News Archive

  • Written by Stefan Tuomanen

    leon ruizThis month we have the pleasure of featuring Assistant Professor Beatriz León-Ruiz in our faculty spotlight. Dr. León-Ruiz has been an influential member of UAB Microbiology since 2012, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then joining the faculty a year later. Since then, she has made numerous advances in understanding the roles dendritic cells play in directing the T Helper 2 (Th2)-driven immune response; in particular differentiating the behavior of these cells in infants compared to adults.

  • Written by Stefan Tuomanen

    website OrihuelaThe department of Microbiology is proud to announce Dr. Carlos J. Orihuela’s promotion to full professor as of October 1st.

    Dr. Orihuela enthusiastically joined UAB in 2015 as a tenured associate professor whose research is focused on the many host-pathogen interactions associated with invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae infections. Drawn to UAB as a result of a career-long respect for the University’s innumerable contributions to this area of study, Dr. Orihuela has thus far been highly successful in both his scientific and educational endeavors.

  • jscoffieldMeet Jessica Scoffield, Ph.D., a microbiologist that studies the role of commensal bacteria in polymicrobial pulmonary and oral infections. Dr. Scoffield's research has led to the discovery of novel mechanisms used by commensal bacteria that interfere with the pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a multidrug resistant pathogen that causes deadly lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. 

  • Andrews 3 x 2The microbiology department held a three day writing seminar for UAB students and postdoctoral employees on May 14-16, 2018. The purpose of which was to teach graduate students and post‐docs how to effectively communicate science to a lay audience. The department invited Dr. Nicki LeBrasseur, the senior director of scientific communications at DNA Communications to instruct the on and off campus portions of the course. The students were tasked with writing a press release on an assigned paper and were given feedback. Rachel Andrews (Wolshendorf’s lab) participated in the workshop and her article featured below reviews “The roles of SaPI1 proteins gp7 (CpmA) and gp6 (CpmB) in capsid size determination and helper phage interference.” by Damle PK et al.

  • SISThe UAB School of Medicine held the 7th Annual Southeastern Immunology Symposium (SIS) on June 16 and 17 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel and Medical Forum. This year's meeting was organized by Dr. Fran Lund.  The primary goal of the meeting is to bring together researchers throughout the South and Southeastern US who are learning to harness the power of the immune system in order to protect us from infections and cancer as well as a host of other chronic autoimmune, allergic and inflammatory diseases. Click hereto view the photo gallery. Photo credit: Dustin Massey 

  • FranFrances Lund, Ph.D., has been invited to the Fourth International Vatican Conference, “Unite To Cure: How Science, Technology and 21st Century Medicine Will Impact Culture and Society,” which meets in Vatican City this week. Read more...

  • ramos johnson barnum streamA $2 million investment is the latest step forward for the biomedical startup CNine Biosolutions LLC, which is headed by former University of Alabama at Birmingham postdoctoral fellow Theresa Schein, Ph.D., and retired UAB microbiology professor Scott Barnum, Ph.D. This funding comes from a Denver angel investor group.

  • WellsThe UAB Department of Microbiology hosted the inaugural David E. Wells Memorial Symposium on December 14, 2017. The event kicked off with talks by five selected graduate students in the Department of Microbiology who competed for the David E. Wells Scholarship. The students (pictured below from left to right) are Tyler Stewart (Novak/Renfrow labs), Michael Schultz (Lund lab), Anukul Shenoy (Orihuela lab), Danielle Chisolm (Weinmann Lab) and Johua Justice (Thompson lab). The student presentations were followed by the keynote presentation entitled "Genomic control mechanisms that establish T-cell identity", which was presented by Dr. Ellen Rothenberg, Albert Billings Ruddock Professor of Biology at California Institute of Technology. This was the first symposium held in memory of Dr. David E. Wells, a former graduate student in the UAB Department of Microbiology. Family members of Dr. Wells were in attendance for this special event including Dr. Kathy Hancock, who was married to Dr. Wells. Dr. Hancock presented Joshua Justice with the David E. Wells Scholarship at the close of the symposium.

  • Joshua JusticeJosh Justice in Dr. Sunnie Thompson's lab won “The Ellen Fanning Memorial Award for generating discussion" at the ASM meeting on Viral Manipulation of Nuclear Processes in Charleston, SC on December 3-6.

  • fran lundInflammation becomes a surprising common feature, not only in chronic immune disease, but also in chronic neurological disease.

  • dokland

    Terje Dokland, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Microbiology, has been named an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer for 2017-2019. Dokland, a UAB associate professor, studies the structural biology of viral assembly and bacterial pathogenicity, using tools like cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography.

    Beginning July 1, he will join a group of scientifically diverse lecturers who speak at American Society for Microbiology Branch meetings throughout the United States. Frances Lund, Ph.D., UAB chair of Microbiology, called Dokland’s appointment “a national honor.”

