UAB Postdoctoral Association Executive Board Handbook

2007-2012

Table of Contents

Mission of the UAB Postdoctoral Association

History of the UAB Postdoctoral Association

Orientation to the Executive Board: Roles and Responsibilities

Standing Committees: Descriptions and Positions

UABPDA Constitution

UABPDA By-laws

 

 

MISSION OF THE UAB POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

The mission of the UABPDA is to provide a voice for UAB and SRI postdoctoral fellows that reflects the important contribution postdoctoral fellows make to scholarly research: (1) by advocating for effective career training and preparation for transitioning to independence in the diverse career paths available to postdoctoral scholars, and (2) by working toward an improved environment for postdoctoral scholars which allows for balancing work and home responsibilities.

HISTORY OF THE UAB POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

Inception

2004-2005 EB

Adam Keeton PhD, Aimee Landar PhD, Erin Thacker PhD, Maaike Everts PhD, Meredith A Preuss PhD, Doug Moellering PhD, Rob Cartee PhD, Stephanie Cowey PhD, Qiana Matthews PhD, Stephen Perrett PhD, Abdul Ajees Abdul Salam PhD, Amy VanEngen Spivey PhD.

Late in 2003, at the urging of Dr. Victor Darley-Usmar, the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education, a Founders Committee was formed to begin the process of establishing a Postdoctoral Association at UAB (UABPDA). The Founders Committee was comprised of two postdoctoral scholars at UAB, Drs. Keith Micoli and Maaike Everts. Modeling the UABPDA after the newly established National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), the Founders Committee prepared and submitted a Constitution and By-laws to the postdoctoral community of UAB in April, 2004, and the Constitution and By-laws were approved at the inaugural Town Hall Meeting of postdoctoral scholars on May 4, 2004.

The Executive Board

The first Executive Board (EB) was elected in June 2004 with Dr. Maaike Everts being elected to serve as Chair. The 2004-2005 EB worked to establish the basic framework of the UABPDA and began the process of defining the needs of postdoctoral fellows at UAB. The first university-wide Postdoctoral Research Day (PDRD), held in April 2003, was organized by the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE) under the direction of Dr. Victor Darley-Usmar and by the efforts of two postdoctoral scholars, Drs. Rob Cartee and Maaike Everts. This event allowed postdoctoral fellows an opportunity to present their research to their peers and gain valuable experience in an important career skill. In 2005, the UABPDA took over responsibility for the PDRD and the second PDRD was held in February 2005. It has continued as a yearly event organized by the PDRD standing committee of the UABPDA EB. The 2004-2005 EB also instituted the Balance in Science luncheon, which addresses the issue of balancing work responsibilities with the demands of home life. The Balance in Science luncheon has been held yearly since 2005 and is organized by the Balance in Science standing committee of the UABPDA EB.

2005-2006 EB

Doug Moellering (Chair), Erin Thacker (Vice Chair; I),  Qiana Matthews (Secretary), Stephanie Cowey (Treasurer; BiS), Meredith Preuss (Electoral Officer; PDRD), Xuxia Wu, Balu Chacko (O), Nick Khoo, Adam Keeton (BtB), Eric Kelley (TH), Steve Perrett, and Abdul Ajees Abdul Salam.

The 2005-2006 EB, with Dr. Doug Moellering serving as Chair, worked to provide a smooth transition to subsequent EB's as well as the incorporation of specific events designed to improve the training environment for postdoctoral fellows. Seminars and other events were implemented or continued, with input from the EB, to address specific career skills necessary for successful advancement, including effective presentation skills, grantsmanship and manuscript preparation. In addition, the By-Laws were modified to include representation on the EB by one postdoctoral scholar from Southern Research Institute (SRI).

2006-2007 EB

Catherine DiCostanzo PhD (Chair), Mickael Cariveau PhD (Vice Chair), Kelly Andringa PhD (Secretary), Lisa M. Curtis PhD, Erin Thacker PhD, Laszlo Not MD, Xuxia Wu PhD, Melanie Styers PhD, Senait Asmellash PhD, Amanda K. Wake PhD, Thea Nicola PhD, Balu Chacko PhD, Torry Tucker PhD and Issa Coulibaly PhD.

The activities of the 2006-2007 EB have focused on refining the goals of the UABPDA EB and expanding the professional topics addressed in seminars, workshops and other event venues. During the past year, a specific set of seminars and workshops was defined to constitute a Postdoctoral Curriculum. A current short-term goal of the UABPDA EB is the implementation of this Postdoctoral Curriculum. The long term goals of the UABPDA are to maintain a focus on empowering postdoctoral scholars in advancing their careers and maintaining a balance between career and home life.

2008-2009 EB

Kelly Andringa (Chair), Rashada C Alexander (Vice Chair), Diane Bimczok (Secretary), Marlene Winkelbauer, David Krzywanski, Melanie L Styers, Thomas William Lowder, Hilal Arnouk, and Jamiyanaa Dashdorj

2009-2010 EB

Marlene Winkelbauer (Chair), David Krzywanski (Vice Chair), Diane Bimczok (Secretary), Hilal Arnouk (Electoral Officer), Eugene Masters (Industry Roundtable Representative), Jamiyanaa Dashdorj, Lacey McNally, Changchun Ren, Jessy S Deshane, Michelle Amaral, and Tony Filiano

The 2009-2010 EB started addressing the postdoctoral quality of life, specifically pertaining to benefits and salary. With the help of the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), the EB was able to improve the benefits at UAB for all postdoctoral scholars. In addition to improved benefits, the EB continued to plan and organize postdoctoral career development curriculum and seminar series that provides the trainees with the needed resources for transitioning to their next career stage.

2010-2011 EB

Marlene Winkelbauer (Chair), David Krzywanski (Vice Chair), Diane Bimczok (Secretary), Michelle Amaral (Interim Secretary), Aundrea Bartley (GCAT Liaison),  Kirk Yancy Williams (Electoral Officer), Jamiyanaa Dashdorj, Lacey McNally, Syed Rahmanuddin, Kumar Putcha, Changchun Ren, Jessy S Deshane, and Hilal Arnouk

The 2010-2011 EB has continued to address the postdoctoral quality of life and has focused on negotiating with the administration to increase the minimum postdoctoral stipend level. The EB continued the seminar series to address areas of interest indicated by the postdoctoral community, mainly focusing on the academia lifestyle. The majority of the committees were not in use during this year.    

