2013 Civitan Distinguished Scientist

In recognition of outstanding research, leadership and service in furthering the study and treatment of Intellectual Developmental Disabilities, David Sweatt, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Director of the McKnight Brain Institute, was presented the 2013 Civitan International Research Center Distinguished Scientist Award.

photo of Dr. David Sweatt 2013 Civitan Scientist
Left to right: Harald Sontheimer, CIRC Director and David Sweatt, 2013 Civitan Distinguished Scientist

Whit Mallory Fellowship in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Whit Mallory Fellowship in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities 2013 – 2014

Sarah Gillott, Graduate Student in the Department of Psychology, was named the first Whit Mallory Fellow in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Utilizing robot-based tools for social skills interventions this project aims to examine the effect of these technologies in the development of emotional cognition and social skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Sarah works in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Hopkins, Assistant Professor in Psychology, and a 2005 Civitan Emerging Scholar.

This competitive fellowship, in the amount of $25,000, will be presented annually to a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in basic or clinical studies whose project represents a distinct advancement to a deeper understanding of the complex constellation of neurodegenerative diseases.


disabilities 2013

Left to right: Harald Sontheimer, CIRC Director and Sarah Gillott, 2013 Whit Mallory Fellow

Civitan Emerging Scholar Awards

The 2013 – 2014 Civitan Emerging Scholar Awards were announced at the annual Civitan Board reception on October 31, 2013 in the Civitan International Research Center Atrium. The CIRC is pleased to make the following three awards representative of the wide range of CIRC research activities in neurodevelopmental disabilities: Andrew Kennedy, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurobiology; Yanjie Li, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics; and Dr. Latoya Paul, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biology.

Dr. Kennedy’s project will focus on the neurobiology of Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome, an extremely rare mutation in the TCF4 gene, resulting in learning disabilities associated with pronounced memory deficits, autistic behaviors, and an almost complete lack of language development. Dr. Li’s research centers on Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) a genetic disorder causing severe neuro-muscular disorder characterized by slowly progressive ataxia with onset usually between 5 – 15 years. Dr. Latoya Paul’s research involves the study of the neurological and behavioral effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and the neuroprotective role of inositol supplementation in this population.

Each Emerging Scholar will receive a $25,000 award provided through support from Civitan International. This program, now in the ninth year, provides support to advanced graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in their research efforts to address the causes and treatments of developmental disabilities.


scholar 2013

Left to right: Yanjie Li, Ph.D., Latoya Paul, Ph.D. and Andrew Kennedy, Ph.D.

Civitan McNulty Senior Scientist Award

Civitan McNulty Senior Scientist Award 2012 – 2013

Adrienne Lahti, M.D., the 2013-2014 recipient of the McNulty Scientist Award, is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology. Dr. Lahti received her MD from the Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium followed by residencies at the Université de Liège and the University of Michigan. She was recruited to UAB in 2006 where she is now Division Director of Behavioral Neurobiology. Dr. Lahti’s research/clinical activities include the uses of multimodal brain imaging techniques (PET, fMRI, MR Spectroscopy) to study the neuropathology of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and to evaluate the effects of psychotropic drugs on brain function and biochemistry. Dr. Lahti is the director of UAB’s First Episode Schizophrenia Clinic established to provide a comprehensive response to treat teen patients after first diagnosis. There are only a few of these clinics in the country and this is the only innovative schizophrenia clinic in Alabama dedicated to treating teens immediately after first diagnosis.

senior scientist

Left to right: Harald Sontheimer, CIRC Director and Adrienne Lahti,
2013 McNulty Civitan Scientist recipient