MSTP Advisory Committee (MSTPAC)

The MSTP Advisory Committee (MSTPAC) consists of eight members from the SOM faculty, one member from the School of Engineering, and one member from the School of Public Health.  The MSTP Director and MSTP Associate Director occupy two of these positions.

In addition to serving as a policy advisory group, the MSTPAC acts as the  admissions committee for the Program.  

Robin Lorenz MD PhD

Assistant Dean of
Physician-Scientist Education
Department of Pathology

Dr. Robin Lorenz was named Director of the UAB, Medical Scientist Training Program on October 1, 2006. Dr. Lorenz attended Stanford University from 1980 to 1984, where she received a B.S. in Biological Sciences. From 1984 to 1990 she attended Washington University School of Medicine as a Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow and received her Ph.D. in Immunology and M.D. in 1990. Her graduate work was done in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Allen, Department of Pathology at Washington University School of Medicine, and focused on the recognition of self antigens by the immune system. From 1990 to 1994 she was a resident in Laboratory Medicine (Clinical Pathology) at Barnes Hospital. During that time she did a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, focusing on the development of novel animal models to study the development and differentiation of the gastric epithelium. From 1994-2002 she was an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Medicine at Washington University. In addition to directing the basic science research lab focused on chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, she was co-director of the Joint Clinical Immunology Laboratory of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital, and Associate Director of the Laboratory Medicine Residency Training Program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Dr. Lorenz joined the UAB faculty in 2002 as an Associate Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology. The National Institutes of Health and the Sandler Program for Asthma Research fund her laboratory research investigating the mucosal immune system. She has been a member of numerous NIH and American Cancer Society study sections, and currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Research Training Awards Committee. At UAB, her administrative duties include being the Associate Director of the Pathology Residency Program, Program Director of the SIBS Undergraduate Research Program, and Associate Director of the Mucosal HIV and Immunobiology Center. She is married to Dr Kevin Roth and has two children, Theo and Loren.


Louis Justement PhD
Associate Director
Department of Microbiology

Dr. Louis Justement joined the MSTP as Assistant Director on July 1, 2005 and became Associate Director on July 1, 2006. Dr. Justement, Professor of Microbiology, received his B.A. degree in Microbiology from Miami University. He subsequently received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State University in
the field of Microbiology with a special emphasis in Immunology. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. John Cambier at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado he developed an interest in studying cell biology, and in particular the signal transduction processes underlying lymphocyte activation.

Since that time he has continued these studies first as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas (1990-1996) and subsequently as a member of the Department of Microbiology at UAB where he is currently a Professor and Associate Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program. When not working he enjoys spending time with the family, as well as gardening, fishing or hiking.

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William M Geisler MD MPH
Clinical Associate Director

Associate Professor
Department of Medicine

William M. Geisler, M.D., M.P.H, joined the MSTP as Clinical Associate Director on June 1, 2013. Dr. Geisler is an Associate Professor in the UAB Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and he has an adjunct faculty appointment in the UAB Department of Epidemiology. He received his B.S. Degree in Microbiology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (1988-1992) and his M.D. from the University of Tennessee in Memphis (1992-1996). He subsequently completed Internal Medicine Residency training at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1996-1999) and Infectious Diseases Fellowship training at the University of Washington in Seattle (1999-2002); during his fellowship, he also received his M.P.H. Degree in Epidemiology from the University of Washington, School of Public Health.

Dr. Geisler joined the UAB faculty in 2002. His research program focuses on the epidemiology, clinical manifestations, natural history, diagnosis, treatment, immunology, and genetics of genital Chlamydia trachomatis infections. A major goal of his research is to contribute to the development of a chlamydia vaccine and to the availability of novel therapeutics for chlamydia. Dr. Geisler is on the editorial board of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and serves as an expert consultant for the CDC. At UAB, he also serves as Co-Director of the SOM Fundamentals II Medical Microbiology Laboratory Course and as a faculty member of the Alabama-North Carolina STD/HIV Prevention Training Center. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, as well as kayak fishing. 

