July 16, 2015

Rowe tapped to lead UAB's cystic fibrosis research center

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Steven M. Rowe, M.D., MSPHRS9315 steven rowe 2009, professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, has been named director of the Gregory Fleming James Cystic Fibrosis Research Center in the UAB School of Medicine, effective Aug. 1.

Rowe is an expert in the design and conduct of clinical trials targeting the basic CF defect.  He said being tapped to lead the center is an exciting opportunity to build on the long legacy of cystic fibrosis research at UAB.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in CF research, and researchers at UAB have been a big part of that progress. There have been two new treatments approved in the last three years that address the basic defect that causes CF, so we’re changing the face of the disease now for a large proportion of patients,” Rowe said. “And with the discovery of these new treatments, researchers have a clear path as to what we need to do next to help find a cure.”

CF is a chronic genetic disorder of the body’s mucus glands that can cause severe or even fatal, respiratory infections in children and young adults. Approximately 30,000 people in the United States have CF, according the National Institutes of Health.

 The CFRC was established in 1981, with the mission to provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary understanding of CF pathogenesis, advance innovative therapies and, ultimately, identify a cure for the disease.  Center membership is made up of over 25 faculty from seven UAB schools and more than 25 departments.

Rowe specializes in the care of adolescent CF patients, where he helped found the CF Transition Clinic, a collaborative project between the adult and pediatric CF care centers. Approximately 450 patients come to the UAB CF care centers each year, making UAB one of the bigger CF centers in the country.  Rowe said patients regularly come to UAB from around Alabama and the Southeast for care and that patients from across the country come to UAB to enroll in clinical research studies.

“UAB has a long track record of innovative and successful research and has been part of major advances in CF treatments,” he said. “We’re active in precision medicine, looking for patient-specific treatment patterns. We’ve also developed new technologies for airway imaging and in research models that position us as a top destination for scientific discovery and clinical care.  It truly is a collaborative effort.”

Rowe is also director of the CFF Therapeutics Development Network Center for CFTR Detection and the International Mucus Clearance Consortium, which includes basic and translational scientists charged with improving the mechanistic understanding of the mucus clearance defect in cystic fibrosis and novel means to monitor the process.

“Dr. Rowe’s clinical and research expertise makes him a natural choice to lead the CFRC,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., F.A.C.S., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “His cutting-edge clinical trials, patient-focused research and collaborative nature position him well to bring investigators together in CF science and propel discovery at UAB.”

Rowe received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University in 1998 before coming to UAB to earn a master of science degree in public health and complete a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency. He completed a Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Pediatric Pulmonary fellowship at UAB before joining the faculty as an instructor in 2005. Rowe was appointed a professor of Medicine in 2014 and has secondary faculty appointments in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology and the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics.