life of care 275x275C. Glenn Cobbs, M.D., spent most of his career working to elevate both UAB and the city of Birmingham. Now UAB is doing the same for Cobbs by elevating the School of Medicine’s Endowed Professorship in Infectious Diseases bearing his name to an endowed chair level.

“The establishment of the chair is very flattering. The division prospered primarily through the efforts of many individuals,” says Cobbs, who served as the first director of the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases from 1968 until 1990, and now holds the title of professor emeritus. “William E. Dismukes, C. Kirk Avent, and Frank M. Griffin were early stars who taught me a great deal and were primarily responsible for the division’s success.”

The chair was made possible in part by a generous gift from the Altec-Styslinger Foundation. Lee Styslinger Jr., former president and CEO of Birmingham-based Altec Industries, says Cobbs is a worthy recipient of the honor because of his lifelong dedication to both the university and the city.

Cobbs LRC. Glenn Cobbs, M.D. Photo courtesy of UAB Archives.
“He is one of the smartest, most conscientious people I’ve ever known,” Styslinger says. “He gives so much of himself to others. He has been committed to UAB and to Birmingham throughout his life. The foundation made a major donation in order to take the professorship to an endowed chair because of how highly we think of him.”

Styslinger is far from alone in that feeling. Hobart McWhorter, a retired partner in the Bradley Arant law firm, helped initiate the original fundraising effort that led to the establishment of the Cobbs Endowed Professorship.

“We launched the fundraising campaign to recognize the many contributions by Dr. Cobbs to UAB Medicine and the Birmingham community,” McWhorter says. “There are so many stories about times where his remarkable clinical skills led to a diagnosis or treatment after others had tried with less success. He’s a wonderful citizen who has done a lot for UAB and Birmingham.”

The Cobbs Endowed Professorship enabled UAB in 2016 to successful recruit Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., to be the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases. Marrazzo’s contributions were amplified this past year during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when she appeared regularly in local and national media as an expert voice.

Marrazzo LRJeanne Marrazzo, M.D.
“It is incredibly important to have the flexibility that an endowment gives you,” says Marrazzo, who will now hold the Cobbs Endowed Chair. “We’ve been able to grow our federal grant funding by several million dollars. We’ve promoted the careers of several young, diverse faculty to lead some of these projects. We’ve also piloted some innovative clinical efforts.

“It’s just the security of knowing that the institution and the donors are willing to invest in you and your vision for what you want to do, and that they’re trusting you to do something that is going to advance the institution’s mission. All those things are hugely important.”

Cobbs agrees. He says Marrazzo “has been extraordinarily effective” during her time at UAB, and that the endowed chair will enable UAB to recruit other highly qualified candidates in the future.

“Having a chair is a wonderful selling point,” Cobbs says. “It enables UAB to underwrite whatever they might need, be it salary or research, and it confirms the status of the division. It’s just a useful way for the school to attract people, and I’m honored that they are doing so in my name.”

To make a gift to the Division of Infectious Diseases, contact Christian Smith at 205-934-1974 or christiannsmith@uabmc.edu. – Cary Estes