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Eddy S Yang MD PhD

ROAR Southeast Cancer Foundation Endowed Professor
Department of Radiation Oncology

Eddy S. Yang, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of radiation oncology; cell, developmental, and integrative biology; and pharmacology and toxicology at UAB. He is also an associate scientist in the experimental therapeutics program in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. In September 2012, Dr Yang was named the inaugural holder of  the ROAR Southeast Cancer Foundation Endowed Professorship. 

Dr Yang received his undergraduate education at the John Hopkins University (1993-1996) and MD/PhD training at the University of Miami School of Medicine (1997-2005).  He subsequently completed internal medicine internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center Miami Beach (2005) and residency training in radiation oncology as an American Board of Radiology Holman Research Pathway Scholar at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (2006-2010). 

In 2010, Dr. Yang joined the faculty in the department of radiation oncology at UAB. As a physician scientist, Dr. Yang hopes to translate basic research findings into the clinic. His research program aims to target DNA repair pathways as part of cancer therapeutic strategies using rational combinations of targeted therapies. Additionally, he hopes to understand mechanisms of treatment response and resistance to develop biomarkers for clinical use.  Ultimately he aims to not only improve patient outcomes, but, more importantly, preserve patient quality of life. 

Dr Yang's research program has been funded by the Department of Defense, NIH, Susan G Komen Foundation, American Association for Cancer Research, Sidney Kimmel Foundation, and various pharmaceutical company support for both preclinical and clinical studies. 

In his spare time, Dr. Yang spends time with his wife and 3 children and enjoys watching college sports (football, basketball, lacrosse) and playing basketball.  


Mary-Ann Bjornsti PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Mary-Ann Bjornsti, Ph.D., is the chair of the Department of Pharmacology, program leader of cancer cell biology and Associate Director for Translational Research for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Bjornsti earned her bachelor's degree in biology from New York State University College at Cortland and her doctorate in genetics from the University of Minnesota. She completed a Fogarty Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, at the University of Basel in Switzerland before moving to Harvard University for a postdoctoral research fellowship in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Invited internationally to discuss her research, Dr. Bjornsti focuses on methods of disrupting the function of the enzyme DNA topoisomerase I using the anti-tumor agent camptothecin. The enzyme allows a tumor cell to unfold its DNA so that it can replicate; Dr. Bjornsti investigates how camptothecin can prevent this unfolding.



Steven Carroll MD PhD

Division Director
Division of Neuropathology
Department of Pathology

Steven L. Carroll, M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor of Pathology, Cell Biology and Neurobiology. He also serves as Director of the UAB Division of Neuropathology, Director of the UAB Brain Resource Program and as a Senior Scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Carroll graduated from the University of Memphis in 1981. He received his Ph.D. in Cell Biology (1986) and his M.D. (1988) from Baylor College of Medicine and then completed an Anatomic Pathology Residency and Neuropathology Fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis (1988-1994).

Dr. Carroll's postdoctoral research training was performed in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Milbrandt at Washington University, where his work focused on the role neurotrophins play in neuronal survival during nervous system development. He subsequently joined the faculty of the Department of Pathology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1997, Dr. Carroll left Washington University to join the University of Alabama at Birmingham's faculty.

In addition to being a practicing neuropathologist with a clinical interest in tumors of the peripheral nervous system, Dr. Carroll directs a research program that is focused on the role aberrant growth factor signaling plays in the pathogenesis of peripheral nerve sheath tumors in neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), how this signaling interacts with other genetic and epigenetic abnormalities and how this information can be used to develop effective new therapies. His work is funded by NINDS, NCI and the Department of Defense.


Jeff Engler PhD

Associate Dean for
Academic Affairs
UAB Graduate School
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics

Dr. Engler completed undergraduate studies in chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. His postdoctoral studies at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York led to a staff appointment there in 1980. Twice during his tenure there, the Leukemia Society of America awarded support for his work on adenoviruses. Dr. Engler joined the faculty at UAB in 1982, and he is currently Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. In May of 2006 he was appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the UAB Graduate School. His past laboratory programs have included the retargeting of adenovirus vectors for gene therapy using small peptides identified through phage display.

