forward to moving to his transition.

In addition to his role in IT, Carver’s extensive experience will benefit UAB students in the classroom. He has a passion for teaching and will hold an academic appointment in Computer Sciences.

Prior to joining the University System of Georgia, Carver served at the U.S. Military Academy – West Point in a number of positions, including interim vice dean of Education, vice dean for Resources, associate dean for Academic Computing and IT program director.

Carver’s 27-year military career includes appointments as platoon leader, senior signal officer, company commander, battalion operations officer, division deputy G6 and military mentor. He has lived in Korea and Italy and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served as a strategic mentor to build their respective national military academies.

Throughout his career, Carver has been engaged in the active leadership of military, academic, research and service organizations. He has served as a member of a number of governing bodies or executive boards, including the Computer Science Accreditation Board, Computer Accreditation Commission, multiple CIO Executive Summits and the Federal Information Assurance Conference. He is a senior-level member in the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers professional societies and continues to play an active role in shaping the national agenda in technology, education and the interaction between the two. In 2012, Carver received the Global CIO Break Away Leader Award.

Carver has written many journal articles and conference papers, as well as hundreds of plenary presentations, and is a frequent keynote presenter. He has received numerous national and international honors and awards for military, teaching and research excellence throughout his career.

Carver’s first day at UAB will be June 1. The VP IT/CIO role was vacated in 2014 and has been filled on an interim basis by Jeff Neyland.

“We are very grateful to Jeff for his leadership, vision and dedicated service in leading IT,” Watts said. “He was instrumental in helping us assess our needs for the department and its next leader. We are confident we have identified a great fit for UAB IT.”

UAB Hospital named among top breast health centers in the United States
UAB Hospital named among top breast health centers in the United States
UAB Hospital receives 2015 Women’s Choice Award and is named one of America’s Best Breast Centers. 

breast cancer awardUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital has received a 2015 Women’s Choice Award, being named one of America’s Best Breast Centers, acknowledging the UAB Breast Health Center’s dedication to exceptional patient care and treatment.

Women’s Choice Award is a consumer advocacy group that helps women make smart health care decisions by identifying where they can get the very best care. It is the only program that identifies the nation’s best in health care based on patient satisfaction, clinical excellence, and what women really want when it comes to treatment and a high-quality medical experience.

“It is an honor to have this distinction bestowed on us, as it comes from the voice of women,” said Helen Krontiras, M.D., surgical oncologist and co-director of the UAB Breast Health Center. “When women choose to come to UAB, they can be assured that we have met the highest standards in caring for the needs of our female patients.”

UAB was selected because it met the rigorous standards and measures of excellence from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers from the American College of Surgeons, carries the Seal of the American College of Radiologists as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, and has a score above the national average on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services patient recommendation measures, or their equivalents. Fewer than 350 centers met the WCA standards in 2015, resulting in an elite group of centers devoted to women’s breast health.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer among women. One in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.

“A multidisciplinary approach is key to assuring the appropriate plan is implemented for each individual patient. We provide our patients with comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment options and follow-up care that include screening, risk assessment, prevention strategies, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and research, including the latest in clinical trial options.”

“A woman is diagnosed every two minutes, and she needs the knowledge and confidence to select the very best centers that employ advanced technology and clinical practices to give her peace of mind as she embarks on this emotional journey,” said Delia Passi, CEO and founder of the Women’s Choice Award.

The UAB Breast Health Center is part of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s leading cancer research and treatment centers, and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center located in the six-state area that comprises Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

With so many treatment options available, UAB understands the importance of taking a personal, well-rounded approach to each patient’s treatment.

“We know now that breast cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease,” Krontiras said. “A multidisciplinary approach is key to assuring the appropriate plan is implemented for each individual patient. We provide our patients with comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment options and follow-up care that include screening, risk assessment, prevention strategies, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and research, including the latest in clinical trial options.”

UAB also has several clinics that match the needs of women, no matter the phase of breast cancer they are battling. Each clinic is staffed by experts in their fields who provide personal care to each and every woman who visits.

“When women choose the UAB Breast Health Center, they can be confident in knowing that our physicians are nationally recognized experts in breast health and employ today’s leading-edge treatments,” said Krontiras.

The complete list of awardees is available online.

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.”

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