Students from the UAB School of Medicine honored their outstanding mentors, professors, courses and course directors at the Argus Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 27 during a live ceremony on Zoom. Among this year's winners were four Department of Pathology faculty members, and one former faculty member.

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The Argus Awards, created in 1996, allow medical students to nominate faculty members by course evaluations and vote to select award winners for each category.

Department winners of the 2020 Argus Awards are:

Fauci 1Kevin Harrod, Ph.D.Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., director of Infectious Diseases, got a text at the end of Wednesday’s four-hour School of Medicine COVID-19 Research Symposium that highlighted the broad and breakneck work done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham since March 2020.

“It seems like we’ve done 10 years of work in seven months!” she told participants. 

Presentations by eight leading UAB researchers buoyed that sentiment. Among the work:

Faculty, staff, student and community innovators were recognized for their 2020 contributions to COVID-19 research, innovation and entrepreneurship during the fifth annual UAB Innovation Awards presented by the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HIIE) Oct. 29.

Wei.jpgShi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Associate Director, Anatomic Pathology, was recently elected, on October 26, as a 2020-2022 Uncontested Executive Committee Member-at-Large for the International Skeletal Society (ISS).

 

COVID lab2Anthony Fauci, M.D., one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and Kathleen Neuzil, M.D., one of the world’s most influential research scientists and advocates in vaccine development and policy, delivered keynote addresses to more than 2,000 trainees, faculty, staff and invited guests today as part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s virtual COVID-19 Research Symposium.  

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave the symposium’s kickoff keynote address where he was welcomed and introduced by “my good friend, Mike Saag” [UAB professor and infectious diseases researcher Michael Saag, M.D.], whom he thanked for the invitation to speak to the university. Fauci spoke for almost 20 minutes on the public health and scientific challenges of the historic COVID-19 pandemic and what’s next — which he hopes is a vaccine candidate in the very near future.

The UAB Department of Pathology is pleased to announce a Request for Applications for Pilot/Feasibility Clinical Research grants to facilitate and enhance Clinical Research programs and scholarly activity across the Department.

Projects that will advance the department's academic, scholarly and research missions are especially welcome. Examples of anticipated use of funds include collection of data to be used in conference presentations (e.g. USCAP, ASC, CAP, ASIP and ASCP), peer-reviewed publications and internal pilot or extramural grant applications.

Photo GMThe Department is excited to welcome Dr. Girish Melkani as associate professor in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology, effective October 1. 

Dr. Melkani comes to UAB from San Diego State University, where he did his postdoctoral studies, followed by his faculty tenure. His research focuses on disruptions of circadian rhythms associated with cardiometabolic, muscular, and sleep disorders that are hallmarks of many genetic, metabolic, and aging diseases. His lab has been at the forefront of developing and using clinically-relevant genetic models of human systemic metabolic abnormalities, cardiometabolic disease, myopathies, neuropathies, and aging using pathophysiological, cell-molecular, genetics, and nutritional approaches. His lab research findings have been published in high-impact research journals, including Science, Nature Communications, Aging Cell, eLife, Human Molecular Genetics, and PLoS Genetics.

JValcinGraduate students in the labs of two faculty members in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology recently celebrated dissertation defenses, publications, and grant awards.

Jennifer Valcin, PhD, successfully defended her doctoral dissertation titled, “Circadian Clock and Lipid Metabolism Disruption in Fatty Liver Disease” on July 17, 2020, and graduated August 2020. Dr. Valcin was a student in the UAB GBS Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics Theme mentored by Dr. Shannon Bailey, Professor, in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology.

The Division of Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics has selected GenomOncology's Pathology Workbench and GenomAnalytics to help scale their molecular pathology lab's test volume and analysis, according to a press release on Thursday, September 29, 2020.

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The division, led by director Alexander "Craig" Mackinnon, Jr., MD, PhD, intends to expand testing within the lab, as well as reduce the turnaround time from NGS sample to report by over 80%. Dr. Mackinnon's strategy is to impact patient care by dramatically improving the analytical capabilities of the lab.

GenomOncology's Pathology Workbench will help UAB scale their test volume due to the simplified workflow for variant analysis and comprehensive support for panels. In addition, the streamlined workflow will allow pathologists to return final reports to oncologists with reduced turnaround time. UAB is also using GenomAnalytics' cohort analysis capabilities to combine genomic and molecular data into one, comprehensive view. UAB will leverage the data visualization capabilities of GenomAnalytics for treatment and outcome analysis. 

