Roger Denio Baker, M.D. (1902–1994) (Denio rhymes with Ohio) was the founding chair of the UAB Department of Pathology from 1944 to 1952. Twenty-one years ago, Baker’s family established the Roger Denio Baker Endowed Support Fund in Anatomical Pathology in his honor. Each year, an award is made from that fund to the resident or fellow who exhibits the greatest skill in the disciplines of Anatomic Pathology.

This spring a substantial contribution from the Baker family has insured that the Baker prizes can continue to be awarded annually in perpetuity.

“The UAB Department of Pathology is grateful for the ongoing support of the Baker family for our programs, and in particular our trainees,” said George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair. “We have a long history of dedication to our education programs and the training of future pathologists. This support is vital to enhancing these training programs.”

The Baker Prize was first awarded in 2002 and, until 2019, was presented annually, at a year-end reception honoring trainees, by David Remember Baker, Dr. Baker’s eldest son. Mr. Baker died March 20, 2020, and we will all miss the excitement he expressed at seeing his father’s legacy continue. Current UAB Pathology faculty who received the Roger Denio Baker Prize include Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, and Associate Director, Anatomic Pathology, and Brandi McCleskey, M.D., Assistant Professor, Forensic Pathology.
48057259998 ca2ffc1d41 oDavid Remember Baker, J.D.

IMG 9665Denis Noubouossie Fondjie, M.D., Ph.D., PGY1; Adam Jones, M.D., Hematopathology Fellow

Trainees in the UAB Department of Pathology deserve recognition each and every day for their hard work and dedication, but especially on Thank a Resident Day. Last Friday, February 26, the department worked to celebrate trainees by delivering pastries, goodies, and encouraging words.

Several UAB Pathology faculty members sent in videos of appreciation for the department's trainees which were shared via the UAB Pathology Instagram account. 

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The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) hosts its annual meeting virtually this year, March 13-18.The department will participate throughout the duration of the conference, in a variety of ways. From the Fellowship Fair on Sunday March 14 to a special course on molecular genetic pathology of lung cancer directed by Chair George Netto, M.D.; to a short course on prostate cancer diagnosis and another on renal tumors, both by Cristina Magi-Galluzzi, M.D., Ph.D., Division Director, Anatomic Pathology. Read the full list of UAB Pathology presentations.

In the summer of 2020, the UAB School of Medicine (SOM) created the Hispanic/LATINX Faculty Association under the leadership of Selwyn Vickers, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medicine, Dean of the School of Medicine and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) lead by Mona Fouad, M.D., M.P.H., Professor and Senior Associate Dean. They asked three faculty members to co-lead it: Marcela Frazier from Ophthalmology, Marisa Marques, M.D., from Pathology and Fernando Ovalle from Medicine.
Marisa MarquesMarisa Marques, M.D., Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine

The group was initially called simply LATINX, which according to Oxford Languages means “a person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina)”, when used as a noun, or “relating to people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina)” as an adjective. According to Google, it was introduced less than 20 years ago, which may explain many (perhaps most) faculty members were not familiar with it. For this reason, a permanent name is under debate to encompass individuals either born in Mexico, Central or South America, or Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy or France) or who have ancestors that came to the United States from one of these countries.

Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, and Senior Scientist, Experimental Therapeutics, O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Rana Aldrees, M.D., PGY4, have been elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (AΩA) at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Wei and Aldrees were chosen from among his peers based on his high academic achievement and his demonstration of leadership, professionalism, research, teaching, and service. 

Three UAB Pathology professors, each internationally renowned in their respective specialties, have been honored with the establishment of endowments in their names.

At the February 2021 meeting, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the establishment of two endowments and the renaming of one endowment supported by UAB Pathology, to honor our esteemed colleagues. The Translational Research Endowed Professorship in Pathology, held by C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D., is renamed the Vishnu Reddy Translational Research in Pathology Endowed Professorship, after Dr. Vishnu Reddy. The department also announces the establishment of the Gene P. Siegal Endowed Professorship in Pathology, and the Ona M. Faye-Petersen Endowed Professorship in Pathology.

Vishnu ReddyVishnu Reddy, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology   Head shot of Dr. Gene Siegal, MD (Professor/Director, Anatomic Pathology) in white medical coat, 2017.Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., Robert. W. Mowry Endowed Professor, Anatomic Pathology, and Interim Chair, UAB Department of Genetics    RS8679 ona faye petersen 1Ona Faye-Petersen, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Anatomic Pathology

This month, the Department of Pathology learned we received an honorable mention ranking in the School of Medicine Office for Diversity & Inclusion's  5th annual Diversity Fair, which was virtual this year. Each department was tasked with creating and submitting a video that represented the diversity of the department. Pathology chose Argentinian empanadas as our featured recipe, prepared by Arlene Litovsky, wife of Dr. Silvio Litovsky, Professor, Anatomic Pathology. Arlene prepared beef empanadas while Monica Henderson, Residency Program Coordinator, and her son Aiden prepared a modified chicken recipe.

