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Members of the UAB Neurosurgery Women’s Leadership Council toured the research laboratory of James Markert, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the UAB Department of Neurosurgery on January 13, and learned about Dr. Markert’s research, which is focused on developing new treatments for brain cancer.

During the tour, Jennifer Clements, lab manager, explained the numerous steps necessary to translate a new treatment from the laboratory into clinical practice, and how philanthropy can accelerate this process. For example, philanthropic investment can help scientists explore promising new theories and gather the necessary pilot data to successfully apply for federal funding.


Barton L. Guthrie, M.D. has led an exceptional career as a world-renowned neurosurgeon, focused on improving treatment for patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and tremor as well as for patients with brain tumors. He founded the UAB Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) program which has become one of the largest in the country, having performed over 1,000 DBS procedures for debilitating movement disorders.

In so doing, he has established a culture in the UAB Department of Neurosurgery that revolves around putting the needs of the patient first and clearly defining the clinical value of neurosurgery for these patients. His innovations in technology and care delivery processes have proven valuable across the country.

Dr. Guthrie’s distinguished career has left an indelible impact on the School of Medicine, and UAB seeks to expand upon his legacy of excellence in patient care and innovation through the creation of the Barton L. Guthrie, M.D., Endowed Chair. The appointment of an endowed chair rewards a physician’s professional contributions, recognizes the value of his/her research endeavors, and safeguards the funding needed to continue these pioneering efforts. A gift to support the Barton L. Guthrie, M.D., Endowed Chair is an opportunity for alumni, faculty, and friends to invest in the future of our specialty, promoting a process committed to analysis and improvement of patient outcome.

There is a new surgical robot in town. The ROSA robot is helping physicians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham detect the source of seizures in patients with epilepsy. ROSA offers patients, and their physicians, a unique advantage over traditional surgical approaches: it can do the job with a lot of little holes as opposed to the one very large opening that has been used up to this point.

For epilepsy patients who are interested in epilepsy surgery, determining the precise location of the area within the brain that produces abnormal electrical activity and causes seizures is the key. Once that location is pinpointed, and if it’s not too close to a critical area (for speech or motor centers, for example), it can be surgically removed.

Wheeling for Hope, a local non-profit 501C charity, continues to raise much needed funds for adult and pediatric brain tumor research and patient support services at UAB and Children’s of Alabama. The charity raised and donated $33,000 this year.

Donations have provided such items as educational materials for patients and families, funds to sponsor children for Camp Smile-a-Mile, new research lab equipment, and funds to support brain tumor research efforts.

Cathie Robinson, research nurse coordinator for the Department of Neurosurgery, serves as the president of Wheeling for Hope and has been very instrumental in fund raising for the charity and bringing awareness to brain tumors.

If you are interested in learning more or making a donation to Wheeling for Hope, please contact Cathie at
The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundationyancie gillespie
has named G. Yancey Gillespie, Ph.D., professor in the UAB Department of Neurosurgery and co-leader of UAB’s Neuro-Oncology Program, to its new Research Advisory Network.The members are drawn from medical centers, research institutions, nonprofit organizations and the pharmaceutical industry, and serve three-year renewable terms.

The 17 selected volunteer members of the panel will provide highly informed perspectives on the biomedical research enterprise. Gillespie will help evaluate the PBTF’s research funding priorities and guide investments.

“I’m honored to receive this appointment and help provide insight to gain new understanding into a devastating disease, and rapidly advance novel therapeutics into clinical trials,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie came to UAB in 1986 to direct brain tumor research efforts in the Division of Neurosurgery and to help establish the Neuro-Oncology Program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. The main thrust of his research is to develop and test specific therapies for treatment of malignant brain tumors in adults and children.He is currently professor of neurosurgery with secondary appointments in the Departments of Microbiology and Cell, Developmental & Integrative Biology. Gillespie is also director of the UAB Brain Tumor Specialized Program Of Research Excellence (SPORE). UAB is one of only five institutions in the nation to hold a brain-tumor SPORE grant.

Original article published in UAB news, November 5, 2014