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

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.

Novel mechanism involved in memory discovered by UAB researchers
Novel mechanism involved in memory discovered by UAB researchers
A protein that regulates memory may prove to be a therapeutic target for dementia and memory loss.

sweat artThis acrylic on canvas artwork is an artistic interpretation of dynamic chromatin regulation in memory formation. Histones are the chief protein components of chromatin, which is a complex of molecules consisting of DNA and protein found in cells. The artist is the study’s senior author, J. David Sweatt, Ph.D.Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham report the discovery of a novel mechanism in the brain involved in the formation of memory and learning. In findings reported online this week in Nature, the research team describes the role of a histone subunit known as H2A.Z.

The discovery could have therapeutic ramifications for conditions including dementia, age-related memory loss or even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Histones are proteins that help regulate 24-hour memory formation in the hippocampus as well as longer memory formation in the cortex. The UAB study of the subunit H2A.Z in mice was the first done in a complex mammalian model. Previous studies had been done only in simple cells such as yeast.

Histones band together in groups of eight to form a core protein required for memory formation. In a healthy individual, the histone subunit H2A.Z is not part of the core protein, but is exchanged for — or replaces — one of the other eight core histones at the time a memory is laid down in the hippocampus.

The UAB research team, led by J. David Sweatt, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurobiology and director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, removed H2A.Z in mouse models by means of a genetically engineered virus so that the subunit exchange could not take place. The mice then underwent threat recognition training, which allowed researchers to measure their memory response to a perceived threat over a 24-hour period.

To their surprise, memory improved in the animal models in which the H2A.Z exchange had not taken place.

“Memory improved with the absence of H2A.Z, which was unexpected, since we hypothesized that H2A.Z would be a necessary part of memory formation in normal situations,” Sweatt said. “This gives us an intriguing new target for therapies for conditions involving memory loss or poor memory formation.”

sweatt art streamSweatt says one possible next step would be the development of H2A.Z inhibitors that might be beneficial in cases of declining memory associated with aging or dementia. Other applications might include memory impairment related to intellectual disability.

The discovery that memory improved in the absence of H2A.Z, thought to be an integral part of memory formation, does beg the question of H2A.Z’s responsibilities for normal memory formation. Sweatt speculates that H2A.Z plays a role in modulating memory, serving as a sort of memory suppressor in cases of unpleasant or painful memories.

“It may be that its role is a type of buffer, to dampen negative memories so that they don’t overwhelm us or lead to additional health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” Sweatt suggested. “In that eventuality, the ability to either inhibit or promote H2A.Z may play a valuable role in blocking or treating PTSD in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.”

Funding for the study was provided by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the National Institute for Mental Health and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

$3.75 million endowed chair will boost vision research at UAB
$3.75 million endowed chair will boost vision research at UAB
A unique philanthropic partnership between Research to Prevent Blindness, EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, and Susan and Dowd Ritter will fund ophthalmology research.

endowed chairThe University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology will establish the Research to Prevent Blindness/Susan and Dowd Ritter Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology Research with a $3.75 million endowment, one of the largest in UAB history.

The endowment will enable the department to recruit a world-class scientist to join its existing roster of international experts in the study of blinding diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

The endowment is funded by Research to Prevent Blindness, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to funding eye research in the world, the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, the department’s and university’s largest donor, and Susan and Dowd Ritter. Both RPB and ESFA have a long history of support for UAB and recognized that they could leverage their individual philanthropic impact with equal matching support from an additional private philanthropic partner.

Dowd Ritter, former CEO of Regions Bank, and his wife, Susan, agreed to become that private partner and pledged to provide the crucial third matching gift.

The endowment will enable the department to recruit a world-class scientist to join its existing roster of international experts in the study of blinding diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“We’ve gone to the Department of Ophthalmology for family eye care for years, and all the doctors we’ve encountered have been fabulous — it’s a stellar part of UAB, and as it grows is going to be a real jewel for the city,” said Susan Ritter. “We liked the fact that this is a public and private partnership that’s going to allow UAB to bring top ophthalmology researchers to Birmingham to improve vision care for the entire world.”

