Mentor:  Dr. Malay Basu, Assistant Professor, Division of Informatics, Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, WP P220, 619 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35249-7331.  Telephone:  (205) 934-5251; Email:  malay@uab.edu

The Computational Genomics Lab at the Division of Informatics in the Department of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is accepting applications for postdoctoral positions in Computational Biology/Bioinformatics. The candidate will work in various projects in computational genomics, comparative and evolutionary genomics, according to his/her preference. The candidate will play key roles in shaping the scientific environment and computational infrastructure of the division and will be expected to apply for research grants both to the US and agencies abroad. He/she will also help in teaching junior colleagues. Starting dates are open and flexible.

The candidate should have a Ph.D. degree in relevant disciplines with strong background in quantitative sciences. Biological background is not essential. Programming skill in one programming language, such as C/C++, Perl/Python, or Java is must. R/Matlab experiences are desirable. Independent thinking, strong motivation and problem-solving skills are must. Criteria for selection include demonstrated research ability with publications in peer-reviewed journals, proven ability to independently develop research projects and strength in verbal and written communication skills.

Interested candidate should send a brief abstract of research interest, curriculum vitae with publication list, and names and contact addresses of three references to:

Malay Kumar Basu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Email: malay@uab.edu

The Division of Informatics at UAB was created January 2011 in the Department of Pathology. For more information on the Division of Informatics, please visit our Website .

UAB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and family-friendly environment in which all faculty and staff can excel and achieve work/life balance irrespective of
ethnicity, gender, faith, gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation. UAB also encourages
applications from individuals with disabilities and veterans. "A pre-employment background investigation is performed on candidates selected for employment."

Postdocs in UAB News

  • Floyd named president-elect of National Neurotrauma Society

    UAB’s Candace Floyd is set to take a top leadership post with the National Neurotrauma Society.

    Candace Floyd, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is the president-elect of the National Neurotrauma Society. The president-elect will assume the duties of president in June 2016 for a one-year term. Floyd previously served terms as vice president and secretary/treasurer.

    The National Neurotrauma Society seeks to accelerate research that will provide answers for clinicians and ultimately improve the treatments available to patients. It is open to scientists interested in neurotrauma research and promotes excellence in the field by providing opportunities for scientists, establishing standards in both basic and clinical research, encouraging and supporting research, and promoting liaisons with other organizations that influence the care and cure of neurotrauma victims.

    Floyd is the holder of the Women’s Committee of Spain Rehabilitation Center Endowed Chair in Rehabilitation Neuroscience Research and the director of Research for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The central focus of her research is to develop new treatments for spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

    She earned her doctorate from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University and did postdoctoral training in traumatic central nervous system injury research at the University of California, Davis. She joined UAB in 2006.

    She serves as grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her research is currently supported by the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health and private organizations including the National Football League.

  • A researcher in motion, chasing trials and trails
    Epidemiologist Olivia Affuso studies new ways to prevent obesity and chronic disease through physical activity. She also volunteers with two groups that use running to help women and girls achieve fitness and personal goals.

    As a member of UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Center for Exercise Medicine, Olivia Affuso, Ph.D., has a clear goal: preventing obesity and chronic disease through physical activity. During many of her evenings and weekends, she helps women and girls put these ideas into practice.

    Affuso, an associate professor of epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health, has developed a patent-pending, photography-based method that could change the way obesity interventions are measured. She is also a board member of the Birmingham Council of Girls on the Run, an international organization that uses running “to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident,” Affuso said.

    Girls on the Run Birmingham has served more than 1,000 girls in third through fifth grades at schools around the Birmingham area since 2011. The program, which combines group runs and lessons on everything from bullying to teamwork, “is for every girl,” Affuso said. “We use running as a creative, fun activity to help the girls learn to establish goals and healthy habits.”

