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

UAB research examines youth sports injury rates
UAB research examines youth sports injury rates
Study explores patterns such as top 5 most common sports and recreation injuries.

children injuries chart 500Click to enlargeResearchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have taken an in-depth look at patterns in pediatric sports-related injuries in a new study published in the Journal of Athletic Training.

The study suggests that tailoring safety regulations more closely by age could impact the incidence of injury. It examined records of more than 2.5 million children ages 1-18 who were seen in hospital emergency departments for sports or recreation injuries during an eight-year study period. Among those, the five most common causes across all of childhood were basketball, football, bicycling, playgrounds and soccer.

David Schwebel, Ph.D., associate dean for Research in the Sciences and professor in the Department of Psychology, and Carl Brezausek, M.S., former researcher in the Center for Educational Accountability and instructor in the UAB School of Education, analyzed data spanning 2001-08 from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database of injuries treated at hospital emergency departments.

“There are huge numbers of children in the United States who play sports,” said Schwebel, who directs the UAB Youth Safety Lab. “Injuries can and do occur when children are active in sports-related activies, and often they could be prevented.”

The study focused on patterns in injury incidents by exact age and gender. Epidemiology studies on injury often divide children into five-year age spans that fail to precisely account for developmental differences, Schwebel says.

“We see this most clearly in the early years. Children show increasing independence from their parents, and they’re learning what their body can and can’t do. Children have to constantly evaluate their body’s capacity in terms of balancing, reaching, jumping or leaping, or hitting an opponent or a teammate. Part of that evaluation is physical, part of it is judgment, and part is in cognitive and decision-making skills."

“Five-year spans are the historical breakdown of most epidemiological data,” he said. “With adults, that breakdown makes sense. There’s not a huge difference between a 40-year-old and a 44-year-old in terms of injury risk, but there is a huge difference between a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old or even between a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old.

“We see this most clearly in the early years. Children show increasing independence from their parents, and they’re learning what their body can and can’t do. Children have to constantly evaluate their body’s capacity in terms of balancing, reaching, jumping or leaping, or hitting an opponent or a teammate. Part of that evaluation is physical, part of it is judgment, and part is in cognitive and decision-making skills.”

The data showed injuries related to certain recreation activities peaking around specific ages — playground-related injuries remained relevant up to age 9 — while activities such as bicycling caused injuries throughout the age span. Injuries peaked overall at age 14. Bowling caused the most injuries to children at the youngest age (age 4), and camping and personal watercraft caused the most injuries to the oldest (age 18).

However, Schwebel emphasized that the study should not discourage parents from allowing children to participate in sports and recreation activities.

“There are more positives than negatives,” he said. “We should continue to preach safety in activities that are organized and activities that are unorganized. I think it’s the task of parents, coaches, school administrators and even children themselves to be wary that injuries can and do occur and that most are preventable.”

UAB part of NIH-funded research consortia studying more than 200 rare diseases
UAB part of NIH-funded research consortia studying more than 200 rare diseases
Research into rare diseasesgets a funding boost from the NIH: UAB researchers studying Rett syndrome and tuberous sclerosis among those involved in the national effort.

NIH logoPhysician scientists at 22 consortia, including investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will collaborate with representatives of 98 patient advocacy groups to advance clinical research and investigate new treatments for patients with rare diseases.

The collaborations are made possible through awards by the National Institutes of Health — totaling about $29 million in fiscal year 2014 funding — to expand the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, which is led by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

There are several thousand rare diseases, and only a few hundred have treatments available. Combined, rare diseases affect an estimated 25 million Americans. Some obstacles to developing rare disease treatments include difficulties in diagnosis, widely dispersed patients and scientific experts, a perception of high risk, and a lack of data from natural history studies, which follow a group of people with a specific medical condition over time.

“NCATS seeks to tackle these challenges in an integrated way by working to identify common elements among rare diseases,” said NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D. “The RDCRN consortia provide a robust data source that enables scientists to better understand and share these commonalities, ultimately allowing us to accelerate the development of new approaches for diagnosing and treating rare diseases.”

