UAB Magazine Online Features
UAB Researchers Focus On New Clues to Macular Degeneration
By Bob Shepard
Christine Curcio has studied age-related eye diseases throughout her 28-year career as an eye researcher.
Oversized phone dials. Magnifiers. Little tricks with peripheral vision. There are many ways to cope with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). Unfortunately, one of the most popular is denial.
“Half of my new patients at the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation want me to make them a new pair of glasses so they can go home and have everything the way it was before,” says UAB optometrist Dawn DeCarlo, O.D., the center’s director. “Many patients have no idea what ARMD really means.”
For a long time, even researchers didn’t know a great deal about this devastating condition. And even though they’ve made progress in recent years, they still face some maddening blind spots. The disease, as its name implies, is associated with aging, and it gradually destroys sharp, central vision. ARMD comes in two forms: wet and dry. The wet form, which affects about 15 percent of those with ARMD, leads to more severe vision loss, but its cause is reasonably well understood. In a process called neovascularization, abnormal blood vessels behind the retina grow into the macula, the center of the retina. These blood vessels can rupture and leak, damaging the macula by separating it from the rest of the retina. The good news is that there are new medications, called anti-VEGF drugs, that are extremely effective in treating the wet form of the disease.
Innovative UAB Course Gives Students Roles of a Lifetime
By Tyler Greer
Andrew Keitt (right) encourages students to play active roles in history's great debates.
What thoughts raced through Galileo’s mind when he first trained his telescope skyward and saw the craters of the moon? How did he, a devout Catholic, feel when his insistence that the Earth revolves around the Sun brought him into direct conflict with the Church? And just what was it about that hypothesis that troubled church leaders so deeply?
UAB historian Andrew Keitt, Ph.D., knows the answers to these questions. And it would be easy for him to stand up in front of his classroom and share them in a standard lecture. But for the past several semesters, Keitt has been experimenting with a different way of teaching—a form of time travel called Reacting to the Past, in which students live ideas, rather than memorize them.
UAB Sculptor Builds a Masterpiece
UAB Uses Nutrition Science to Fight AIDS in AfricaBy Tara Hulen
As medical mysteries go, this one is particularly heartbreaking. Several years ago, UAB clinicians began a large-scale program to bring lifesaving antiretroviral therapy to Zambia. But to their surprise, the same wonder drugs that revolutionized AIDS treatment in the United States produced untoward side effects in Africa.
Scientists at UAB’s Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), which administers the program, were perplexed. “In the first 90 days, an unexpectedly large number of patients die after the drugs are started,” says Douglas Heimburger, M.D., a researcher and professor in nutrition sciences and medicine at UAB. “But if they can get through the first 90 days, the patients’ mortality rates are very similar to patients on similar therapies in the United States.”