León-Ruiz Receives Dean’s Excellence Award in Research

Leon RuizMicrobiology assistant professor Beatriz León-Ruiz, Ph.D., has been named the junior faculty winner of the 2015 Dean’s Excellence Award in Research. This honor recognizes exceptional contributions made by School of Medicine faculty in service, teaching, research, diversity enhancement and mentorship. 

The microbiology department awards committee, headed by Pete Burrows, who nominated León-Ruiz for the award, pointed out her extreme productivity for someone at such an early stage in her career. They noted that she is a highly-collaborative scientist who eagerly and effectively shares her knowledge and ideas with students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty throughout UAB.

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UAB Takes a Stand on Capitol Hill Day

2015CapitolHillDayMicrobiology professor Dr. Louis Justement and three other UAB professors were among 50 scientists from 27 states to meet with congressional staff during Capitol Hill Day, April 14, 2015.

“The annual Capitol Hill day represents an ongoing effort by The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), its constituent societies and individual scientists to communicate directly with legislators and their staffs regarding the importance of biomedical research in terms of the economic impact and benefits to the health of the country,” says Justement, who serves as chair of the FASEB subcommittee on Policy and Government Affairs.

This year, researchers proposed a specific funding strategy to more than 100 congressional offices. That strategy involves a five-year commitment to a five percent annual funding increase in support of science research and development. The researchers believe this plan would help maintain the country’s leadership in science and restore the purchasing power of the NIH budget, which has decreased by 25 percent since 2003.

“The good news is that the efforts of FASEB and other advocates for biomedical research are indeed having an impact on how legislators view the NIH, NSF and other federal research entities. Recently, there has been a clear indication that legislators realize that NIH and the biomedical research community across the country are struggling to keep pace and that we risk losing a generation of new scientists. Hopefully, this will translate into increased support for biomedical research in the near term,” says Justement.

Pictured are: UAB professors David Pollock, Ph.D.; Mary-Ann Bjornsti, Ph.D.; Louis Justement, Ph.D.; and Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D.

2015 Microbiology Faculty Retreat Forged New Ideas

2015FacultyRetreatOnce a year, faculty members of the microbiology department join for a day-long retreat to discuss developments in their current research and plans for continued study. This year’s meeting included presentations from eight faculty members—Drs. Mengxi Jiang, Janusz Kabarowski, David Briles, Hui Hu, Scott Barnum, Allan Zajac, Amy Weinmann and Elliot Lefkowitz.

The retreat was held atop Birmingham’s Red Mountain at Vulcan Park & Museum, a premier venue for forging ideas. Named for the centerpiece of the park—the statue of the Roman god of fire and forge—Vulcan Park is by far the best place to view the city of Birmingham.

Vulcan Park UAB media photo
Microbiology professor David Briles says, “As with past faculty retreats, this retreat permitted the faculty to exchange information and help each other with scientific problems. This year’s talks were outstanding. The food was good, and the location was quiet, peaceful and had a beautiful view looking north over Birmingham.”

Tyler Stewart Receives Hiramoto Award

Tyler StewartaCongratulations to Tyler Stewart (Novak lab) who received a Hiramoto Travel Award to assist in his travel to the Society for Glycobiology Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The Hiramoto Travel Award honors the memory of Ray Hiramoto, Ph.D., a noted immunologist and faculty member in the UAB Department of Microbiology until his death in 2002.

All Microbiology graduate students (defined as Ph.D. students with a primary Microbiology faculty member as a dissertation mentor) in good standing are eligible to apply for a Hiramoto Travel Award. These awards will enable recipients to attend upcoming scientific conferences.

Mucosal Immunology, Fourth Edition, Released

Mestecky and book 2015aMicrobiology professor Jiri Mestecky, M.D., Ph.D., has completed the fourth edition of Mucosal Immunology, the only comprehensive reference covering the basic science and clinical manifestations of mucosal immunology.

First published in 1994 as Handbook of Mucosal Immunology, this book was the first to cover the entire spectrum of mucosal immunology in a single work. In its infancy, the book was predicted to become an invaluable stimulus to new lines of interdisciplinary research—and that it has. For more than 20 years, Mucosal Immunology has been a go-to for a diverse group of biologists, researchers, health care workers and students of medicine and pediatrics as they each apply basic biology to virtually all immunological or infection-mediated disease processes of external mucosal surfaces.

The recently released fourth edition consists of two volumes with 2,560 pages. Mestecky has included new research data, exceptional illustrations, original theory, a new perspective, and excellent organization. The book covers immune system topics, such as inductive and effector tissues and cells, and development and physiology of the mucosal barrier; diseases in the digestive system, respiratory tract, and genitourinary tract; and immunodeficiency.

Mucosal Immunology, Fourth Edition, published by Academic Press, is available in hardcover and eBook formats.

Detecting Lupus Signals

Mark WalterMicrobiology professor Mark Walter, Ph.D., is finding and optimizing antibodies against 17 different interferons and their receptors that provoke lupus, a chronic disease that damages skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, heart, brain or lung affecting at least 1.5 million Americans. Walter’s research is funded by the Lupus Research Institute.