Easier to Swallow
The original prototype of Basil Hirschowitz's fiber-optic endoscope is now in the Smithsonian Institution.
For patients in the 1950s and earlier, endoscopy must have felt something like sword swallowing. Back then, endoscopes—the illuminated devices that allow physicians to peer inside the body’s cavities—were straight, rigid, and metal. But in 1954, Basil I. Hirschowitz, M.D., threw the field a curve, adapting the new technology of fiber optics to create a flexible endoscope that offered a better view for physicians and more comfort for patients. He brought the revolutionary device to Birmingham in 1959, perfecting it and utilizing it regularly for the first time at University Hospital. In the half-century since, Hirschowitz’s endoscope has completely changed how physicians around the world diagnose and treat patients, becoming the standard tool for visualizing virtually every body cavity.
Outracing an Epidemic
Members of the Diabetes Trust Fund board at the groundbreaking ceremony for UAB's diabetes hospital in 1970.
In 1973, UAB opened the first public, university-affiliated diabetes hospital in the United States. Today, Birmingham is still the place to find the latest ideas in diabetes research and care. UAB’s Comprehensive Diabetes Center brings together researchers whose discoveries are paving the way for new treatments—and, potentially, a cure. The center’s work is especially important as the diabetes epidemic continues to grow in Alabama, which has the nation’s fourth highest rate of the disease.
Last year the National Institutes of Health designated UAB as one of only six Diabetes Research and Training Centers (DRTC) in the country. UAB’s DRTC concentrates on metabolic and vascular research, which is essential to preventing and controlling diabetes and its complications.
This week, UAB Magazine's special 40th anniversary issue looks at genes (and Genes) in all of their many forms and functions, including:
• a coach who outfoxed his opponents on the court;
• gene therapists who are faking out cancer with custom-made viruses;
• scientists who beat the herpes virus at its own game;
• researchers who are crushing cystic fibrosis by repairing and replacing broken genes; and
• dentists who fended off back pain and fatigue with a new approach to patient care.
The online edition of UAB Magazine also has several exclusive features, including a new photo gallery of classic memories from UAB Archives, UAB's first viral video and future predictions from a panel of UAB experts.
Check back each weekday from now through November 16 as we unveil new breakthroughs and other exclusive online content.