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UAB - Graduate School - Discoveries Blog

The KURE (Kidney Undergraduate Research) Program is a summer long internship where undergraduates are paired with mentors to engage in kidney-related research. In addition to working in a research lab, students have the opportunity to complete professional development sessions, shadow physicians and present their summer research. At the June 24th Discoveries in the Making, three trainees presented research from KURE-affiliated laboratories in the Division of Nephrology at UAB.

Imagine driving along I-20 west headed to Tuscaloosa for an Alabama football game.

Suddenly, a car slams on the brakes in front of you and you can’t avoid it. You crash into it. Both you and the other driver survive the crash and are taken to the hospital with broken bones, scrapes and bruises.

After the accident, you have normal feelings of fear, anxiety and anger, but over time, these feelings dissipate and you are left with a healthy respect for the dangers of the road. You are looking forward to a better drive to the next Alabama football game.

You are at a dental clinic because of a terrible toothache. After examination, your dentist gives you two choices – extracting all the teeth that are causing pain or taking temporary pain killers. You are also warned about the impossibility of getting dentures if you pick the former.

“Pain relief” being your number one priority, the former would be your obvious choice, in spite of knowing the chewing difficulties the extraction might cause you in the long run.

The last time that afternoon snack craving hit, what choice did you make? Did you reach for an apple or the bag of Doritos in the office common area?

Many of us could make better eating choices, but for individuals who struggle to manage their weight, these choices are essential for their health. Unfortunately, 30 percent to 40 percent of U.S. adults are classified as obese. Many of these people have great difficulty changing their eating habits and their unhealthy eating behaviors lead to other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In short, unhealthy eating choices are slowly killing them.

Pioneering bullying researcher Dr. Dan Olweus once said, “It is a fundamental democratic right for a child to feel safe in school and to be spared the oppression and repeated, intentional humiliation implied in bullying.”

Are all children mentally and physically safe inside school premises in the United States? No, not according to research. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics stated that 20.8 percentage of 12-18-year-old students in the United States reported being bullied at school in 2015. This included both verbal and physical bullying where the victims were called names, made fun of, insulted, used as a subject of rumor, threatened harm, pushed, shoved, tripped, spat on, placed in uncomfortable situations and excluded from activities on purpose.

“Did you know that sea turtles on reaching the age of sexual maturity know to go back to the same exact beach – where they once emerged as hatchlings – and lay eggs?” Amy Bonka asked a crowd of about 35 students, faculty members and community members Jan. 9 at Ghost Train Brewing Co.”

Her love for the animals she studies was evident as she continued to share her knowledge with those in attendance.Bonka, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, studies early life behavior of the world’s two most endangered species of sea turtles – the Kemp’s Ridley and the Western Pacific Leatherback. She aims to help sea turtle conservation programs improve their practices through her research techniques.

The new year will bring exciting changes to the Graduate School’s Discoveries in the Making program. Join us in January 2017 as we launch Discoveries in the Making Happy Hour and Discoveries in the Making Coffee Break.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, with approximately 6.7 percent of adults suffering at least one depressive episode in 2015. MDD is characterized by depressed mood, anhedonia, appetite changes, negative information processing, and a myriad of other debilitating characteristics.

While it is a mental illness, MDD has many complex underlying neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to its prevalence. Understanding these mechanisms may be the key to uncovering the processes through which symptoms of MDD develop and are maintained. There are numerous types of antidepressants used to treat MDD; however, these antidepressants can take months to work, and have a limited rate of complete symptom relief. Thus, finding more effective treatments is a primary aim of medical researchers.

Asthma affects approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population and is estimated to cost the country $18 billion every year in healthcare expenses. People with asthma have greater and more diverse number of bacteria in their lungs and studies have shown that their immune systems don't react the same way to infection compared to those without asthma. Industrial countries like the United States, United Kingdom and China have higher rates of asthma and allergies due to decreased early life exposure to infection causing bacterium known as microbes.

This summer, UAB graduate student Kathryn Oliver will share her cystic fibrosis research through public talks at the Homewood and Hoover libraries. Her presentations are part of the UAB Graduate School’s Discoveries in the Making program, where graduate students and postdoctoral fellows present UAB’s newest knowledge to a general audience.