By Christina Crowe

On December 15, 2021, the Department welcomes a new faculty member to the Division of Neuropathology directed by C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Shu G. Chen, Ph.D., joins the UAB Department of Pathology as Professor, Neuropathology, from Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Pathology, where he served as professor.

Chen earned his Ph.D. in Biochemical Pharmacology from the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) in 1993. Chen went on to become a Senior Research Associate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, for his post-graduate training in 1992 before accepting a position as an instructor and later as assistant professor in Case Western’s Department of Pathology, in 1996.
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Dr. Chen is a well-established neurobiologist in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. Among his achievements, he is among the first to elucidate the structural differences in prion protein that causes distinct human prion diseases, the basis for today’s prion strain typing as a diagnostic tool in the prion field. He is also an expert on the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease associated with LRRK2 mutations. Chen’s current research focuses on biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, supported by two R01s and a U01 award on the topics, from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He is also supported by the NIA for an R01 on computational prediction, network analysis and genetic screening in C. elegans to uncover neurodegenerative causes in Alzheimer’s disease. Chen has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers in high-quality scientific journals, with a citation h-index of 52 by Google Scholar.

By Christina Crowe

After nearly 20 years in the UAB Department of Pathology, Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology and section head, breast pathology, will take on a new role as the Barbara F. Atkinson Endowed Professor and Director of Translational Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. His last day at UAB Pathology is December 10, when he will assume an adjunct faculty role in the department.

wei group picFaculty, trainees and staff gathered to celebrate colleague Dr. Shi WeiWei started his tenure at UAB as a resident in Pathology in 2004, mentored by Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice Chair and Robert M. Mowry Endowed Professor, UAB Pathology. He stayed on at UAB as a fellow, then as an instructor in 2009. He was promoted from assistant to associate professor in 2013, and then again in 2016 to full professor. In 2015, Wei was named section head for Surgical Pathology, and until recently has served as associate division director, Anatomic Pathology.

“It is with mixed feelings that I am leaving UAB Pathology,” Wei says. “I’ve enjoyed being here at UAB, which is a very collegial working place; that’s why I stayed here for more than 12 years on faculty. It’s not an easy decision to make to leave UAB.”

IMG 21361Dezhi Wang, M.D., MBA, HTL, QIHC, Lab Manager, loading slides to the new automated IHC system-BOND Rx from LeicaAfter years of planning and discussion, and months of packing and moving, the Pathology Core Research Lab (PCRL), located in the basement of the Lyons Harrison Research Building since the 1960s and under the purview of the Department of Pathology since 2014, made its permanent move to the fourth floor of the Ziegler Building, next door. This research lab, managed by Dezhi Wang, M.D., MBA, HTL, QIHC, and directed by Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., UAB Distinguished Professor, now enjoys spreading out across the fourth floor of the Zeigler Research Building in a space that includes wet and dry labs and office space.

“We’ve moved to a much more modern lab space that will allow us to better serve our users from all over the world,” Wang says.

In 'The Checkup' podcast, Selwyn Vickers, M.D., FACS, dean of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, brings you into the heart of UAB's thriving academic medical center by exploring unique campus programs, innovative concepts, and ground-breaking research. Dr. Vickers interviews guests with diverse backgrounds, and has candid conversations with the people who are powering science and medicine at UAB, in Birmingham, and around the globe.
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This year, the Department of Pathology is proud to announce we have three faculty receipients for the Argus Awards, presented by the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.

Created in 1996, the Argus Awards give medical students the chance to honor their mentors, professors, courses, and course directors for outstanding service to medical education. Faculty members are nominated by course evaluations, and students vote to select award winners in each category. The Department of Medical Education and the Argus Society announced this year's winners at a ceremony on Friday, November 5, 2021.

Congratulations to the following UAB Pathology faculty awardees:

Pre-Clinical Awards: Best MS1 Course

Best Educator: Gastrointestinal

On November 1, 2021, the Department welcomed a new faculty member to the Division of Anatomic Pathology, directed by Cristina Magi-Galluzzi, M.D., Ph.D.