The two recipe variations went up for a vote, with faculty and trainees from throughout the department tasting and voting on their favorite version. The full video is featured on our department YouTube Channel.

All of the recipes that were submitted for the fair are compiled into a cookbook which can be downloaded here.Featured on the cover are Monica Henderson and Susan Mills, Fellowship Program Coordinator, from our second-place winning 2020 display. 

IMG_0581.JPGMonica Henderson, below, left, and Susan Mills, organizers of the 2020 Pathology display   

Eason Hildreth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, was recently awarded a two-year Early Career Investigator grant from METAvivor Research and Support for his resarch on breast cancer. The title of his proposal is, “Targeting the CSF1R/PU.1 axis and PU.1/BET super-enhancer regulome in breast cancer bone metastasis.” Dr. Hildreth is an Associate Scientist with the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.

METAvivor Research and Support Inc. is an Annapolis-based, volunteer-led, non-profit organization founded by metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients in 2009.  The organization’s main focus is to fund critical research that will lead to advances in treatment options, quality of life and survival for patients diagnosed with MBC.  Since 2009, METAvivor has awarded 129 research grants totaling $17,250,000. METAvivor is the only national organization with a peer-reviewed grant program aimed at exclusively funding MBC research, and 100% of all donations go to fund research. 

Eason Hildreth UAB OriginalEason Hildreth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UAB Pathology

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Wellness is key to being able to perform successfully in work and in life. To that end, faculty and trainees in the UAB Department of Pathology have been contributing to a new wellness initiative started by Resident and Wellness Committee representative Natalie Larsen, M.D., PGY-2.

A bulletin board outside the Anatomic Pathology resident room has been transformed to feature compliments and a monthly nomination-based resident spotlight. Compliments are submitted into the box and are hand delivered to recipients by the "compliment fairy."

Larsen says, "When a compliment comes in... I pass it out. I also type a copy to put on the board so others can see nice things people are saying." She thanks those who've submitted compiments thus far, "and helped make someone's day!" 

New additions are posted every week or two weeks depending on the number received. This simple concept may be old-school, but it encourages those passing by to review the posted comments and photos, and learn something new about their colleagues. One example: "Natalie: You are cooler than we deserve. Thanks for this board and all your work for our wellness."

Volume 3 Issue 1

We are delighted to announce the publication of our latest annual volume of Pathology in Focus. Its content continues to cover recent clinical, educational and research activities and successes of the UAB Department of Pathology along with the new addition of the department's COVID-19 response. Each year, the magazine allows for a chance to highlight our accolades and those successes undoubtedly reached new heights in 2020. 

The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center recently awarded eight projects for a total of $1.2 million in research grants through its new program, O’Neal Invests. Three of those grants went to UAB Pathology faculty: C. Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Division Director, Neuropathology; Casey Weaver, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology; and Lalita Shevde-Samant, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology.

The O’Neal Invests program funds UAB investigators initiating new cancer-related projects to do key, preliminary work in order to enable competitive R01 applications.

Marisa Marques, M.D., Professor and Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine has been named one of the two recipients for the 2021 Inaugural UAB School of Medicine Office for Diversity and Inclusion Professional Excellence Award.  The second recipient for this award is Chrystal Rutledge, M.D., Associate Professor, Pediatrics. 

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The UAB Department of Pathology is excited to announce our chief residents for the 2021-22 academic year.

This year we have added a third Chief position. As a Residency Program we are undergoing a transition of leadership. Many changes are forthcoming over the next year in response to not only this leadership transition, but also virtual recruitment, curriculum shifts, and a focus on outreach both at the UAB Medical School and via social media. With this in mind, a Chief Resident of Education and Outreach was established to help with oversight in the aforementioned areas. Effective February 1, 2021, the chief residents are:

Raima Memon, M.D. –Chief Resident of Anatomic Pathology

Each year the School of Medicine recognizes faculty members in their class of James A. Pittman Jr., M.D., Scholars. This year Blake "Eason" Hildreth, Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, has been named of one of 10 faculty in the 2021 cohort.

Eason Hildreth UAB Original

The Pittman Scholars program recognizes the impacts of junior faculty and supports the recruitment and retention of highly competitive scientists and physician-scientists. The program is named for the late James A. Pittman, Jr., M.D., longtime dean of the School of Medicine from 1973 to 1992. Pittman is considered a principal architect of the School for his ability to recruit top scientists and physicians to UAB.

