August 09, 2017

Buford joins Center for Exercise Medicine as associate director

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BufordThomas Buford, Ph.D., FACSM, FAHA, joins the UAB School of Medicine’s Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics & Palliative Care as an associate professor, and as associate director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine (UCEM). He will also help lead the NIH National Rehabilitation Research Resource for Clinical Trials (REACT) and the Coordinating Center for the NIH National Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network, both based at the UCEM.

Buford comes to Birmingham from the University of Florida, where he spent the past five years as an assistant professor in the Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, in the College of Medicine. Buford also served as director of the Health Promotion Center for the Institute on Aging, with an affiliate appointment in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology.

“It is my pleasure to join UAB alongside some of the nation’s leading scientists in both exercise and aging,” Buford says. “I aim to further support and enhance the existing research strengths in both of these areas as I continue my research focused on using exercise as a tool to promote the health and independence of older adults.”

“We are excited to have Dr. Buford join us in our ongoing pursuit of research to improve the lives of and care for older adults, including the important factor of exercise,” says Cynthia Brown, M.D., MSPH, director of the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics & Palliative Care.

Buford received his Ph.D. in Exercise, Nutrition, and Preventative Health from Baylor University with a specialization in exercise science and exercise as a therapeutic modality for improving health. He completed post-doctoral research training in translational health science at the University of Florida, and was promoted as assistant professor in 2012.

Buford’s research focus is in preserving the health and independence of older adults through interdisciplinary research broadly related to the prevention of age-related physical disability. He serves as Principle Investigator or co-PI for numerous clinical research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, including the LIFE study, a Phase 3, randomized clinical trial which revealed that long-term, structured physical activity can reduce the incidence of mobility disability among mobility-limited older adults.

“Dr. Buford is a tremendous addition to our research team,” says Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., UCEM Director and Professor, UAB Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology. “His background and current translational research in aging, chronic disease, and exercise rehabilitation will certainly complement and advance ongoing and future work at UAB in these important priority areas.”

Following approval from the University of Alabama Board of Trustees in 2011, UAB became one of the first major academic medical centers to establish a center devoted to understanding the health benefits of exercise from the molecular and cellular level to the whole body. In addition to conducting its own research, the UCEM has rapidly become a national powerhouse in exercise medicine and serves as an expert resource frequently tapped by other institutions. Earlier this year the center opened a new, state-of-the-art Exercise Clinical Trials Facility.

The Center for Exercise Medicine manages two national networks devoted to exercise medicine. One is the National Institutes of Health­­–funded Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network, the MR3 Network, working to foster advances in medical rehabilitation research. UAB’s REACT Center—Rehabilitation Research Resource to Enhance Clinical Trials, is one of six partner centers making up the MR3 Network, and serves as the network’s coordinating center.

The center also founded and maintains NExTNet, the National Exercise Clinical Trials Network. NExTNet is a 72-member consortium of institutions involved in exercise medicine clinical trials research. Member institutions are looking at exercise in the context of nearly every major disease or condition, from heart disease and diabetes to aging, neurological diseases, and cancer.
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