2011-2012 EB

Aundrea Bartley (Chair), Jessica Perez (Secretary), Jessica Grunda (GCAT Liaison), Tabitha Hardy (Media Representative), Diane Bimczok, Michelle Amaral, Lacey McNally, Kumar Putcha, Hope Amm, Jackie Harris, Teruko Bredemann and Katherine Ingram

Several initiatives happened during the 2011-2012 that was supported by the EB. The need was felt and met to extend the awareness of UAB’s PDA to the postdoctoral community. This was accomplished through the establishment of a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter was used to make postdocs aware of the benefits available to them at UAB, issues that postdocs nationwide have encountered, as well as recap of important seminars. The seminar series mainly focused on careers that branched outside of academia, including but not limited to scientific writing, science policy, and patent law. Through our collaboration with the OPE, two additional courses have been implemented, Translational Science, and Job Skills. At the end of this term, we decided to remove the position of GCAT liaison from the EB and revamp the EB, more details on the revamp are below. These changes were partially brought on by the need for one on one career counseling for all postdocs at UAB. It has definitely been an exciting year.  

2012-2013 EB

Teruko Bredemann (Chair, Balance in Science Chair), Jessica Grunda (Vice-Chair, Postdoc Research Day Chair), Jessica Perez (Secretary), Tabitha Hardy (Social/Involvement Chair), Hope Amm (Postdoc Research Day Chair), Baldeep Khare (PDA Newsletter Editor), Tanecia Mitchell (PDA Newsletter Editor), LaToya Paul (Balance in Science Chair), Helen Collins, Jennifer McLarty, Tomader Ali, Michelle Amaral (emeritus) and Aundrea Bartley (emeritus)

The EB and the OPE

The UABPDA is independent from the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), but collaborates with the OPE in organizing events aimed at postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI. The Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education works closely with the EB providing advice on the feasibility of carrying out the activities that the EB proposes on behalf of postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI. Prior Associate Deans have included Drs. Tika Benveniste, Sadis Matalon and Victor Darley-Usmar. The current Associate Dean, Dr. Lisa M. Schwiebert, was appointed in March 2007.

Several members of the Executive Board also serve on the UAB Council on Postdoctoral Education (COPE), which advises the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education on issues related to postdoctoral training. Issues that the EB believe require attention from the UAB administration can be brought to the attention of COPE for discussion and action.

In addition, the OPE will sponsor one or two interested Executive Board members to attend the annual meeting of the NPA (http://www.nationalpostdoc.org) each year, as permitted, with funds allotted by the Associate Dean. A past Chair of the NPA and current members of the Board of Directors of the NPA are at UAB and are important resources for the UABPDA. In addition, UAB is a founding member of the NPA and postdoctoral scholars at UAB are encouraged to consider joining the NPA as individual members.

ORIENTATION TO THE EXECUTIVE BOARD: Roles and responsibilities

The constituency of the UABPDA, the postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI, rely upon the Executive Board (EB) to bring about positive change to the postdoctoral training and environment at UAB which will result in improved career outcomes. Working in concert with and with the guidance of the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education and the staff of the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE), the EB is tasked with defining the needs of postdoctoral fellows at UAB and SRI and advocating for specific changes to achieve this goal. The EB works through the efforts of four officers and eight board members, who play important roles in implementing the goals of the UABPDA.

Officers of the Executive Board

A. Chair

Role and responsibilities:

1.  The Chair defines the overall vision and direction of the UABPDA efforts during the next 12 months, while being responsive to input from the EB.

2.  The Chair organizes and runs the business meetings of the EB and is responsible for timely notification to the EB of meeting times and locations, as well as preparation and timely dissemination of the agenda for the meetings and any other information or materials that the EB needs in order to address the issues. While also expressing his/her own views, the Chair must encourage and ensure that all EB members are given an opportunity to voice their opinion or input at meetings.

3.  The Chair should lead by example. The Chair should be engaged in all committees, assisting each committee chair in making progress on the committee's yearly goals.

4.  The Chair serves as the point of contact for the UABPDA in any official communications.

5.  The Chair works closely with and shares responsibilities with the Vice-Chair, as appropriate.

6.  The Chair should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

7.  The Chair is responsible for presenting the goals and accomplishments of the UABPDA to postdoctoral scholars during the Postdoctoral Orientation. Be a point of contact and information for newly arrived postdoctoral scholars to help the transition of living and working at UAB.

8.  The Chair is responsible for scheduling the monthly EB meeting, both the room and sending out reminder emails.

9.  The Chair should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Necessary skills/tools:

·    The Chair should have experience as a postdoc and a clear idea of the needs and concerns of postdocs, with particular emphasis on the needs of postdocs at UAB and SRI.

·    The chair will have sat on the EB for at least 6 months in order to understand the past efforts and history as well as any contacts which might be helpful in achieving the goals of the UABPDA. Substantial differences exist between graduate student organizations and postdoctoral associations and the postdoctoral scholar who assumes the Chair position should be cognizant of these differences. Experience as a postdoc, experience with UAB in some capacity (e.g. graduate student, staff), or perhaps service on another professional board might also be important credentials.

·    The Chair should exhibit strong leadership and people skills and be receptive to constructive input from the EB, the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education or other interested parties in defining the goals of the UABPDA. Strong team-building, motivational and communication skills will facilitate not only the monthly meetings, but also the interactions of board members in the various activities.

·    The ability to delegate is important, however, the Chair should have sufficient time to dedicate effort in assisting Committee Chairs and be able to step in and take over the responsibilities of any position vacated until it is filled.

·    As the official point of contact, the Chair should have sufficient time to devote to handling email and phone interactions.

·    The Chair should demonstrate an ability to work well with the Vice-Chair, ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities if necessary.

·    Ultimately, the ability of the chair to effectively lead will determine the success rate of the EB.

B. Vice Chair:

Role and responsibilities:

1.  The Vice-Chair should work closely with the Chair as a collaborator. In the event that the Chair steps down, the Vice-Chair must be able to step in and take over the responsibilities of the Chair.

2.  The Vice-Chair should be fully versed in the status of all projects and the overall vision of the UABPDA as defined by the Chair.

3.  In addition, the Vice-Chair functions as the liason for the additions/corrections to the website, which are done by staff of the Office of Postdoctoral Education or other administrative entity.

4.  The Vice-Chair should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

5.  The Vice-Chair should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Necessary skills/tools:

o  Since the duties of the Chair and Vice-Chair potentially overlap, the Vice-Chair should have similar experience as the Chair and have sat on the EB for at least 6 months.

o  Leadership and people skills as well as strong communication and team-building skills are important.

o  Although the Vice-Chair does not need as much background in a leadership position as the Chair, this position should be seen as a natural step towards Chair, with the year as Vice-Chair an opportunity to become fully acquainted with UAB, the OPE and the EB and how they work together to improve the lives and training of postdocs.

