The address is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, October 29 at the UAB Alumni House.
During this year’s annual State of the University Address, hosted by the UAB Faculty Senate, President Ray L. Watts, M.D., will highlight UAB’s achievements during the past year and the ongoing strategic planning process.

The address is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, October 29 at the UAB Alumni House.

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New state network to advance women leaders in higher education launched at UAB
New state network to advance women leaders in higher education launched at UAB
The new Alabama Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education is part of the American Council on Education’s Women’s Network, a national system of state networks focused on advancing and supporting women in higher education.

ACE womenFrom left: Lisa Schwiebert, Shilpa Register, Wendy Gunther-Canada and Janelle ChiaseraA group of women at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is paying it forward with the creation of a state network committed to developing and advancing women leaders in higher education.

The new Alabama Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education is under the aegis of the American Council on Education and is part of the ACE Women’s Network, a national system of state networks focused on identifying, developing, encouraging, advancing, linking and supporting women in higher education. Together, these state networks benefit as many as 10,000 women a year, through statewide and regional network programming and opportunities.

The group officially launched in mid-May with the goal to help other Alabama women grow and develop. Plans are in the works for a session at UAB on Oct. 8.

Research data supports the need for networks focused on the development and advancement of women leaders because, while public perception is that people are overwhelmingly comfortable with women as leaders, only 26 percent of all college and university presidents are women, says founding member Janelle M. Chiasera, Ph.D., professor in the School of Health Professions and chair of the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.

“This issue is not unique to higher education; this is a common finding across all sectors, including business, film and television, journalism, law, the military, nonprofits, politics, religion, and sports,” Chiasera said.

The network’s additional founding members are:

Chiasera, Register, Synco, Gunther-Canada and Schwiebert are on the network’s board of directors. Most of the founding members are graduates of the UAB Executive Development program, which focuses on developing executive leaders in higher education. 

Established in 1977, the ACE Women’s Network is a state-based system of interlocking networks supported by campus presidents and designed to identify and support women’s leadership development in each state.

In its 2009 Benchmarking Women’s Leadership report, The White House Project recommended a critical mass of one-third or more women in leadership positions, claiming that this is essential for implementing and maintaining the changes recommended. In the 2013 report, women in leadership roles across 14 sectors were studied. This new study revealed that, across the 14 sectors, on average women held under 20 percent of leadership positions and earned just 78 percent of what their male counterparts earned. In academia, women represent only 29 percent of tenure-track positions at doctoral institutions, but outperform men, 56 percent to 44 percent, in national research awards and grants.

UAB President Ray L. Watts is a presidential sponsor of the group, as are Tony Waldrop, Ph.D., president of the University of South Alabama, and Vicky Hawsey Karolewics, Ed.D., president of Wallace State Community College. The group has also reached out to individuals at schools across the state to serve as institutional representatives. Michelle Behr, Ph.D., provost of Birmingham Southern, is the group’s first institutional representative.                       

Established in 1977, the ACE Women’s Network is a state-based system of interlocking networks supported by campus presidents and designed to identify and support women’s leadership development in each state.

Founded in 1918, the American Council on Education is the nation’s largest higher-education organization and represents the interests of more than 1,600 campus executives and 200 leaders of higher-education-related associations and organizations. Together, ACE member institutions serve 80 percent of today’s college students. In its role as the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher-education institutions, ACE provides leadership on key higher-education issues and influences public policy through advocacy, research and program initiatives.

UAB adds leading surgeon-scientist as head of Department of Surgery
UAB adds leading surgeon-scientist as head of Department of Surgery
Top physician-scientist tapped to succeed Kirby Bland as chair of the UAB Department of Surgery.

Written by Kendra Carter

Hherbert chenerbert Chen, M.D., an internationally recognized surgeon-scientist and medical educator, has been named chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and surgeon-in-chief of UAB Hospital.

Chen comes to UAB from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, where he is the Layton F. Rikkers, M.D., Chair in Surgical Leadership, chair of the Division of General Surgery, vice chair of Research for the Department of Surgery and professor in the departments of Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Pediatrics.

Chen will succeed longtime chair Kirby I. Bland, M.D., who will continue his surgical practice and research in the School of Medicine as he steps down from the top post after 16 years of leadership. Chen will officially join UAB on Oct. 1.

“The UAB Department of Surgery is nationally and internationally known as one of the best departments in the country, with strong clinical programs and a long history of making important contributions to the field,” Chen said. “This chance to come to Birmingham and lead is an incredible opportunity. Dr. Bland has done a fantastic job over the last 16 years, and it’s quite an honor to be following in his footsteps.”

The UAB Department of Surgery provides surgical care for the state of Alabama and beyond and has earned an international reputation for its unique blend of advanced medicine, excellent patient care and research. The department includes more than 160 faculty members and 108 residents and fellows.

Chen is a specialist in endocrine surgery, specifically in thyroid disease, hyperparathyroidism, adrenal neoplasms and neuroendocrine tumors. He is a principal investigator of 10 active grants, including those from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, American Cancer Society, and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Chen has mentored more than 100 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, residents, medical students and undergraduates in his lab. He has published more than 430 original research and review articles and has edited 12 textbooks.

“Dr. Chen is an outstanding academic surgeon in the fullest extent of the term,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president of Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “He is an accomplished clinician, researcher and educator, and I look forward to working with him to build on the legacy of the prior department leaders.”

A native of Wisconsin, Chen received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and began his medical education at the Duke University School of Medicine, graduating in 1992.

While in medical school, Chen was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow in the Department of Surgery at Duke. He completed his surgical residency in general surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1999, along with a postdoctoral research fellowship in 1997 and a surgical oncology and endocrinology fellowship in 2000.

UAB researcher wins early-stage investigator award for epigenetics of substance abuse research
UAB researcher wins early-stage investigator award for epigenetics of substance abuse research
A UAB researcher focusing on the epigenetics of drug abuse wins a significant funding award from the National Institutes of Health.

jeremy dayJeremy DayJeremy J. Day, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named one of six inaugural recipients of new research awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Avenir Award programs in HIV/AIDS and epigenetics are newly developed programs that reward early-stage investigators who propose highly innovative studies. Avenir means ‘future’ in French.

The Avenir Award Program for Genetics or Epigenetics of Substance Abuse supports early-stage investigators who show promise of being tomorrow’s leaders in the field of genetics or epigenetics of substance abuse. Epigenetics is an emerging field that studies how environmental factors influence changes in gene expression without altering the DNA sequence.

Day says his proposal examines exposure to drugs of abuse, which produce long-lasting changes in neuronal circuits that control learning and decision-making.

“This project will investigate the role of epigenetic mechanisms in these changes, providing insight into the molecular basis by which these mechanisms contribute to drug addiction,” said Day. “We will use these insights to develop new tools that target specific epigenetic processes in the brain, which will lead to more effective epigenetics-based treatment and prevention strategies for drug addiction and improve quality of life for addicted individuals.”

“The innovative proposals by these young scientists in the fields of HIV/AIDS and epigenetics are very exciting,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “We’re pleased to support these creative approaches and are looking forward to seeing the results of their research.”

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