“The RDCRN consortia provide a robust data source that enables scientists to better understand and share these commonalities, ultimately allowing us to accelerate the development of new approaches for diagnosing and treating rare diseases.”

UAB is involved with clinical research in two different projects. The first deals with three disorders of the nervous system: Rett syndrome, MECP2 duplication disorder and RTT-related disorders, under the direction of Alan Percy, M.D., medical director of the UAB Civitan International Research Center. These conditions strike previously healthy-seeming children — usually girls for RTT and boys for MECP2 duplication disorder — early in their lives and can lead to seizures, difficulty with fine motor control and walking, and intellectual disability. This project, which has been funded by NIH since 2003, is preparing to launch clinical trials in the coming months.

In the second project, UAB will be part of a 10-member group of medical centers headed by Boston Children’s Hospital in studying three rare genetic syndromes, tuberous sclerosis complex, Phelan-McDermid syndrome and PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome, which often cause autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Martina Bebin, M.D., professor of neurology, is the lead investigator at UAB for the $6 million, five-year study. The ultimate goal is to launch clinical trials of new treatments and develop biomarkers that can be used to monitor treatment effectiveness for the three rare syndromes, and possibly for broader groups of ASD/ID patients.

The Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network’s efforts take the form of a natural history study with three major goals: identify and understand the core clinical features of each disorder, identify factors that can modify the severity of the disorders, and understand the relationship between patients’ symptoms and their brain imaging and electroencephalography alterations.

Many patients with rare diseases often struggle to obtain an accurate diagnosis and find the right treatments. In numerous cases, RDCRN consortia have become centers of excellence for diagnosing and monitoring diseases that few clinicians see on a regular basis.

The RDCRN was established in 2003 by the NIH Office of Rare Diseases. NCATS now oversees the program, which is designed to advance medical research on rare diseases by facilitating collaboration, study enrollment and data sharing. Since the program’s launch, nearly 29,000 participants have been enrolled in network clinical studies. Currently, the network is composed of about 2,600 researchers, including NIH scientific program staff, academic investigators and members of 98 patient advocacy groups. Ninety-one studies are underway.

With the new awards, scientists at the 22 RDCRN consortia will conduct a minimum of two multisite clinical studies, including one longitudinal natural history study for a group of at least three related rare diseases. The RDCRN Data Management and Coordinating Center will continue to support the consortia by providing technologies and tools to collect and analyze standardized clinical research data, as well as supporting study design.

“The real strength of the collaboration among RDCRN consortia is the power to obtain high-quality data,” said Pamela M. McInnes, DDS, acting director of the NCATS Office of Rare Diseases Research and NCATS deputy director. “These data form an important base to better define patient populations, attract industry partners, share information on best practices and advance treatment options for the rare disease patient community.”

Direct involvement of patient advocacy groups in operations and strategy is a major feature of the network, and each consortium partners with relevant patient advocacy groups. Network consortia also establish training programs for clinical investigators interested in rare diseases research, provide information to the public about the rare diseases that they study, and enable proof of concept in clinical research studies.

Learn more about the six new and 16 continuing consortia as well as the DMCC online

Funding and scientific oversight for the RDCRN are provided by NCATS and 10 NIH components: the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Cancer Institute; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and the Office of the Director. In addition, patient advocacy groups provide funds for many of the projects.

Jurenko family support of UAB Neurology pays huge dividends
Jurenko family support of UAB Neurology pays huge dividends
Philanthropic support has enabled the UAB Department of Neurology to make huge strides in knowledge of diseases such as Parkinson’s.

jurenkoJohn and Ruth Jurenko John Jurenko, retired vice president of sales and marketing at ADTRAN, first encountered the Department of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a Parkinson’s disease patient, and he was quickly impressed by the innovative research taking place.

“My original contact with the department was because of the disease, but then I got to know the people there,” Jurenko recalled. “They are exceptional people, both professionally and personally. I learned that they wanted to grow the department, and I thought I could help.”

Department chair David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., told Jurenko he had his eye on a top Parkinson’s researcher at Johns Hopkins University, Andrew West, Ph.D. West, said Standaert, was a guy he would like to have.

