VickersSome good news released this month highlights the central role the university and the School of Medicine play in our city’s and state’s economy and health. As reported on Feb. 7, data released by the National Science Foundation shows that UAB as a whole had $538 million in research expenditures in 2016, and ranked No. 15 nationally among public universities and No. 31 overall in federally funded research in 2016. UAB is now sixth among Southeastern universities in federal research expenditures, behind only North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, and Emory. As a state, Alabama received $281.5 million in NIH funding in fiscal year 2016, which makes UAB responsible for more than 85 percent of the state’s NIH-funding dollars.

The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research also reports that UAB’s NIH funding reached $238 million in fiscal year 2016, including $186 million to the School of Medicine. We expect that number will top $195 million in School of Medicine funding for 2017, as the School also exceeded 300 principal investigators for the first time in two decades. Our continuing upward trajectory is particularly noteworthy in an era of increasing competition for federal research funding.

Of course, none of these successes would be possible without the talent and dedication of our outstanding faculty and staff. Since I became dean of the School of Medicine, we have launched new award programs to honor the contributions of faculty at all career levels and to help ensure that these talented scientists, physicians, and educators are proud to call UAB home.

The Pittman Scholars program, named for the late James A. Pittman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine from 1973 to 1992, was launched in 2015 to recognize the contributions of junior faculty who are in the early stages of their careers. Five Pittman Scholars are selected each academic year, and each receives $12,500 per year for five years to support his or her research-related activities or scholarly pursuits. The aim of the program is to nurture tomorrow’s best physicians and scientists, and to reward their efforts with resources that support their goals. The 2018 Pittman Scholars were announced in January, with research interests ranging from health disparities in surgical patients to the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease to developing new methods to treat aggressive brain tumors.

In 2015, the Dean’s Excellence Awards were revived to recognize the truly outstanding work done by our faculty in service, teaching, research, diversity enhancement, and mentorship. They are awarded each May to junior and senior faculty members who are selected through a peer-review process. Eleven faculty members were named winners of the 2017 Dean's Excellence Awards. Recently a series of videos have been posted to the School of Medicine News site of several of the winners discussing what the award means to them. They include Raegan Durant, M.D., MPH, and Nicole Jones, M.D., both Diversity Enhancement Award winners; Eric Wallace, M.D., Marianthe Grammas, M.D., and Stefan Kertesz, M.D., M.Sc., all Service Award winners; and Jennifer Gordetsky, M.D., and Hussein Abdullatif, M.D., Teaching Award winners. I encourage you to watch the videos; I hope you will be as inspired and impressed by the passion and commitment of our faculty as I am.

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to a recent article from The New York Times Magazine that demonstrates some of the best attributes of UAB Medicine as an academic medical center. The diagnosis of a patient’s disease that had confounded physicians for years by then-Internal Medicine resident Jori May, M.D., and then-UAB Pathology resident Forest Huls, M.D., is a testament to the care, compassion, commitment, and curiosity that our outstanding residents bring to their work. Our ability to attract the best and brightest residents and clinical and research faculty is built on the continued growth of our national reputation as a top-tier AMC, which in turn allows us to make discoveries and give unrivaled care to the people of Alabama and the Deep South.

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

P.S. On March 10, the Medical Alumni Association is hosting an exciting CME Scientific Program focused on Precision Medicine as part of the 45th Annual Medical Alumni Weekend. The program will feature some of UAB's finest faculty who are leading the way in this emerging field. What’s more, attendees can earn up to 5.5 CME Credit Hours. Click here to register for Alumni Weekend and the CME Scientific Program online.