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

Khaled wins Fulbright-Nehru award to combat diabetes in India
Khaled wins Fulbright-Nehru award to combat diabetes in India
Mohammad Khaled, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to develop and improve research and teaching efforts in India related to Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
UAB’s federal research funding up significantly
UAB’s federal research funding up significantly
A one-year, 20 percent increase in research grants elevates UAB to No. 10 among public universities receiving National Institutes of Health funding.

researchers 2Funding for the University of Alabama at Birmingham from the National Institutes of Health rose more than 20 percent in fiscal year 2014 compared to the previous year. National Institutes of Health funding to the university totaled $225 million (including contracts), up from $188 million in FY 2013, placing UAB 10th in NIH funding among public universities.

“NIH funding is more competitive than ever, and this significant increase underscores UAB’s success in continually pushing the frontiers of science and medicine and advances our strategic aim of being among the nation’s elite, research-intensive institutions of higher education,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D. “These dollars will be leveraged to make potentially game-changing strides in translational medicine and patient care, quality of life, and economic development for our community and state.”

NIH funds research at UAB’s professional schools at a substantial level. According to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research rankings, the School of Dentistry is second among dental schools in NIH funding at $11,775,000 in 2014, and the School of Public Health is ninth with grants totaling $28,964,000.

“Garnering research support at this level furthers our goal of becoming the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century. This vital funding helps us grow our footprint in the fields of genomics, personalized medicine and other key areas and, in turn, provide unparalleled care to patients throughout our state and region.”

The School of Health Professions had NIH funding of $5,696,000 last year,and the School of Optometry had more than $4 million.Since 2008, overall sustained grant funding to the School of Nursing has increased by more than 160 percent, placing the school 31st in NIH funding at $1,621,000.

The School of Medicine secured more than $156.3 million in 2014. This moves the school ranking to No. 26 nationally, up from No. 31 the previous fiscal year.

“Garnering research support at this level furthers our goal of becoming the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century,” said Selwyn Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at UAB. “This vital funding helps us grow our footprint in the fields of genomics, personalized medicine and other key areas and, in turn, provide unparalleled care to patients throughout our state and region.”

Key areas of funding growth include three newly formed research institutes in genomic medicine, personalized medicine and informatics. UAB investigators are making revolutionary strides toward new treatments and therapies, including one that potentially could prevent and even reverse diabetes. UAB researchers also recently secured a $10 million, five-year grant to study ways to control viral infections.

Construction of a new Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building, planned as part of a larger Research and Academic Crescent, could help secure an estimated $48 million in additional NIH funding that could create upward of 580 new jobs and have an economic impact of $100 million on the Birmingham area.

UAB physicist named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors
UAB physicist named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors
Sergey Mirov, UAB’s fifth NAI fellow, creates novel lasers and finds new applications for them.

sergey mirovLaser physicist Sergey Mirov, Ph.D., left Russia 22 years ago, after training in Moscow under the 1964 Nobel laureate Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov and working at the USSR Academy of Sciences.

Mirov joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham physics faculty in 1993 and created a flourishing research team. Recognition of the resulting laser inventions and more than 20 patents comes today with the naming of Mirov as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). This professional distinction, shared by 170 academic inventors across the United States, is a credit to both his team and the environment at UAB, Mirov says.

“UAB was a young, actively growing university with freedom to think,” Mirov said of his arrival in 1993. “Moreover, the attitude toward people was that it does not matter where you come from. What is important is: Are you talented? Are you professional? Are you eager to work?”

A laser is an optical device that can focus light energy in three domains: the spatial domain, to create a very tight spot of light; the temporal domain, for an extremely fast burst of light; and the spectrum domain, which yields a narrow wavelength of light.

Lasers have three main parts, and Mirov has worked to modify or improve all three. First is the gain material, in which the optical signal is amplified. This material can include dielectric or semiconductor crystals, ceramics, glasses, gases, and liquids. Second is the cavity with mirrors at each end, where positive feedback takes place. Third is an external source of energy that pumps the laser.

