UAB Pathology News
Lorenz named assistant dean for physician-scientist education
Lorenz, director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, says physican-scientists can bridge the gap between lab discoveries and patient care.
Written by Clinton Colmenares.
Robin Lorenz, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed to a new position, assistant dean for Physician-Scientist Education, propelling the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine closer to the forefront of training clinicians with the scientific experience to move discoveries out of the lab and into patient care while addressing several initiatives in the UAB Medicine strategic plan for research, faculty and student development.
For decades, the number of physicians who conducted scientific research has been in decline; research is increasingly performed by basic scientists without clinical experience. The result, some suggest, is a “valley of death” in which laboratory discoveries linger without becoming actual treatments for patients.
“Physician-scientists can bridge that gap,” said Lorenz, director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, part of a network of programs supported through competitive grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Students complete all of the requirements for medical school and graduate biomedical education. They graduate with M.D./Ph.D. degrees, prepared to become funded investigators and physicians at academic medical centers.
UAB has 64 MSTP students; most of them completed their undergraduate education outside of Alabama, from the University of California, Berkeley, to Colby College in Maine, and many universities in between.
“Dr. Lorenz is a very dynamic leader. She has recruited very strong classes to UAB and she’s brought a lot of diversity to campus. Her students have been very successful in getting external grants,” said Hughes Evans, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for Medical Education and chair of the Department of Education in the School of Medicine. “By creating this new assistant dean position it sends a strong statement, makes us more competitive for training grants.
Another new position, clinical associate director of the MSTP, has also been created and candidates among the faculty are being accepted. The new associate director position combined with her new role will enable Lorenz to stretch the reach of the program, she said.
“We really want to expand the training of physician scientists,” Lorenz said, beginning with undergraduate students and including resident physicians and junior faculty.
The MSTP currently runs the Summer in Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Research Program, in which 10 sophomore or junior undergraduates interested in becoming physician scientists spend eight weeks working with faculty mentors on a research project -- and get paid for it. Lorenz has applied for a grant that would recruit another 10 students, from underrepresented minorities, to work on projects related to cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases or sleep medicine.
The MSTP program also works with a small group of residents in UAB’s American Board of Internal Medicine Research Pathway. “We want to expand this to other residency programs,” Lorenz said. “We first need to identify which residents are interested in careers as physician-scientists and find out what we can do to help them.”
Another area ripe for progress is in entrepreneurship. “We would like to be able to expose students to business development,” Lorenz said, further increasing the opportunities for discoveries to move from the laboratory into commercial development so they can be delivered in patient care.
“UAB wants to be at the forefront in physician-scientist education, to train them to go out and be leaders at medical centers across the U.S.,” Lorenz said. “The establishment of the new position shows we’re serious about this.”
top of page
2013 Postdoctoral Research Day
Two members of the Department of Pathology won awards at the 2013 Postdoctoral Research Day, February 18, 2013.
Tanecia Mitchell – First Place, Session III. Dr. Mitchell is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Victor Darley‐Usmar’s lab. The title of her presentation was “Defective Clearance of Damaged Mitochondria Contributes to β‐cell Dysfunction in Type 1 Diabetes”. Her co‐authors were: Balu K. Chacko, Michelle S. Johnson, Xiaosen Ouyang, Xiaoyong Lei, Jianhua Zhang, Akio Koizumi, Sasanka Ramanadham, and Victor Darley‐Usmar.
James Cody – Third Place, Session III. Dr. Cody is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Douglas Hurst’s laboratory. The title of his presentation was “Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Alter the Replication of an Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus in Breast Cancer Cells”. His co‐authors were: James M. Markert and Douglas R. Hurst.
top of page
22nd Annual Paulette Shirey Pritchett Lecture in Pathology
Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D.
|This endowed lecture series is named in honor of Dr. Paulette Shirey Pritchett. Dr. Pritchett was a highly respected, young member of the UAB Department of Pathology when she unexpectedly passed away on August 4, 1984. It is widely recognized as the premier named lectureship at UAB in Experimental Pathology and previous recipients have included several Nobel Laureates and National Academy of Science Members. This year we are pleased to honor Dr. Jeffrey I. Gordon as the 2013 lecturer.
