Derek HuffmanThe Midwest. The Deep South. The Northeast. For Derek Huffman, a 2007 graduate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s  Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences program, no distance is too great when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge.

Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri, Huffman now works as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY. He’s also the Principal Investigator of a lab dedicated to studying the interplay between aging, metabolism, and cancer. “We hope to identify strategies to delay the onset of disease,” he says. “There is an enormous amount of data now to support the importance of diet, physical activity and body weight to susceptibility of age-related diseases, including cancer risk.”

Though he has studied in many states, Huffman insists that the UAB School of Health Professions was vital to his career.

“This journey started in Missouri, but really flourished in Birmingham,” he says.