C. Secretary

Role and responsibilities:

1.  The Secretary is responsible for taking minutes at the monthly EB meetings and composing and disseminating a synopsis of these shortly after each meeting.

2.  The Secretary is responsible for communication with the OPE regarding advertisement of events to postdocs via email as well as making certain that events are advertised in the UAB Reporter or other venues appropriate for communication with postdocs.

3.  The secretary should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

4.  The Secretary should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Necessary skills/tools:

o  Because the Secretary is the main point of communication in the EB, he/she should exhibit strong organizational and writing skills and be able to manage inflow and outflow of information effectively.

Members of the Executive Board

The members of the EB are made up of emeriti members, standalone members, the chairs of all the committees, and the officers. The emeriti members are made up of individuals who previously served on the EB, but transitioned out of the postdoctoral category, and maintains an interest in seeing the PDA evolve. The standalone members are made up of postdocs who are involved in one of the committees, but are not a chair of the committee.

All EB members should embrace the following role and responsibilities on top of any other duties needed in the PDA.  

Role and responsibilities:

1.     EB members must represent the views of postdocs at UAB and SRI.

2.     All members of the executive board should be on at least one committee. As members of any committee, each EB member should contribute recognizable effort to the activities of any committee on which he/she is a member. The following are list of standing committees.

a)    Postdoctoral Research Day

b)    PDA Newsletter

c)     Social/Involvement

d)    Balance in Science

3.  As chair of a standing committtee, the EB member must clearly define and direct the activities of the members of his/her standing committee and communicate effectively with the EB to facilitate completion of the committee's yearly goals.

4.  EB members should acknowledge and respond to all email communication in a timely manner, including communication of any known absence of availability (e.g. vacation, attendance at meetings) to the EB in advance.

5.  Help plan and carry out the annual Town Hall Meeting, where UAB and SRI postdoctoral scholars can gain insight into issues affecting their status and progress at UAB.

6.  Help develop and plan a comprehensive and evolving series of seminars and workshops to address various concepts of fundamental, scientific, administrative and career preparation.

7.  The EB members should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

8.  When an EB member attends a conference outside of UAB, they are required to obtain recruitment materials from the OPE office. These materials should be displayed at some point during the conference to advance UAB’s mission to recruit more postdocs. Please notify the OPE office in advance so that they will have enough material available.

Necessary skills/tools:

o  Enthusiasm for issues associated with the goals of the PDA is essential.

o  Board Members should demonstrate an ability to work well in teams and communicate ideas, in both written and verbal form.

o  Board Members should have an ability to convey the importance and fun of being on the EB of the UABPDA to prospective volunteers. Ideally, a Board Member who leaves the EB should identify a potential replacement before or at the time he/she resigns.

o  Chairing a committee is an excellent vehicle for development of leadership and networking skills and Board Members should exhibit enthusiasm for taking on these challenges.

 

 

Standing Committees: Descriptions and Positions

Each committee requires a minimum of one chair person to oversee the committee. The committees are made up of individuals from the executive board as well as UAB postdocs that want to become more involved.

All committees need to perform surveys on a regular basis to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the postdoctoral community.

PDA Newsletter

Goals: To continue to increase awareness about the PDA’s activities at UAB, the benefits available to all postdocs at UAB, and highlight important issues faced by the postdoctoral community. Additionally, this is an avenue for postdocs to become more involved.

Activities: Creates, writes, and distributes newsletter to increase number of persons reading/utilizing newsletter.

Required Positions

UABPDA Newsletter Editors

As this is a very involved entity, this will require the need for two individuals to be co-editors.

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The PDA Newsletter Editor is responsible for developing and maintaining a quarterly newsletter discussing issues that postdocs at UAB and SRI face, as well as solutions developed by the PDA towards the issues.

2.     The Editor is in charge of developing the format for the Newsletter.

3.     The Editor should recruit volunteers to write brief pieces for the newsletter.

4.     The Editor should recruit volunteers for committees and service on the EB.

Balance in Science

Goals: To stimulate discussion of how postdoctoral scholars can balance their work with family and personal responsibilities.

Activities: Plans mentoring luncheon where postdoctoral scholars can discuss their concerns about balancing their work and other aspects of life with a faculty member in a small group setting. Also plans seminars regarding aspects of time management, such as "Seven habits of highly effective scientists" and the WorkLife workshop, "How do I manage?", that addresses personality differences in the workplace.

Required Positions

Committee Chairs

This committee will include two co-chairs to oversee all activities.

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The Chair organizes and runs the committee, ensuring that they meet the goals of the committee.

2.     The Chair is the liaison between the committee and the executive board, so that the executive board is aware of the needs of the postdoctoral community as a whole.

 

 

Social/Involvement

Goals: To encourage involvement of the UABPDA members in activities of the Association and in interaction with each other.

Activities: Plans monthly networking meetings and special events throughout the year to facilitate the interaction of postdoctoral scholars at UAB and SRI across disciplines and departments. This includes the yearly Postdoc Appreciation Events in September. Additionally, they are responsible for maintaining our media relations, including Facebook and LinkedIn.

Required Positions

Chair of the Committee

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The Chair organizes and runs the committee, ensuring that they meet the goals of the committee.

2.     The Chair is the liaison between the committee and the executive board, so that the executive board is aware of the needs of the postdoctoral community as a whole.

Postdoctoral Research Day

Goals: To plan and carry out the annual Postdoctoral Research Day, where UAB and SRI postdoctoral scholars can present research results and compete for monetary prizes.

Activities: Plans the Postdoctoral Research Day, including obtaining funding for catering and awards.

Required Positions

Committee Chairs

As this is a very involved entity, this will require the need for two individuals to be co-chairs.

Role and responsibilities:

1.     The Co-Chairs organizes and runs the committee, ensuring that they meet the goals of the committee.

2.     The Co-Chairs are the liaisons between the committee and the executive board, so that the executive board is aware of the needs of the postdoctoral community as a whole.

3.     The Co-Chairs are responsible for the fundraising necessary for this event in order to award cash prizes.

4.     The Co-Chairs are involved in ensuring that the event has enough judges and that they come from a variety of backgrounds.

5.     The Co-Chairs are responsible for determining the rules and guidelines for the event.

6.     The Co-Chairs are involved in the placement of postdocs in the appropriate sections of Postdoctoral Research Day.

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

May 4, 2004

Amended June 16, 2012

ARTICLE I

NAME AND PURPOSE

1.1   Name

The name of the organization shall be the University of Alabama at Birmingham Postdoctoral Association, hereinafter referred to as the "UABPDA" or the "Association".