Mirov’s lab in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences is supported by grants totaling $1.5 million. The lab has investigated new types of gain materials and new methods to make those materials. The team has researched new types of cavities that can produce multiple wavelengths of light and different methods of excitation energy — electrical, for example, rather than optical. Mirov also looks for new applications, such as a laser scalpel that can vary its cutting strength as a surgeon operates, or an “optical nose” to detect organic materials.

Mirov’s lab in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences is supported by grants totaling $1.5 million. The lab has investigated new types of gain materials and new methods to make those materials. The team has researched new types of cavities that can produce multiple wavelengths of light and different methods of excitation energy — electrical, for example, rather than optical. Mirov also looks for new applications, such as a laser scalpel that can vary its cutting strength as a surgeon operates, or an “optical nose” to detect organic materials.

Current research includes tunable lasers that can emit photons in the middle infrared spectrum. This ability has many potential scientific and medical applications, and IPG Photonics — an international company based in Massachusetts, with $648 million in revenue in 2013 — has licensed the invention. Seven IPG Photonics researchers are working on applications at the Innovation Depot, the Birmingham-based business incubator that operates in partnership with UAB.

Mirov says the UAB Research Foundation, now part of the UAB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, helped protect the intellectual property created by his research. Leona Fitzmaurice, Ph.D., as director of technology transfer for the Research Foundation, negotiated the license with IPG Photonics.

Mirov and his wife, Olga, live in Vestavia Hills. Both of their sons graduated from Vestavia Hills High School. Mike Mirov is a UAB graduate who works with the seven-member IPG Photonics team, and Ilya Mirov is in the master’s program of the UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Mirov said he felt welcomed when he came to America. “The United States is, in a sense, unique. It is a place where a foreigner can feel like a citizen. That only happens in the United States.”

NAI fellows, according to the NAI, are academic inventors “who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

UAB now has five NAI fellows: Mirov; Richard Marchase, Ph.D., and Dean Sicking, Ph.D., from the class of 2012; and David Briles, Ph.D., and Lawrence DeLucas, O.D., Ph.D., from the class of 2013. Birmingham’s Southern Research Institute has one NAI fellow: Arthur Tipton, Ph.D., 2013.

The 170 fellows named today bring the total number of NAI fellows nationwide to 414, representing more than 150 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions. Included among all of the NAI fellows are 61 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, 208 members of the other national academies (the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine), 21 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel laureates, 11 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 107 AAAS fellows, and 62 IEEE fellows.

The NAI fellows will be inducted by the Deputy U.S. Commissioner for Patent Operations, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during the fourth annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors, March 20, 2015, at the California Institute of Technology. Fellows will receive a trophy, a newly designed medal and a rosette pin. A plaque on display at the Patent and Trademark Office will list the name and institution of each NAI fellow.

The 2014 NAI fellows will also appear in a full-page announcement in the Jan. 16 “Chronicle of Higher Education” and upcoming issues of “Inventors Digest” and “Technology and Innovation.”

The male scent stresses out lab rodents, study says
The male scent stresses out lab rodents, study says
Best of 2014 2Women have no effect on mice, but men cause a stress level comparable to a three-minute swim. Results indicate that researchers should account for these variables.

University of Alabama at Birmingham psychology professor Robert Sorge, Ph.D., recently published findings in Nature Methods that indicate the smell of male researchers causes a stress response that suppresses pain in mice and rats, while women have no effect on the test subjects.

mice-smell sSorge worked primarily alongside researchers at McGill University and then in his lab in the Department of Psychology at UAB to conduct a study that evaluated stress levels in lab rodents. Lab mice and rats were placed in a room and observed by a man or woman. The effect on the pain levels of the animals was drastically different.

