Committed to interdisciplinary neuroscience research
UAB Department of Neurobiology was founded in 1996. It is one of the Joint Health Science departments in the UAB Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. The department currently has 15 primary faculty members complimented by a diverse secondary faculty. Evidence of the faculty's national and international impact in fundamental neuroscience research includes: their substantial number of publications in high impact journals; appointments to editorial boards and editorships of leading neuroscience journals; appointments to NIH and NSF study sections and review boards; awards of over 28 million dollars in annual research grant funds; and numerous invitations to speak at national and international research symposia. Faculty members also have received numerous national and international awards recognizing excellence in research and training.
Education and Training
In addition to its major research emphasis, the departmental faculty are actively involved in training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in advanced research techniques in their laboratories. Interested students also have the opportunity to receive advanced training in neurobiology of disease with a focus on modern molecular research approaches to clinical topics related to neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, pediatrics and rehabilitation medicine, thus providing a unique perspective for fundamental neuroscience research and teaching careers at academic health science centers. The faculty participate substantially in teaching of the campus-wide graduate neuroscience curriculum and in the interdepartmental Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology (CMDB) graduate program. Students are admitted to the department through one of the three UAB interdisciplinary training programs—Neuroscience, CMDB or the combined MD/Ph.D. program.
Neurobiology is a highly interdisciplinary endeavor and this is reflected in the faculty's individual laboratories. Research in the department utilizes molecular genetic tools, molecular isolation of novel nervous system proteins and development of specific antibodies, whole cell and single channel patch- and voltage-clamp recording, subcellular imaging of calcium and voltage transients, confocal and electron microscopic analysis of neuronal structure, X-ray microanalysis of rapidly frozen neuronal processes, oocyte expression of mRNAs to study a range of processes including: receptor biophysics and pharmacology, site-directed mutagenesis, the molecular characterization of intracellular signaling cascades and the neuronal/glial cytoskeleton, brain tumorogenesis and proliferation and electrophysiological analysis of synaptic signaling in neuronal networks. While the focus of the department's research is on the molecular and cellular basis of normal structure and function of the nervous system, much of the work addresses major issues in neurological health and disease including: epilepsy, primary brain tumors (gliomas), addiction, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, brain/spinal cord injury, mental retardation/developmental disorders, perceptual disorders, stroke, learning and memory and Circadian rhythm disorders.
The department is housed in custom-designed laboratories and offices in the Shelby Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building and in the Civitan International Research Center. These locations provide unique opportunities for collaborative research with other molecular biologists and physiologists as well as a strong group of clinical investigators involved in studying mental retardation, neurological disorders, neural injury rehabilitation and molecular psychiatry research. The neurobiology laboratories are well-equipped, state of the art facilities including full instrumentation for patch-clamp electrophysiology, high resolution cellular imaging, FRET, cell culture, a broad range of recombinant technologies including "gene gun," viral transfection and transgenic approaches, molecular biology, and electron, single and two-photon laser scanning confocal microscopy.
A significant and growing number of faculty members have their laboratories housed in the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, one of only four such institutes in the country. The mission of the McKnight Institute is to promote research and investigation into the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the neurobiology of memory, with emphasis on research of clinical relevance to the problems of age-related memory loss. The institute, under the auspices of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Foundation, has enhanced the established research enterprise in the UAB Department of Neurobiology through approximately $1.0 million annual support. These funds are used for recruitment and establishment of new investigators, equipping their research laboratories, for pilot research projects and educational symposia, and for seminars and conferences. The institute currently comprises the 9th, 10th, and 11th floors of the Shelby Interdisciplinary Research Building.