Diana M. Oramas-Mogrovejo, M.D., joins the UAB Department of Pathology as Assistant Professor, Anatomic Pathology. This is her first faculty position.

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Dr. Oramas-Mogrovejo completed her medical school education at the University of Guayaquil, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Ecuador in 2011. She completed her pathology residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2019, where she also served as Chief Resident in her final year. Oramas-Mogrovejo did a Selective Surgical Pathology Fellowship in 2020 and a Thoracic Pathology Fellowship in 2021 at the University of Texas MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston. 

ModPath Chat, the official podcast of Modern Pathology, a journal of the US and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) is excited to celebrate its first anniversary under the leadership of editor-in-chief George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair for the Department of Pathology. 

This monthly podcast features interviews with authors, opinion leaders and experts on the latest science techhnology, and developments in the fields of pathology.

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You can read all the papers featured in ModPath Chat in their dedicated Papers from the Podcast collection. Congratulations to the ModPath Team!

Exterior shot of O'Neal Cancer CenterThe O’Neal Invests program funds UAB investigators starting new cancer-related projects to initiate key, preliminary work needed to enable competitive R01 applications from the NIH.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama is awarding funds for three new projects through the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s O’Neal Invests research program. 

The O’Neal Invests program funds UAB investigators starting new cancer-related projects to initiate key, preliminary work needed to enable competitive R01 applications from the National Institutes of Health.

The UAB Department of Pathology is pleased to announce that Liyun Cao, Ph.D., has been promoted to Assistant Professor in the Division of Laboratory Medicine, effective October 1, 2021. Dr. Cao has been an Instructor in our department since 2018 when she joined former Division Director Dr. X. Long Zheng’s research laboratory.

Liyun Cao

Prior to coming to UAB, Dr. Cao received her Ph.D. at Indiana University School of Medicine where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship.  From there, she was trained in Clinical Chemistry at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and achieved board certification by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry. 

The UAB Department of Pathology is pleased to announce the appointment of Shuko Harada, M.D., Professor, Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics and Head of the Molecular Diagnostics Section, as the inaugural Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Department of Pathology, effective October 1, 2021.


Our chair, George J. Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, recently had the opportunity to visit the Medical University in Pleven and the Center of Competence Leonardo da Vinci in Bulgaria. The university is one of five medical campuses in Bulgaria and the newly established Center focuses on personalized medicine, 3D and telemedicine, robotic and minimally invasive surgery. In 2020 UAB, through leadership by the department, established a memorandum of understanding for a partnership with the university.


In this Women in Medicine and Science month, we would like to salute our residency program.

In more than 30 years, Dr. Brandi McCleskey is the first woman program director, assisted by Drs. Andrea Kahn and Nirupama Singh as Associate Program Directors in Anatomic Pathology (AP) and Laboratory Medicine (LM), respectively, an all-female team leading our residents. The recruitment season for the 2022 class of residents has just begun and we are excited to see how they plan to showcase UAB once more to national and international candidates. 
Untitled design 8Dr. Brandi McCleskey, Dr. Andrea Kahn, Dr. Nirupama Singh

Of the current 25 residents, 13 are women. They come from a large variety of backgrounds, states and other countries, and are led by the AP chief resident, Raima Memon, M.D., who is originally from Pakistan. In the senior class, she and Qing Wei, M.D., Ph.D., are the only woman, while in the third-year class there are five women residents: Drs. Sarah Anderson, Alison Burkett, Cori Clark, Sarah dePew, and Natalie Larsen.  Kesley Green, M.D., is the only woman in the second-year class, while five other young women physicians have recently started their training at UAB: Drs. Falone Amoa, Brooke Bartow, Mishi Bhushan, Lisa Bianco and Caroline Stanek. Together with their male colleagues, these women are learning to be awesome pathologists and already providing outstanding care to countless patients at UAB. 

We celebrate all our outstanding women faculty, trainees, and staff. 

The American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) hosted a campaign in celebration of the Women in Medicine and Science in September. To learn more and support their campaign, visit their website.

