Written by Christina Crowe

39139scr_2ffe575957cd264.jpgWilliam Benjamin, Jr., Ph.D., Professor, Laboratory Medicine, will retire at the end of this month, August 31, 2022, after 35 years of service at UAB. He is director of the parasitology and microbiology labs, and frequently referred to by friends and colleagues as, “the bug guy.”

Benjamin received his Ph.D. from UAB in the 1980s after having studied at Montana State University for his Master of Science, and Washington State University for his Bachelor of Science degree. He began his professional career at UAB in the Department of Microbiology as a research associate, becoming an instructor in the Department of Pathology in 1991. A year later, Benjamin earned assistant professor status in both departments; by 2008 he had earned full professor status in both.

Written by Hannah Buckelew

39139scr_2ffe575957cd264.jpgEason Hildreth, D.V.M., Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, was recently awarded the 2022 Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS) Teaching Award at the Graduate Student Research Day event held Friday, August 12. The award recognizes a course director or lecturer who has demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching and is nominated and voted upon by GBS Ph.D. students.

 Written by Christina Crowe

artboard 1In this series, we spotlight several researchers in the Department of Pathology who hold endowed professorships and, in one case, a chair. We recognize each of these individuals for his or her dedication to and innovation in their respective fields of study.

The second individual we focus on in our series of researchers holding endowments is Yabing Chen, Ph.D. M.B.A. Dr. Chen is a Professor in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology at UAB Pathology. She is senior scientist with the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Aging, Comprehensive Diabetes Center, Center for Free Radical Biology, the Nephrology Research Training Center, and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center. She is a Senior Research Career Scientist at the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

Tyrrell Headshot MCPOn August 15, 2022, the Department of Pathology welcomes a new faculty member to the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, directed by Ralph Sanderson, Ph.D.

Daniel Tyrrell, Ph.D., joins the department as assistant professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology. Dr. Tyrrell joins us from the University of Michigan where he served as research investigator in the Department of Cardiology’s Division of Internal Medicine.

 Written by Christina Crowe

artboard 1In this series, we spotlight several researchers in the Department of Pathology who hold endowed professorships and, in one case, a chair. We recognize each of these individuals for his or her dedication to and innovation in their respective fields of study.

The first individual we take aim at is the newest member of our faculty research team, Han-Fei Ding, M.D., Ph.D., inaugural holder of the Gene P. Siegal Endowed Professorship, in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology. He joined the department in September 2021, coming from Augusta University Cancer Center.

Written by Christina Crowe

The Department of Pathology is excited to welcome Dario Vitturi, Ph.D., back to UAB as assistant professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology.

Originally from Montevideo, Uruguay, Vitturi obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Alabama at Birmingham under the direction of Rakesh Patel, Ph.D., Vice Chair, Research, in the Molecular and Cellular Pathology graduate program. Upon completion of his graduate studies, Vitturi joined the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, first as a postdoctoral associate under the direction of Dr. Bruce Freeman, and then as a faculty member.

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Written by Christina Crowe

Michael Williams, M.D., M.Sc., Neuropathology fellow with UAB Pathology, has been selected as an honoree for The Pathologist's 2022 Power List, in the category of "First Contact." The list, published by the magazine, is an annual celebration of the great and inspirational minds that underpin the medical laboratory and honors select individuals in six different categories.

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Williams was honored in the "First Contact" category, recognizing his work on the podcast he hosts, "Diversity in Path," which aims to, "explore how investing in diversity can lead to a high return of investment in pathology and lab medicine by learning from the knowledge and experiences of diverse voices within in our field."

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Williams started the podcast in August 2021 shortly after moving to Birmingham to start his two-year Neuropathology fellowship at UAB Pathology. In each episode, he interviews individuals in the field.

Sixto Leal head shotWritten by Christina Crowe

Sixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Division of Laboratory Medicine, was recently awarded an American Lung Association COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award for his project, “The Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Immune Dysregulation on Antifungal Immunity.” This is a two-year, $200,000 award.