1.2 Purpose

The purpose of the UABPDA is to establish a self-sustaining organization to provide a voice for postdoctoral fellows and scholars (hereafter referred to as postdocs) and advocate for their interests.

1.3 Activities

The UABPDA shall work to provide a voice for the interests of postdocs. The UABPDA will: (1) gather information and build consensus regarding "best-practice" policies for postdocs, (2) work with the Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE) to develop educational initiatives for the dissemination of these policies to postdocs and the University administration and encourage their implementation into institutional policy, and (3) enter into meaningful and constructive dialogue with the OPE, the Council of Postdoctoral Education, University administration, professional organizations and other relevant organizations to advocate for improvements in policies affecting postdoctoral scholars.

The UABPDA is not, and shall not become, a union. The UABPDA does not represent, or seek to represent, any class of individuals for the purpose of collective bargaining with any organization or organizations. The UABPDA shall not use, or cause to be used on its behalf, lobbying activities. The UABPDA shall seek to use a collaborative, educational and non-adversarial approach to its relationships with all relevant parties for the pursuit of the aims of the Association.

ARTICLE II

, MEMBERSHIP

2.1 Eligibility

All postdocs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham or Southern Research Institute (SRI) are automatically members of the UABPDA.

2.2 Rights and Obligations

All members shall have the right to petition the Executive Board (EB, section 4.1) with respect to any matter of relevance to the purpose of the UABPDA, nominate or be nominated for positions on the EB, propose policy initiatives to the EB, serve on committees of the UABPDA as established in the By-Laws, vote for members of the EB, vote on amendments to the Constitution, and attend the Annual Meeting. Members shall be obligated to observe the By-Laws of the UABPDA.

2.3 Non-Discrimination

The UABPDA shall not discriminate against any individual or organization on the basis of age, socio-economic status, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, marital status, political orientation, race, religion or sexual orientation.

ARTICLE III

MEETING

3.1 Annual Meeting

The UABPDA shall hold an annual national meeting open to all members of the UABPDA, prospective members, and interested parties, to further the purpose of the Association, provide a forum for open discussion of issues relevant to postdoctoral scholars, debate the policies and vision of the Association, and carry out the necessary democratic processes of the Association. The annual meeting location and details shall be decided by the Executive Board.

3.2 Notification of Annual Meeting

Printed and electronic notification of the Annual Meeting of the UABPDA, including the date, time and place shall be widely disseminated.

BY-LAWS OF THE UAB POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION

May 4, 2004

Amended June 16, 2012

ARTICLE I

MEMBERSHIP

1.1 Membership

Membership of the UAB Postdoctoral Association (the "UABPDA" or the "Association") shall consist of all postdoctoral fellows and scholars (hereinafter referred to as postdocs) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham or Southern Research Institute (SRI).

1.2 Voting Privileges

The voting privileges of the Association (the "voting members") shall apply to all members of the Association. Each individual or institutional member shall be entitled to one vote.

1.3 UABPDA Definition of a Postdoc

For the purposes of the UABPDA the term postdoc shall be defined as follows: an individual holding a doctoral degree or equivalent (e.g. PhD, MD, DVM), appointed to pursue research and scholarship under the direction of a mentor. The postdoctoral appointment is not a permanent position, and is undertaken for the purpose of further developing professional skills that will benefit the postdoctoral fellow in pursuing the career path of his/her choice. In addition to research activities, postdocs may provide instruction to undergraduate, graduate and medical students, and write or assist in the writing of grants or fellowships, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and other scholarly works.

ARTICLE II

REMOVAL OF MEMBERS

2.1 Removal

Members who violate any provision of these By-Laws or act in an injurious manner towards the Association may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the members of the Executive Board present at a meeting in consideration of the matter.

ARTICLE III

MEETING

3.1 Annual Meeting

The UABPDA shall hold an Annual Meeting open to all members of the UABPDA, prospective members, and interested parties, to further the purpose of the Association, provide a forum for open discussion of issues relevant postdoctoral scientists, debate the policies and vision of the Association, and carry out the necessary democratic processes of the Association in compliance with the UABPDA Constitution.

ARTICLE IV

GOVERNANCE

4.1 Executive Board

The UABPDA shall be governed by an Executive Board ("EB") of up to 15 persons. Each member of the EB must be a member of the UABPDA at the time of his/her election and may serve for a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms (four years) unless a petition for an extension of one year is allowed by a majority vote of the EB. One of the maximal 15 EB positions will be available for a postdoctoral representative from SRI. SRI will be responsible for determining that individual and informing the UABPDA EB. If an SRI postdoc is not elected, appointed, available or notification from SRI that a postdoctoral representative exists to occupy that one EB position, by default that one position may be filled by any of the remaining UABPDA members Each member of the EB shall be entitled to one vote on each matter of substance submitted to a vote of the EB. Vacant positions on the EB arising between elections shall be filled by a majority vote of the EB within 60 days of the vacancy and the appointed individual shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term. The Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary, shall be elected from the EB for one-year terms by majority vote of the EB.

4.2 Duties and Obligations of the Executive Board

The Executive Board shall act in the best interests of postdoctoral scientists at UAB. The EB shall ensure that the UABPDA is an information and consensus driven organization that provides a constructive means for postdoctoral scientists to advocate for effective change. Specifically, the EB shall:

·    endeavor to establish the UABPDA as an organization that provides a voice for the interests of postdoctoral scientists

·    gather information and build consensus regarding "best-practice" policies for postdocs, develop educational initiatives to disseminate these policies to postdocs and the university administration, and encourage and facilitate their implementation into institutional policy

·    conduct or assist in surveying postdoctoral scientists and policies and tracking progress over time

·    host and distribute information and resources of interest to postdoctoral scientists

·    adopt resolutions and statements on matters affecting the Association

·    propose amendments to the Constitution and amend the By-Laws

·    establish standing committees and appoint standing committee chairs

·    initiate, supervise, and terminate subcommittees

·    appoint administrative officers

·    determine the time and place of the annual meetings, have general responsibility for the programs and arrangements for the annual meeting

·    authorize public statements on behalf of the Association

·    arrange to meet as a group at least four times per year

·    take whatever precautions necessary to ensure that the By-Laws and Constitution of the UABPDA are upheld

4.3 Executive Board Chair

The Executive Board Chair (the "Chair") shall be appointed from the EB by a majority vote of the EB. EB members are eligible to be Chair after serving 6 months on the EB. The Chair shall serve a term of one year. The Chair shall convene, preside over and set agendas for meetings of the EB and the UABPDA. The Chair shall act as the representative of the UABPDA to the university administration and Council of Postdoctoral Education, delegate such duties to other EB members as may be required, and ensure that the UABPDA is performing within its Constitution and Bylaws and making progress towards its aims. The EB Chair shall be a member or an ex-officio member of all UABPDA sub-committees.

