Explore UAB

Written by: Sarah L. Minor, MS

Ellen Eaton, MD, and research teamAs a high-performing investigator, Associate Professor Ellen Eaton, M.D., MPH, in the Division of Infectious Diseases, received funds from the DOM Research Awards Program (RAP) to use at her discretion to enhance her research. While grant funding has become increasingly restrictive in its uses, the RAP funds provided Eaton with an opportunity to address three main concerns with one innovative event—bring people together in person who had felt isolated during the pandemic, serve the community, and cultivate partnerships with local non-profits. “The DOM Research Award allowed me to support a research faculty, staff, and trainee ‘Meet and Greet’ where our research team, trainees, and collaborators gathered after work to create harm reduction kits for our community.”

Partnering with the Addiction Prevention Coalition (APC), a nonprofit organization integral to their substance use research, Eaton’s team assembled over 200 harm reduction kits for APC to distribute at their resource fairs.

Eaton emphasized the importance of giving back to the community, stating, “Being able to create these kits was a great way for us to ‘give back’ and support our community partners.” The event also served as a platform for Eaton to bring one of her out-of-town mentees, Dr. Mary Figgatt, to UAB, allowing her to participate in the event and meet with community partners and collaborators, including researchers from the UAB Center for AIDS Research who also contributed to the event’s success.

Beyond its philanthropic aspect, the meet-and-greet event was crucial for team building and fostering connections among the UAB team and their APC partners. Eaton highlighted the significance of in-person interactions, especially after a period of remote work and virtual meetings, saying, “Not only was this an important team-building event, but it also allowed our UAB team and our APC partners to gather in person after too many Zoom calls!”

Looking ahead, Eaton is exploring further ways to utilize the DOM funds for staff professional development, conference attendance, and wellness initiatives. The DOM is delighted to reward and support this high-performing investigator and her team.