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

Classic psychedelic use found to be protective with regard to psychological distress and suicidality, study finds
Classic psychedelic use found to be protective with regard to psychological distress and suicidality, study finds
Classic psychedelic drugs include LSD, psilocybin and mescaline. This new School of Public Health research is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

suicideClassic psychedelics, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and mescaline, previously have been shown to occasion lasting improvements in mental health. But researchers led by University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health investigators wanted to advance the existing research and determine whether classic psychedelics might be protective with regard to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Approximately 30,000 lives in the United States are claimed by suicide every year, and more than 90 percent of victims have been diagnosed with mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Using data from more than 190,000 respondents of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2012, the researchers found that those who reported ever having used a classic psychedelic drug in their lifetime had a decreased likelihood of psychological distress in the past month, and decreased suicidal thinking, planning and attempts in the past year.

“Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored,” said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. “This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits).”

Hendricks says the take-home message from this study is that classic psychedelics may hold great promise in the prevention of suicide and evaluating the therapeutic effectiveness of classic psychedelics should be a priority for future research.

This study was recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Research enters data-driven era
Research enters data-driven era
During the past few years, technological innovations have opened up an entirely new way to approach scientific questions. Data-driven research starts with massive information sets — the genomic profiles of thousands of patients, for example, or millions of spam emails — and then searches for emerging patterns in that data. In the latest issue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s "Business Horizon Quarterly", UAB President Ray Watts, M.D., explains the way data-driven research at UAB is being applied to find novel treatments for disease, create new products and businesses and train the next generation of innovation-savvy students.
New epigenetic tools can rewrite memories — and more
New epigenetic tools can rewrite memories — and more
editing the brain
Epigenetic changes are implicated in a host of neural conditions, from Alzheimer's-related memory loss to depression. Now, a revolutionary set of molecular editing tools are allowing scientists to alter the epigenome like never before. In The Mix, UAB neuroscientist Jeremy Day, Ph.D., explains how he uses these techniques in his lab, and why they could lead to an entirely new kind of therapy.
For obesity research, self-reported diet and physical activity data too inaccurate, expert report says
For obesity research, self-reported diet and physical activity data too inaccurate, expert report says
New strategies for acquiring objective data are in their infancy, and support for better tools is needed, say experts in the International Journal of Obesity.

diet diaryAsking patients to self-report their nutrition and physical activity is a common data-collection method used by obesity investigators. But a newly published expert opinion — signed by leading scientists and led by investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — says this often misleading information can lead to disappointing research outcomes.

David B. Allison, Ph.D., Andrew W. Brown, Ph.D., and Madeline Jeansonne, MPH, of the UAB Office of Energetics, contributed to the paper “Energy balance measurement: When something is not better than nothing,” which was co-signed by 37 obesity researchers from around the globe and published in the International Journal of Obesity.

The core group of authors argues that self-reported totals of energy intake (EI) and physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) are regularly used in health research, yet they repeatedly are shown to be so inaccurate that they should be considered unacceptable for scientific research.

Allison, associate dean for Science in the UAB School of Public Health, explains that most of the large-scale nutrition and physical activity surveillance conducted by epidemiologists and the government rely on asking people how much they eat and how active they are, resulting in self-reported energy intake and energy expenditure estimates.

“For too long, our field has accepted self-reported measures of energy intake, despite knowing that they are markedly inaccurate, with the justification being they are the best we have in some circumstances. Nevertheless, ‘best we have’ and ‘adequate for scientific work’ are two different things.”

“Using these self-reported values, researchers had concluded for years that individuals with more body mass were eating less food than thinner individuals, which is counterintuitive. Indeed, when using objective, scientific measurements instead of self-reported measurements, it turns out that larger people on average eat more,” Allison said. “Using the flawed self-reported values led to incorrect conclusions about physiology and the etiology of obesity, despite the large quantities of flawed data collected.”

The investigators reviewed previous studies of weight change that relied on self-reported EI and PAEE.

“We went through and looked at some of the strongest evidence that tends to be used to support use of self-reported EI and saw that there was little validity to these methods,” said Brown, a scientist with the Office of Energetics and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “Essentially, methods of self-reported energy intake and physical activity are not as accurate as they are assumed to be.”

