The Buzz About Chikungunya
How the emerging virus arrived in America—and how UAB will help fight itBy Charles Buchanan • Illustrations by Ron Gamble and Laura Hannah
Don’t blame chickens for chikungunya, the virus making headlines for its spread in the United States in 2014. Rather, its winged carriers include mosquitoes and a far more effective disease distributor: air passengers.
At the beginning of August 2014, the 50 states were reporting nearly 400 cases of the disease, from Maine to Florida to Hawaii, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The CDC has not officially counted any suspected cases in Alabama.) Nearly all of those cases were unfortunate souvenirs picked up by visitors to the Caribbean, where the disease jumped from zero cases before October 2013 to an estimated 300,000 today.
Building the Car of Tomorrow
Mechatronics and the Future of the Auto IndustryBy Todd Dills
Alabama has become an unlikely leader in the automotive industry, with manufacturing plants from Mercedes, Honda, and Hyundai producing the latest SUVs, minivans, and sedans. Meanwhile, at the UAB School of Engineering, Vladimir Vantsevich, Ph.D., Sc.D., and his students are working on the next generation of vehicles.
Researcher Explores the Problems of PainBy Nancy Mann Jackson
Burel R. Goodin, Ph.D., traces his interest in pain back to his days as an outside linebacker for the Illinois College Blueboys. Early in one game, a fellow linebacker hurt his arm in a tackle, but he shook off the sting and stayed on the field. It wasn’t until after the final whistle blew that the injured teammate discovered he had a compound fracture in his arm.
“One of the bones in my friend’s forearm was broken, but he finished the whole game before getting any pain meds or medical attention,” says Goodin, a clinical health psychologist and director of the UAB Biobehavioral Pain Research Lab. “How did he not appreciate that he was in any significant pain until after the game?” That question, and others like it, launched Goodin on a search for answers.
By Matt Windsor • Illustrations by Tim Rocks and Jessica Huffstutler
In some ways, America’s obesity problem has the simplest of solutions. If we could reduce the calories in our diets and increase the time we spend exercising, we could virtually guarantee ourselves longer lives and billions in health-care savings.
But that’s a big “if.” Despite persistent public health messages, physicians’ warnings, and other outreach efforts in recent years, Americans are heavier than ever. Fresh ideas are desperately needed. Dozens of UAB research teams are engaged in the search for answers, exploring everything from new motivational techniques to a field-ready tool for measuring body fat. Learn more about four of these investigators and their big ideas: