January 17, 2012


Senior vice president and dean Ray Watts talks with alumni at a reception in Point Clear.

The beginning of a new year offers an opportunity to look back at the milestones we achieved in the previous one. For me, our success in strengthening our connections with alumni was one of the high points of 2011.

The Medical Alumni Association has done an excellent job of reaching out to our graduates and involving them in the life of the School of Medicine. I am pleased to report that the MAA gained more than 200 members last year, and the numbers are already looking good for 2012. Today, the MAA includes nearly 1,000 dues-paying members.

Alumni support made great things happen at the School of Medicine last year, including the awarding of 11 student scholarships totaling $22,000; providing white coats for 176 first-year students; and enabling nine students to participate in the Medical Student Enrichment Program, which connects students with opportunities for service and training in developing countries and underserved areas. Alumni also answered the call after the devastating April 27 tornadoes, helping us to assist all medical students in need.

Mission Critical

Having a strong medical alumni association speaks well of our school, and I encourage you to join or renew your membership. Your participation is an investment in our continued success, and your partnership helps us fulfill our mission to make groundbreaking discoveries, educate physicians for our communities, and provide the best, most innovative care to the people of Alabama.

Alumni Weekend Approaches

I also hope to see you at the 39th Annual Medical Alumni Weekend, scheduled for February 3-4 in Birmingham. All alumni are invited to attend this event, which includes opportunities to catch up with old friends and take a look back at the school’s past. It also gives us a chance to look ahead and learn about the newest medical breakthroughs with the potential to improve patient care. The UAB Department of Medicine will present the weekend’s CME programs, including Dr. Fernando Ovalle discussing comprehensive diabetes care, Dr. S. Louis Bridges Jr. focusing on personalized medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, and Dr. Cynthia Brown talking about mobility for hospitalized older adults. Dr. Teresa Bryan will share insights on how physicians can provide better care for victims of domestic violence, and Dr. Andrea Cherrington will offer advice on helping patients change health behaviors. Later in the session, Dr. David Calhoun, Dr. Tina Wood, Dr. Mark Dransfield, and Dr. Ashita Tolwani will discusses advances in treating resistant hypertension, pancreatic cancer, COPD, and acute kidney injury, respectively.

Register Online for Medical Alumni Weekend

February 3-4 in Birmingham
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During the luncheon on Saturday, the MAA will honor five esteemed alumni. Dr. Sara Finley will receive the Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Helen Krontiras will be presented with the Young Alumni Award, and Dr. David Bosshardt will be given the Hettie Butler Terry Community Service Award. Dr. Pink Folmar will receive the Garber Galbraith Medical-Political Award, and Dr. Don Powell will be honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Angus Cooper, Gerhard Boehm, and Ray Watts at last month's alumni reception in Point Clear. See a photo slideshow from the event.

A Promising Year

Following the presentation, I will present the 20th Annual Constance S. and James A. Pittman Lecture, focusing on the School of Medicine’s strategic direction for the next decade. I am honored by the invitation and want to thank the MAA president, Dr. Gerhard A. W. Boehm, as well as the MAA planning committee and Executive Director Meredith Burns and her staff. Their efforts have set the stage for a memorable weekend and another successful year of building strong bonds with our alumni. I look forward to both.