UAB Magazine Online Archive
How Dogs Could Help Humans Fight Cancer—and Vice Versa
By Charles Buchanan
Man's best friend can fetch, sit, and roll over. Now dogs may be about to perform their greatest trick: helping humans fight cancer—while treatments originally developed for humans are helping dogs that are suffering from the disease.
Examinations of genetic-based canine diseases reveal that 58 percent or more are comparable to human diseases, says UAB neurosurgeon—and veterinarian—Renee Chambers, D.V.M., M.D. "Investigating naturally occurring canine brain tumors provides a unique opportunity" to advance cancer research, she says.
Three years ago, Chambers began the process of turning that insight into a full-fledged research program. Now, thanks to a grant from the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chambers and her colleagues have begun analyzing naturally occurring brain tumors in pet dogs as part of the Alabama Comparative Oncology Network.
Previous research has shown that canine brain tumors known as gliomas spring from chromosomal mutations that may also be the source of glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant human brain tumor with a low survival rate. The canine and human tumors also occur at similar rates in both populations, and they share common patterns of progression and response to treatment.
Alumni Profile: Margaret Moseley
By Grant Martin
For a time, Margaret Moseley lived a secret life. But after appearing in television commercials, movies, print ads, calendars and on the covers and pullout sections of several magazines —as well as spending the past four seasons as a cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons—it’s safe to say her secret is out.
In truth, Moseley’s “secret life” lasted only a few hours. While still a senior at UAB, she left town in the predawn hours of an April day in 2008 to try out for the Falcons cheerleading squad. Once she got through initial rounds, however, the secret became too much for her to carry. “When I made it through the first two cuts, I called my mom,” she says. “Of course, she was thrilled. Both my parents have been very supportive.”
Before leaving town that morning, Moseley wasn’t sure that would be the case. After spending the previous two years totally immersed in campus life at UAB, the marketing major and member of the UAB Golden Girls dance team was looking forward to the challenge of starting over in a new place, but her family wasn’t so certain. “My parents wanted me to wait for a year and figure out what I wanted to do,” Moseley says. “I was active in so many different things at UAB—marketing chair on the homecoming committee, chair of the school’s talent show, and captain of the Golden Girls, plus I worked part-time. My parents were worried about how I would adjust to moving out of state where I didn’t know anyone.”
They didn’t need to worry. Soon after moving to Atlanta, Moseley connected with the Xcel Talent Agency, which helped her land various modeling and dancing auditions. Today, she puts her business marketing degree to work as the talent director for Xcel, which represents actors, choreographers, and dancers who tour with artists such as Beyoncé, Usher, and Taylor Swift. “We’re a boutique agency that places dancers in many different kinds of productions,” Moseley says. “Some of them are on world tours with different performers or productions, and with the city booming in the entertainment industry, we are able to do a lot of work with commercials and movies filming in Atlanta.”
Examining Physicians’ Roles in Film and Fiction
By Matt Windsor
Not many professors of medicine get to teach a course starring Cary Grant—and Sinclair Lewis. But the Doctor in Film, Fiction, and History is no ordinary class.
Each fall, H. Hughes Evans, M.D., Ph.D., the chair of the Department of Medical Education at the UAB School of Medicine, offers busy students the chance to put down their textbooks in favor of novels and popular films. Evans’s class is one of a growing number of Special Topics courses developed by faculty members at the School of Medicine; the weeklong courses are offered to students four times per year. Entertainment is not the object, however; Evans’s curriculum is designed to help students learn what society—that is, their future patients—expects from them as doctors.
“It’s easy to forget what it is like to be a patient,” says fourth-year student Erinn Schmit. “I thought this would be a good way to learn a little bit about my patients’ perspectives on what a doctor’s role should be.”
Radio Dramas Tell Public Health Stories
By Jo Lynn Orr
Serialized melodramas—called soaps or soap operas because they once were sponsored by soap and detergent manufacturers—have been a popular staple of American broadcasting since the 1930s, first on radio and then television. Soaps resonate with audiences because they feature a permanent cast of characters who grapple with the types of challenging family and health problems that most people confront at some point in their lives. They also rely on the five Cs of a good story—character, change, crisis, choice, and consequences—which keeps audiences tuning in to find out how events are unfolding.
Because of their broad audience appeal, some public health experts have adopted the soap-opera format as a vehicle for communicating important health messages to targeted audiences. One UAB researcher, Connie Kohler, Dr.P.H., a professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the School of Public Health, teamed with Media for Health, a nonprofit entertainment-education organization in Birmingham, to create a radio drama that targeted the African-American community with important health messages about nutrition, coping with stress, and confronting diabetes and heart disease—two chronic diseases that disproportionately affect blacks. Called BodyLove, which also was the name of the beauty salon where the action took place, the award-winning soap first aired in 2003 on WJLD in Birmingham and ran for more than five years.