4.4 Vice-Chair

The Vice-Chair shall assume the responsibilities of the EB Chair when the Chair is unable to perform those functions. If the Chair is unable to function in that role for more than four months for reasons foreseen, or unforeseen, the Vice-Chair shall become the Executive Board Chair. EB members are eligible to be Vice-Chair after serving 6 months on the EB. The Vice-Chair shall be responsible for taking on projects from the Chair when, or if, the Chair is too encumbered to carry them out at the discretion of the Chair. The term of the Vice Chair is one year.

4.5 Secretary

The Secretary shall maintain a current record of all members of the EB, Standing Committees and ad hoc subcommittees, maintain a permanent record of EB, Standing Committees, and ad hoc subcommittees proceedings, and arrange for and approve drafts of official UABPDA correspondence.

4.6 Committee Chairs

Each Standing Committee (Article V) shall have a committee chair who shall be responsible for managing the efforts of the committee, advising the EB of issues of concern to the committee or issues that require the attention of the full EB, providing updates to the UABPDA on committee activities, and providing an annual report on the activities of the committee. Chairs of committees are appointed by the EB, and will be members of the EB.

4.7 Admittance and Elections

Admittance to the EB will be on a rolling admission basis, since all postdocs do not start UAB at the same time. The only time admittance may be denied is if the EB contains is at the maximum number of individuals required to govern the Association. However, if in this situation positions are taken on the EB by emeriti members, then the emeriti members should give their slot to the interested postdoc.

Elections shall be held as needed. This will occur either when the one year term is finished for that position or due to changes in the elected official’s situation. A positions should not be left vacant for greater than sixty days.

Slates for candidates for EB positions shall be published to the members at least 30 days in advance of issuance of ballots. Nominations should be submitted to the EB, and must include the following:

1.  A curriculum vitae of the candidate

2.  A biographical statement from the candidate describing their interest in serving on the EB and their relevant experience. This statement will be provided to the electorate with the slate of candidates.

4.8 Leave of Absence


Any member of the EB may request a leave of absence from the Chair, or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is the requesting party. A leave of absence may be no longer than three months, except under extenuating circumstances as determined by the Chair or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is the requesting party. In no circumstance may the leave of absence extend beyond the term of office of the EB member. The Chair, or Vice-Chair if the Chair is the requesting party, upon granting the leave of absence, shall appoint a member of the EB to serve in the vacant position on an interim basis.

4.9 Removal

Any member of the EB may be removed from office for malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance by a two thirds majority vote of the EB and subject to the following grievance procedure: any person wishing to file a grievance must submit a letter to the Chair of the EB, or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is named in the grievance, outlining the grievance. The Chair, or Vice-Chair if the Chair is named in the grievance letter, shall convene an Adjudication Committee consisting of the EB members not named in the grievance letter. Within 15 days of the receipt of the grievance, this committee shall be provided with the grievance letter, shall contact the parties involved in the dispute and give both sides the opportunity to satisfactorily express their positions in the grievance, shall then discuss the issue and vote on the validity of the removal. A majority vote of the Adjudication Committee shall be required for the removal to take place.

Members who do not attend the EB meeting for three consecutive months without notification to the Chair as to the reason for the absence are eligible for removal.

4.12 Resignation

The resignation of an EB member shall be effective when a written letter of resignation is received by the Chair of the EB, or in the event of a leave of absence exceeding three months in duration without approval of the Chair, or Vice-Chair if the Chair is the involved party.

4.13 Parliamentary Procedure

Robert's Rules of Order, except when inconsistent with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association, shall govern the meetings of the EB, subcommittees, and annual UABPDA meeting.

ARTICLE V

COMMITTEES

5.1 General Regulations

Committees may be established, charged and, when appropriate, terminated by a majority vote of the EB.

Each committee shall promote the work of the Association, under general direction and oversight by the EB. Meetings of the committees may not incur financial obligation by the Association without prior approval of the EB. The EB shall determine the maximum size of each committee. The EB shall annually review the activities of the committees and, where appropriate, shall provide for rotation of committee membership.

5.2 Standing Committees

Standing Committees necessary to the achievement of the goals of the UABPDA shall be formed by the EB. A committee chair shall be named by the EB, and this chair is responsible for the activities of the committee and for reporting the activities to the EB. Standing Committees are formed as permanent committees, but can be dissolved or reorganized following a majority vote of the EB.

5.3 Ad-hoc Subcommittees

Ad-hoc Subcommittees shall be established within Standing Committees as and when necessary by a majority vote of the EB. In its charge to a committee, the EB shall make explicit the term of the subcommittee's effective life. The EB may subsequently extend that term if, in its judgment, such extension is desirable. Any two members of the UABPDA prepared to work on a Subcommittee may suggest the creation of a Subcommittee and a remit for that Subcommittee.

ARTICLE VI

OFFICIAL STATEMENTS

The Association shall not be responsible for statements or opinions advanced by any of its officers or presented in papers, discussions at meetings of the Association or printed in its publications, except for those authorized by the EB.

ARTICLE VII

AMENDMENTS

7.1 Amendments

Amendments may be made to these By-Laws by a two-thirds majority vote of the EB or the voting members of the UABPDA. Amendments to the By-Laws will become in full effect the next day following the conclusion of the vote. Any By-Law amended by a vote of the EB must be approved by a majority vote of the members of the UABPDA at the next Annual Meeting of the UABPDA. If the amendment is then not accepted by the vote of the members of the UABPDA it shall be repealed.

7.2 Proposal of amendments

Amendments to the By-Laws may be proposed by any member of the EB or by petition signed by at least 10% of the members of the Association. Proposed amendments shall be submitted in writing, or electronically, the Chair of the EB by any voting member of the UABPDA. A vote by the EB on acceptance of the amendments must occur within sixty (60) days of their acceptance by the Chair of the EB.

7.3 Notification

Proposed amendments must be sent in writing, or electronically, to all members at least thirty (30) days prior to voting.

7.4 Annual Review

The EB shall conduct an annual review of the By-Laws of the UABPDA so as to evaluate and update them if necessary to ensure that they stay current, adapt with the times and remain effective.

