Dave 1989.smallAn endowment fund has been established to honor the memory of Dr. David E. Wells, a graduate student in the UAB Department of Microbiology whose unquenchable thirst for knowledge led to extraordinary contributions towards a better understanding of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This memorial fund supports the David E. Wells Memorial Symposium and David E. Wells Research Award.

Dave started graduate school in the Cellular and Molecular Biology program at UAB in the fall of 1985. He resigned from his position at the Centers for Disease Control and left his family in Atlanta in order to pursue his dream of studying molecular biology. His family joined him the next year. Everyone in the family was a student. His wife, Kathy Hancock, entered the CMB program; son, Chris, was at Edgewood Elementary School; and son, Bradley, was in preschool in Homewood.

Dave was a striver and overcame the obstacles of family disruption, limited economic resources, and his own struggles with ADHD. He was self-supported at Clemson University.  A joint Clemson - CDC work study program enabled Dave to obtain his BS degree. The work study program led to a job offer at CDC upon graduation. While working at CDC, Dave met Kathy at the evening classes at Georgia State University where both were enrolled in a MS in Biology program. They married in 1981. Both shared the dream of further graduate study and that dream began to come true in 1985. There were many challenges, but even in the hardest of times both found it truly amazing that they were living their dream.

Dave had a real appreciation for the underdog, for the person who is capable, is motivated, but is undervalued or simply unrecognized. He was a good friend to all and especially enjoyed sharing his laboratory skills and knowledge with fellow students. He was most happy in the lab, doing experiments, interpreting the data, and answering the question, “How does it work”?

A medical challenge struck in the summer of 1986 when Dave was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Following the removal of the affected skin and the draining lymph nodes, Dave was healthy until November of 1989. He died on February 14, 1990 from metastatic melanoma. His doctoral research on HIV was nearly complete and Dave was posthumously awarded his Ph.D. This scholarship in his memory was established shortly afterwards.

Learn more about the David E. Wells Memorial Symposium and the David E. Wells Research Award.