UAB Medicine is the heart of health care in Alabama. It is an innovative network of services that provides a complete continuum of care for patients from all over the world. The UAB Health System is internationally renowned for its expert physicians and groundbreaking medical research, but, more importantly, it stands out for its strong commitment to compassionate, personal care for every patient.
The cornerstone of the UAB Health System is the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Home to a world-class medical center that has been serving the state for more than 50 years, UAB is widely known for top-notch medical education and innovative research activities conducted by faculty members. The UAB Medical Center is the largest medical facility in Alabama, employing more than 6,500 people and occupies over 1.4 million square feet.
UAB is among a select group of universities recognized for both very high research activity and significant community engagement by the Carnegie Foundation. UAB ranks 27th among academic institutions in federal research funding and 20th in funding from NIH. Total research funding exceeds $400M annually; $217M in NIH funds can be attributed to the School of Medicine alone.
In the past few years, the School of Medicine has added more than half a million square feet of space for clinical facilities, research laboratories, classrooms, surgical suites, and administrative space.
UAB is the pre-eminent referral center for Alabama, as well as portions of Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and northern Florida. Because of UAB's outstanding reputation in many different fields, the institution also attracts patients from across the nation and abroad. Approximately 50% of all patients treated at UAB Hospital live more than 50 miles from Birmingham. UAB totals approximately 50,000 hospital admissions and over 83,000 ED visits annually.
Medicare ranks UAB Hospital second among teaching hospitals and twelfth overall in complexity of care.
The school of medicine first opened as the Alabama Medical College in 1859. Closed during the civil war in 1861, it reopened in 1868 and was renamed the School of Medicine in 1907. When it moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham in 1945 to become a four-year medical school, UAB's Academic Health Center consisted of the neighboring Jefferson and Hillman Hospitals. Since that time, UAB has grown to become the state’s largest employer and one of the top academic medical centers in the United States.
Throughout its history, the institution has been a locus of growth, innovation, and quality. These achievements have been driven by prominent physicians who have distinguished themselves in national and international arenas. Among them are:
J. Marion Sims - A pioneer in gynecologic surgery, particularly the repair of vesicovaginal fistula.
William Gorgas - Conqueror of yellow fever in the building of the Panama Canal and Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.
Tinsley Harrison - Author of Principles of Internal Medicine and one of the nation's leading heart specialists.
L. L. Hill - Montgomery surgeon who performed the first successful suture of a human heart in the United States.
Champ Lyons - A recognized leader in combating surgical infection and instigator of the National Library of Medicine with his cousin Senator Lister Hill.
John Kirklin - World famous pioneer in the use of heart-lung machine in open heart surgery.
The disease spectrum varies considerably at the four institutions, affording a broad mix of clinical experiences. The University Hospital serves a large population of referral patients, many with complex and unusual disease problems. Cardiac, orthopedic, neurosurgical and oncologic problems are particularly well represented.
UAB is also a world-renowned organ transplant center, where outstanding teams of surgeons perform transplants of the heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, and bone marrow. UAB is one of 16 Medicare-approved heart transplant centers in the country. The 5,000th kidney transplant at UAB occurred in 2001; UAB's 500th heart transplant occurred in early 1998. Approximately 350 kidney, 80 liver, 30 heart, 25 lung, and 15 pancreas transplants are performed each year, showing survival rates above the national average. UAB leads the nation in total number of renal transplants over the past five years. Currently, over 6,520 kidney transplants have taken place at UAB. Approximately 500 patients are evaluated each year for liver transplantation, and about 1,000 liver transplants have been performed to date. Since 1981, 626 adult heart transplants and 88 pediatric heart transplants have occurred at UAB. A total of 368 lung transplants since 1989 and a total of 29 heart and lung transplants have occurred at UAB since 1988. There have also been a total of 20 heart/kidney transplants since 1995.