August 23, 2023

Hurst named 2023 Brewer-Heslin Award winner

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anna hurst bio12Anna C. E. Hurst, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Genetics, has been named the 2023 winner of the Brewer-Heslin Award for Professionalism in Medicine. Established by the late Gov. Albert Brewer, the award recognizes Heersink School of Medicine faculty who demonstrate high professional and ethical standards, exercise compassionate patient care, support expanded access, champion life-long learning, and are committed to imparting knowledge to physicians-in-training.

Hurst is an internationally recognized expert in the clinical applications of whole genome sequencing. Her passion in her field has exemplified supporting expanded access and exercising compassionate patient care since joining the Department of Genetics in 2016.

Recognizing that the lack of insurance coverage for genomic sequencing prevented patients from receiving the diagnosis and care they needed, Hurst designed and implemented the Children’s of Alabama Genome Sequencing (COAGS)program. Through this program, which helps patients with rare diseases obtain clinical-grade testing, more than 150 children have received medical testing, with more than 30% obtaining a diagnosis to improve their medical management.

“I am motivated by the stories and experiences of my patients, and the resources of the UAB community make it easier for me to provide the highest level of care possible. An example is the institution’s support of interdisciplinary collaborations and cutting-edge technologies to help diagnose and care for rare disease patients,” Hurst says.

Hurst also serves as co-chair of the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative. She diligently seeks to improve access in underrepresented communities through this role.

“Many of the Alabamians served would not have access to genomic testing without the programs she has helped to develop,” said the Department’s Nathaniel Robin, M.D., professor and medical director, and Anindya Dutta, M.D., Ph.D., endowed professor and chair, in their nomination. “We are truly fortunate to have a clinician with such passion for patient care working on our team at Heersink School of Medicine.”

Anna Hurst, M.D., accepting the 2023 Brewer-Heslin Award standing with Heersink School of Medicine Dean Anupum Agarwal, M.D, and Anindya Dutta, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Department of GeneticsWhen asked what receiving this award means to her, Hurst responded, “As a medical geneticist, there is a small workforce, so it is especially humbling to have leadership recognize the contributions that geneticists can bring to the healthcare system. I am truly honored to receive this recognition and will continue to aspire to the professional ideals shown by Gov. Brewer and Dr. Heslin.”

Hurst is a clinician for the UAB Undiagnosed Disease Program, Turner syndrome clinic, and general genetics, and she provides genetic inpatient hospital consultations for patients at UAB and Children’s of Alabama. Her clinical interests include dysmorphology and congenital anomaly syndrome delineation, and she serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for Facial Dysmorphology Novel Analysis (FDNA).

Her research focuses on expanding the availability of genomic sequencing for children with complex healthcare needs and incorporating phenotypic information into interpreting genomic data. She is also interested in education and serves as the residency program director for the UAB Medical Genetics Residency Programs and as the medical director of the UAB Genetic Counseling Training Program.