The aim of the study is to evaluate whether immune responses targeting intracellular viruses (viruses that live inside host cells) compromise the ability of the immune system to simultaneously control mold infection.

“Unlike most invasive mold infections, COVID Associated Pulmonary Aspergillosis (CAPA) occurs in individuals with otherwise intact immune systems. This suggests the presence of novel biological mechanism/s rendering individuals susceptible to invasive fungal infection,” Leal says.  

Miller Ryan headshotWritten by Christina Crowe

The Department of Pathology is pleased to announce Vishnu B. Reddy, M.D., as this year’s recipient of the 2022 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Heersink School of Medicine – Joint Health Science.

Begun in 1990 by former UAB President Charles McCallum, the award recognizes full-time regular faculty members at UAB who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching, with a recipient from each of the schools and the Joint Health Sciences.

“Teaching for me always a self-learning process, and the most challenging aspect is conveying that passion to attendees,” Reddy says, “but in practice, it is more like ‘Nishkam Karma’ in Sanskrit, meaning action without motive or expectation.”

Miller Ryan headshotWritten by Hannah Buckelew

C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Vishnu B. Reddy Translational Research Endowed Professor and Division Director, Neuropathology, has been named co-director of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences (GBS) Neuroscience Theme (NEURO).

Lin Diana HeadshotWritten by Hannah Buckelew

Diana Lin, M.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Anatomic Pathology, has been approved as an Alabama State Commissioner and Division Commissioner for the Florida Panhandle for the College of American Pathologists (CAP) Accreditation Program, effective immediately.

The CAP is a leading organization of board-certified pathologists with a goal to foster excellence in laboratories and advance the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine. Founded in 1946, the organization now boasts approximately 18,000 pathologists.

Written by Christina Crowe

The World Health Organization, in its seminal series on the classification of tumors, recently published, "WHO Classification of Tumours, 5th Edition, Volume 8: Urinary and Male Genital Tumours," with George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, as an expert member of the urinary and male genital tumors editorial board. It is now available in print and digital formats.

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The WHO Classification of Tumours Editorial Board convened via video conference January 18-20, 2021, to complete the editorial work in the book. 

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"It is my distinct pleasure to serve on this editorial board, and contribute to this seminal volume in our field," Netto says.

Nanda LabVivek Nanda, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology (MCP), is an active researcher in the UAB Department of Pathology. Dr. Nanda joined UAB in January 2020 from Stanford University in California where he was an instructor. Nanda earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Rochester in New York.  In an effort to showcase the impactful contributions of UAB Pathology researchers, Nanda answers some questions about his areas of research and what led him to UAB.

What is your research focus?

My lab focuses on identifying the heritable component of a wide range of cardiovascular disease including atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral artery disease. To this end, we utilize publicly available genome-wide genetic and bioinformatics resources in combination with in vitro and in vivo approaches to discover the implicated gene and associated signaling pathway. 

Written by Christina Crowe

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pathology has established its new Division of Women’s Health.

The UA Board of Trustees approved the division in February 2022. Interim Division Director Thomas Winokur, M.D., will lead the division as an ongoing recruiting effort for a permanent director takes place. Winokur says the creation of the division stands to help emphasize our departmental and institutional commitment to women’s health.

 Womens Health BannerThe Division of Women's Health is directed by Thomas Winokur, M.D. Faculty include (left to right, bottom row): Xiao Huang, M.D., Ph.D., and Kavita Varma, M.D., DNB, assistant professors; (top row, l to r): Valeria Dal Zotto, M.D., assistant professor; Andrea Kahn, M.D., Professor and Section Head, GYN Pathology; Virginia Duncan, M.D., Assistant Professor, Section Head, Perinatal Pathology

“The establishment of this division serves to unify the subspecialties we have focused on in women’s health in pathology as a field--obstetrics/gynecology, breast, perinatal—and bring them under one umbrella,” Winokur says.