Michelle Fanucchi PhD 
Associate Professor
Environmental Health Sciences
School of Public Health

Michelle Fanucchi, PhD, is the chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the UAB School of Public Health and the Director of the Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine Theme in the Graduate Biomedical Sciences program.

Dr. Fanucchi earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, MN and her doctorate in Pharmacology & Toxicology from the University of California at Davis. She completed postdoctoral fellowships in Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology at Michigan State University and in Interdisciplinary Pulmonary Disease at UC Davis.   In 2007, Dr. Fanucchi joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham faculty and in an Associate Professor of Public Health.  Dr. Fanucchi’s laboratory focuses on understanding the susceptibility of the respiratory system to air pollutants and air toxics. The laboratory is currently involved in creating new animal models for cystic fibrosis research, elucidating the early-life impacts of ozone on lung development and developing post-exposure therapies to reduce the toxicity of inhaled chlorine exposures.

In addition to her academic interests, Dr. Fanucchi also serves as a member of the One Great Community Council, the community engagement component of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

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Erik Roberson MD PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Neurology

Dr. Roberson is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurobiology and the Virginia B. Spencer Professor of Neuroscience at UAB. He received his A.B. with highest honors from Princeton University. He then earned his M.D. and Ph.D in neuroscience through the MSTP at Baylor College of Medicine where he studied molecular mechanisms of learning and memory using a combination of electrophysiology and biochemistry. He completed a residency in neurology at the University of California San Francisco, where he also served as Chief Resident in Neurology. After residency, he completed a clinical fellowship in behavioral neurology with Dr. Bruce Miller at UCSF and resumed basic research in the laboratory of Dr. Lennart Mucke at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, initiating his current studies of neurodegenerative disease using mouse models. He moved to UAB in 2008.

The Roberson lab studies the neurobiology of two common neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), with a focus on understanding the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms that will lead to better treatments. Areas of interest include determining how tau reduction makes the brain resistant to AD-related neuronal dysfunction and seizures, investigating tau’s function in dendrites, targeting tau’s protein–protein interactions as potential therapeutics, and studying how tau mutations and progranulin deficiency cause the social, emotional, and behavioral disturbances seen in FTD.


Victor Thannickal MD

Professor of Medicine and Pathology
Department of Medicine

Dr. Victor Thannickal is Professor of Medicine and Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and Director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at UAB.

Dr. Thannickal received his B.A. from Southern California College and M.D. from Oral Roberts University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine from the University of Oklahoma and a Fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center. After completing his fellowship, Dr. Thannickal remained on the faculty at Tufts for six years before moving to the University of Michigan where he was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine with tenure in 2005.

Dr. Thannickal joined the UAB faculty in 2009 to assume his current position. Dr. Thannickal's clinical interests are in interstitial (fibrotic) lung diseases and acute lung injury/adult respiratory distress syndrome. Studies in his research laboratory are focused on elucidation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lung repair and regeneration. This work has led to multiple patents, high-impact publications, and continuous funding from the NIH for over 15 years. Training of our next generation of outstanding physician-scientists and fostering an intellectually stimulating, supportive and collaborative environment is a priority in the Thannickal laboratory.


Timothy M. Wick PhD

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Timothy M. Wick, PhD, is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UAB and co-Director of UAB's BioMatrix Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Center located in the Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building. My research interests are in blood cell adhesion and tissue engineering. We have developed precisely engineered flow systems to identify receptors and ligands involved in pathological blood cell adhesion to blood vessel wall endothelium and biomaterials and to test pharmaceuticals that inhibit adhesion contributing to disease progression, for example, in sickle cell anemia, malaria, atherosclerosis or cancer. In tissue engineering, our interests range from fundamental studies of tissue development to bioprocessing for large-scale production. We have developed novel bioreactors to grow cartilage and blood vessels to replace diseased or damaged tissues in humans.

Dr. Wick is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society and the Society for Biological Engineering. He earned his Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his doctorate in chemical engineering from Rice University.

About Me
I like running and weightlifting to keep in shape. I also enjoy photography. I like to photograph flowers, nature and appealing subjects.