On July 1, 2021, the Department welcomes a new faculty member to the Division of Neuropathology, directed by C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Alex Feldman 1 1Alex Feldman, M.D., joins the UAB Department of Pathology as Assistant Professor, Neuropathology. This is his first faculty position. 

Dr. Feldman completed his medical school education at the UAB School of Medicine in 2012. He then completed one year as a general surgery intern at the University of Illinois at Chicago before moving back to UAB for an anatomic/clinical pathology residency in the Department of Pathology. Feldman served as AP Chief Resident in his final year at UAB before completing a Pediatric Fellowship at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He returned to Chicago to complete a Neuropathology Fellowship at Northwestern University in June 2021.

Written by: Christina Crowe
Media contact: Anna Jones

B cell and antibodies, computer illustration.Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D., has received a $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study epigenetic contribution to the excess risk of a precursor of multiple myeloma in African Americans.The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D., has received a $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to support her investigation of the epigenetic contribution to the risk of a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, known as MGUS, in African Americans. MGUS is a condition in which an abnormal protein formed within the bone marrow is found in the blood. MGUS is a precursor to multiple myeloma, the most common blood cancer affecting African Americans. Multiple myeloma is characterized by the prolonged accumulation and survival of antibody-producing tumor cells. The disease has a median survival rate of about five years.

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.”

UAB Pathology celebrated the 2020-21 outgoing UAB Pathology fellowswith farewell luncheons. The Fellowship Trainee Program is sending off 14 pathologists to various positions or additional fellowships.



Kracke article 3Roy R. Kracke Clinical Services Building circa ince its initiation, the UAB School of Medicine has committed to continual growth of research, patient care, and education. Central to this growth is state-of-the-art facilities that serve the needs of educators, students, trainees, researchers, and physicians.

To support the advancement of the School of Medicine as a national leader of excellence, several facilities on campus are undergoing renovation or remodeling.

University of Alabama at Birmingham HospitalHealthcare worker preparing COVID-19 vaccine.Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 continue to decrease because of vaccinations, but we still need more people vaccinated.
(Photo by: Andrea Mabry)
 medical staff is caring for eight COVID-positive inpatients today — the fewest since March 22, 2020, when staff were caring for six patients. At its highest point, on Jan. 3, 2021, UAB’s medical staff was caring for 215 COVID-positive inpatients. Doctors say the reason things have improved recently is vaccines — but we need more people vaccinated to not continue to see spikes, hospitalizations and deaths, experts say. 

As part of the School of Medicine's recognition of Pride Month this June, in which we are showcasing the exceptional voices, programs, initiatives, patient care, and research committed to the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community, the UAB Pathology team is proud to have one of our members share her personal experience.

Cheryl Moore, HR Administrator in the JNWB Administrative offices of UAB Pathology, tells her story in her own voice. Cheryl has been with UAB Pathology for four years and serves on the department's Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.

Cheryl Moore 2021 2 

In Her Words:

My name is Cheryl Moore and I identify as a lesbian, happily married to my wife Michelle. We have been together for nearly 10 years and were married in 2016, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling for all states to recognize same-sex marriages.

One full year after missing the opportunity to gather in person for a outgoing reception for our residents, fellows and trainees, on June 3, department faculty, staff, fellows and residents came together to celebrate. The annual event, excepting 2020 due to COVID19, was held at B&A Warehouse, near Railroad Park adjacent to downtown Birmingham, from 6 to 8 p.m., where attendees enjoyed dinner and an awards ceremony.

A welcome by Brandi McCleskey, M.D., Director of the Pathology Residency Program, was followed by opening remarks from George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair in Pathology. McCleksey gave a touching tribute to outgoing residency program director James Hackney, M.D., Associate Professor, Neuropathology, in recognition of his years of service in that role. Hackney will retire at the end of June, 2021.

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All trainees pictured above have been fully vaccinated.

This year's outgoing Chief Residents Christine Pesoli, M.D., Anatomic Pathology, and Benjamin Daggett, M.D., Clinical Pathology, presented faculty awards. Leonard H. Robinson Award for Resident Education in Anatomic Pathology went to Deepti Dhall, M.D., Professor and Associate Director, Anatomic Pathology. The Shu T. Huang Award for Excellence in Laboratory Medicine Excellence was given to Chad Siniard, M.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine.