Jurenko’s response was simple.

“Well, let’s go get him,” he said.

In 2007, they got him. West joined UAB, first as the John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Research Scholar and director of the John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Neurological Research Laboratory in the UAB Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics. In 2013, he became the inaugural holder of the John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Endowed Professorship in Neurology.

John and Ruth Jurenko have also funded the John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Research Scholar Fund, and the UAB-HudsonAlpha Collaborative Project in the Genetics and Genomics of Parkinson’s Disease.Philanthropic support like the Jurenkos’ has been key to making the UAB Department of Neurology and its associated divisions and centers the hives of innovation they are today, says Standaert.

“Meaningful advances in neurodegeneration research are very hard-won. The John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Professorship in Neurology allows us to accelerate the process and provides key resources to address critical questions that can’t wait for traditional funding mechanisms. With the support of the Jurenkos, we can focus on addressing critical bottlenecks and hasten the identification of novel neuroprotective therapeutics.”

“Almost all of the major faculty recruitments we have done have been based on philanthropic gifts,” he said. “Their willingness to support our vision has enabled the tremendous growth we have experienced in less than a decade. When I first came to UAB in 2006 to lead CNET, it was just me. Now the center comprises more than 50 scientists, students, postdoctoral trainees and staff.”

This philanthropic investment in research has contributed to what Standaert describes as an explosion in Parkinson’s discoveries.

“The amount of new knowledge in the field of Parkinson’s disease gained in the past five years exceeds everything we knew from the previous 200 years,” Standaert said. “We are deeply grateful to John and Ruth Jurenko for helping us achieve so much in such a relatively short period of time.”

“Meaningful advances in neurodegeneration research are very hard-won,” West said. “The John A. and Ruth R. Jurenko Professorship in Neurology allows us to accelerate the process and provides key resources to address critical questions that can’t wait for traditional funding mechanisms. With the support of the Jurenkos, we can focus on addressing critical bottlenecks and hasten the identification of novel neuroprotective therapeutics.”

Powerhouse team of cancer researchers joins UAB
Powerhouse team of cancer researchers joins UAB
Internationally renowned husband and wife cancer researchers join UAB and showcase its  recruitment muscle

ravi bhatiaRavi BhatiaTwo highly acclaimed cancer researchers, Ravi Bhatia, M.D., and Smita Bhatia, M.D., MPH, will join the University of Alabama at Birmingham in January 2015.

Ravi Bhatia, professor in the Department of Medicine, has been appointed director of the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology and as the deputy director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Smita Bhatia, professor in the UAB Department of Pediatrics, will hold new positions as director of the Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship in the UAB School of Medicine pending UA System Board of Trustees approval, vice chair for outcomes in the Department of Pediatrics, and associate director for cancer outcomes research at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. She will also join the Children’s of Alabama medical staff and be the co-director of the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education.

“Both Ravi and Smita are exceptional researchers who bring an array of expertise to our cancer research enterprise,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “With their leadership and multidisciplinary approach to cancer research and treatment, they will strengthen our ability to take critical scientific findings and move them rapidly to clinical settings, ultimately benefiting our patients.”

The pair comes to UAB from City of Hope in Duarte, California, where Ravi Bhatia specializes in leukemia research, specifically studying the role of stem cells as it relates to blood cell cancer progression. While at City of Hope, he was instrumental in the discovery that malignant stem cells can persist in chronic myelogenous leukemia patients who are in complete remission after having been treated with the drug Gleevec. Although Gleevec revolutionized the treatment of CML, his findings revealed an important limitation of this treatment – residual stem cells can lead to the recurrence of disease when treatment is discontinued. This finding has resulted in clinical trials to eliminate malignant stem cells in patients achieving remission to enhance cures for leukemia patients.

smita bhatiaSmita BhatiaDuring his tenure at City of Hope, Ravi Bhatia was appointed director of the Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research and co-director of the Hematological Malignancies Program in the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and he is credited with recruiting and mentoring young faculty with common interests in studying the properties of leukemia stem cells and developing treatments to target and destroy them. He was elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation in recognition of meritorious and outstanding contribution as a physician scientist in 2006.

