Azuero- 2


Dr. Andres Azuero wins award for best scientific paper by investigator at UAB

Science Unbound Foundation has announced its 2013 award winners for best scientific papers by investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The awards, plaque and cash prizes are for works published in 2012 in the areas of obesity, nutrition and statistical science.

George Howard, DrPH, professor in the UAB Department of Biostatistics, and Andres Azuero, PhD, assistant professor in the UAB Department of Nursing Com Hlth, Outcomes, Sys, were awarded co-recipient best papers by a UAB-based investigator in the area of general statistics. Dr Howard’s paper, A simple, assumption-free, and clinically interpretable approach for analysis of modified Rankin outcomes, was published February 16, 2012 in Stroke, Dr Azuero’s paper, A simple distribution-free algorithm for generating simulated high-dimensional correlated data with an autoregessive structure, published January 1, 2012 in Communication in Statistics Simulation and Computation,


TablePink-Day-2012-groupPink Day in the SON

On September 16, 2012, the Rural Breast Cancer Survivor’s Study Team hosted Pink Day activities at the SON for the fourth consecutive year.

This year's goal was to raise awareness for breast health while honoring those whose lives have been touched and shaped by breast cancer. Several of our faculty, staff, and students have had personal experiences with breast cancer, and many more have dedicated their lives to caring for those affected by the disease.

Sharing the Knowledge

In addition to encouraging the SON community to wear pink for Pink Day we sold over 65 "Pink Day" t-shirts with portion of the sales going directly to fund breast cancer research.  Our volunteers set-up tables in the LRC to display a wide offering of breast-health information - including directions on how to self-administer breast exams.  Money was raised for Komen for the Cure - The Pink Lady and Associates team and the UAB Supportive Care Clinic. We shared a lot of homemade goodies and other treats with our visitors and drew names for several small door prizes. This year, we were proud to introduce a UAB SON led initiative in partnership with the Women’s Breast Health Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham  titled "The Young Breast Cancer Survivorship Network (YBCSN). 

Pink-SignJoin the SON Race Team

The SON will be participating in the 2012 North Central Alabama Race for the Cure. Visit the UAB SON Race Team Page and join our team!
As a member of this team, we are each playing a part in helping Susan G. Komen for the Cure® end breast cancer forever. Join or donate today.

Thank You, Thank You Very Much!

Pink-LadyThanks to our Pink Day volunteers - Pink Lady and Associates; Berne Irwin & Debbie Tanju; SON students & SNA members; Kaitlyn Gibson, Laura Sullivan, Lindsey Wallace, Rachel Kummer, Tonya Skates, Savannah Vaughn, Misty Giles, Lauren Cage, Tiffany Marx, Matt Jones, Allison Sloan, & Quin Felton; SON staff & faculty; Meredith Robinson, Angel Bailey, Rachel Benz, Ziqin Yang, Silvia Camata, Claudia Burgoa, Tory Harper, Corita Fincher, John Markle, & Aimee Holland and a special thanks to Larry Bailey and Wayne Skipper.

For more information about the UAB SON and Pink Day, contact Rachel Benz at   


Reducing Disparities in Rural Advanced Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Marie A. Bakitas, DNSc, APRN, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN, Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair and Professor at the UAB School of Nursing was recently awarded an award from the American Cancer Society to conduct a 4 year study to learn the best way to bring palliative care services to patients and families, improve care, quality of life, and reduce the burden of cancer in the four communities, and develop a “Toolkit” that cancer centers can use in implementing this model across the country.

Palliative care focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of illness. Research studies show that when patients with incurable cancer receive palliative care concurrently with regular cancer treatment, they have a better quality of life, less symptoms and depression, and may live longer. As a result, the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends “palliative care should be considered early in the course of illness for any patient with metastatic cancer and/or high symptom burden.” However, nearly 60 million US citizens live in rural areas where few palliative care services exist. In response, over the last decade Bakitas and her colleagues have developed Project ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends), a phone-based palliative care intervention. In Project ENABLE, a specially trained nurse practitioner leads patients and their caregivers through a series of structured telephone sessions on topics such as problem solving, communication, and medical decision-making. The patients who underwent this intervention had a better quality of life, less depression, and lived longer than patients who received only regular cancer care.  

Given that advanced cancer patients in rural areas are less likely to benefit from palliative services due to limited access and suboptimal care, it is necessary to find innovative ways for cancer centers in these areas to provide palliative care to four communities representing rural geography and/or ethnic and racial diversity: Birmingham, AL, Grand Rapids, MI, Spartanburg, SC, and Bangor, ME.

In phase one of this project, Bakitas and her team will create a community-academic “Learning Collaborative” partnership to assess current palliative care practices to allow them to determine the necessary steps to enhance the integration of palliative care along with usual care.  They will also measure organizational/system implementation and patient/caregiver effectiveness outcomes, to understand the current care at each site. In phase two, within the “Learning Collaborative”, the team will train local providers to deliver the ENABLE model, tailored specifically to their communities. After implementation, Bakitas will again measure outcomes, with the research goal of determining the extent to which the cancer centers adopted and followed the model and its impact on patients, caregivers, and the organization.

The long-term goal is to transition this knowledge to other cancer centers. In so doing, Bakitas and her team hope to reduce the suffering of patients living with cancer nationwide.


Our inaugural CNR star is Crystal Franklin, MPH. Crystal serves as the Program Manager on Dr. Karen Heaton’s research project “Effects and Feasibility of a Computer-Based Intervention on Truck Drivers’ Sleep. “ Crystal came to work in the SON in April of this year, and in this short period of time she has become an invaluable member of the CNR and shines as one of our brightest stars!

“The EMAMF grant aims and plans are my intellectual work; but Crystal has breathed the life into the project, and makes it happen on a day-to-day basis.  The project is challenging because we are dealing with remote and mobile participants. Her organizational skills, commitment, and reliability “keep the wheels turning”.  She is always willing to help, is pleasant and professional with all she encounters, and goes the extra mile consistently-she definitely has earned a star on the CNR walk of fame!!” – Dr. Karen Heaton, PhD, CEN, FNP-BC

Ms. Franklin earned her MPH in Epidemiology from UAB and her undergraduate degree from Huntingdon College. She comes to the project with a wealth of experience in research design, participant recruitment, data collection, data management, presentation of findings and coordinating graduate and undergraduate student participation in research. The aims of Dr. Heaton’s research project parallel Ms. Franklin’s particular interests in transportation safety and injury prevention - she has co-authored a peer reviewed manuscript, has another manuscript currently in press, and is co-authored on two manuscripts that are currently under review for publication all in the area of transportation safety and injury prevention.

Highlighted publications

Garner, A.A., Franklin, C.A., Fine, P.R., Sattin, R., & Stavrinos, D. (2011). Distracted Driving Among Adolescents: Challenges and Opportunities. Injury Prevention. 17: 285

Ms. Franklin can be contacted at

If there is someone you believe should be recognized as a CNR Star send your nominations to Heather de la Piedra at