The UAB Department of Pathology is sad to announce the passing of John Smith, M.D., Ph.D., MMMD, DSc (Hon), Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Chemistry Section Head, UAB Pathology, on September 19, 2021, at the age of 74.

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Dr. Smith was a lauded member of the UAB Pathology family, having led the Division of Laboratory Medicine for 20 years as its director. In his tenure with the department he also served as Assistant Chief of Staff, UAB Hospital; Chair of the Promotions and Tenure Committee, UAB School of Medicine; Chair, UAB Faculty Senate; and UAB Faculty Representative to the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

“John Smith’s impact on the Department of Pathology and in the fields of pathology and chemistry cannot be overstated,” says George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, UAB Pathology. “He was a lifelong learner, passionate about his field and about sharing his career knowledge with others. Dr. Smith was always finding ways to continue give back, and was a key contributor to the department and hospital labs in his role as section head for Clinical Chemistry.”

Yabing Chen, Ph.D., is the first researcher at the Birmingham VA to receive this highest honor for a non-physician scientist.Yabing Chen, Ph.D., is the first researcher at the Birmingham VA to receive this highest honor for a non-physician scientist.
(Photography: Nik Layman)

In 2016, Yabing Chen, Ph.D., a University of Alabama at Birmingham professor of pathology and research scientist at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, received a prestigious VA Research Career Scientist Award that provided five years of salary. 

Now she has taken an even larger step — a Senior Research Career Scientist Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs that will give her seven more years of salary support. 

The Department of Pathology is honored to announce the promotion and tenure of three of our esteemed faculty colleagues for 2021, effective October 1, 2021:

201765823320.Harada Shuko smallSameer Al Diffalha, M.D., Anatomic Pathology -- Promotion to Associate Professor 
Dr. Al Diffalha is promoted from assistant to associate professor in the Division of Anatomic Pathology. He is co-director of the UAB Tissue Biorepository and associate scientist with the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Silvio Litovsky, M.D.

National Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off September 15, 2021, and we're proud to share the stories of our two Diversity Task Force founding faculty members' personal stories. First, Silvio Litovsky, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, Senior Scientist, Comprehensive Cardiovascular Center and Associate Scientist, Minorith Health & Research Center and the General Clinical Research Center at UAB. He won the 2020 SOM Dean's Excellence Award in Teaching and also won an Argus Teaching Award in 2020 as best MS1 organ module director, cardiovascular. Dr. Litovsky was born and raised in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.

Geoffrey Herndon, DO

Geoffrey Herndon, D.O., is a current PGY3 resident, and a member of the Department of Pathology's Diversity Task Force. This group meets regularly and includes representatives from around the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. Here, Dr. Herndon answers some questions about his experiences with diversity.

Erin White, CRA, Director Financial Research on UAB Pathology's administrative leadership team, has been selected for the "Future of the Field" award by the Society of Research Administrators International.

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The selection recognizes noteworthy professional growth and contributions to the research administration profession. White will attend SRAI's 2021 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, October 25-27, where she will be formally recognized as an honoree.

Erin Eun-Young Ahn, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology, has been working with the SON protein and gene since her early days of her career as a researcher at the University of California in San Diego. At the time, she had no idea her work would lead to the possibility of a possible medical treatment for a very rare disease.

Erin AhnErin Eun-Young Ahn. Ph.D., Associate Professor

Zhu-Tokita-Takenouchi-Kim Syndrome, or ZTTK, is a rare disease caused by a genetic mutation of the SON gene, characterized by moderate to severe intellectual disability and developmental delays affecting systems throughout the body, including the cardiovascular, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, nervous, and digestive systems, among others.

Ahn recently celebrated the establishment of the ZTTK SON-Shine Foundation, an organization designed to recognize the syndrome and increase awareness of it. She serves as the group’s primary researcher.

hanfei dingOn September 1, 2021, the Department of Pathology welcomes a new faculty member to the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, directed by Ralph Sanderson, Ph.D.

Han-Fei Ding, Ph.D., joins the Department as Professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology. Dr. Ding was previously a Professor in the departments of Pathology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia and a Professor in the Graduate School at Augusta University. He served as an active member of the Georgia Cancer Center.