"I am extremely honored to not only receive the nomination and support to become a Pittman Scholar by Drs. George Netto, Ralph Sanderson, Yabing Chen, and Rakesh Patel, but to then be chosen to be a Pittman Scholar," Hildreth says. "I am extremely familiar with the prestige of this award and excellence of those before me that have received this award."

The UAB Department of Pathology is excited to welcome Carrie Smith Knight, M.D., to the department as Assistant Professor of Anatomic Pathology. She will cover the Community Pathology Practice Program in Montgomery, effective Monday, February 1.

Carrie Smith Knight  

Dr. Knight joins UAB from Troy University Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences where she has taught since 2015. Knight also practiced pathology at Pathology Associates, PC, in Huntsville, Alabama. She is board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and holds a subspecialty certification in Cytopathology. After graduating from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 2001, she completed her pathology residency and fellowships in both GI and hepatic pathology, and cyptopathology, here at UAB. 

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Knight back to UAB Pathology as a faculty member. 

Two of our faculty, Lalita Shevde-Samant, Ph.D., and Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., Ph.D., both professors in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology and senior scientists, cancer cell biology with the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, have collaborated on research on hypoxia that was recently publised in Cell iScience.

"Essentially, tumor growth leads to a central cellular mass where cells get less oxygen (hypoxia)," Rajeev Samant explains. "These cells either die or learn to survive by recruiting new blood vessels to feed them. Our study reveals a very novel mechanism of how these tumor cells learn to survive. From a fundamental science perspective, our report is one of the first to introduce the concept that the machinery (ribosomes) that makes proteins in a cell is not the same in every cell. These ribosomes do change in tumors based on factors such as hypoxi,a and become very specific for executing their tasks to help the tumor cells."

The article, titled, "Hypoxia re-programs 2'-O-Me modifications on ribosomal RNA," was published online on December 29, 2020 and in print in the January issue of Cell iScience.

fx1Image from the article in Cell iScience


Intravenous blood infusionThe 72-year-old patient was unable to mount her own immune defense against the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which compromises normal immunity and immunoglobulin producA 72-year-old woman was hospitalized with severe COVID-19 disease, 33 days after the onset of symptoms. She was suffering a prolonged deteriorating illness, with severe pneumonia and a high risk of death, and she was unable to mount her own immune defense against the SARS-CoV-2 virus because of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which compromises normal immunoglobulin production. 

But when physicians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recommended a single intravenous infusion of convalescent blood plasma from her son-in-law — who had recovered from COVID-19 disease — a remarkable, beneficial change followed. Her physician, Randall Davis, M.D., professor in the UAB Department of Medicine, says she showed prompt and profound improvement within 48 hours. 

Victor M. Darley-Usmar, Ph.D.,  Endowed Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine and Pathology, who has served UAB for over 25 years, has been named Senior Associate Dean for Research Compliance and Administration, effective January 1.
RS13593 Darley Usmar 4 scr
Dr. Darley-Usmar received his Ph.D. at the University of Essex in England followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oregon to pursue his interests in the structure and function of mitochondrial proteins in human disease. After a period as a lecturer in Japan and ten years as a research-scientist at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in London, he joined UAB in 1995 to establish his own research group in the Department of Pathology. 

Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pathology, and Senior Scientist in Experimental Cancer Therapeutics, O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, has secured two grants at the year's end for his cancer research.

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The first is a two-year, $250,000 2020 METAvivor Breast Cancer Metastatic Society Translational Research Award grant. The title of the grant is, "Co-targeting immunosuppression and skeletal pathology for metastatic breast cancer therapy." METAvivor is a Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness, Research and Support organization. 

The second is a grant from the Mike Slive Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research, for his grant proposal, "Targeting the androgen receptor axis affects macrophage polarization in castration-resistant prostate cancer." The grant is a $50,000 award funded for the 2020-2021 grant cycle. 


system of neurons with glowing connectionsFurther understanding is needed of the redox change called reductive stress and its impact on the onset and progression of neurodegeneratCells require a balance among oxidation-reduction reactions, or redox homeostasis. Loss of that balance to create oxidative stress is often associated with neurodegeneration. Less is known about how loss of that balance at the other end of the spectrum — reductive stress, or RS — may affect neurons.

Now Rajasekaran Namakkal-Soorappan, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of PathologyDivision of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, and colleagues in the United States and India have shown for the first time that reductive stress promotes protein aggregation in neuroblastoma cells and impairs neurogenesis.