ARTICLE VIII

RATIFICATION

8.1 Ratification

The By-Laws of the UABPDA shall take effect immediately pursuant to ratification by a majority vote of the attendees of the inaugural UABPDA meeting.

Postdocs in UAB News

  • UAB researchers work to unravel the complex genetic disease neurofibromatosis type 1
    One major goal is the discovery of new genotype/phenotype correlations — how a particular mutation indicates that some symptoms in patients are unlikely to develop with age.
    Ludwine Messiaen

    It is easy to tell a medical research story that has a simple and dramatic moment. But disease is often much more complex, and the work to understand it can be painstaking.

    A vivid example of that is seen in the UAB Medical Genomics Laboratory, headed by Ludwine Messiaen, Ph.D., professor of genetics. This lab offers clinical genetic testing for a broad array of common and rare genetic disorders. One of the most confounding is neurofibromatosis type 1.

    This can be a heartbreaking disease.

    Changes at puberty

    It usually starts with café-au-lait skin markings, so named because of their distinctive coloring, in an infant. But at puberty — already a challenging time in a person’s life, many patients develop benign skin tumors called neurofibromas that erupt as bumps across the body. Patients vary widely in their symptoms, which can include freckles near skin folds of the body, nodules in the eyes, tumors along the optic nerve, heart defects, anomalies of connective tissue or bones, developmental delay, intellectual disability, and learning problems.

    Patients show a broad clinical variability as they grow, and whether their case will be mild or severe cannot — in most cases — be predicted when the disease first appears. This leaves physicians and families uncertain about what symptoms will appear in a particular child as he or she nears puberty.

    Cafe-au-lait skin markings on the back of a young child

    Profusion of mutations

    This kaleidoscope of clinical signs is mirrored by an abundance of different mutations in the NF1 gene, responsible for the disease. The UAB Medical Genomics Laboratory has collected DNA and identified a pathogenic mutation in more than 7,800 unrelated neurofibromatosis type 1 patients. All have NF1 mutations, but meticulous examination has revealed so far more than 3,000 different mutations. These can be found in every part of the gene, and the mutational spectrum involves microdeletions, deletions or duplications that involve one or more exons, frameshift and nonsense mutations, and splice or missense mutations. Almost half of the NF1 patients carry a unique mutation found only in their specific family. Other mutations have been found in multiple unrelated families.

    Two searches

    From this complicated array of mutations and clinical symptoms, Messiaen and her colleagues have tried to answer two questions.

    First, can a particular mutation be correlated with the symptoms that will develop as the child grows? This is called a genotype/phenotype (DNA/symptoms) correlation, and only two have previously been found for neurofibromatosis type 1.

    “It’s important for people to know what may happen,” Messiaen said. “When a child is born with neurofibromatosis type 1, café-au-lait spots appear very shortly after birth; but other problems, more specifically the development of skin neurofibromas, typically appear around puberty. If a genotype/phenotype correlation exists for a particular mutation, it will help these families have some perspective of what the future will bring, and it will help families cope with the disease. If it is a mutation that takes away the heavy tumor burden at puberty, that information will relieve families, even though learning disabilities may still appear.”

    The second question for Messiaen and UAB postdoctoral trainee Meng-Chang “Jack” Hsiao, UAB Department of Genetics, is whether they could identify the likely mechanism that caused a group of mutations in which the DNA has been rearranged to create mix-ups that make the gene longer or shorter.

    Each question requires meticulous research. One means reaching out to patients, families and referring physicians around the nation and the world. The other is a molecular genetic detective story, pursued in the UAB lab.

    Messiaen and Meng-Chang "Jack" Hsiao are exploring the mechanisms behind the mutations seen in neurofibromatosis type 1.

    Seeking a correlation

    For the first question, Messiaen last year led a group of 74 researchers and clinicians from 58 centers in the discovery of just the third genotype/phenotype correlation ever found for neurofibromatosis type 1. They looked at 136 individuals who all had a missense mutation in the arginine moiety of neurofibromin, the protein encoded by the NF1 gene, at amino acid position 1,809. These mutations are the second-most-frequent ones seen in the UAB collection.

    To look for a correlation, the team had to gather detailed clinical symptomatic information for each of the neurofibromatosis patients, from patients, families, referral physicians and researchers in 24 U.S. states and Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom, India, Israel and Spain.

    In a paper published in the journal Human Mutation last year, they found that these patients have a distinct phenotype, Messiaen says. They had the café-au-lait marks, with or without the skin-fold freckling and Lisch eye nodules. But the patients did not develop the visible, disfiguring neurofibromas on their skin around puberty. However, there was a higher prevalence of blood flow obstruction from the heart to the lungs and a short stature. More than half had developmental delays and/or learning disabilities.

    Messiaen is calling for international collaboration to expand the study to a total of 250 mutations, which will provide the statistical power needed for patient case management by doctors. And in the next few years, she will focus on finding more genotype/phenotype correlations for other specific mutations.

    "If a genotype/phenotype correlation exists for a particular mutation, it will help these families have some perspective of what the future will bring, and it will help families cope with the disease."

    "If a genotype/phenotype correlation exists for a particular mutation, it will help these families have some perspective of what the future will bring, and it will help families cope with the disease."

    Chasing molecular clues

    For the second question, Hsiao, Messiaen and colleagues looked at NF1 copy-number variations — where the mutant gene is either longer or shorter than a normal NF1 gene — from 85 unrelated neurofibromatosis type 1 patients, along with two previously published copy-number variations. Ten of these were partial duplications within the NF1 gene, and 77 were deletions. Hsiao looked for specific nucleotide breakpoints in these variants — the places where the duplication or deletion begins or ends — that would be clues to how the changes occurred.

    The methods to examine these mutant genes include multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification, array comparative genomic hybridization, breakpoint-spanning PCR and sequencing.

    “The most difficult challenge is to see how the rearrangements happen,” Hsiao said. “It’s really difficult to decipher.”

    In a paper published in The American Journal of Human Genetics last year, Hsiao found that DNA replication-based mechanisms — such as fork stalling and template switching, and microhomology-mediated break-induced replication — as well as serial replication stalling appear to be the major causes of the NF1 copy-number variants. In one complicated rearrangement, the DNA replication appeared to have stalled five times, with the stalled DNA strand then either invading forward or invading backward into another part of the NF1 gene. Hsiao also found that the mutant genes showed rearrangement hotspots that included one palindromic sequence and four Alu elements. Alu elements are short primate-specific repeats in the DNA; the human genome contains about 1 million copies of various Alu elements that make up almost 11 percent of the genome.

