January 09, 2013

General Endowment Fund awards $1.4 million in research grants for UAB faculty

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Eleven members of the UAB School of Medicine faculty have been awarded grants totaling more than $1.4 million from the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation General Endowment Fund for fiscal year 2013. Awards were given in four key areas – clinical care, medical education, laboratory research and patient-oriented research projects – that demonstrated a multidisciplinary effort and the likelihood of long-term success.

“GEF grants encourage our faculty to think, and act, creatively to identify opportunities for significant advantages and find solutions to major scientific and health care challenges within UAB,” said Ray L.Watts, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “The GEF provides a unique opportunity among physician practices that allows us invest in ourselves to improve our future.”

The GEF has awarded $55 million since its inception in 1996. Awards this year were made on Jan. 1, but this year the grant application timetable will move up so funds can be distributed by Nov. 1.

“We had a very rich pool of applicants,” said James Bonner, M.D., president of the HSF and chair of the School of Medicine’s department of Radiation Oncology. “The initiatives funded represent not only the caliber of our faculty but their dogged dedication to improving research, patient care and education.”

The awards are:

 Clinical Care Initiatives

“Shared Medical Appointments for Diabetes Mellitus,” 90-minute sessions for groups of up to 20 patients co-led by a physician and a certified diabetes educator that improves the efficiency of care delivery while improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.  

Principal Investigator – Amy Warriner, M.D.

Award: $163,971

“Complicated Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Barrett’s and Early Esophageal Cancer Interdisciplinary Clinic,” a multidisciplinary clinic to evaluate and manage patients with complicated gastroesophageal reflux and Barrett’s esophagus that could draw a large number of patient referrals and would build a database that would be key to future extramural funding.

Principal Investigator – Shajan Peter Sugandha, M.D.

Award: $181,658

Medical Education Initiatives

“Inter-Professional Simulation Development for Undergraduate Healthcare Education” creates the infrastructure and provides training to increase and enhance simulation education for medical students and creates the opportunity for teams of students from other health professions to participate in simulation learning as groups.  
Principal Investigator: Marjorie Lee White, M.D., MPPM, M.Ed.

Award: $200,000

“How Much is an Educator Worth? Translation of education activities into work-RVU equivalents:  the Education Value Unit (EVU)” will create a method for applying a monetary value to physician educators comparable to the value applied to growing a clinical practice. 

Principal Investigator: Gusvato Huedebert, M.D.

Award: $74,000 

“Enhancing Student Education in a Free Clinic by Use of Point-of-Care Technology” will enable two free clinics – Equal Access Birmingham run by medical students and the School of Nursing’s PATH clinic, both operated with M-Power Ministries – to purchase much-needed laboratory equipment that will provide hands-on opportunities for the students and improve patient care.

Principal Investigator: Cynthia Selleck, DSN

Award: $47,660

Laboratory Research Initiatives

“Creation of an RNAi Screening Facility for Biomedical Research” brings a new, innovative and cutting-edge capacity to UAB for high-throughput RNAi screening, formatting of libraries, assembly of custom libraries and assaying cell viability, while providing users with bioinformatics support.

Principal Investigator: Mary-Ann Bjornsti, Ph.D.

Award: $145,528

“Cryopreservation Resources and Emergency Backup Plans for UAB Mouse Models” will implement methods that allow the cryopreservation of mouse sperm, a less expensive means of preserving genetically modified mouse lines used in research.

Principal Investigator: Robert Kesterson, Ph.D.

Award: $30,000

“Upgrade of the Flow Cytometry Capacity in the UAB CFAR Flow Cytometry Core” will increase capacity, provide greater sensitivity and expand the analytic capacity of a well-established core facility that supports a large base of researchers.

Principal Investigator: Olaf Kutsch, Ph.D.

Award: $150,000

“MicroLC for State-of-the-Art Lipidomics and Metabolomics at UAB” addresses a deficiency in current capacity at UAB and enables a priority area of research (metabolomics) by the National Institutes of Health by adding technology that will enable the visualization of small amounts of lipids.

Principal Investigator: Stephen Barnes, Ph.D.

Award: $66,550 

Patient-Oriented Initiatives

“Pharmacogenomic Resource for Improving Medication Effectiveness (PRIME)”  aims to implement genetic testing and integrate genotype-guided therapy into electronic health records to take full advantage of pharmacogenomics – tailoring medications and their dosages to individual patients.

Principal Investigator: Nita Limdi, Pharm. D., Ph.D., MSPH

Award: $234,960

“Establishing a State-of-the-Art Core Facility to Advance Interdisciplinary Exercise Medicine Research” will enable investigators to effectively assess key dependent variables pertinent to their research, including cardiorespiratory function, exercise metabolism and neuromuscular function.

Principal Investigator: Marcas Bamman, Ph.D.

Award: $145,000