The authors contend the scientific and medical communities should stop relying on self-reported EI and PAEE and develop objective measures of energy balance.

“Often people have the misconception that more data is better; but if we just have more bad data, we won’t come to correct conclusions,” said Jeansonne, a program coordinator for the UAB Office of Energetics. “Funding for more accurate measurements could give us better advances in knowledge.”

Allison adds that a focus on finding more accurate data-collection methods for EI and PAEE could aid in health-related policy, future research and clinical decisions.

“For too long, our field has accepted self-reported measures of energy intake, despite knowing that they are markedly inaccurate, with the justification being they are the best we have in some circumstances,” Allison said. “Nevertheless, ‘best we have’ and ‘adequate for scientific work’ are two different things.”

The authors say new strategies for objectively determining energy balance are in their infancy, and funding for these objectives and better tools are still needed.

UAB research probes temperature-dependent sex determination in turtles
UAB research probes temperature-dependent sex determination in turtles
Roadmap of early differentiation genes points to key role for dmrt1 in how the egg incubation temperature determines the sex of a hatchling.

turtleRed Eared Slider turtle. Photo by Nightryder84.Thane Wibbels, Ph.D., professor of biology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, used to go out in the wild to catch turtles.

He wrestled 900 large sea-turtles “rodeo style” when he was a doctoral student doing research on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, jumping on their backs to corral them and take blood samples for hormone measurements. At the University of Texas, he scouted turtle nests at Austin’s water purification plant and dug up the eggs.

But the red-eared slider turtles that Wibbels and former UAB doctoral student Kayla Bieser study have an easier source.

“I drive down to Kliebert’s Turtle and Alligator Farm in Hammond, Louisiana, at least five times a year,” Wibbels said. “I’ll pick up about 1,000 eggs at a time.”

Those turtles are a model to try to answer a key question: How does temperature determine whether a turtle embryo turns into a male or a female? In humans, our chromosomes — specifically the X and Y chromosomes — determine whether a baby will get a pink ribbon or a blue ribbon. But if you take red-eared slider eggs and incubate them at 78.8 degrees F, all the hatchlings will be male. If you had incubated those same eggs at 87.8 degrees F, all the hatchlings would have been female. An intermediate temperature yields a mix of male and female.

Researchers call this “temperature-dependent sex determination.” It is a trait of reptiles, and it probably dates back at least 220 million years to the reptile-like creatures that were forebears to all reptiles today, as well as forebears to all the species of birds and mammals in the world today. Yet the temperature control of the sex of a hatchling is still a mystery.

Researchers call this “temperature-dependent sex determination.” It is a trait of reptiles, and it probably dates back at least 220 million years to the reptile-like creatures that were forebears to all reptiles today, as well as forebears to all the species of birds and mammals in the world today. Yet the temperature control of the sex of a hatchling is still a mystery.

In a paper in the journal Sexual Development, published online in November and in print this month, Bieser and Wibbels investigated sex-determining/differentiation genes in red-eared sliders, during the period when the embryonic gonadal tissue develops into either testes (male) or ovaries (female). The genes they investigated are closely conserved genes that are also active during embryonic development of birds, mammals and other reptiles.

Bieser, now an assistant professor of biology at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, measured the expression levels of five key genes in turtle eggs incubated at either the male- or the female-producing temperature. She checked them from stage 15 to stage 21 of embryonic development, the crucial period when temperature can affect the sex of a red-eared slider. She found that the gene dmrt1 was the earliest gene that showed sex-specific expression in males, and she measured other genes that were activated and when they were activated.

“It gives us a roadmap of the genes that are important in vertebrate sex determination, and which ones are earliest,” Wibbels said. “The one that stands out in male sex determination in all vertebrates is dmrt1.”

Wibbels now plans to focus on dmrt1 and its potential connection to the still-unknown temperature switch. The recent sequencing and annotation of the Western painted turtle genome will aid in his effort to understand the mechanistic basis of temperature-dependent sex determination.

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