UABMedicine Fall18 CoverIn our summer issue, you'll learn about UAB's vital role in shaping Alabama's COVID-19 pandemic response; the people, programs, and plans that are taking our cancer care to the next level; an exciting partnership between UAB Sports Medicine and the Birmingham Legion FC professional soccer team; how a medical student's input was vital to diagnosing a rare neurological disorder; and much more.

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CV19 opener 275x275COVID-19 has affected virtually every facet of life in Alabama, and since the crisis began, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been leveraging its expertise to fill a critical leadership role in response to the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the vital importance of UAB to Alabama and the world,” says UAB President Ray Watts, M.D. “We continue to leverage research and innovation, community service, patient care, and education to make a big difference.”

Cover Ill 275X275“There are some places where people do things a certain way simply because they’ve always done them that way. But here at UAB, when you pose to people a different way to do things that may enable them to achieve greater success, they are very open to new ideas.”

When Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D., accepted the role as director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, he was primarily drawn to the research opportunities and growth potential he saw for the facility. But after officially taking over on January 6, Sleckman says he quickly discovered the biggest benefit of being at UAB.

Goal 275x275In addition to medicine, soccer is one of the great passions for Irfan Asif, M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine. Asif has played the sport since he was 5 years old, including at the collegiate level, and he still tries to kick the ball around recreationally at least once a week.

So when it was announced that a new professional soccer team, Birmingham Legion FC (football club), would begin playing in the city in 2019—with games to be held on the UAB campus, no less—Asif immediately wanted to be a part of it. Now he heads up the UAB Sports Medicine group that serves as official team physicians for Legion FC.

knowlton 275x275In the past two decades, the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care (PCCU) has grown into one of the largest and most comprehensive clinical care, education, and research enterprises focused on palliative care in the U.S. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the palliative care team created a book of essays titled “Restoring the Art of Healing: Stories of Palliative Care” to highlight the program’s history and the people who have helped it succeed along the way. The following is an essay from the book:

Collins 275x275Speaking to a packed audience at UAB on March 6, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), shared his picks of 10 “areas of particular excitement and promise” in biomedical research. (He also shared his thoughts on the then-emerging threat of COVID-19. While Alabama was still a week away from its first confirmed COVID-19 case, Collins told the UAB audience, “I will be amazed if you don’t have a case in the next week or two.”). At the conclusion of his talk, Collins shared his advice for young scientists.

Sollie 275x275Last fall, when then-third-year Montgomery Regional Medical Campus medical student Zachary Sollie first met Thomas Jones while rotating through Medical Outreach Ministries in Montgomery, Jones was experiencing uncontrollable movements in his extremities, especially his legs. The physicians suspected an underlying neurological condition, but which one? The symptoms fit Huntington’s disease, but the disease is relatively rare and always hereditary. Jones had no known family history.

BMS2020 275x275On February 28, UAB medical students and faculty, along with friends and family, gathered at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center for the 10th Annual Best Medicine Show. This annual variety show raises money for Equal Access Birmingham, the medical student-run clinic for underserved populations in Birmingham. Featuring everything from musical and dance performances to live skits and short films, the evening showcased the talents of UAB medical students and proved, as its name suggests, that laughter is indeed the best medicine. Here are a few of the performers who shined at the show.

MAA Leaders 275x275V. Michael Bivins, M.D., knows something about growing up in a small town with dreams of a career in medicine. A Brundidge, Alabama, native and 1996 School of Medicine graduate, Bivins is the president-elect of the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association (MAA). He and current MAA President John Wheat, M.D., are heading a taskforce the MAA has formed around supporting scholarships for medical students who are from populations that are underrepresented in medicine (URiM), and increasing diversity in Alabama’s health care workforce.

Anderson Nephrology 275x275Approximately 14% of people in the U.S. suffer from chronic kidney disease, with nearly half a million people on dialysis, according to the National Institutes of Health. To improve patient care and continue the search for a cure to the disease, the Charles and Hilda Anderson family has made a $2 million gift to the UAB Division of Nephrology.

URiMScholarships 275x275The UAB School of Medicine is committed to recruiting and supporting a more representative and inclusive student body to better serve the health care needs of our increasingly diverse society. This commitment is not merely about equity; it is about excellence. It represents the school’s core belief in the power of different perspectives and experiences to enrich the learning environment. Several recent scholarship gifts to the school are helping meet that commitment.

Mestecky 275x275The influence of a mentor can permeate an entire career.

William Kutteh, M.D., Ph.D., knows that from experience. Currently director of Fertility Associates of Memphis, he earned his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from UAB in 1981, under the mentorship of Jiri Mestecky, M.D., Ph.D. After earning his M.D. from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Kutteh returned to UAB to complete an OBGYN residency. Carol Kutteh, M.D., his wife, is also a UAB OBGYN residency alumna.

Samantha Davis 275x275This past spring, UAB Surgery resident Samantha Baker, M.D., completed her third research year as a Birmingham VA Quality Scholar in the lab of Melanie Morris, M.D. She will return to clinical duties this fall.In addition to these achievements, Baker is a record-holding powerlifter.