May 20, 2013


Interim senior vice president and dean Anupam Agarwal

This month’s Commencement ceremony is, as its name implies, a beginning. It marks the moment when medical school ends and the future begins for the 169 members of the Class of 2013.

We have trained them well, sharing with them our best knowledge and introducing them to a broad range of clinical, research, and community experiences. They are ready for the challenges of health care, no matter where their career paths lead. We take immense pride in all that they have accomplished, and we are eager to follow their trajectory of success.

Ready for Residency

For these students, and thousands like them around the country, commencement also signals the beginning of residency. In just a few weeks, we will welcome hundreds of new physicians eager to begin their specialty training under the direction of our renowned faculty. These new arrivals will quickly become an integral part of our clinical and research enterprise, and their invaluable efforts will help us bring breakthrough care to the people of Alabama.

It has been a while since many of us stood in our new residents’ shoes. While some things have changed, particularly in the realm of medical technology, I can tell you that residency training is still as rigorous and challenging as ever. Our faculty is ready to teach our new residents, test them, and inspire them to become the best guardians of our nation’s health.

My own residency in internal medicine at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India was followed by nephrology fellowships there and at the University of Minnesota Hospital. Although we had busy work schedules, the camaraderie among the residents and fellows—and the friendships forged during those long days and nights—is something I remember to this day.

Leadership Reunion

Many of our former residents now lead medical programs around the state and nation. I had the privilege of meeting some of them last month during a visit to New Orleans to attend the 25th anniversary meeting of the Alabama Chief Residents Society (ACRS). Dr. Michael Saag, the Jim Straley Endowed Chair in AIDS Research at UAB, and Dr. Vincent Tumminello, who practices internal medicine at Baton Rouge Clinic alongside many other UAB resident alumni, cofounded the group in 1988; it now includes 170 of our former chief internal medicine residents. I want to congratulate and thank Dr. Saag, along with Dr. Lisa Laycock Willett, the Dr. Tinsley R. Harrison Endowed Chair in Medical Resident Education; Dr. Craig Hoesley, associate dean for undergraduate medical education; and Dr. Jason Morris, associate program director for the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program, for organizing a successful event.


Alumni from the New Orleans/Baton Rouge area gather for a reception in April. Click to see a photo slideshow from the event.

UAB President Ray Watts and Dr. Seth Landefeld, chair of the Department of Medicine, also attended the ACRS meeting. Together, we provided an overview of the School of Medicine’s growth and discussed important topics, including the impact of federal sequestration, which could reduce UAB’s annual budget by nearly $34 million and potentially affect research, clinical care, and employment. However, we emphasized that we have not wavered from our goal of making UAB the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century. Our investments in faculty, research, and clinical care must be promising, prudent, and mission-critical. We also gave attendees a preview of our ambitious philanthropic campaign, which will be driven by the priorities of our strategic plan when it begins this fall.

The weekend also included a reception for all New Orleans/Baton Rouge-area School of Medicine alumni, and as always, it was a great opportunity to connect and reconnect. I was especially pleased to see one of my own former trainees, Dr. Mahesh Basireddy, who is practicing nephrology in Baton Rouge.

Champions and Partners

The former residents of the ACRS continue to play an integral role in our growth and success. They, like many of our alumni, champion our school as advocates and help to recruit students and faculty. They refer patients to us and serve as key partners in research and outreach efforts. Their generous contributions enable us to bring the future of medicine to families across Alabama.

At the New Orleans meeting, Dr. Landefeld announced that the lounge for internal medicine residents, located in the Boshell Building on the UAB campus, will be named for the ACRS. It will be a permanent reminder of their leadership role in the education and training of our internal medicine residents past, present, and future, and will demonstrate the depth of our gratitude for their loyalty.


Robert Weil (left) and Dr. Wick Many, UAB Montgomery regional dean, celebrate the Board of Trustees' naming of the Virginia Loeb Weil Endowed Professorship in Medical Education at a reception for area alumni. Click to see more photos from the Montgomery event.

Room to Help

Whether you are a former student, resident, intern, or fellow, I encourage you to reconnect with the School of Medicine and join our efforts to meet critical needs. With the breadth of our clinical, scientific, and educational initiatives, there is always an opportunity to get involved. Together, we can open a new era in health care for Alabama—and that truly will be a commencement to remember.

With kind regards,


Anupam Agarwal, M.D.
Interim Senior Vice President for Medicine
Dean, School of Medicine