calix juanWhile doing graduate research in the UAB microbiology department, alumnus Juan Calix, M.D., Ph.D., wrote an F31 grant application that was not only funded, but also selected by NIH as a model application. According to NIH Program Specialist Jen Sacchetti, Calix’s excellent F31 application is posted on the NIH public website as a sample for the extramural researcher community.

“His application mentions the research strength at UAB, and various programs including UAB MSTP,” says Moon Nahm, M.D., Calix’s mentor.

Calix received several awards while studying at UAB, including the 2012 Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, the most prestigious annual award given to students from the Graduate School.

In 2014, after receiving his MD/PHD at UAB, Calix began a medical internship at Washington University in St. Louis. He is in a special faculty training program where he can do research in the late phase of his residency training and can be an infectious diseases faculty member there.

"I believe that he will soon be a leader in infectious diseases and microbiology,” says Nahm. “Clearly, Juan is a model student for UAB.”

The model F31 application is on the NIH/NIAID website --

Congratulations to Dr. Jamil Saad who has been promoted to tenured Associate Professor of Microbiology and Dr. Adrie Steyn who has been promoted to tenured Full Professor of Microbiology.

SaadJamil Saad Steyn June 2013Adrie Steyn
Hui HuMeet Hui Hu, Ph.D., an immunologist focusing on transcriptional regulation of adaptive immunity—Tfh cell differentiation, GC responses, CD8+ T cell quiescence/activation, T cell responses, immune memory and vaccines.
Hu, who comes to UAB from the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, joined the microbiology department in May.

After receiving his doctorate from Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1998, Hu came to the US and began postdoctoral training at the Trudeau Institute. He then moved to the Center for Cancer Research at MIT, where he was a postdoctoral associate. In 2002, Hu joined CBR Institute for Biomedical Research (IDI) at Harvard Medical School. He was an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at Harvard’s Children’s Hospital before moving to the Wistar Institute in 2007. He worked for seven years at the Wistar Institute. Hu has received several awards and honors including the ACGT Young Investigator Award.

Faculty Retreat 2014Informative, beneficial, vibrant . . . these three words describe the 2014 Microbiology Faculty Retreat, which was held on Wednesday, May 14th at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Dr. Fran Lund, chair of the department says, “The turnout was great, and our discussion sessions were especially good this year.

The faculty retreat is a valuable event that focuses on the two major objectives of the department—scientific research and education. Dr. Louis Justement says that the event “provides a venue for the diverse faculty to share research and ideas regarding ways to improve the department. Basically, the retreat is very valuable because it fosters communication between the faculty and communication is the key to building collaborations and for making the department stronger.”

What began in the late 1990s with only three UAB labs (Briles, Yother and Hollingshead) participating has become a biannual symposium attended by more than 70 attendees from six southeastern research institutions:

Wake Forest School of Medicine
Mississippi State University
University of Georgia
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Alabama State University
Pneumo Symposium 6Dr. David Briles speaks with Thelma Tower, a student from Mississippi State University, before her presentation.
Pneumo Symposium 2014Dr. Fikri Avci, University of Georgia This two-day symposium offers researchers an opportunity to share the latest developments in the field of pneumococcal research.

Distinguished speaker for the 2014 event was UAB microbiology alumni, William E. Swords, Ph.D. He discussed his research at Wake Forest School of Medicine, which focuses on understanding host-pathogen interactions that determine persistence vs. clearance in the airways.

SaadCongratulations to Dr. Jamil Saad for receiving the 2014 Provost's Award for Faculty Excellence in Academic Engagement and Global Citizenship. He is one of only four faculty members campus-wide to receive this honor. The award recognizes UAB faculty members for engaging undergraduate students in research, creative activities, service learning, and study abroad activities. Awards will be presented at the UAB Expo Award ceremony Friday, April 11, 2014.