While at City of Hope, Smita Bhatia made significant scientific contributions toward identifying chronic health issues among cancer survivors, including patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation. She established multidisciplinary survivorship clinics, providing cancer survivors with state-of-the-art comprehensive follow-up care. Through her work, she discovered an increased risk of radiation-related breast cancer among adolescent girls exposed to chest radiation for the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This finding resulted in a reduction in radiation doses used for managing Hodgkin’s lymphoma in girls during their teenage years and trials to develop risk-reduction strategies for girls treated with chest radiation. She has also demonstrated the critical role for adherence to oral chemotherapy in preventing relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and is now leading a national trial to enhance treatment adherence.

Among her many leadership positions, Bhatia established the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope in 2006. An internationally renowned leader in cancer survivorship research, she serves as the associate chair for the Children’s Oncology Group, coordinating survivorship research across 200 pediatric oncology institutions. She was also elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation in recognition of meritorious and outstanding contribution as a physician scientist in 2006. She is the recipient of the Frank H. Oski Lectureship Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology to honor outstanding investigation in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.In 2012, she was also elected to the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“Competition among AMCs nationally is more intense than ever, and it is not enough to simply keep pace and maintain; UAB must continually excel, innovate and grow. We can become the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century only if we build 21st century teams of investigators and clinicians, such as the Bhatias, who are forging the future of biomedical science and medicine. In doing so, we’ll also build the future of Birmingham and Alabama, with outstanding patient care for our state and region as well as a robust, technology-based economy.”

The recruitment of the Bhatias underscores UAB’s broader efforts to recruit and retain the caliber of faculty necessary to rank among the nation’s elite research-intensive academic medical centers. This is a top priority in UAB’s institutional strategic planning and in AMC21, the complementary strategic plan that aims to make UAB the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century. Aggressive faculty recruitment also figures prominently in the $1 billion Campaign for UAB, the university’s largest ever philanthropic effort that is raising funds for, among other priorities, endowed chairs and professorships and state-of-the-art facilities that can attract leading, NIH-funded teams of investigators.

“Competition among AMCs nationally is more intense than ever, and it is not enough to simply keep pace and maintain; UAB must continually excel, innovate and grow,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “We can become the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century only if we build 21st century teams of investigators and clinicians, such as the Bhatias, who are forging the future of biomedical science and medicine. In doing so, we’ll also build the future of Birmingham and Alabama, with outstanding patient care for our state and region as well as a robust, technology-based economy.”

Together the Bhatias bring several well-funded and broad-ranged grants from the National Institutes of Health, and hope to expand their research teams.  

“My goal at UAB is to further develop the strengths of the hematology and oncology program in basic, translational and clinical science, through a combination of promoting the academic growth of existing faculty and recruitment and development of additional faculty conducting translational research,” said Ravi Bhatia. “I am also interested in promoting translational research within the Comprehensive Cancer Center, contributing to program and resource development, and longer-term strategic planning.”

The Bhatias met in medical school at the All India Institute for Medical Science in New Delhi, India. Both completed fellowships and additional training at the University of Minnesota. They have been married for almost 30 years and have two daughters, Devika, 26, who is a medical student at Florida International University in Miami, and Shweta, 20, an undergraduate at Carleton College in Minnesota.

The couple started out working in the field of cancer together.

“While Ravi’s research is primarily lab-based and mine is primarily population-based, we now have several projects where we work together, thus helping take research from bench to bedside and vice versa,” said Smita Bhatia.

“My primary focus at UAB will be to establish a comprehensive program for cancer outcomes and survivorship research,” she said. “The overarching goal will be to develop strategies to reduce the burden of cancer and its sequelae across all segments of the population through collaborative, interdisciplinary, interventional and educational efforts.”

According to the Bhatias, strong leadership, a strong sense of collaboration across disciplines and a strong academic mission attracted them to joining UAB.

“There are several natural fits between our work and the research strengths at UAB,” she said.