    Finding your own happy pace

    During each Girls on the Run season, in spring and fall, Affuso and the group’s other board members “adopt” the teams at participating schools. Each team is led by volunteer teachers and coaches from the school; in spring 2015, there were 17 teams at 14 sites. Affuso usually volunteers for the long-distance treks, bringing a small token of appreciation for the coaches and a healthy snack for the students. “For the past few seasons, I’ve worked with a team in Sylacauga, and with the Boys and Girls Club team in Montevallo,” she said. “I am willing to drive wherever I am needed to support the girls.” At the end of each season, the teams gather for a 5-kilometer race. This spring, nearly 260 girls from the program completed their goal at Veterans Park in Hoover, along with friends and others from their communities.

    Girls on the Run isn’t about competition, Affuso said: “Everyone is encouraged to go at her own happy pace.” When she runs on her own, Affuso pushes harder. Since taking up the sport as a master’s student at Georgia State University, she has steadily increased her mileage, completing her first marathon in 1999. In March 2014, she attempted her first 100-mile race, Alabama’s Lake Martin 100. Bad weather forced the vast majority of participants to drop out; Affuso made it 62 miles before stopping. However, she conquered the 100-mile challenge this past September at a race in Michigan, finishing in 29 hours and 17 minutes. Her goal is to complete a 50-kilometer trail race in all 50 states.

    Curves and computation

    In her lab, Affuso is tackling another daunting challenge. In this case, the hurdles are technical — is it possible to use simple photos to accurately estimate a person’s body composition? Studies examining obesity interventions generally use body mass index (BMI) to determine whether participants are successful at losing weight. To measure BMI, all you need is a participant’s height and weight and a calculator. But this simple formula is also imprecise. People with lots of muscles may appear overweight, for instance, and those who are tall can appear normal or even underweight, when they actually have too much body fat. A much more accurate way to measure body composition is the DXA (pronounced dex-a) scan, but these expensive machines are not portable and aren’t widely available for clinical or field research.

    Affuso had an idea for a better approach. Previous studies had shown that trained DXA technicians could accurately guess a person’s body composition before they were ever measured by the machine. Affuso wanted to see if she could mimic that judgment using digital photographs and some advanced computer algorithms. Her initial project was funded by Max Michael, M.D., dean of the School of Public Health, in the school’s annual Back of the Envelope Awards competition. After a successful pilot test with that funding, Affuso is now in the fourth year of a five-year, $2.5 million NIH study to test the idea at scale. The Photobody study is enrolling 2,000 men and women, ages 6–70. To help the computer detect body contours, men have to wear spandex shorts, and women wear shorts and a close-fitting top. Eventually, Affuso hopes to have the system work with minimal everyday clothes. (Learn more about the work in this UAB Magazine feature.)

    “We know the process works,” Affuso said. “Now we’re breaking it down to questions like, How well does it work with women in a certain age group, or with different racial/ethnic groups?”

    The power of nudges

    Affuso recently launched a new technology-based study exploring movement and motivation. She is recruiting both college-age women ages 19–30 and girls ages 8–11 in order to study their responses to new wearable activity trackers, like the popular Fitbit bands. (Her study is using the MovBand, primarily because of its objective measurement of physical activity and long battery life, she says.) Affuso wants to know whether participants will actually use the devices in their daily lives. Then she plans to see whether the immediate feedback the trackers give on activity can help the women and girls stay more active. “What we want to do is reduce the amount of time they’re being sedentary,” Affuso said. “Even if someone exercises 30 minutes per day, if they spend the rest of the time being sedentary, they’re likely to have negative health effects.”

    Affuso plans to create challenges that indirectly get participants to move regularly, “without saying explicitly, ‘You need to walk more’ or ‘You need to go for a run,’” she said. “It’s using the behavioral economics model of nudging.”

