Recent News

UAB neuroscience junior named finalist for Truman Scholarship

by Meghan Davis

Brian Austin Nykanen, a University of Alabama at Birmingham junior neuroscience major and a Cadet in the Army ROTC at UAB, is a finalist for the Truman Scholarship.

Nykanen, who has a 3.9 grade-point average in the highly challenging neuroscience program, is a member of the UAB Honors College’s Experiential Learning Scholars Program. This past semester, he was the Reserve Officer Training Corps Battalion Command Sergeant Major, which is awarded to the top cadet.

Truman Scholarships support the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership. UAB has produced six Truman Scholars and 11 finalists.

The undergraduate neuroscience program, a collaboration between the UAB College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine, attracts top students who are able to work in the labs of world-class neuroscience researchers for three or four years. Nykanen has balanced his research time —first with circadian rhythm researcher Karen Gamble, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and now with MiYoung Kwon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology — with the time demands of ROTC, which usually are 20 to 25 hours a week.

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Girkin to serve as program committee chair at AGS meeting

Christopher Girkin, M.D., EyeSight Foundation of Alabama Chair, UAB Department of Ophthalmology, is serving as chair of the program committee for the 2015 American Glaucoma Society Annual Meeting, held in Coronado, Calif., February 26 – March 1.

The American Glaucoma Society (AGS) strives to promote excellence in the care of patients with glaucoma and preserve or enhance vision by supporting glaucoma specialists and scientists through the advancement of education and research. This year marks the organization’s 25th annual meeting. New in 2015, AGS has partnered with the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) to hold a joint session on Thursday, February 26.

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Sarah Gordon, O.D., joins faculty

Gordon web

Sarah C. Gordon, O.D., joins the UAB Department of Ophthalmology faculty as an assistant professor. Dr. Gordon is a Mississippi native and graduate of the UAB School of Optometry. She founded her practice, Inverness Eye Care, in 1986. She is past president of Alabama Optometric Association and served on the Board of Trustees for the Southern Council of Optometry. As a UAB faculty member, Dr. Gordon will participate in initiatives aimed at expanding access to tertiary care for her patients.

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What you need to know about pediatric glaucoma

by Bob Shepard

One evening, five years ago, Brittni Powell did what a lot of young mothers do and gazed into her 2-month-old son’s eyes. What she saw had Brittni and her husband Byron heading immediately to a Montgomery-area hospital emergency department.

“We looked into his eyes and they had this gray, glazy tone to them,” Powell recalled. “We knew that wasn’t right.”

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Diabetic eye screenings via telemedicine show value for underserved communities

DR Screening

by Bob Shepard

Eye screenings of people with diabetes in underserved communities revealed that one in five had early stage diabetic retinopathy, according to a new study by a research consortium including investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The findings, published today in JAMA Ophthalmology, also indicated that nearly half of the mostly minority populations screened had additional vision conditions such as glaucoma or cataract. The study, which used a telemedicine screening approach, also provided early validation of the efficacy of telemedicine in reaching underserved populations.

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Owsley interviewed on vision-themed radio show

Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D., Nathan E. Miles Chair of Ophthalmology, was a guest on Eye on Vision, a radio show focused on issues relevant for persons with vision impairment, which is based out of Memphis, Tenn., on November 1. Dr. Owsley explained her research on vision changes as related to aging. She also discussed how the use of a bioptic telescope can help certain individuals with visual impairment drive safely.

Listen to the interview with Dr. Owsley.

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Center for Low Vision honored for work with vision impaired

The UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation was honored as the Partnership of the Year by the Birmingham Area Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. This award recognizes an organization that demonstrates a genuine concern for the well-being of people with disabilities. The Center will now compete for the statewide award for Partnership of the Year, which will be announced in December.

The Alabama Department of Rehab Services (ADRS) nominated the Center for Low Vision because of their dedication to providing comprehensive vision rehabilitation aimed at creating or preserving independent and improvement in quality of life. Through their robust partnership ADRS and the Center provide individuals with disabilities the resources and support needed for success.

Curcio interviewed at AAO

Christine A. Curcio, Ph.D., was among the U.S. experts on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) interviewed by Images en Ophtalmologie, on online information service for French ophthalmologists, at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago, November 18. She discussed her research on validating high-resolution clinical imaging, including optical coherence tomography and fundus autofluorescence, two important tools used for diagnosis and management of AMD and other diseases affecting photoreceptors and their support system.

Complex contact lenses from UAB Ophthalmology keep disabled vet rolling

by Bob Shepard

Jeff Henson has been riding bikes for years. In 2012, he rode a bike coast to coast across the United States. Before that, the Army veteran did a long bike ride in France, and several in the American Northwest, always on a tandem bike and always from the back seat. He was not allowed to ride on the front seat, the steering seat.

Jeff Henson was legally blind during those rides.

Henson, a native of Heflin, Alabama, who served as a demolition specialist in the Army for nine years, developed vision issues caused by arthritis and inflammation that first struck his right eye in 2000.

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