Christopher A. Girkin, M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology and holder of the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Endowed Chair of Ophthalmology, says UAB researchers have made many significant contributions to vision science, many of them funded by RPB, an organization that has been associated with nearly every major breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of vision loss over the past 50 years.

“RPB’s partnership with the Ritters and the EyeSight Foundation provides an opportunity at a critical juncture for expansion of the department’s research program,” Girkin said. “Having a $3.75 million endowed chair will enable us to recruit another stellar individual who will add even more depth and breadth to our already outstanding research faculty.”

RPB has awarded grants and pledges totaling $2.18 million to the School of Medicine at UAB since 2008.

“RPB is interested in supporting upward trajectory in vision science, so this concept of a highly leveraged endowed research chair with potential to attract a truly excellent national vision researcher to UAB was appealing to us,” said RPB President Brian F. Hofland, Ph.D. “We see this project at UAB as an effort that may well prove to be a model for other such partnerships in other parts of the country.”

The ESFA is also supportive of Girkin’s vision for the department’s research goals, according to Torrey DeKeyser, executive director of the organization.

“Under his leadership, there is an emphasis on research that is generating excitement among the scientists, and this collaborative endowed chair will help boost and continue this momentum,” she said. “The EyeSight Foundation board and staff could not be more pleased to be part of this strategic funding collaboration with the Ritters and Research to Prevent Blindness.”

25th annual Vascular Biology and Hypertension Symposium set for Sept. 22-23
25th annual Vascular Biology and Hypertension Symposium set for Sept. 22-23
Symposium attendees will gain a better understanding of the most recent developments in the fields of clinical and basic science research in cardiovascular disease.

cardiovascular confThe University of Alabama at Birmingham Vascular Biology and Hypertension Program, of the Division of Cardiovascular Disease in the Department of Medicine, will host its 25th annual Vascular Biology and Hypertension Symposium on Sept. 22-23 at the UAB National Alumni Society House, 1301 10th Avenue South.

Registration for the event is free but required. Detailed program and registration information can be obtained by emailing Faith Lang at faithlang@uab.edu.

Attendees will gain a better understanding of the most recent developments in the fields of clinical and basic science research in cardiovascular disease. The symposium begins at 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 22. The morning session will focus on vitamin D and cardiovascular disease, and the afternoon will feature the endothelial cell, cause and cure for cardiovascular disease.

The Tuesday, Sept. 23, session begins at 8:30 a.m. and will focus on ovarian hormones and the vasculature; the afternoon session will look at novel treatments.

The 15th annual trainee poster session will take place from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22.

CME credit is available for this event. Limited parking is available.

Sociology doctoral student earns fellowship grant from NIH
Sociology doctoral student earns fellowship grant from NIH
Kristi L. Stringer will study the interrelated stigmas around HIV infection and substance abuse.

kristi stringerKristi L. Stringer, a doctoral candidate in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Sociology, has been awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship grant through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which enables promising predoctoral students to obtain individualized research training while conducting their dissertation research.

Stringer, who completed her master’s degree in sociology at UAB in 2012 and was a predoctoral trainee in the Division of Preventive Medicine’s Center for Outcomes Research and Education, will study the effects of social stigmas related to substance abuse and HIV on care for HIV patients, examining the relationships between these stigmas and medication adherence, as well as retention in HIV care.

“HIV now has become a chronic medical condition, just like diabetes,” Stringer said. “A patient with HIV can live just as long as anyone else. The important questions at this point are sociological questions. What are the barriers to treatment adherence? Are there social factors preventing medication adherence and HIV care?”

