Transfusion Medicine in the Magic City

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a major research institution, ranking among the nation’s top universities in terms of NIH funding. UAB Hospital is a nationally recognized tertiary care facility, with more than 900 inpatient beds. Nestled within the lush green foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the modern city of Birmingham, UAB offers an opportunity to gain detailed knowledge and extensive experience in all aspects of transfusion medicine, while enjoying true Southern hospitality in a beautiful setting. The Division of Laboratory Medicine in the Department of Pathology at UAB, in cooperation with the American Red Cross, offers a one-year fellowship in blood banking and transfusion medicine to prepare you fully for a career in this field.


UAB Hospital’s blood bank annually issues close to 34,000 units of leukoreduced red blood cells, 10,000 units of plasma, and 6,000 units of apheresis platelets. We provide transfusion support to patients of all ages, from newborns to adults with a variety of clinical conditions - including trauma, cardiovascular surgery and solid and stem cell transplants - which reflect UAB’s many unique patient services. In addition,
-    Thousands of inpatient surgical procedures are performed each year in new state-of-art operating rooms with an attached satellite blood bank.  UAB has one of the world’s largest kidney transplant programs and is a national leader in liver, heart, and lung transplantation.
-    UAB Hospital is the only level I trauma center in the region and receives patients with massive injuries and/or burns from Alabama and neighboring states.
-    The UAB Bone Marrow Transplant Program includes a 17-bed intensive care unit where nearly 100 transplants are performed each year. The needs of these patients, both before and after transplant, constitute a significant amount of work handled by the blood bank’s technical and medical staff.
-    The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center takes care of referred patients who have a variety of hematological and solid tumors. Many of these patients undergo various treatments and require lifesaving transfusions.
-    UAB physicians maintain specialty clinics that focus on high-risk pregnancy, sickle cell disease, and HIV infection among others.
Each year, transfusion medicine specialists consult and oversee approximately 1,200 therapeutic apheresis procedures, including photopheresis.  The fellow and pathology residents work closely together and have the opportunity to treat and follow patients with neurological disorders such as myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barré syndrome, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, hyperviscosity syndrome, acute heart rejection episodes, and many other conditions.  The fellow is also involved with day-to-day clinical problems and will provide consultations on an on-call basis for transfusion-related issues. Besides a very comprehensive training, the UAB program provides the flexibility to accommodate each person’s particular areas of interest within the hospital’s patient needs.  The clinical experience is enhanced by the close proximity to Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Alabama.

Donor center experience is acquired at the American Red Cross, where preparation of the diverse blood components takes place. Other areas of training offered at UAB include stem cell collection, transplantation immunogenetics, and HLA. Many research opportunities are available both inside and outside the Department of Pathology. During the fellowship year, the fellow is expected to work on clinical research projects which will lead to scientific publications and presentations at national meetings.  The following is a list of published manuscripts authored by our fellows (in bold) over the last 5 years:
•    Marques MB, Tuncer HH, Divers SG, Baker AC, Harrison DK.  Acute transient leukopenia as a sign of TRALI. Am J Hematol 2005; 80:90.
•    Kankirawatana S, Berkow R, Marques MB. A neonate with bleeding and multiple factor deficiencies. Lab Medicine 2006; 37:5.
•    Reardon JE, Marques MB. Evaluation of Thrombocytopenia. Lab Medicine 2006; 37:248.
•    Marques MB, Tuncer HH. Photopheresis in solid organ transplants. J Clin Apher 2006; 17:72  
•    Reardon JE, Marques MB. Laboratory evaluation and transfusion support of patients with autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Am J Clin Path 2006;125 Suppl:S71
•    Kankirawatana S, Huang ST, Arndt D, Marques MB. Refractory thrombocytopenia and positive platelet crossmatches without HLA or platelet-specific antibodies. Am J Hematol 2007; 82:175.
•    Tuncer HH, Oster RA, Huang ST, Marques MB. Predictors of response and relapse in a cohort of adults with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-hemolytic uremic syndrome: a single-institution experience. Transfusion 2007;47:107
•    Kankirawatana S, Huang ST, Marques MB. Continuous infusion of calcium gluconate in 5% albumin is safe and prevents most hypocalcemic reactions during therapeutic plasma exchange. J Clin Apher 2007; 22:265
•    Cherry T, Reddy VB, Marques MB. Transfusion-related acute lung injury: past, present, and future. Am J Clin Path 2008; 129:287.

Named “the Magic City” because of its explosive growth, today’s Birmingham is an exciting and progressive city. Nearly a million people live in the greater metropolitan area. The warm hospitality of the people complements the temperate climate and the beautiful setting.

Birmingham’s economy continues to grow in the areas of engineering, finance, telecommunications, and biomedical research. Health care and education have replaced other industries as Birmingham’s economic base, and UAB is the state’s largest employer. Birmingham also boasts exceptional museums, parks, historical landmarks, family attractions, concerts, festivals, and sporting events.

Primary Faculty:
Marisa B. Marques, M.D.
Professor of Pathology and Program Director

Candidates should be Board-eligible or Board-certified in Clinical Pathology or other major specialty board and have an unrestricted Alabama license.
Commensurate with the year of postgraduate training.

Applications should be sent to:

Morgan Burke
Fellowship Program Coordinator
University of Alabama Hospital
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
619 South 19th Street
Birmingham, AL 35249-7331