February 2013 Research Spotlight: Jessica Merlin

Merlin-JessicaDr. Jessica Merlin's paper entitled "Pain, Mood, and Substance Abuse in HIV: Implications for Clinic Visit Utilization, Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence, and Virologic Failure", published in Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, has been selected as the Department of Medicine's paper of the month for Feburary 2013.

Dr. Jessica Merlin received her MD and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.  She went on to complete a residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and a fellowship in Palliative Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.  She is currently an Assistant Professor with joint appointments in the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care.  Her clinical work includes directing the 1917 HIV/Palliative Care clinic, which cares for many HIV-infected patients with chronic pain.

Dr. Merlin's research focus is on HIV and chronic pain, especially in patients with psychiatric and substance abuse comorbidities.  In September 2012, she received a K12 career development award to adapt, pilot, and begin to validate a Brief Chronic Pain Screening tool in HIV-infected patients, and conduct qualitative interviews to learn more about the pain experience in HIV-infected patients.  Her long-term interests are in understanding the relationship between chronic pain, alone and in the context of psychiatric illness and substance abuse, and HIV outcomes, and developing interventions to manage chronic pain in HIV-infected patients.


January 2013 Research Spotlight: Dr. Jie Xu & Dr. Dongmei Sun


Dr. Jie Xu & Dr. Dongmei Sun's paper entitled "The Role of Prolactin Receptor in GH Signaling in Breast Cancer Cells", published in Molecular Endocrinology, has been selected as the Department of Medicine's paper of the month for January 2013.

Jie Xu obtained her MD degree and a Master's in Clinical Oncology from Wuhan University School of Medicine, China. She obtained a Ph.D. in Pathology from UAB, followed by postdoctoral fellowship and residency in Pathology also at UAB where she is currently a PGY-3 resident in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. Dr. Jie Xu is the recipient of several awards and training grants and the first author or co-author of many publications.  She has presented her research findings in several national meetings. Her major research interests are in the area of molecular endocrinology.

Dongmei Sun received her bachelor degree from the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai China, and her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2010. She is currently a Research Associate in the Division of Endocrinology of Department of Medicine.

The focus of Dr. Stuart Frank's research is understanding mechanisms of action of growth hormone (GH), an important metabolic and growth promoting hormone. In particular, we are interested in various aspects of GH receptor (GHR) structure and signal transduction. Our studies have examined the interaction of the GHR with a critical non-receptor cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase, JAK2, which is required for initiation of GHR signaling. We have explored the downstream signaling pathways (STAT, MAP kinase, and PI-3 kinase) activated by GH and their effects on GH-induced gene expression. Further, we are interested in the cellular determinants of sensitivity to GH and modulation of GHR availability and function.


December 2012 Research Spotlight: Dr. Yan Sanders


Dr. Yan Sanders' paper entitled "Altered DNA methylation profile in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis", published in the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine, has been selected as the Department of Medicine's paper of the month for December 2012.

Dr. Yan Sanders received her M.D. from Hunan Medical University, China, and M.S. in Pathology from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the National Center for Toxicological Research before she joined UAB.  She is currently an assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Medicine

Dr. Sanders' main research interests are on the epigenetics aspects of pulmonary fibrosis, mainly the roles of histone modifications and DNA methylation in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Her research projects include examining the effects of histone modifiers on fibrotic lung fibroblasts and determining the epigenetic alterations in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) fibrotic foci. Current work has been focused on exploring the epigenetic mechanisms of aging in the pathogenesis of IPF.


November 2012 Research Spotlight: Dr. Xiaoli Li & Dr. Julie Baskin

Dr. Xiaoli Li & Dr. Julie Baskin's paper entitled "The Unique Cytoplasmic Domain of Human FcγRIIIA Regulates Receptor-Mediated Function", published in the Journal of Immunology has been selected as the Department's paper of the month for November 2012.

Li-XiaoliDr. Xiaoli Li obtained a diploma in Biochemistry and a Master’s in virology both from Wuhan University, China. In 1992 he obtained a Ph.D. in Immunology from UAB. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Foundation and a year as Instructor at Rush Medical Center, he returned to UAB where he joined Dr. Kimberly’s group. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. 

Dr. Li's current work combines the use of functional genomic analysis and high content multi-chromatic flow cytometry analyses to understand the effects of natural gene polymorphisms of FcγR genes, their unique regulation, and the associated down-stream signaling events in SLE autoimmunity.

Baskin-JulieDr. Baskin received a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1980, her M.S. in Biology from Georgetown University in 1982, and her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1991.  She was awarded an Immunologic Diseases and Basic Immunology Training Grant fellowship and joined the laboratory of Dr. Ed Lamon where she investigated idiotypic network activation to the hapten 2, 4 dinitrophenyl (DNP) and antibody-induced inhibition of sarcoma growth using monoclonal antibodies specific for Moloney murine sarcoma/leukemia cell surface antigen.  More recently, Dr. Baskin worked in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Kimberly where she had been investigating the role of protein kinase C (PKC) phosphorylation of the alpha-chain cytoplasmic domains of gamma-chain associated Fc receptors.  Research interests include receptor-initiated cell signalling and the contribution of the α-chain cytoplasmic domain to downstream cellular responses.