    Two sides to the research

    Messiaen says the two recent papers are “nice companions.”

    “They show two sides of research aspects of this laboratory,” she said. “One digs deeper into the mechanism of specific types of mutation, and one contributes to genotype/phenotype correlation.”

  • 2016 Darwin Day commemorates Charles Darwin’s birthday, showcases scientific research
    Poster sessions and guest lecturers aim to celebrate Darwin’s legacy.

    To honor the 207th birthday of legendary evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, the University of Alabama at Birmingham will host its annual Darwin Day on Thursday, Feb. 11, and Friday, Feb. 12. The events will celebrate scientific research in evolutionary biology and other disciplines.

    The event is co-hosted by UAB’s departments of Anthropology and Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

    “Charles Darwin’s great discovery, the principle of natural selection, is more relevant to science than ever before,” said Steven Austad, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biology. “For instance, it underlies our increasing success in cancer chemotherapy, provides guidance in combating new strains of drug-resistant diseases, and will ultimately determine how catastrophic climate change will prove to be for our planet.”

    A panel discussion exploring evolution, belief and education will kick off this year’s Darwin Day events in Lister Hill Library’s Edge of Chaos.The panel, which will be led by guest speakers Elisabetta Palagi, Ph.D., a behavioral biologist from the Natural History Museum University of Pisa in Italy, and Josh Rosenau, an evolutionary biologist from the National Center for Science Education, will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. on Feb. 11. Lee Meadows, Ph.D., from UAB’s School of Education, and Marshall Abrams, Ph.D., a philosophy professor in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences, will also be panelists for this discussion.

    Following the panel, students and faculty will present a public poster session highlighting exciting new research from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the Edge of Chaos. Those interested in presenting a poster should send an email to darwinday@uab.edu with their name, department, poster title, and indication of whether they are a student, postdoc or faculty.

    “Anthropologists and other students of science today will be well-served by striving to emulate Darwin’s objectivity, meticulous attention to detail and appreciation for complexity during the practice of science.”

    On Thursday evening, Darwin Day activities will continue with a reception followed by a talk by Rosenau. Rosenau’s lecture, “The Impact of Darwin in Everyday Life,” will begin at 7 p.m. following the 6 p.m. reception at the McWane Science Center and is open to the public.  

    Darwin Day will continue on Friday, Feb. 12, from 4 to 5 p.m., with a lecture from Palagi. Palagi’s talk, “The Strategic Functions of Play: Modality and Communication,” will be held in Heritage Hall, Room 104.

    “The approach of Charles Darwin represents the scientific endeavor at its best wherein data and reasoning interact to elucidate the natural world,” said Doug Fry, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Anthropology. “Anthropologists and other students of science today will be well-served by striving to emulate Darwin’s objectivity, meticulous attention to detail and appreciation for complexity during the practice of science.”

    Refreshments and drinks will be provided at all events, and Darwin Day T-shirts will be on sale as well. For more information about the events, email darwinday@uab.edu.

    Sponsors for the 2016 Darwin Day include the UAB Honors College and the Endowment for the John S. Jemison, Jr., Visiting Professorship in the Humanities.

  • How obesity makes memory go bad
    UAB researchers find that epigenetic changes associated with chronic obesity alter expression of memory-related genes in the brain.

    J. David Sweatt, Ph.D.University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are probing how obesity makes memory goes bad, and the underlying molecular mechanism that drives this decline.

    They have found that epigenetic changes dysregulate memory-associated genes, and a particular enzyme in brain neurons of the hippocampus appears to be a link between chronic obesity and cognitive decline. Their work is published in the Jan. 27 issue of Journal of Neuroscience.

    Obesity plagues developed nations, and among the numerous negative health outcomes associated with obesity is a memory impairment that is seen in middle-aged and older obese people. The cause of this decline? Experiments with obese rodents have given a clue: altered gene expression in the hippocampus area of the brain. Until now, the reasons gene expression was changed, as well as the mechanism by which obesity leads to pathogenic memory impairment, have not been known.

    There was one suspect: epigenetic dysregulation in neurons of the hippocampus. Foundational experiments over the past decade have linked the creation of long-term memories to changes in DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation — changes caused by epigenetic mechanisms that sit above the level of the genes.

    Such lasting molecular changes to DNA appear to play an important role in promoting or suppressing memory formation through their ability to increase or reduce the expression of genes that help brain neurons create new synaptic connections.

    UAB researchers have now shown that epigenetic changes are indeed associated with changes in the expression of memory-associated genes within the hippocampus of obese mice, and these epigenetic changes correlate with diminished object location spatial memory in the obese mice. The UAB researchers have also implicated reduced amounts of one particular memory-associated gene product — SIRT1 — as the principal pathogenic cause of obesity-induced memory impairment. The hippocampus subregion of the brain is important for consolidation of long-term memory.

    Obesity and cognitive decline

    Evidence that suggests a link between the two includes:

    • People aged 40-45 who were obese had a 74 percent increased risk of dementia 21 years later; and those who were overweight had a 35 percent greater risk. This study cohort had 10,276 men and women. Whitmer, RA, et al., BMJ 2005.
    • A study of 2,223 healthy workers found that a higher body-mass index was associated with lower cognitive scores, after adjustment for age, sex, educational level, blood pressure, diabetes and other co-variables. Also, a higher BMI at baseline was associated with higher cognitive decline at a follow-up five years later. Cournot, M., et al., Neurology 2006.
    • Metabolic syndrome in 73 people with an average age of 60 was associated with significant reductions in recall and overall intellectual functioning, compared with age- and education-matched controls. Hassenstab, J.J., et al., Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 2010.
    • A study of 8,534 twin individuals who were 65 or older showed that being overweight or obese at mid-life, with an average age of 43, was related to later dementia at the older age. Xu, W.L., et al., Neurology 2011.

    Corresponding author J. David Sweatt, Ph.D., first author Frankie D. Heyward, Ph.D., and colleagues in the UAB Department of Neurobiology, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, write that these data “provide the first evidence that high-fat-diet-induced obesity leads to the time-dependent development of aberrant epigenetic modifications within the hippocampus, as well as corresponding reduction in the expression of various memory-related genes.”

    Sweatt noted, “We feel this is a very exciting finding that identifies a new linkage between diet, epigenetics and cognitive function, especially in light of the burgeoning obesity epidemic in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

    This work, they write, “offers a novel working model that may serve as a conceptual basis for the development of therapeutic interventions for obesity-induced memory impairment.”