"The collaboration with the GenomOncology team and the overall flexibility of GenomOncology's solutions enables integration with the workflows of the UAB lab. This integration streamlines the variant review and analysis process, improving the turnaround time from NGS sample to report," said Craig Mackinnon, MD, PhD, Director of Genomics Diagnostics and Bioinformatics at UAB.

Read the full release here.

mmarquesMarisa Marques, MD, is Professor and Interim Division Director of Laboratory Medicine and co-chair of the Department of Pathology's Diversity Task Force. This group meets monthly and includes representatives from around the department, including faculty, staff, and trainees. Here, Dr. Marques shares her personal story of diversity. 

Are you a graduate of an international medical school (IMG)? Are you a parent? A significant other? A resident? Embarking on an academic career? Many years ago, I also identified with those labels (and some of them, still do). I still remember vividly how it felt to be at those milestones, and I would love to share with you some heartfelt advice.

Dr. Marisa Marques, M.D., Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine, has been nominated to join the FDA's Blood Products Advisory Commitee (BPAC), which reviews and evaluates data concerning the safety, effectiveness, and appropriate use of blood, products derived from blood and serum or biotechnology which are intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of human diseases, and, as required, any other product for which the Food and Drug Administration has regulatory responsibility, and advises the Commissioner of Food and Drugs of its findings.

The Committee consists of a core of 17 voting members including the Chair. The core of the voting members may include one technically qualified member who is identified with consumer interest. In addition to the voting members, the Committee may include one nonvoting member who is identified with industry interest. Dr. Marques will serve a three-four year term.  

The Department of Pathology is pleased to announce some exciting changes to the leadership team for our Department’s Residency programs, directed by Dr. James “Rob” Hackney, Associate Professor, Neuropathology, since 2015.

Hackney 

Dr. Brandi McCleskey, assistant professor, Forensics, will join Dr. Hackney as co-director of the proram, effective October 1, 2020.

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rep hel nets 1000pxNeutrophils releasing neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). NETs are stained to visualize neutrophil myeloperoxidase (red) and DNA (blue). Image courtesy Zdenek Hel, Ph.D.It is the stuff of nightmares. Patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) during COVID-19 say it felt like “I was gasping my last breath“ and “as if somebody had taken a scuba diving tank while I'm underwater and turned it off completely.”

Lin2Chen Lin, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of NeurologyStroke patients who also have COVID-19 showed increased systemic inflammation, a more serious stroke severity and a much higher rate of death, compared to stroke patients who did not have COVID-19, according to University of Alabama at Birmingham research led by Chen Lin, M.D., an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Neurology.

Erin Eun-Young Ahn, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, was recently awarded an R01 from the National Cancer Institute based on her project submission, titled, "SON-mediated RNA splicing in glioblastoma." The award began July 1, 2020 and will run through May 30, 2021. The project is expected to run through May 30, 2025. 

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The Department of Pathology is honored to announce the promotion and tenure of five of our esteemed faculty colleagues for 2020, effective October 1, 2020:

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Shuko Harada, M.D., Genomic Diagnostics & Bioinformatics -- Promotion to Professor with Award of Tenure
Dr. Harada is the Section head of the Molecular Diagnostics Section and former Interim Director of the Division of Genomic Diagnostics & Bioinformatics. She has particular interests in precision medicine in oncology and pharmacogenomics, and is a member of the Precision Medicine Institute and the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.

rep banner abbott test 600x225UAB is using the Architect antibody test from Abbott. Image courtesy Abbott.Have I had COVID-19?

That is one of the biggest questions in the world right now, and many people are looking to COVID-19 antibody tests for the answer. These blood tests search for the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The tests expose a person’s blood to (inactive) pieces of SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies are highly specific; if a person’s blood contains antibodies that bind to SARS-CoV-2, that person has probably been infected sometime in the past two weeks to several months.

COVID-19 has affected virtually every facet of life in Alabama, and since the crisis began, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been leveraging its expertise to fill a critical leadership role in response to the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the vital importance of UAB to Alabama and the world,” says UAB President Ray Watts, M.D. “We continue to leverage research and innovation, community service, patient care, and education to make a big difference.”

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The sheer scale of the GuideSafe Entry Testing initiative is staggering. Part of the multi-tool GuideSafe platform — a partnership between UAB and the Alabama Department of Public Health that has received more than $30 million in CARES Act funding from Gov. Kay Ivey — Alabama’s GuideSafe Entry Testing is the largest higher-education testing initiative in the nation.

UAB Pathology Celebrates its First Female Division Director, Cristina Magi-Galluzzi, M.D., Ph.D.

September is Women in Medicine month—the perfect time to recognize the first female division director of the Department of Pathology, Cristina Magi-Galluzzi, M.D., Ph.D.

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