Hildreth LabPic1 7 7 221l-r: Will Meehan, Researcher III, Katy Marotto, Researcher III, Victoria Ordonez, Undergraduate in Cancer Biology, Eason Hildreth, D.V.M., Ph.D. Eason Hildreth, D.V.M., Ph.D.,  an assistant professor in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology (MCP), is an active researcher in the UAB Department of Pathology. Dr. Hildreth joined UAB in July 2019 from the Medical College of South Carolina and has since shown his dedication to the field and the Department. In 2021, he received a two-year Early Career Investigator grant from METAvivor Research and Support for his research on breast cancer and was also named a UAB Heersink Pittman Scholar. In an effort to showcase the impactful contributions of UAB Pathology researchers, Hildreth answers some questions about his areas of research and what led him to UAB.

What is your research focus?

We are interested in genetic programs in the tumor microenvironment that drive cancer progression. To date, this has largely hinged on genetically (using genetically-modified mice) and therapeutically (using microparticle drug delivery) targeting tumor-associated macrophages independent of where the tumor is located and targeting osteoclasts in bone metastasis in breast cancer. More recently, this has expanded to an interest in cancer-associated fibroblasts and renal cancer (another bone metastatic malignancy).

Written by Hannah Buckelew

On July 1, 2022, the Department of Pathology welcomes three new faculty members to the Division of Laboratory Medicine, directed by Vishnu Reddy, M.D.

Amerson Brown headshotMegan Amerson-Brown, Ph.D., CIC, MLS, joins the department as Assistant Professor from the Baylor College of Medicine, where she recently completed a Medical and Public Health Microbiology fellowship.

Amerson-Brown received her Ph.D. in Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine in 2019 from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences before working as an Infection Control Consultant in response to COVID-19 with Hospital Executive Interim Management and Consulting at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York. She has served as a Graduate Research Assistant at UTMB Galveston and as adjunct faculty, infection preventionist, and medical technologist in Microbiology at MD Anderson School of Health Professions and Cancer Center.

Elhamamsy Amr crop500x700Amr ElhamamsyAmr Elhamamsy, a cancer biology theme student in the laboratory of Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, is the recipient of a 2022 O’Neal NextGen Scholar predoctoral award.

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Written by Christina Crowe

The Department of Pathology is pleased to announce the establishment of the Stephen E. Brossette, M.D., Ph.D., Endowed Residency Program Support Fund, effective April 2022.

The fund includes an annual award, administrated by the department, with any additional funds used for professional development, travel, or other support for the residency program. Each year, the department will administer the PEARL Award to the pathology resident who demonstrates excellence in Patient care, Education, and Research within Laboratory medicine (or just ‘the Lab’). The candidate will be selected by vote among laboratory medicine (and affiliated divisions) as well as hospital laboratory supervisors, who interact with residents regularly. The criteria include demonstrating initiative, effective communication, collaboration and teamwork, patient care, research, and innovation/quality focus.

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Written by Christina Crowe

On Saturday, June 18, the UAB Department of Pathology sponsored an inaugural departmental Education Retreat at Camp Fletcher in McCalla, Alabama. This casual, fun event welcomed trainees, faculty and staff to mingle and enjoy recreational activities in a low-key, outdoor setting.

Amid a heat wave, the weather cooperated, and participants enjoyed the pool as an escape from the sun. Under a covered pavilion, fans cooled those who chose to hang out and play games. The camp setting offered activities for everyone, including hiking, canoeing, and corn hole. A few individuals brought their own yard games, such as jumbo Jenga, kickball, and disc golf. Traditional and alternative options in a burger bar provided by Front Porch kept everyone fed and well hydrated in the summer weather.

Written by Christina Crowe

The Department of Pathology is excited to announce three endowment updates for our faculty:

The endowment held by Yabing Chen, Ph.D., Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Education—a professorship—has been elevated to and is fully endowed as a chair. Dr. Chen is now the Jay M. McDonald Endowed Chair in Laboratory Medicine. The department is grateful for the ongoing support of former chair Jay M. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D., and his wife, Sarah, with the generous funding of this endowment.
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Shu Chen, Ph.D., Professor, Neuropathology, is named the inaugural holder of the Ona Faye-Petersen Endowed Professorship, established in 2021, supported by the department. Dr. Chen joined the department in December 2021 from Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Pathology.

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