    In details about the cause of altered gene expression, the UAB researchers found that:

    • Mice with diet-induced obesity at 20 weeks had impaired performance in object location memory tests, and their hippocampus had impaired synaptic plasticity, as measured by long-term potentiation.
    • Four memory-associated genes — Ppargc1a, Ppp1cb, Reln and Sirt1 — showed significantly decreased gene expression at 23 weeks of diet-induced obesity, as has been seen before, and the latter three had significantly increased DNA methylation in their gene promoter regions. Increased methylation is known to decrease gene expression. Furthermore, the Sirt1 promoter region also had significantly decreased DNA hydroxymethylation. Gene expression increases or decreases as DNA hydroxymethylation increases or decreases.
    • Obesity-induced memory impairment develops over time. At just 13 weeks of diet-induced obesity, seven weeks earlier than the experiments above, mice did not have significant object location memory impairment, and at 16 weeks of diet-induced obesity, also seven weeks earlier than above, none of the genes showed significant increases in DNA methylation. Only one gene at 16 weeks — Ppargc1a — showed significant decreases in gene expression and DNA hydroxymethylation.

    To probe the mechanism by which obesity leads to pathogenic memory impairment, the UAB researchers focused on the gene Sirt1, which makes an enzyme that is active in the neuron during energy expenditure and fat mobilization. This enzyme appears to be depleted and dysfunctional in obesity, and the deletion of the Sirt1 gene in the brain shortly after birth is known to impair memory and the ability to form new neural synapses. These roles for the SIRT1 gene product — in both high-fat-diet-induced molecular pathology and in memory impairment — suggest that it might be a link between chronic obesity and cognitive decline.

    Frankie Heyward, Ph.D.Heyward, Sweatt and colleagues found that the hippocampus of obese mice had significantly diminished protein expression of SIRT1, and a substrate of the enzyme, acetlylated-p53, was significantly increased, suggesting reduced enzymatic activity. Also, a targeted deletion of Sirt1 in the forebrain region that includes the hippocampus at age 8-12 weeks showed decreased Sirt1 mRNA and protein in the hippocampus, and these mice showed impaired object-location memory when tested two weeks later.

    Furthermore, chemical activation of SIRT1 in diet-induced obese mice by feeding them resveratrol showed decreased levels of acetylated-p53, suggesting increased SIRT1 enzymatic activity, and the resveratrol-fed obese mice had a normal object-location memory, as compared with the control obese mice. The resveratrol-fed obese mice did not show an enhanced memory compared with normal mice. This suggests that resveratrol preserved their hippocampus-dependent spatial memory and SIRT1 function in the hippocampus.

    Besides Heyward and Sweatt, co-authors of the paper, “Obesity weighs down memory through a mechanism involving the neuroepigenetic dysregulation of Sirt1,” are Daniel Gilliam, Mark Coleman, Cristin Gavin, Ph.D., Jing Wang, Ph.D., Garrett Kaas, Ph.D., Richard Trieu, John Lewis and Jerome Moulden, all of the UAB Department of Neurobiology.

    Heyward is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, the Broad Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. While at UAB, Heyward was supported by a UNCF/Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship that helps train and develop African-American biomedical scientists.

    About 10 years ago, Sweatt’s lab made the seminal discovery that everyday experiences tap into epigenetic mechanisms in subregions of the brain, and the resulting epigenetic changes in DNA are critically important for long-term memory formation and the stable storage of long-term memory. The 2007 Neuron paper “Covalent modification of DNA regulates memory formation,” by Courtney Miller, Ph.D., and Sweatt, was the first to show that active regulation of the chemical structure of DNA is involved in learning and experience-driven changes in the brain.

    This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants T32HL105349, MH57014, P60DK079626 and P30DK56336. The T32 pre-doctoral fellow grant to Heyward from the UAB Nutrition and Obesity Research Center supported his training in the biological basis of obesity.

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UAB Research News

  • Spain Rehab Women’s Committee hosts ‘Firefly’ fundraiser
    The Women’s Committee of the Spain Rehabilitation Center will host its signature benefit and Valentine’s Day celebration, “The Firefly,” on Saturday, Feb. 13, at The Florentine at 6 p.m.

    The Women’s Committee of the Spain Rehabilitation Center will host its signature benefit and Valentine’s Day celebration, “The Firefly,” on Saturday, Feb. 13, at The Florentine at 6 p.m.

    This year, the committee will honor former patients Kelly Garner and Ryan Robinett.

    Garner is an author, inspirational speaker and community leader. Following a near-death experience and extraordinary recovery, he wrote the book “The Night That Changed Our Lives.” Garner’s book was inspired primarily by his experience during the massive January 2014 snowstorm in Birmingham.

    Garner became familiar to many in the Birmingham area as the Good Samaritan during the storm when he offered assistance to stranded motorists and was injured after falling 40 feet off a cliff into a ravine. He spent over 12 hours in single-digit temperatures before a neighborhood rescue party located him early the next morning. He survived the fall but suffered shattered vertebrae and fell into a severe diabetic hypoglycemic state. Some doubted  he would ever walk again; but after numerous surgeries and rigorous rehabilitation at the Spain Rehabilitation Center, he has beaten the odds. Just a year after this incident, he completed the Mercedes half marathon. His surgical team was so inspired by his story that they ran the race with him.

    A native of Birmingham, Robinett serves as the managing director of Computer Technology Solutions’ Birmingham Operations. Ryan received his MBA from the UAB.

    Robinett was introduced to Spain’s Research and Rehabilitation programs in 2014 after experiencing a sudden onset of neurologic issues. Over the course of 16 months, his ability to walk deteriorated significantly. He has since made a full recovery following intense physical rehabilitation at Spain, is medicine-free and has been granted full medical release.

    Throughout his medical trials, Robinett has been an advocate and partner of UAB research, especially focusing on demyelinating diseases. He is an advocate of innovative ways to improve current rehabilitation methods, particularly involving neuro-physical rehabilitation. 

    To make a donation, please contact Catherine Newhouse.

  • Raise some dough for Pediatric Heart Transplant Study Foundation
    Enjoy great pizza and help raise some dough for the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study Foundation at Slice Birmingham.

    On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study Foundation will host a fundraiser at Slice Birmingham.

    Dine in or take out for lunch, dinner or anytime in between and 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the PHTS Foundation to help improve the outcomes and quality of life for children who are awaiting or have received a heart transplant.

    Participants must print or display this ticket at the time of purchase for the PHTS Foundation to receive credit.

    The goals of the PHTS are to establish and maintain an international database for heart transplantation, to use the database to encourage and stimulate basic and clinical research

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