Dev Digest 1 WebBetsy and Joe Cooper pose with a photo of their son, Alan Barnett.Gift Accelerates Brain Research

Alan Wayne Barnett suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident on June 1, 2013, at the age of 50. During the many months of hospitalization that followed, he only spoke once, his mother Betsy Cooper recalls. “I said, ‘Do you know who I am?’ And he said, ‘Shorty.’ He called me ‘Shorty.’ I said, ‘Do you know who you are?’ And he said, ‘Alan Barnett.’”

On September 26, 2013, Barnett passed away from his extensive injuries. In December 2015, Mrs. Cooper and her husband, Joe, made a gift of a charitable Individual Retirement Account (IRA) rollover to establish the Alan Wayne Barnett Endowed Support Fund for Brain Injury Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “I want to do something so maybe the next person who has all this damage might survive,” Mrs. Cooper says.

Before making the gift, the Coopers met with Candace L. Floyd, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, to learn more about her research. Floyd’s team focused on finding new treatments for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. “Gifts like the Coopers’ are critically important to accelerating the pace of discovery of new interventions for TBI,” Floyd says. “The more good ideas we can test the more likely we are to discover a new treatment or approach.” 

Neurosurgery Gift Honors Former Leader

MSMahaley Jr photoM. Stephen Mahaley Jr. G. Yancey Gillespie, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, and his wife, Lady Jane, have made gifts in support of the department’s research. A portion of their gift will establish the M. Stephen Mahaley, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Research Graduate Assistant in Neurosurgery Support Fund. The fund will provide salary support for a research graduate student for brain tumor research. It also will fund supplies or equipment necessary for the student’s research or to reimburse travel costs to attend a scientific meeting to present the results of their research.

Another portion of their gift will establish the M. Stephen Mahaley, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Endowed Award in Neurological Surgery Research. The award will be given annually to the neurosurgery resident physician with the best presentation in translational neurosurgical research at the department’s J. Garber Galbraith, M.D., Scientific Session and Lecture.

Both funds are named for former Neurosurgery Division Director M. Stephen Mahaley, M.D., who convinced Gillespie to join UAB from the University of North Carolina in 1986.

“Steve was a very unique individual and accomplished a significant amount involving laboratory and clinical research in brain tumors in his time at UAB,” says Gillespie. “Both of the funds are to recognize Steve’s passion for research and for translating basic science discoveries to the clinic—he was doing this long before ‘translational research’ became a watchword in medical research.”

Support Fund Advances Vision Research

Gorrie Alie BAlie B. GorrieAs an infant, Alison and Jim Gorrie’s daughter, Alie, was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia—a form of vision impairment that includes underdeveloped optic nerves. Alie has severely limited vision in one eye and has 20/80 vision in the other.

The Gorries—dedicated advocates for vision research—gave a generous gift to the Alie B. Gorrie Low Vision Support Fund in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology.

“We were very thankful for our doctors and advocates at UAB who have helped us navigate the challenges that exist for people with low vision,” Jim Gorrie says. “We are very fortunate to have such a comprehensive resource right here in Birmingham.”

The Alie B. Gorrie Low Vision Support Fund provides resources for a support group for children and their families, and orientation and mobility services to help patients navigate their environment. It also contributes to groundbreaking research. “We are pleased to be in a position to make a meaningful gift in an area we are so connected to,” Mr. Gorrie says.

To give to the School of Medicine: Contact Erica Hollins at 205.996.6839 or ehollins@uab.edu.