UAB Magazine Online Features
Meet UAB's Class of 2017
By Matt Windsor
The fall semester always brings fresh faces to campus, but this year's UAB freshman class was one for the record books. There are 1,773 students in the Class of 2017, a 5.8 percent increase over 2012 and an all-time high for the university. The boom in baby Blazers has also pushed on-campus housing to capacity, with 69.1 percent of freshmen now living on campus—another record total. Digging into the demographics reveals increases among in-state students, out-of-state students, and international students.
There was also a gain in students from Jefferson County, due in part to a new partnership between UAB and Birmingham City Schools that encouraged students such as Angela Roper, a freshman with an interest in nursing, to stay in their hometown for higher education.
"I researched the nursing program and loved the atmosphere when I visited UAB Hospital," Roper says. She also gives high marks to the Blazing Start program, part of the UAB-Birmingham City Schools partnership, which includes dedicated advising and mentoring for incoming freshmen. "It's a great program to be part of if success is a part of your future," she says.
Roper and the rest of the Class of 2017 will see plenty of changes to campus during the next four years, including a new student center, residence hall, and health and wellness facility. But this group is looking to make some changes of its own—on campus, in Birmingham, and around the world. Meet a few of the new faces:
UAB Alumnus Revolutionizes Tuberculosis Research
By Meghan Davis
Bill Jacobs cracked one of the great problems in infectious disease research using a mathematician's heart, a molecular biologist's training, and a helpful handful of dirt.
Jacobs, a professor of immunology, microbiology, and genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, earned one of the top honors in American science when he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. He won the honor, in part, for identifying new ways to target tuberculosis, which is still one of the world's great public health threats. But Jacobs, who earned his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology at UAB in 1985, says it all might not have happened apart from a fateful letter to Birmingham.
While studying math at Edinboro State College near Erie, Pennsylvania (actress Sharon Stone was a classmate), Jacobs took a microbiology course that sparked his interest. He applied to several microbiology graduate programs, but few even bothered to answer his inquiry letters. Then Roy Curtiss, Ph.D., founder of UAB's molecular cell biology graduate program, invited him to Birmingham for an interview and tour.
"I told Roy that I didn't know much biology," Jacobs says. "And he told me, 'There is no sin in being ignorant. The sin is to remain ignorant.' I decided that from that day forward, I wasn't going to be ashamed to ask questions in seminars."
Jacobs says he still uses Curtiss's quote to encourage his own students.
UAB Psychiatrist Reaches Out to Mothers, Children in Africa
By Matt Windsor
UAB Department of Psychiatry who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at UAB and Children's Hospital of Alabama. "I wanted to do that."As a boy, Tolu Aduroja, M.D., M.P.H., longed for the days when he got to go to work with his mother, an obstetric nurse at the hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. "I saw patients give birth and the joy on their faces, and I just loved it," says Aduroja, an associate professor in the
Aduroja graduated from medical school at the University of Ibadan and began work as a general practitioner, but love brought him to the United States in 1997. His wife, a pharmacist who was born in the U.S. and moved to Nigeria as a high schooler, had a great job offer in Atlanta. Aduroja took the opportunity to expand his horizons. "When I came to the U.S., my mind was made up that I wanted to work with people," he says.
He began a medical residency in psychiatry in Atlanta while starting a master's degree in public health at UAB. "The courses were offered on the weekend, so I would shuttle back and forth between Atlanta and Birmingham," Aduroja says. He eventually moved to Birmingham to complete a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at UAB, joining the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry in 2005, the same year he received his master's degree in public health.
Joy drew Aduroja to the medical profession, but pain brings him back to Nigeria. "You have to have money to get health care in Nigeria," he says. "People know something is wrong, but they don't do anything about it until it is too late."
A Strong Start for At-Risk Moms and Babies
By Christina Crowe and Matt Windsor
Drummonds recently visited UAB to deliver the 2013 Ann Dial McMillan Endowed Lecture in Family and Child Health in the UAB School of Public Health. He shared lessons from his group's successful efforts to improve the health of mothers and infants in central Harlem. (Learn more about the NMPP's success and Drummond's call to action at UAB in this related article.) "Mom's health," Drummonds says, is "always secondary. Part of our job is to make her health, as well as the overall health of the household, primary."
Maternal and child health is a major challenge in Alabama. "High rates of premature birth, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and substance abuse plague our state," says Joseph Biggio, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the UAB Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine. But thanks to a major grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, UAB can now offer intensive help to mothers and babies with the greatest needs.
The goal of the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative is to identify the best ways to prevent significant, long-term health problems for high-risk pregnant women and newborns enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program. In addition to UAB, 26 organizations across the United States are taking part in the Strong Start initiative.
Alabama's Medicaid Maternity Care Program currently does not provide non-medical social services to promote healthy living and reduce poor pregnancy outcomes. UAB's four-year, $730,000 Strong Start grant will address that gap by enhancing services offered at UAB clinics in and around Jefferson County. It includes enhanced screening for substance abuse, including illicit drugs as well as tobacco; social support for women with domestic issues such as income or domestic violence; screening for depression; and nutrition and dietary counseling.