UAB Magazine Online Features
A Meditation on Preservation
By Charles Buchanan
In the face of 500 years of change, one face has remained the same. Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the Angel for the “Madonna of the Rocks” still looks as youthful and fresh as the day she was sketched, her alluring gaze free of crease or blemish.
The angel owes her clear complexion to progress in preservation, a specialty that blends art and science in a manner that would impress Leonardo himself. And while preservation was once the province of curators and archivists alone, today it is a crucial facet of many fields, including research, health care, and information management. An increasingly digitized society requires that agelessness extend to patient records, spreadsheets, and family photos, along with humankind’s greatest masterworks.
UAB's Raceway Rescue Squad
By Tyler Greer
Down at Birmingham's Barber Motorsports Park, where professional Porsche, Mustang, and superbike racers come out to play each summer, a group of UAB medical volunteers is on hand in case of emergency. In this audio slideshow, sports medicine specialist Drew Ferguson offers a behind-the-scenes look at the UAB Infield Care Center.
A New Way of Looking at Disease
By Jo Lynn Orr
The next time you reach into the medicine cabinet for some instant relief, you might want to take a moment to reconsider the long-term consequences. “When we get sick, our first inclination is to take a pill to make the symptoms go away, but that might not be the healthiest thing to do,” says UAB biologist David Kraus, Ph.D. Taking acetaminophen to reduce a fever, for example, tampers with “a highly coordinated set of physiological responses that allows our body temperature to rise in order to fight infection from foreign invaders like bacteria,” says Kraus. “If we reduce the fever, we are inhibiting finely tuned, evolved mechanisms that are useful for our health.”
These mechanisms are not restricted to fever—or disease, for that matter. The complex relationship between human health and evolutionary processes—generally studied under the name “evolutionary medicine”—has become a hot topic among scientists in a host of disciplines. Students are catching on, too. Kraus and fellow UAB biologist Jeannette Doeller, Ph.D., who are husband and wife, developed a popular course on evolutionary medicine in the Schools of Public Health and Natural Sciences and Mathematics that has seen enrollment soar from 25 students in 2003 to 150 last year.
Designing a Bridge That Lasts
By Grant Martin
America’s infrastructure is decaying. That fact was made painfully clear in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed the levees in New Orleans, and again in 2007, when a major Interstate bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others. Unlike the levee breaches in New Orleans, there were no extraordinary conditions on that August day—just normal, everyday traffic flow.
The cause of the I-35 tragedy was eventually traced to under-designed gusset plates. These plates, which connect truss members, were only half as thick as they should have been, based on the codes and specifications in use when the bridge was built in the 1960s. But if a 40-year-old bridge in a large metropolitan area could suddenly fail, what does that say about the hundreds of thousands of other bridges in the United States that are the same age and older?