Jeffrey Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology. He received his A.B. from Oberlin College and his M.D. from the University of Chicago. He joined the Washington University faculty after completing his clinical training in internal medicine and gastroenterology, and spending three years as a research associate at the NIH. He was Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology from 1991-2004. In 2004, he resigned from his position as Department Head in order to establish the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology. From 1994 to 2003, he also served as director of the University’s Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, which oversees graduate education in the biological sciences. Gordon and his students conduct interdisciplinary studies of the genomic and metabolic foundations of mutually beneficial host-microbial relationships in the human gut. A central focus of his group is the relationship between our gut microbiomes and nutritional status. Gordon is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, where he currently serves as chair of its Section on Medical Physiology and Metabolism, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
top of page
top of page
UAB neuropathologist appointed editor of national journal
Kevin A. Roth, M.D., Ph.D., has been named editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Pathology (AJP). Roth holds the Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair in Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Roth, a renowned researcher on the molecular regulation of neuronal cell death, joined the UAB faculty in 2002 and was the founding director of the UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, an interdisciplinary collaboration for neuroscience research, clinical care and education.
Roth published his first paper in AJP while still a doctoral student at Stanford University. He is vice president of the American Society for Investigative Pathology, which owns AJP, and will begin his term as president in 2014. He previously has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry.
The AJP is the leading global forum for reporting quality original research on cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease.
Dear UAB Department of Pathology Friends and Colleagues:
The UAB Department of Pathology is recognized nationally for excellence in biomedical research, undergraduate and graduate medical education, and diagnostic pathology. This rise to prominence has been accomplished through the hard work and dedication of numerous Department of Pathology faculty and trainees who have made UAB a phenomenal environment for pathology education and clinical practice. Several decades ago, the former Departments of Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology of the University of Alabama School of Medicine merged into a single Department of Pathology of the UAB Health System. More than 250 residents have received their graduate training in Pathology at UAB and have gone on to populate the state, region and the nation. In fact, the vast majority of Pathologists in the state of Alabama have received some or all of their training here at UAB. This program of excellence in graduate medical education has been appropriately balanced by a world-class graduate program that has similarly trained generations of scientists who fill academia, industry and government service. Our department has been bolstered in recent years by an ever increasing number of post-doctoral fellows, clinical fellows and junior faculty members who have achieved academic, research, and/or clinical excellence, and ascended to leadership positions at UAB or other institutions.
Please consider making a gift to the Department of Pathology at UAB to support our missions of clinical practice, teaching, research and service. Any amount would be most gratefully received and would be fully deductible*. One could direct it to a particular area of need, to fund current and future endowed professorships or create new awards, prizes or similar recognition opportunities to honor yourself, a family member, a favorite professor, etc.
We would be pleased to assist you and your professional advisors in including the UAB Department of Pathology in your estate plan or in exploring other giving strategies. A simple tear off sheet is found below.
* One should always check with their tax advisor.
Thank you for your serious consideration of this request.
Website Donor Form
Make an online donation today!
top of page
Trainee Teaching Award Announcement
We are pleased to announce the institution of a new, annual teaching award for trainees in the UAB Department of Pathology: the Outstanding Teaching Award for Multidisciplinary and Medical Student Education. Pathologists have a long tradition of being the teachers in medicine, and it remains one of our most important roles. Therefore, this award will be given to the resident or fellow who demonstrates the greatest commitment to the multidisciplinary teaching of fellow residents and trainees, in Pathology and other clinical disciplines in medicine, and, to UAB Medical Students. The institution of this award was inspired by the life, work, and philosophy of Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., MD, a pre-eminent pediatric neurosurgeon who rose from dire poverty to become an accomplished physician and educator, and who has been director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, for over 25 years. Dr. Carson is one of a few dozen “Living Legends” recognized by the Library of Congress, and a recipient of the highest recognitions in the U.S., including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Carson reminds us that if one values one’s education and inspiration received from mentors during the process, then one steps up to provide it to others, through example, teaching, and, in particular, scholarship awards.
