On Sunday, September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four little girls: 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old Cynthia Wesley. This act of terrorism shocked the nation and drew international attention to the struggle for civil rights taking place in Birmingham and across the South
Earlier this month, the National Institutes of Health announced that UAB Division of Infectious Diseases Director Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., will succeed Anthony Fauci, M.D., as the next director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), starting this fall. While I am saddened to lose her as a valued leader at the Heersink School of Medicine, Dr. Marrazzo’s appointment is a clear reflection of our school’s outstanding national and international reputation.
One thing most leaders acknowledge is that no one achieves their greatest successes alone. In medicine and biomedical research, collaboration is the cornerstone of innovation and advancement. In addition to naming our school and establishing the Marnix Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health, the Heersink naming gift in 2021 connected our institution to an exciting collaborative partner, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Heersink made philanthropic investments to establish biotech commercialization hubs and global health institutes at the two universities, as both Hamilton and Birmingham continue to transition from steel production and heavy industry to health care, higher education, and associated services and industries.
June has been a month of celebrations highlighting the incredible diversity of our school and our nation, and our Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has done an excellent job organizing educational and entertaining events around both Pride Month and Juneteenth.
Earlier this month, I passed my first 100 days as senior vice president for Medicine and dean. It’s been a time of great energy and excitement for me as I have been meeting with stakeholders across the UAB Heersink School of Medicine and at our regional campuses, listening and sharing my vision for our school. I am proud of the work we’ve done so far and look forward to sharing our progress with you as I reach my first six months as dean in August.
Spring is always an exciting time because it represents renewed opportunity and growth. As the post-pandemic transition continues, we have an opportunity to address issues the health care community has confronted since before COVID-19, but that were accelerated and exacerbated by the pandemic.

March is Women’s History Month and an opportunity to reflect on the important, and too often unacknowledged, contributions women have made to medicine. Women were active practitioners of the medical arts in the ancient world, and have played a critical role as midwives and healers during the entire course of human history.

I’m very happy to present my first Dean’s Message since being appointed senior vice president for Medicine and Dean of the Heersink School of Medicine.
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