On October 27, we celebrated the School of Medicine’s 12th Annual Scholarship Dinner, where we brought together scholarship donors with the medical students who benefit from their philanthropic spirit. In many cases, medical school would be out of reach for these exceptional young people if not for the financial bridge that scholarships create. You can view an online photo gallery of the event by clicking here.

Several student scholarship recipients shared stories of their journeys to medical school with the assembled guests. Among them was William “Blake” Swicord, a first-year medical student from Eclectic, Alabama. Blake talked about growing up in a small town of about 800 residents, the oldest of five children, who was born when his parents were still in high school. He recalled his 13th birthday, when his father was severely injured in a motorcycle accident, and watching the physicians at the hospital care for his father. “I had one pull me aside and tell me they were doing everything they could for my dad but that right now I needed to be the big brother for all my siblings,” Blake recounted. The impression those doctors made planted the seed for a future in medicine for Blake, a future that is being made possible by scholarships.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we achieved a number of exciting scholarship milestones this academic year:

  • More than $2.9 million awarded in scholarship funds
  • 171 students, nearly a quarter of the entire student body, received scholarships
  • More than $16 million has been raised for medical student scholarships since The Campaign for UAB began
  • 11 new scholarships have been created since last year’s Scholarship Dinner

If you’d like to learn more about giving to medical student scholarships, click here.

Celebrating an exceptional act of generosity was also on the agenda at an October 12 event hosted by Lynn and Benny LaRussa Jr. and Susan and David Silverstein and honoring a recent $2.5 million gift from Medical Properties Trust to the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center (UCDC). The event, called Dance the Night Away, also kicked off a public fundraising effort that LaRussa and Silverstein, who were instrumental in the creation of the UCDC, are heading to raise an additional $2.5 million. The School of Medicine has committed to match these gifts with another $2.5 million, creating an overall $7.5 million initiative to advance the cutting-edge research of the UCDC. The event itself raised over $82,000 toward the effort. It was an incredible evening of fun and philanthropy that I was honored to be a part of. You can view photos from the event by clicking here.

In other school news, I’m pleased to announce that Bruce Korf, M.D., Ph.D., the Wayne H. and Sara Crews Finley Chair in Medical Genetics, has been appointed to lead clinical implementation of precision medicine at UAB as Chief Genomics Officer for UAB Medicine. In this newly created role, Dr. Korf will work with the UAB Hospital, UAB Health System, clinical department chairs, and program and center directors to establish clinical programs in precision medicine, including defining the initial focus priorities as well as the implementation timeline.

Dr. Korf joined UAB in 2003 as chair of the Department of Genetics and since then has added other responsibilities, including director of the Howell and Elizabeth Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences; co-director of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine; and co-director of the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative. Dr. Korf will remain in the role of chair of the Department of Genetics until an interim chair is announced. In his new role, he will continue to serve as associate director for rare diseases in the Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute; co-director of the UAB-Hudson/Alpha Center for Genomic Medicine, and professor in the Department of Genetics.

Dr. Korf has been instrumental in establishing a strong foundation in genomic medicine at UAB, serving as a comprehensive resource for patients with rare and undiagnosed diseases and developing a robust portfolio of extramural funding across the spectrum of translational and population research. I believe his leadership will be critical to building on this foundation in order to realize our vision for precision medicine across the entire enterprise, broadening opportunities for clinicians to use personalized patient data to make the most precise diagnosis and the best recommendation for treatment for every patient.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
James C. Lee Endowed Chair

P.S. The fall issue of UAB Medicine magazine is now available online. Read it today!

Click here to read the Dean’s Message online.