Ona Faye-Petersen, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Anatomic Pathology, presented the Outstanding Trainee Teaching Award for Multidisciplinary & Medical Student Education to residents Ali Burkett, M.D., and Rich Godby, M.D. The Roy D. Kracke Award for Best Presentation in Anatomic Pathology Seminar Series was presented by Chirag Patel, M.D., Assistant Professor, Anatomic Pathology, to Raima Memon, M.D.

View all of the photos from the event here.

featured discovery

Written by 
Maynard squareCraig Maynard, Ph.D.Craig Maynard, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pathology, is the latest winner of the School of Medicine’s Featured Discovery. This initiative celebrates important research from School of Medicine faculty members.

Maynard and his team were recently published in PNAS for their study “ICOS ligand and IL-10 synergize to promote host–microbiota mutualism.”

In the study, Maynard and his team, including first author Ashley Landuyt, Ph.D., former student in the Immunology Theme of the Graduate Biomedical Science (GBS) program, compared normal mice with mice devoid of the T cell co-stimulatory protein ICOSL, to help determine the role of this protein in the regulation of immune responses in the intestine.

Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., UAB Distinguished Professor, Robert W. Mowry Endowed Professor and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Pathology, has been elected vice president of the International Society of Bone and Soft Tissue Pathology. He will automatically ascend to the presidency of the organization in two years.

In April 2021, Siegal was appointed Distinguished Professor by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, the first such honor for a pathologist at UAB.

“I am highly moved that my colleagues around the world have honored me in this way with this opportunity to further serve them at this time in my life," Siegal said.

Mahler LilySooryanarayana Varambally, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, was presented with the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research (SAASCR) at this year's American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, held virtually in  May 17-21.

Varambally is Director of Integrative Translational Oncologic Pathology research and Co-director of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences program in Cancer Biology, and a scientist with the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Informatics Institute, and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The award recognizes, "his seminal contributions to the field of cancer research."

The Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research is a nonprofit organization of more than 5,000 scientists from Asia who are working in the U.S. and Canada in the field of cancer research.


Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., is a Professor in the division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, 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. Samant answers some questions about his experiences with diversity.

The Dean's Excellence Awards are annual honors awarded to select UAB School of Medicine faculty for excellence in the areas of teaching, service, research, mentorship, and diversity enhancement. Awardees are chosen through a peer-review process and facilitated by a member of the dean's leadership team.

In 2021 the school recognized 18 faculty for their outstanding achievements, and the UAB Department of Pathology is excited to have four winners this year: Peter Anderson, DVM, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, senior award for teaching; Brandi McCleskey, M.D., Assistant Professor, Forensic Pathology, junior award for mentoring; Sixto Leal, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine, junior award for service; and Frida Rosenblum Donath, M.D., Assistant Professor, Anatomic Pathology, junior award for teaching. 

Dr. LitovskyPeter Anderson, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Peter Anderson, D.V.M., Ph.D., is the 2021 recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Award in Teaching for senior faculty. Anderson is a professor in the Department of Pathology, Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology and the Director of Pathology Undergraduate Education at the UAB School of Medicine.

Mahler LilyUAB medical student Lily Mahler is the 2021 recipient of the William Boyd Medal at the 2021 University of Alabama School of Medicine Dean's Awards ceremony, held virtually on May 20, 2021. The Boyd Medal is given each year to the UAB medical student whose performance in all aspects of their pathology education has been most outstanding.

Mahler attended Auburn University for her undergraduate studies in microbiology and graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine with her medical degree in May. She served as a Medical Student Research Assistant in 2020 under Brandi McCleskey, M.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Forensic Pathology, where she participated in research efforts with the UAB School of Medicine (SOM) and the Jefferson County Medical Examiners Office. In this role, Mahler learned literature review and manscript drafting. She gained additional research experience in 2018 from the laboratory of John Hartman, I.V., M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, where she studied NF1 gene regulation via phenomic characterization of Saccharomyces cerevisiae homolog IRA2. Mahler will move to Boston to work as a pathology resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 

In his fourth decade of service to UAB, Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., Robert W. Mowry Endowed Professor and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Pathology, can add the title of Distinguished Professor to his long list of accomplishments. Siegal’s appointment was approved by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees in April 2021, and is the first such honor for a pathologist at UAB.

