The Impact of Discovery

September 7, 2011

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Senior vice president and dean Ray Watts

One of the most exciting parts of being a physician is learning about scientific discoveries that could help improve, and even save, the lives of our patients. Many of these important findings come from our own School of Medicine faculty, and lately it seems that they have announced a new breakthrough every week.

In just the last month, Dr. Mark Dransfield and colleagues in the UAB Lung Health Center were part of a study reporting that a common antibiotic, azithromycin, can improve quality of life and reduce acute exacerbations for COPD patients. Dr. Henry Wang,vice chair for research in the UAB Department of Emergency Medicine, also revealed that the Stroke Belt is also the Sepsis Belt. Now he is beginning a new research initiative, supported by the National Institutes of Health, to identify the reasons sepsis is so prevalent in the Southeast. You can see the latest examples of School of Medicine research listed in the news feed to the left.


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Dr. Mark Dransfield counseling a patient

Bench to Bedside

I am so proud of the work that these scientists and all of our researchers do, particularly because their discoveries will make a direct impact on clinical care. Our patients are the reason we do research, and they inspire us to translate our findings into new and better treatments. The School of Medicine has always excelled at this bench-to-bedside work, but we want to accelerate the process so that we can make more discoveries and develop them into new therapies more quickly. To help that happen, we are merging our forthcoming School of Medicine research strategic plan with the UAB Health System’s clinical strategic plan. Blending the plans will enable us to work in synchrony as we move forward, leveraging our resources and ensuring that our patients benefit from leading-edge knowledge and the newest, most innovative treatments.

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Dr. Henry Wang

A robust research effort also elevates the education we provide for our medical students, graduate students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, who learn directly from the scientists and physicians responsible for UAB’s discoveries. Research is built into the curriculum with the Scholarly Activity, an original, interdisciplinary research project that each student develops and conducts under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Many students get a head start through fellowships and programs that can take them from UAB laboratories to sites around the world. Even if our students decide to pursue careers outside academic medicine, this research experience is invaluable because it helps shape their analytical thinking and hone their scientific skills.


Gold Standard

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Dr. William Koopman

The American College of Rheumatology has announced that Dr. William Koopman, distinguished professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Medicine, will receive the Presidential Gold Medal, the ACR's highest honor, for a career of outstanding achievements and major contributions to his field. The award will be presented in early November at the ACR's annual meeting in Chicago. I can think of no finer example for us to follow as we bring discoveries to life, bring them to bear on the issues that affect our patients, and show our students and trainees the way forward.

In his 28 years at UAB, Dr. Koopman merged a brilliant research career with a busy clinical practice while playing a huge role in educating and training future physicians. Even in retirement, he is teaching a course for our undergraduate medical students this term, volunteering at Russell Medical Center in Alexander City where he and Liliane have a home, and continuing to mentor many of the physician-scientists who were lucky to cross his path.

I congratulate him on his honor, thank him for his service, and find inspiration in his example.


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See a photo slideshow from the White Coat Ceremony, held in August.

Sincerely,



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