    Community in motion

    At the end of the workday, Affuso hits the trails — often in the company of runners from one of many groups in Birmingham. Since 2011, she has been involved with the national organization Black Girls Run, which encourages black women to run by building a safe, supportive community. She was one of the founding ambassadors of the group’s Birmingham affiliate, which was the first in Alabama. “We started with 10 people, and now we have more than 4,600 women on our Facebook page,” Affuso said. “We have at least seven opportunities to run during the week here in Birmingham,” she added, and there are also groups running in Anniston, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Montgomery. “The success of this group relies heavily on the tireless volunteers and dedicated runners,” Affuso said.

    The members of Black Girls Run also help to support the Girls on the Run participants by serving as running buddies during the annual 5K race, or becoming “SoleMates” — raising money by asking people to sponsor them for a race. “It can be any running event,” Affuso said. For her SoleMate challenge, she chose the Leadville Marathon in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, which involves climbing “to over 13,000 feet of lung-crushing elevation,” she said.

    Charting a course to Birmingham

    Affuso, who is originally from Orangeburg, South Carolina, earned a master’s degree in sports nutrition at Georgia State University and a Ph.D. in nutritional epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I was very interested in the interaction between diet and physical activity in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes,” she said. “While at Georgia State University, I worked on projects with elite athletes as well as community-based interventions — both of which included a diet and exercise component.”

    In 1999, as she started her doctoral work in Chapel Hill, Affuso met UAB’s David Allison, Ph.D., at a conference, and the two researchers kept up with each others’ work. In 2006, after Affuso finished a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Miami, Allison invited her to give a seminar at the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “I had never visited Alabama and wasn’t thinking about moving here,” she said, “but once I came and saw the resources that UAB had available and the opportunity and the entrepreneurial spirit, it turned out this was a good place for me to be.”

More Items

UAB Research News

  • Meet the Most Influential: Art Tipton, Southern Research
    ipton plans to continue SRI’s work in drug development, the defense world and clean energy, while also increasing collaboration with UAB and boosting commercialization efforts from the research that takes place at the institute.
  • UAB School of Education reaches major milestones in strategic, broad approach to transforming lives
    The School of Education looks to enhance learning outcomes, health and wellness of P-12 population, as well as of adults in Alabama and around the world.

    Deborah Voltz, EdD, Dean, School of Education, helps high school student during Innovative Learning Collaborative pilot program at Parker High School.Since establishing the initial framework of its strategic plan in 2011, the UAB School of Education has refined goals and objectives and is concentrating efforts around several areas through 2017.

    “The School of Education is working to impact human potential more broadly,” said Dean Deborah L. Voltz, Ed.D. “We recognize that there is a symbiotic relationship between health and education. This is reflected in excellence in faculty research and programs that give students the training and knowledge to enhance P-12 education and health and wellness for individuals in Alabama and around the world.”

    The school’s focus through 2017 includes strengthening enrollment, enhancing student support services, expanding online program offerings, increasing external funding, and increasing the number of educators prepared to work in high-poverty schools and in high-needs areas such as math, science, special education and English as a second language.

    “The UAB School of Education plays a very important role in improving the quality of education in Alabama, a goal to which the school is extremely dedicated,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “With Dean Voltz’s leadership, faculty, staff, students and supporters are working together in innovative ways to make a substantial impact on education in our community and beyond.”

    Innovation in teaching

    The school saw a highly successful first year with its UABTeach program, far surpassing enrollment expectations and receiving significant philanthropic support. Designed to quickly produce a new teaching force of highly qualified instructors in science, technology, engineering and math, the program allows undergraduate STEM majors to receive a subject-matter degree and certification to teach at the secondary level within a four-year graduation plan. The program enrolled 70 freshman and sophomore students last fall. It is the only program of its kind in Alabama and will graduate its first class in 2017.

    Opportunities for School of Education students also extend overseas, as UAB is the only university in the state to partner with the Peace Corps. Students looking to combine graduate school with the Peace Corps can do so as Peace Corps Master’s International students in the School of Education, with 14 PCMI master’s degree options. PCMI students complete most of their courses at UAB and spend two years overseas as volunteers working in a career related to their master’s degree.