During his 30+ year tenure at UAB, Siegal has set a high standard through his professional, academic, research, and service contributions. In his current role as Executive Vice Chair, he delivers tremendous administrative support and experience to the operations of both the department and the institution.

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“By the very nature of his more than three-decade commitment to excellence in this academic community, his unwavering dedication to groups underrepresented in medicine, and the recognition and goodwill he has generated for UAB by the model of physician-scholar that he sets, Dr. Siegal is worthy of being named a Distinguished Professor,” says George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, UAB Department of Pathology. “We are very proud to see him recognized by the institution for his lifelong commitment to clinical, educational and administrative endeavors.”

IMG 1267Clockwise starting front left: Zheng Ping (class of 2017), Professor Shi Wei, Ruby Ma (2016), Jennifer Gordetsky, Assistant Professors Ginger Duncan (2017) and Brandi McCleskey (2016), Ren (2014), Dejun Shen.

In the Department of Pathology, we are fortunate to have several faculty members who worked as trainees at UAB at one point or another in their academic careers. Follow along with a few of them as they describe when they first came to UAB, and how they wound up as full-time faculty on our team. Their stories are varied, and we are thrilled to count them all as colleagues. 



Written by: Christina Crowe
Media contact: Bob Shepard

GDL.3Craig Mackinnon, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., professor and director, Division of Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics
Photography: Steve Wood
The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and UAB Hospital laboratories have established the Genomic Diagnostics Lab, a first step toward an expanded offering of genomic diagnostic testing at UAB. This collaborative project with the UAB Department of Pathology’s Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics Division and UAB Hospital opened in January 2021.

This year April 18-24 is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, an annual celebration of medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in health care and patient advocacy led by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Celebrations took place throughout the week, including lunches for lab staff on Wednesday, April 21, and a photo contest. The Lab Week Photo Contest, sponsored by Marisa Marques, M.D., Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine, asked department and hospital lab staff to submit images that "identify beauty found in the midst of a global pandemic."

First Place Winner:
Christine DeGreen, night shift Core Lab – untitled 

Better Genomic Diagnostics for Alabama

By Christina Crowe

DeviceQIAGEN QIASYMPHONY SP Sample Preparation/DNA RNA PurificationGenomic diagnostics are poised to play an increased role in precision medicine at UAB and throughout the state, if Alexander “Craig” Mackinnon, M.D., Ph.D., division director, Genomic Diagnostics and Bioinformatics has anything to say about it. Last year we brought you the story of how Mackinnon joined the Department of Pathology and under the leadership of George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, outlined several initiatives for 2020, including the creation of a precision diagnostics laboratory. That plan was part of Netto’s vision for the department when he came to serve as chair four years ago.

This year, April 14, is Pathologists’ Assistants (PA) Day, a day of appreciation led by the American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants. Raima Memon, M.D., PGY3 Chief Resident, Anatomic Pathology, wrote the following to describe the important role of a PA in pathology, and to celebrate our department’s three hardworking PAs, Joe Begany, Audrey Alexander and Kaitlin Forsythe.

PA Day Logo 2021Celebrating our department's PAs (left to right): Kaitlin Forsythe, Joe Begany and Audrey Alexander

What role does the PA play in the pathology “process”?

PAs are an integral part of the UAB Pathology team. They perform many tasks including, but certainly not limited to: Grossing surgical specimens, procurement research specimens, and training pathology residents.

What role do they play in our Department in particular?

Our PAs have re-shaped the surgical pathology experience. They facilitate resident education not only by teaching and supervising residents during grossing, but also by allowing time to focus on complex and educational specimens. The PAs have been integral in updating equipment (bone saw), safety measures (cut-resistant gloves) and improving specimen turnaround time (increased processing for fatty specimens and submitting additional sections).