A significant component of winning this award will include validation of the trainee’s efforts in the education and inspiration of UAB Medical Students to learn pathology and to appreciate its fundamental and ongoing role, as a cornerstone of medical practice and research. Thus, nominations must include contributions from, if not originated by, UAB Medical Students, but nominations and letters of support may also come from other trainees in Pathology and clinical practice disciplines. Nomination packets should include a brief cover letter, and two letters of support. A third letter of support may be elicited from a Pathology Department faculty. Eligibility will not be dependent upon year of training. The award will include a cash prize of $250.00, and the first winner will be announced at the Residents’ and Fellows’ Farewell Reception in May 2013.
The award selection committee will consist of Dr. Ona Faye-Petersen, Dr. C. Bruce Alexander, and chief residents from Pathology, and class designated student leaders from the UAB Medical Student classes. Specific instructions for the submission process are accessible through the following link: Teaching Award Nominations, including scanned, signed letters of support, should be sent, via electronic mail, to Dr. Faye-Petersen (
), by April 5, 2013.
top of page
New Endowed Professorship in Experimental Cancer Therapeutics
The Department of Pathology is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Selvarangan Ponnazhagan as the inaugural Endowed Professor of Experimental Cancer Therapeutics.
Dr. Ponnazhagan’s research is focused on identifying novel anti-cancer targets and developing gene- and cell-based therapeutics to treat a variety of cancers including metastatic breast and prostate cancer. Dr. Ponnazhagan has an international reputation as an outstanding scientist with his research focusing on developing adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene therapy for cancer and metabolic bone disease, including development of targeted AAV for human gene therapy. Dr. Ponnazhagan has an outstanding record of continuous and substantial extramural support for his research and serves on the editorial boards of multiple scientific journals including Genes, Gene Therapy, Journal of Hematotherapy and Stem Cell Research, and Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment.
Dr. Ponnazhagan is a Professor of Pathology in the UAB Department of Pathology, Senior Scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Metabolic Bone Disease, Center for Structural Biology, Nephrology Research and Training Center, and the BioMatrix Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Center. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Gene Therapy, and the American Society of Microbiology. He was recently recognized as an outstanding mentor for his contribution to teaching and mentoring by the Dean of the UAB Graduate School. Dr. Ponnazhagan’s expertise in cancer immunology, metabolic bone disease, and cancer metastasis and osteoimmunology research provides him unique insights into the development of novel therapeutic strategies for a variety of human diseases. We look forward to his continued success at UAB.
top of page
New Endowed Professorship in Cancer Pathobiology:
The Department of Pathology is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ralph Sanderson as the inaugural Endowed Professor in Cancer Pathobiology.
Understanding the role that the tumor microenvironment plays in the regulation of tumor growth and progression has become a major focus of cancer research. Dr. Sanderson’s laboratory has shown that heparan sulfate proteoglycans promote tumor growth and metastasis of multiple myeloma and breast cancer, two tumors with a propensity to metastasize and grow within bone. The long-term goal of the Sanderson laboratory is to determine how tumor-stromal interactions mediated by heparan sulfate and heparanase regulate the tumor microenvironment and to use this knowledge to design new cancer therapies. The foundation of this Endowed Professorship in Cancer Pathobiology is in recognition of the importance of basic cancer pathobiology research and supports leadership in this area in the Department of Pathology and UAB.
Dr. Sanderson is a Professor of Pathology in the UAB Department of Pathology and Senior Scientist and Co-Leader of the Cancer Cell Biology Program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is an internationally recognized leader in tumor microenvironment and myeloma research and received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003 at the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Molecular and Cellular Pathology Graduate Program in 2008, and the Neufeld Memorial Research Award (jointly with his collaborator, Dr. Michael Vlodarsky) in 2010. He held the Drs. Mae and Anderson Nettleship Endowed Chair in Oncologic Pathology at the University of Arkansas prior to his recruitment to UAB in 2006. In addition to his many scientific accomplishments, Dr. Sanderson is a dedicated teacher and institutional leader in graduate education. We look forward to his many future successes at UAB.
top of page