    A new honors program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and an existing program in the Department of Human Studies give students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty to pursue their intellectual interests through research or a service project designed to address a particular societal need as it relates to their field of study.

    Other exciting new degree programs are emerging in the school. The UA System Board of Trustees recently approved a doctoral program in educational studies in diverse populations, and a master’s option in school psychometry. The school’s online degree offerings have also grown from two to five fully online programs.

    Supporting its exceptional programs is the School of Education’s Office of Student Services, which is developing innovative new initiatives to help students reach their educational goals. The office has developed a new proactive advising model to assist undergraduate students in identifying academic challenges early in their academic careers and utilizing appropriate resources to address those challenges. Additional initiatives to further enhance student services are on the horizon.

    The strength of the school’s programs is reflected in the success of its alumni. School of Education alumni have been named Alabama Teacher of the Year — the top teacher in the state — for the last three years, and one has gone on to be a finalist for the national award — one of four top teachers in the country.

    The strength of the school’s programs is reflected in the success of its alumni. School of Education alumni have been named Alabama Teacher of the Year — the top teacher in the state — for the last three years, and one has gone on to be a finalist for the national award — one of four top teachers in the country.

    Innovation in research

    In 2014, the school was awarded a seven-year, $49 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant provides funding to states to enhance services for students, parents and teachers at high-poverty middle and high schools.

    UAB serves as the hub of GEAR UP Alabama, which will impact about 10,450 students from 18 school districts and 53 schools in Alabama’s Black Belt. The program will work with a cohort of students in either sixth or seventh grade and follow them through their first year of college.

    With the help of a philanthropic gift from AT&T Alabama, the UAB Innovative Learning Collaborative launched a pilot program with Birmingham City Schools’ Parker High. UAB education students worked with 50 students from Parker High School’s Academy of Urban Educators to better engage them in the learning process and improve their writing skills. One area tested by the program is the use of tablet computers preloaded with reading and writing tools.

    A recent $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will assist the school’s early childhood special education program in preparing students, through an interdisciplinary program of study, for careers as early interventionists to improve services and results for young children with disabilities and their families throughout Alabama. The program will provide full scholarships to 14 scholars each year for five years in order to address a state shortage of highly qualified personnel in this area.

    The school is focused not only on enhancing learning outcomes for the P-12 population in Alabama and around the world, but also on improving health and wellness for people of all ages. Recently funded research in the school’s Department of Human Studies ranges from exploring family counseling-based approaches to childhood obesity and the effects of aerobic exercise training and exercise intensity in premenopausal women to exploring women’s emotional barriers to exercise.

    Innovation in service

    Keeping with the university’s mission, the School of Education continues to be active in service.

    Renovations are complete for the school’s recently established Maryann Manning Family Literary Center, and plans for its grand opening are underway. The center was established in 2014 to honor and continue the work of longtime faculty member Maryann Manning, Ed.D. The center brings together expertise from many areas of literacy to provide services for children and families throughout the state, regionally and globally.

    Planning for next year’s Girls in Science in Engineering Day is underway. GSED is a unique, free event created by two UAB students in 2011 to inspire and empower Birmingham-area middle school girls to achieve and excel in science and engineering fields. It is a day for local middle school girls to come to UAB and participate in fun science and engineering activities led by women who are professors, scientists and students from UAB and the surrounding community.

    Since 2011, the UAB Community Counseling Clinic, housed in the School of Education building, has filled a service gap for people in Jefferson County by providing low-cost mental health counseling. The center sees an average of 112 patients a year and partners with more than 60 community organizations and agencies for referrals. The clinic is run by School of Education faculty. Services are provided by advanced graduate students and supervised by doctoral-level faculty. The clinic is working to expand its outreach within the community.

    The school looks to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones to develop innovative approaches for addressing areas of critical need locally and beyond.

More Items