The findings show that, in the presence of a male scent, rats and mice experience a stress response comparable to what they would experience being restrained in a tube for 15 minutes or swimming for three minutes. In the presence of a female scent, the rodents’ stress levels remained steady. They were also less stressed when given a woman’s shirt and a man’s shirt together.

Men secrete different amounts of testosterone-based chemicals than women do, and these alert the lab animals that there are male animals nearby, causing a spike in their stress levels. This can cause an issue with lab results, because the increased stress makes lab animals less sensitive to pain and perhaps less likely to react naturally to procedures involving learning and performance.

The results of this study could have a big impact on research, given that rats and mice comprise more than 95 percent of all lab animals. The results indicate that researchers should account for these variables in their experiments.

“Our findings suggest that one major reason for lack of replication of animal studies is the gender of the experimenter,” said Sorge. “It’s a factor that’s not currently stated in the methods sections of published papers, but it should be considered based on what we’ve discovered.”

Another option that male researchers could implement to lessen the impact on the animals would be to sit in a room with their test subjects for half an hour or more leading up to any experiments to help ease the stress effects on the animals, which will decrease over time.

Brain inflammation a hallmark of autism, according to large-scale analysis
Brain inflammation a hallmark of autism, according to large-scale analysis
A ramped-up immune response may play a major role in autism disorders, according to a new study from UAB and Johns Hopkins.

autism inflammationWhile many different combinations of genetic traits can cause autism, brains affected by autism share a pattern of ramped-up immune responses, an analysis of data from autopsied human brains reveals. The study, a collaborative effort between Johns Hopkins and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, included data from 72 autism and control brains. It was published online in the journal Nature Communications.

“There are many different ways of getting autism, but we found that they all have the same downstream effect,” said Dan Arking, Ph.D., an associate professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute for Genetic Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “What we don’t know is whether this immune response is making things better in the short term and worse in the long term.”

The causes of autism, also known as autistic spectrum disorder, remain largely unknown and are a frequent research topic for geneticists and neuroscientists. But Arking noticed that studies of whether and how much genes were being used — known as gene expression — involved too little data to draw many useful conclusions about autism. Unlike a genetic test, which can be done using nearly any cells in the body, gene-expression testing has to be performed on the specific tissue of interest — in this case, brains that could be obtained only through autopsies.

To combat this problem, Arking and his colleagues analyzed gene expression in samples from two different tissue banks, comparing gene expression in people with autism to that in controls without the condition. All told, they analyzed data from 104 brain samples from 72 individuals — the largest data set so far for a study of gene expression in autism.

Previous studies identified autism-associated abnormalities in cells that support neurons in the brain and spinal cord. In this study the research team was able to narrow in on a specific type of support cell known as a microglial cell, which polices the brain for pathogens and other threats. In the autism brains, the microglia appeared to be perpetually activated — and the genes for inflammation responses turned on.

“This type of inflammation is not understood well, but it highlights the lack of current understanding about how innate immunity controls neural circuits,” said Andrew West, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UAB Department of Neurology and co-author of the study.

“Given the known genetic contributors to autism, inflammation is unlikely to be its root cause,” Arking said. “Rather, this is a downstream consequence of upstream gene mutation.”

The next step, he says, would be to find out whether treating the inflammation could ameliorate symptoms of autism.

Other authors on the study are Simone Gupta, Shannon E. Ellis, Foram N. Ashar, Anna Moes, Joel S. Bader and Jianan Zhan, all of The Johns Hopkins University.

The study was funded by the Simons Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grants



The Literacy Grants program was initiated to mobilize members and resources of Phi Kappa Phi and the higher education community to champion literacy initiatives. Grants of up to $2,500 are available to Phi Kappa Phi chapters and individual members to fund ongoing literacy projects or to create new initiatives. The Society's commitment to the cause of literacy grows out of and is consistent with its mission, which was expanded to include "…and to engage the community of scholars in service to others."

For more informaiton, please go to: http://www.phikappaphi.org/web/