Historic Breakthroughs in Research and Clinical Care


UAB has been at the vanguard of scientific and medical discovery for decades. Here are but a few examples:

 

AIDs researchers

In May 2006, an international team of scientists led by UAB researchers discovered a crucial missing link in the search for the origin of HIV-1, the virus responsible for human AIDS. That missing link is the natural reservoir of the virus, which the team has found in wild-living chimpanzees in southern Cameroon.

 

The UAB Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) was the first to perform clinical trails of the protease inhibitor Indinavir (Crixivan), one of the first protease inhibitors used in the “triple drug cocktail” to fight HIV.


The journal Science named three UAB faculty, Drs. Michael Saag, George Shaw, and Beatrice Hahn, among the top 10 AIDS researchers in the country, and highlighted the AIDS research program at UAB in 1996.

 

Basil HirschowitzIn 1960, Dr. Basil Hirschowitz (right), former director of the UAB division of gastroenterology, was the first to explore the stomach with his invention, the fiber optic endoscope, the prototype of which is now in the Smithsonian Institution.

 

UAB researcher Dr. Max D. Cooper was the first to characterize B-cells as part of the human immune system. He also was first to successfully treat SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency disease) with the transplant of fetal liver cells.


Richard Whitley In 1977, Dr. Richard Whitley (left) administered a systemic antiviral for the treatment of the deadly HSV (herpes simplex virus) encephalitis, leading to the world’s first effective treatment for a viral disease.

UAB researchers were the first to discover the protein that led to the development of the now well-known drug Viagra, causing what some have called the second sexual revolution.

 

John W. Kirklin

UAB heart surgeon the late John W. Kirklin (right) developed a computerized intensive care unit that became a model for modern ICUs around the world. They help improve care and reduce complications. Kirklin initially gained fame by improving the safety and usefulness of the heart-lung bypass pump.

UAB was in the first handful of institutions to be designated by the National Institutes of Health as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. It is the only federally designated cancer center in Alabama and among the nation’s oldest. This means a wide range of research, education and clinical activities are available, and facilities and laboratories meet certain high standards.

Dentists UAB dentists were the first to develop the four-handed method of dentistry, where both a dentist and a hygienist treat a patient. Four-handed dentistry is now standard practice.

Several UAB researchers have been the first to develop animal models for the study of a variety of diseases, including lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and sickle cell disease.

Eric Sorscher Dr. Eric Sorscher (right) was the first researcher in the United States to implant a corrected gene into the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis using a lipid molecule delivery system.

The first simultaneous heart-kidney transplant in the Southeast was performed at UAB by Drs. David C. McGiffin and David Laskow in 1995.

OptometryIn August 1969, Dr. Henry B. Peters became the first dean of the School of Optometry, the nation’s first optometry school to be integrated into a medical center complex. The school is now one of the top optometry schools in the nation and still one of only three integrated into a medical center.

In 1987, the world’s first genetically engineered mouse-human monoclonal antibody was used at UAB Hospital in the treatment of cancer.


echocardiogram In 1984, UAB Hospital became the first hospital in the United States to use color Doppler echocardiography for visualizing internal cardiac structures.

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