“We are thrilled to have these exceptional scientists join us at UAB,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “Both Ravi and Smita have made significant contributions to their respective areas of research, and they are world-class research scientists. Their strengths will help propel UAB as a leader in basic and outcomes research and will put us closer to better medical therapies.”

“Scientifically, this is an exciting time at UAB,” Vickers said. “With our focus on personalized medicine and genomics, physician-scientists like the Bhatias can take us to the next level. We will be able to examine the molecular basis of leukemia and other such diseases, and identify genes that contribute to its development. We have the opportunity to be truly transformative in terms of patient care for Alabama and the nation.”

Joint UAB, Birmingham AIDS Outreach project re-engaging patients in care
Joint UAB, Birmingham AIDS Outreach project re-engaging patients in care
For people living with HIV/AIDS, coming to regular medical visits is critical to keeping viral load suppressed.

raper patientThe University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham AIDS Outreach have implemented a joint research project to locate, assess and re-engage people living with HIV/AIDS who have fallen out of primary care.

About 50 percent of persons diagnosed with HIV receive regular HIV care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also says about 28 percent of all persons with HIV in the United States have suppressed viral loads, meaning about 1.2 million new HIV infections can be expected to occur in the United States over the next 20 years, unless these patients get and stay in treatment.

Birmingham Access to Care, which launched in 2013, seeks out past patients of the 1917 Clinic who are considered “out of care” either due to missed appointments or because it has been too long since they last saw the doctor.

“We hope to re-engage a significant portion of the out-of-care population of people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Jeremiah Rastegar, program manager in the Division of Infectious Diseases and BA2C project director. “Coming to the clinic regularly is most important to keeping HIV viral load, or the amount of HIV in the blood, suppressed.” 

Rastegar says they also hope to see whether anti-retroviral treatment and access to services, an intensive strengths-based case management/motivational interviewing model used to link and retain new patients in care, can also be useful in helping people return to care.

“Anti-retroviral therapy is effective at reducing viral load among PLWHA but needs to be monitored regularly to ensure proper dosage and effectiveness,” Rastegar said.

According to Rastegar, patients with suppressed viral loads:

  • have higher quality of life
  • have better overall health
  • are much less likely to transmit HIV to others

“We hope to re-engage a significant portion of the out-of-care population of people living with HIV/AIDS. Coming to the clinic regularly is most important to keeping HIV viral load, or the amount of HIV in the blood, suppressed.”
“Patients who are out of care have higher viral load and weakened immune systems and are more likely to transmit HIV infection to others if they engage in unsafe behaviors,” Rastegar said.

Since beginning the project, Rastegar says one setback has been successfully contacting eligible patients due to old phone numbers or addresses.

“To overcome this obstacle, we have just begun using a variety of new recruitment methods, including the use of social media and Craigslist as recruitment avenues for the study,” Rastegar said.

Once interested patients have been reached, they will come to an enrollment session and complete a survey that asks about barriers to care, their current mental and physical health, self-efficacy, and stigma. The patient will then be assigned to a usual care or intervention group. If the patient is assigned to usual care, he or she is offered information about BAO and the 1917 Clinic and is encouraged to return to care. If the patient is assigned to intervention, he or she is introduced immediately to a community social worker who will have the goal of getting the patient back into care by finding ways to overcome barriers to care like lack of transportation or stable housing, or mental illness. The patients are followed for 18 months to see how they are doing, with the survey being repeated every six months.

Success of the project is twofold, Rastegar says.

“If we can get people to stay in HIV care, it means better health outcomes for both patients and the community,” he said.

This project will continue recruiting patients into early 2015.

Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Awards


Love of Learning Awards will help fund post-baccalaureate studies and/or career development for active Phi Kappa Phi members to include (but not be limited to): Graduate or professional studies, doctoral dissertations, continuing education, career development, travel related to teaching/studies, etc. Recipients of the Fellowship award are not eligible to apply. Eighty awards, at $500 each, will be awarded.

The competition is open to all active (dues current) Phi Kappa Phi members who:

  • Have completed their baccalaureate studies by application submission deadline.
  • Did not receive a Fellowship or Award of Excellence grant.
Fore more information please go to: http://www.phikappaphi.org/web/