UAB Experts Predict What’s Next in Their Fields
The Future of Neuroscience
“Brain regeneration is going to be a huge area: Once the brain is damaged, can you repair it? It seems like a crazy idea, but the brain develops in the first place, and if we can harness those methods, the information is there. It might involve stem cells; it might involve growth factors; it might involve things we haven’t figured out yet. Forty years is a long time in science.” Read more...
—David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center and vice chair of the UAB Department of Neurology
The Future of Bioethics
“Although the artificial womb has not yet been perfected, its development could change everything. Rather than being aborted at 24 weeks, a baby could be transferred to such a womb. But a successful artificial womb would raise even more ethical issues. For example, should courts transfer fetuses to such wombs from pregnant women who are unable to stop heavy drinking?” Read more...
—Gregory Pence, Ph.D., professor, UAB Department of Philosophy
The Future of the Doctor-Patient Relationship
“While I am one of a growing number of UAB physicians who currently use the university’s “Communicator” Internet portal to correspond with patients, soon video-mail will allow even greater access without physical office visits. The Internet will be a place doctors and patients meet on a more level playing field for the latest medical knowledge.
But whether through video or skin-to-skin encounters, the heart of a meaningful and productive doctor-patient relationship will be unchanged: compassionately attending our patients while keeping the person in focus.” Read more...
—Mark Stafford, M.D., professor, UAB Department of Medicine
The Future of Antarctica
“In 40 years, the peninsular Marr Glacier that once backed right up to the U.S. Palmer Research Station where we work will have continued to recede at an alarming pace.… the 15,000 breeding pairs of Adélie penguins that once lived within sight of Palmer Station will likely be gone.… the vast krill-consumers of the Antarctic Peninsula—the fish, sea birds, penguins, seals, and baleen whales—may have moved elsewhere.… But despite all this, there still remains hope. In 40 years, the seasonal hole in the ozone layer that encompasses the entire continent of Antarctica will have almost disappeared. Earth’s atmosphere, which protects the planet from deadly ultraviolet radiation from space, will be healed—the result of the 1989 Montreal Protocol.… Let’s hope that in 40 years humankind will be celebrating a similar effort in terms of a global cooperative to regulate greenhouse gases. If not, it may be too late for the delicate ecological balance of marine life along the Antarctic Peninsula.” Read more...
—Polar biologist James B. McClintock, Ph.D., Endowed University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology, UAB Department of Biology
The Future of Art
“In much the same way that musicians can now bypass the record industry and make their songs available to the public directly through the Internet, visual artists will not necessarily be beholden to galleries to be able to display and sell their creative work.… Art also will become even more public in the sense that it will be more accessible to anyone with the impulse to create.…That is not to say that any kid with Photoshop skills can be the next Ansel Adams—quite the contrary. But he already has knowledge of the tools. An education in art will help him to develop aesthetics, creativity, and content.” Read more...
—Erin Wright, chair, UAB Department of Art and Art History
The Future of Health Care
“In the long term, I think the whole health-care system is not really viable the way we’ve been operating it, with employer-based health insurance. It doesn’t make much sense considering the way the new job market is, and it leaves too many gaps for too many people. Once access to health care becomes a “middle-class problem,” then you will see a different kind of public policy response. I think we have to move back to managed-care. I think the Kaiser model is just going to be more and more attractive, both for quality of care and for cost reasons.” Read more...
— Janet Bronstein, Ph.D., professor, UAB Department of Health Care Organization and Policy