Stringer says societal stigmas toward substance users are deeply ingrained, appearing in frequently used terms such as “crackhead,” “junkie” and “addict.” These stigmas and deeply ingrained attitudes can affect the treatment of substance abuse and HIV in a population vulnerable to HIV infection, as well as people who are living with HIV. Injection drug users represent 16 percent of those living with HIV and 8 percent of new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission rates are also high among noninjection drug users.

“When I’ve gone to HIV conferences and people are talking about populations in which HIV is more prevalent or on the rise, there is a genuine discussion about the best way to target at-risk populations,” Stringer said. “However, discussions are limited regarding drug users. Addressing the stigmas around HIV and drug use simultaneously is important because HIV and substance use disorders are highly interrelated, and people living with HIV who have alcohol and/or substance use disorders are even less likely to consistently engage in HIV care and adherence to medication.”

The NRSA award provides for tuition and fees, an institutional allowance, and a stipend, allowing Stringer to expand her understanding of public health and the sociology of health care as she begins to work with HIV patients.

“This award will allow me to devote 100 percent of my time over the next four years to the training and research activities that are critical for my development as an independent investigator in the fields of substance abuse, HIV and stigma.”

The NRSA award provides for tuition and fees, an institutional allowance, and a stipend, allowing Stringer to expand her understanding of public health and the sociology of health care as she begins to work with HIV patients.

“This award will allow me to devote 100 percent of my time over the next four years to the training and research activities that are critical for my development as an independent investigator in the fields of substance abuse, HIV and stigma,” she said.

Stringer’s team of mentors and advisors includes dissertation co-chair Janet Turan, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB School of Public Health, whose research also focuses on stigma discrimination among HIV patient populations; medication adherence expert Mirjam Kempf, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health; Joseph Schumacher, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine, who studies substance addictions; retention in care expert Michael Mugavero, M.D., M.H.Sc., associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases; and Elizabeth Baker, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and Stringer’s dissertation co-chair.

Stringer will collect survey data from 200 patients of UAB’s 1917 Clinic and compare survey answers on drug use history, social support, treatment efficacy, and stigmas to medication adherence and care retention. Based on the quantitative survey results, Stringer will develop follow-up questionnaires for individual or focus group interviews to learn more about barriers to, and successful examples of, treatment adherence.

“As sociologists, we often talk about the ways in which social factors such as socioeconomic status and discrimination, ‘get under the skin’ of individuals to affect measurable medical outcomes,” Baker said. “Health-related stigma has emerged as a significant player in health behavior. This study is unique in that it focuses on substance abuse stigma and its effects on HIV medication adherence and retention in care and employs a mixed-methods design that will provide a multidimensional and more comprehensive picture of the factors associated with retention in care.”

Stringer hopes her research will help reduce the effects of substance abuse stigmas on HIV patients and raise awareness of stigmas toward substance users among both primary care providers and HIV care providers.

“Kristi is an amazing student, and getting an NIH award so early in her career shows her potential,” Turan said. “At UAB we have a nice momentum going in terms of several different studies and projects that are aiming to understand and reduce stigma. I’m sure her research is going to elucidate the challenges of helping patients with multiple co-morbidities. It’s going to be a very informative part of a toolbox of answers for HIV care providers trying to figure out how to retain people in care.”

“My long-term career goal is to contribute to improvements in the lives and clinical outcomes of people living with HIV who have co-occurring substance abuse disorders, through the study of stigma as a barrier to treatment and to interventions that reduce the stigmatization and discrimination experienced by this population,” Stringer said. “This award will make this possible.”

UAB Human Resources

UAB Human Resources provides support to the institution through the departments of Benefits, the Child Care Center, Compensation, Training and Development, the Employee Assistance Program, Employee Relations, Employment, and Temporary Services, HR Data and Administrative Systems Services, HR Records, and Employee Health.

UAB Human Resources for New Hires
As a new faculty member, HR can help walk you through:
  • completing your I-9 form
  • new employee orientation
  • setting up direct deposit for payroll
  • setting up your BlazerID and email
  • choosing health, vision, and dental insurance
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