James “Rob” Hackney, M.D., Associate Professor, Neuropathology and director of the UAB Pathology Residency Training Program from 2016-2020, has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2021. Hackney leaves a legacy of leadership in training residents and as a faculty member who builds up colleagues and trainees in the interest of strengthening the department as a whole.

                               James "Rob" Hackney, M.D., Associate Professor, Neuropathology

“Dr. Hackney has been a selfless leader and mentor to many in our department during his time on our faculty,” says George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, UAB Pathology. “He leaves a legacy of mentorship to our trainees as well as fellow faculty, relationships he continues to foster and I imagine will endure throughout his retirement. He will be missed, but we wish him great happiness in this next phase of his life.”

Hackney joined the UAB Division of Neuropathology as an instructor in 2012, having just completed a “late-life” fellowship in neuropathology at UAB under the guidance of Dr. Cheryl Palmer and Dr. Steven Carroll. He is a military veteran, having spent two years in the U.S. Army. He graduated from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 1979, followed by AP/CP Residency training at the Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, where he served as Chief resident (1979-83). Hackney completed a fellowship in hematopathology at the University of Pennsylvania, before moving back to New Orleans as a staff pathologist to become director of the Hematology Laboratory at Ochsner Clinic from 1985-1989.

In 1989 Hackney returned to Birmingham to practice surgical pathology and hematopathology at St. Vincent’s Hospital, serving as Chief of Pathology from 2002 until 2010. While at St. Vincent’s, Hackney was heavily involved in St. Vincent’s breast cancer and robotic prostatectomy programs. The latter was, for several years one, among the top five largest robotic prostatectomy programs in the world.

In 2010, Hackney moved to UAB to undertake a two-year fellowship in neuropathology. He spent his fellowship research year working with Jonas Almeida, Ph.D., in the Department’s new Division of Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics, tackling projects in diagnostic image analysis. During his time as a diagnostic surgical neuropathologist, Hackney achieved the rank of Associate Professor, in 2013. He was closely involved in the Pathology Residency Training Program, eventually serving as Program Director for several years.

Hackney completed his career as Associate Director of the Division of Neuropathology. “My brief, nine-year ‘second career’ on the UAB Faculty has been the pinnacle of my pathology career, and has allowed me to give back to the field by helping to train the next generation of pathologists,” he says.

Brandi McCleskey, M.D., Assistant Professor, Forensics, assumed the role of director of the Pathology Residency Training Program from Hackney in late 2020, and praises Hackney’s stewardship.

“He accepted the role in 2016 and provided the support and mentorship necessary to continue the successes of our program,” McCleskey says. Hackney took a personal interest in the success of the program, she continues, “recruiting capable new members to our Pathology family by singlehandedly reviewing hundreds of applications as he sought the ’right fit.’”

“We share a common vision of seeking the ‘diamond in the rough’ and are always excited to find ‘a catch,’” she says.

Hackney is married with 6 grown children and 12 grandchildren. His interests outside of work include electric guitar, sports (especially swimming), and spending time with family. In retirement, he hopes to spend more time with grandchildren in Birmingham, Southern California, and South Florida.