  • Briles.AAASUsing international genomic studies backed by proof-of-concept cell experiments, researchers have identified two genes that contribute to the chronic kidney disease glomerulonephritis.

    This provides new genetic clues to understanding IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune kidney disease that commonly causes kidney failure. The findings are relevant to IgA nephropathy and other diseases with similar underlying molecular defects, such as inflammatory bowel disease, certain types of blood disease and cancer.

    “Very little is known about the causes of IgA nephropathy, genetic or otherwise, so our discovery represents an important step toward developing better therapies for this disease,” said lead author Krzysztof Kiryluk, M.D., the Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columba University Medical Center.
  • Briles.AAASIt doesn’t matter whether you live in Beverly Hills or a Brazilian favela — every human being is only a few inches away from disaster. From birth to death, on our arms, legs and everywhere else, each of us carries microbes that would love to get under our skin and reproduce, with potentially fatal results. A paper cut, an insect bite, an untimely rubbing of the eyes — it takes very little for bacteria, viruses and other invaders to get inside and start wreaking havoc.
  • brilesFaculty members from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    The AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals.

    Charles Amsler, Ph.D., professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology, Steven Austad, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Biology, and David Briles, Ph.D., professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Department of Pediatrics, are UAB’s three representatives in the 2016 class of AAAS fellows.
  • Kahan2The hygiene hypothesis proposes that a 20th century surge in allergies and asthma is because people are living in increasingly hygienic environments. Rather than the rural farm life of the agricultural 19th century, families live in urban and suburban communities, have fewer children who can exchange infections, bathe and wash their hands more frequently, and use antibiotics excessively. This all means reduced infant exposure to microbes that would have tempered excessive immune reactions, such as asthma, later in life.
  • Kahan2Faculty and staff from the School of Medicine gathered Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the promotion of 22 women faculty, 10 of whom had earned the title of full professor and 12 who attained the rank of associate professor...


  • Kahan2Shannon Kahan, a posdoc in in Dr. Allan Zajac’s lab and recent recipient of the state’s only American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowship, knocked it out of the park during the Office of Postdoctoral Education and Postdoctoral Association celebration...
  • preeyamDr. Preeyam Patel, a recipient of the 2015 Max D. Cooper Endowed Immunology Travel Award, presented at the International Congress of Immunology in Melbourne Australia last month on how antibodies to phospholipid epitopes can inhibit the interaction of house dust mite with phosphorylcholine-specific receptors on antigen-presenting cells in the lung.
  • harry shroederUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are exploring ways to wrap pig tissue with a protective coating to ultimately fight diabetes in humans. The nano-thin bilayers of protective material are meant to deter or prevent immune rejection.

    The ultimate goal: transplant insulin-producing cell-clusters from pigs into humans to treat Type 1 diabetes.
  • harry shroederIn a study of children with brain shunts at Children’s of Alabama, a University of Alabama at Birmingham investigational biomarker outperformed the current “gold standard” test for detecting bacterial infections in the shunts.
  • harry shroederMicro researchers involved in studies reporting a new quality-control checkpoint in developing B cells that may affect vaccine responses.

  • Janusz Kabarowski, Ph.D, is playing an important role in a metabolomics initiative.

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  • Eleven outstanding faculty members were named recipients of the 2016 Dean’s Excellence Awards, an honor recognizing exceptional contributions made by School of Medicine faculty in service, teaching, research, diversity enhancement and mentorship. 

  • pittman.scholar“Having a good mentor early in one’s career can mean the difference between success and failure in any career,” said Beatriz León-Ruiz, assistant professor of Microbiology at UAB. In 2008, her most impactful mentorship began when León-Ruiz joined the lab of Frances Lund, Ph.D., (now chair of the UAB Department of Microbiology), in New York as a postdoctoral associate at Trudeau Institute.
  • pittman.scholarRecruitment is only one part of building a top-tier academic research program—you must also retain the innovative scientists who are already part of your team. The James A. Pittman Jr., M.D., Scholars program was launched in 2015 to recognize the contributions of junior faculty who are in the early stages of their careers.
  • micro.senateCongratulations to Allan Zajac (Senator) and Jamil Saad (Alternate Senator) for their elections to 2 year terms on the Faculty Senate.
  • KABAROWSKI BARNES photo 1MALDI--matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization--imaging mass spectrometry is now available to researchers at UAB. Drs. Stephen Barnes and Janusz Kabarowski used the tissue imaging method in their recent research "Early lipid changes in acute kidney injury using SWATH lipidomics coupled with MALDI tissue imaging."
  • Picture1Drs. Peter Prevelige (20 years) and Janet Yother (25 years) are among the more than 1,000 UAB employees to be honored during the annual Service Awards Program at the DoubleTree Hotel Heritage Banquet room on March 4.