FutureMed 275x275Maybe the flying cars we were promised haven’t materialized yet, but 21st-century life is still a marvel in many ways. And that certainly includes medicine and health care, where technological innovations have wrought stunning transformations in the 50 years since the University of Alabama at Birmingham was officially established.

So what does the future hold, in terms of both the practice of medicine and the challenges facing the overall health care system? Considering how much has changed over the past half century, the possibilities are exhilarating.

50Years 275x275In 1969, the University of Alabama at Birmingham was born—an independent institution rooted in the Magic City, created from the union of a university extension center and a pioneering academic medical center. Since then, UAB has saved lives, solved problems, expanded knowledge, and opened doors. The ideas, innovations, and advances that emanate from our campus have energized Birmingham and transformed Alabama into a destination for experts and innovators ready to change the world.In celebration of UAB’s 50th anniversary, here we take a look back UAB Medicine’s past 50 years.

Bhatia2 275x275As of January 2019, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that there are 16.9 million cancer survivors living in the U.S. By 2029, that number is expected to increase by about 29% to 21.7 million cancer survivors. These numbers speak volumes to the treatment advances taking place every day.

GrandChallenge 275x275The diseases are familiar. So are the state’s rankings.

Alabama has the highest prevalence of stroke, the third-highest rate of diabetes and kidney disease, the fourth-highest incidence of heart disease, and the fifth-highest adult obesity rate. Turning these statistics around is a challenge that Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, director of the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center, director of the Division of Preventive Medicine, and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the School of Medicine, and her team have accepted.

OpeningDoors 275x275Getting accepted to and completing medical school is a challenge for any candidate but is even more challenging for people with physical, mental, or learning disabilities who frequently experience bias and discrimination.

Gift learning 275x275Before she was diagnosed with gastroesophageal cancer, Birmingham psychiatrist Renée Holloway, M.D., knew she wanted to donate her body to medicine. Her parents donated their bodies to the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. Holloway donated her body to the UAB Anatomical Donor Program because she worked in Birmingham and had ties to the UAB School of Medicine.

Mitochondria 275x275About 1.5 billion years ago, tiny visitors came to live inside the cells that later evolved into all plant and animal life, including humans. Those visitors were mitochondria, small organelles whose prominent role is producing 90 percent of the chemical energy that cells need to survive. Evolutionarily speaking, humans, animals, and plants are thus a combination of two organisms.

LeadershipMaterial 275x275As medical training becomes more team-oriented, medical students are expected to learn to be not only skilled clinicians but also effective leaders. National medical and health care organizations gave several members of the 2019 graduating class unique opportunities to hone their leadership skills.

Dimick2 275x275Few figures did more to improve Alabama’s emergency health care system during the 1960s than Alan Dimick, M.D. ’58. He was on the front lines, with achievements that include integrating the hospital’s emergency rooms, establishing the UAB Burn Unit, and pushing for the creation of a modern paramedics service.

EGeorgeWolf 275x275From flying with famed journalist Walter Cronkite through the aurora borealis in Canada to working with NASA scientists on space shuttle landings, E. George Wolf Jr., M.D. ’77, UHM, enjoyed an eventful 23-year career in the U.S. Air Force. As a flight surgeon and specialist in aerospace medicine (ASM) and undersea and hyperbaric medicine (UHM), he worked around aircraft and flight crews his entire career.

Neilson 275x275A lengthy journey from Long Island, New York, to Birmingham, Alabama, put Eric Neilson, M.D. ’75, on a path to be a medical student, physician-scientist, mentor, and ultimately a medical school dean.

CCC275x275The O’Neal family knows the devastating effects cancer can have on patients battling the disease and their loved ones. “Our family, as well as the families of our friends, colleagues, and employees, have experienced the heartbreaking consequences that can accompany a cancer diagnosis,” says Craft O’Neal, chairman and CEO of O’Neal Industries Inc. That’s why O’Neal Industries Inc.—the family’s global business based in Birmingham—and its shareholders decided to give the largest single gift in UAB history: a $30 million donation to the Comprehensive Cancer Center. The gift will enable the now renamed O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB to change the lives of more patients and families through transformational cancer research, patient care, education, and prevention.

OPH 275x275The UAB Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has made enormous strides in the past seven years, thanks in large part to generous gifts from philanthropic partners. Now, additional gifts from these supporters are helping further elevate the department’s top-ranked research program and world-class clinical care.

McDonald 275x275Jay McDonald, M.D., professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Pathology, passed away June 5 after almost three decades of service to UAB. “Jay left a legacy of integrity and vision in the Department of Pathology and across the School of Medicine,” says Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. “He cultivated excellence in research and teaching, and his remarkable contributions continue to impact this institution. His passing is a true loss for the department, our school, the university, and the field of pathology.”

Linking Legacies 275x275New endowed professorships recognize the impressive contributions of two longtime faculty members, John Holt Jr., M.D., and Albert Oberman, M.D., MPH. Holt’s career spanned five decades, during which he instilled a passion for the cardiovascular field in countless trainees. Oberman’s research helped lay the foundation for our current understanding of cardiovascular health.

SK Bioscience 275x275In 1918, the Spanish flu killed more than 50 million people worldwide, half of whom died from pneumococcal infections. If a similar outbreak occurred today, Moon Nahm, M.D., and his team in the World Health Organization (WHO) Pneumococcal Serology Reference Laboratory at UAB are making sure that more people are vaccinated and shielded from the deadly infections.

BOV 275x275In addition to serving as advocates and advisers, the School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors (BOV) is helping ensure the future of a program that recognizes junior faculty and supports the recruitment and retention of highly competitive scientists and physician-scientists. Pittman Scholars, named for the late James Pittman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine from 1973-1992, are assistant professors who have held that rank for fewer than five years. Their department chairs nominate them based on their research achievements and potential for continued discovery.

Medical Campus 275x275The past 50 years have been marked by immense social and technological change. While the School of Medicine’s rich history dates back to 1859, we are pleased to join UAB in celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary in 2019. In that spirit, we present the deans who have led the School of Medicine through a remarkable half-century of progress.