Stacey Harbour, Ph.D., Scientist I, Anatomic Pathology, in the lab of Casey Weaver, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, published an article on T cell differentiation in the July issue of Science Immunology, titled, "TH17 cells require ongoing classic IL-6 receptor signaling to retain transcriptional and functional identity."

Research conducted by the group showed that the molecule IL-6, a common target of various disease therapies, was indispensable for maintaining the inflammatory effects of T helper 17 cells that are implicated in diseases like IBD and psoriasis.

The article is published with co-authors Robin Hatton, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anatomic Pathology; Daniel DiToro, Ph.D., Graduate Student, Anatomic Pathology; Steven Witte, Ph.D., Consultant, Anatomic Pathology; Carlene Zindl, Scientist I, Anatomic Pathology; Min Gao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Medicine; Trenton Schoeb, Ph.D., Professor, Genetics.

004UAB Pathology2018

UAB News article, July 8, 2020

Expansion stress can have an alarming impact on breast cancer cells by creating conditions that could lead to dangerous acceleration of the disease, an interdisciplinary team of University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers has found.

As breast tumors grow, biomechanical forces in the tumor microenvironment, or TME, cause elevated compression at the tumor interior, tension at the periphery and altered interstitial fluid flow — promoting aggressive growth, invasion and metastasis. Biomechanical forces also may modulate the immune response through cancer cell-immune cell crosstalk.

Migrating breast cancer cell, 3d illustration.

This spring we learned of the passing of David Remember Baker, J.D., son of Dr. Roger Denio Baker, inaugural Chair of the UAB Department of Pathology. The Baker family has long supported the department and we are saddened to learn of Mr. Baker's passing.

The Baker family established the Roger Denio Baker Prize in memory of Dr. Roger Denio Baker, who was the first full-time faculty member of the new four-year medical school, the University of Alabama School of Medicine, having been hired by the new Dean, Dr. Roy R. Kracke, also a pathologist.

Roger BakerRoger Denio Baker, M.D., inaugural Chair, UAB Department of Pathology

Dr. Eason Hildreth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been nominated to serve on the Advocacy and Science Policy Committee of The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) by two colleagues within the ASBMR and was recommended and appointed by the Nominations Committee and Council. His appointment will take place September 2020, and his term runs through September 2023.

Eason Hildreth UAB Original

C. Bruce Alexander, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Anatomic Pathology, has been elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Society Emeritus Board of Directors.

bruce alexander 2008 1

Dr. George Netto, Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, UAB Pathology, spent some time speaking with Michael Schubert, editor-in-chief, The Pathologist, for a profile article featured on their website and in print this month. In the article, "George J. Netto - A Leading Light," Netto discusses some of the challenges of leading an academic medical department, as well as some of the successes he has had in his time at the Department's helm.

RS20401 George Netto 9 2George J. Netto, M.D., Chair, UAB Pathology

In the piece, part of the magazine's "Outside the Lab" series, Dr. Netto outlines his vision for the next five to ten years, including plans for expansion of the molecular diagnostic program, already underway.

Netto, M.D., became editor-in-chief of Modern Pathology, a premier journal in the field of pathology, in January 2020. The article discusses the direction in which Netto hopes to take the journal, focusing first on the "impact of machine learning and articifical intelligence on digital pathology, applied informatics, genomics and precision diagnostics."

"When you surround yourself with talent, it positions you and your organization for sucess," he says.  

Read the full article here.

The UAB Fungal Reference Lab, directed by Sixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine is leading the testing component of the Testing for Alabama initiative recently announced by Governor Ivey to test all undergraduate students at UAB and other universities in the state for SARS-CoV-2 enabling a safe return to campus. We are seeking the recruitment of molecularly trained scientists (advanced undergraduate, graduate, research scientist) interested and available to help with sample processing, RNA extraction, and RT-PCR.  This “moonlighting” opportunity will last for 6 weeks at $25 per hour. More information is linked here. The job posting is available here.
Leal SixtoSixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Leal was recently awarded a grant from the School of Medicine to support research into COVID19 testing. Leal has been working since the outset of the pandemic to convert his labs into a COVID19 testing location. Read more.

We are excited to welcome the incoming class of fellows to UAB Pathology, effective July 1, 2020:

Bo Chen, M.D., Ph.D. – Surgical Pathology
Shoujun Chen, M.D., Ph.D. – Breast/GYN Pathology 
Danielle Fasciano, D.O. - Dermatopathology
Richard Godby, M.D.
— Transfusion Medicine 
Mehenaz Hanbazazh, M.D.
- Molecular Genetic Pathology
Jeffery Jones, M.D.
- Hematopathology
Niraja Korremla, M.D.– Cytopathology
Haider Mejbel, M.D. – Surgical Pathology
Aysha Mubeen, M.D. - GYN/GU Pathology
Laura Oscar, M.D. – Surgical Pathology
Morad Qarmali, M.D. - Cytopathology
Benjamin Saylor, M.D.
- Hematopathology
Sophia Sher, M.D.
– GI Pathology

Incoming Fellows

Dr. Chad Siniard of the Transfusion Medicine Section will take on the job of Assistant Program Director for Laboratory Medicine, joining our other excellent APD on the Anatomic Pathology side, Dr. Ginger Duncan. In addition to serving on relevant committees such as the Clinical Competency Committee, the Program evaluation Committee, and the Resident Selection Committee, the APDs perform in crucial roles as liaisons between Residents and Faculty, and as mentors to Resident leadership.

rance siniard

Dr. Siniard has prior experience at UAB, having completed fellowships here in academic years 2015-16 and 2016-17. This was followed by a stint on Faculty at UNC Chapel Hill in the Transfusion Medicine section. We are delighted that he has returned to UAB, and that he has agreed to serve in this important post in Laboratory Medicine that has been unoccupied for some time.

Dr. Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, has been appointed to serve on the Intercellular Interactions (ICI) Study Section of the National Institutes of Health, under the Center for Scientific Review, under the Division of Basic and Integrative Biological Sciences (DBIB).

The section reviews grant applications in the area of cell-cell interactions, including adhesion, migration, signal transduction and mechanotransduction in the context of development, homeostasis and differentiation. The dysregulation of these interactions leading to diseases is also a major area of interest of this study section. Some of the key focus areas of ICI include biology of the extracellular matrix, matrix remodeling, integrin signaling; epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), mechanobiology, paracrine and juxtacrine factors in cell-cell communication, cellular interactions mediated through signaling pathways, e.g., Wnt, Notch and Hh in the context of development, carbohydrates and proteoglycans in cell-cell adhesive structures, in signal transduction, in development and in pathogenesis and immunity.

Dr. Samant's appointment on the study section as a chartered member is for a four-year term starting July 1, 2020.

Forensic Pathology Division Director Gregory Davis, M.D., was recently consulted as an expert on the autopsy results of George Floyd. Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after being restrained by three Minneapolis police officers. Davis is the medical examiner for Jefferson County, Alabama.

The Associated Press reached out to interview Dr. Davis and asked him and other forensic pathologists to review the full government autopsy report. The experts who spoke with the AP had no involement with Floyd's case in an article published June 4.

davisGregory Davis, M.D., UAB Pathology, Director, Forensics

Faculty in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology, directed by Ralph Sanderson, Ph.D., worked hard to continue their research endeavors in the month of June, as evidenced by several publications and a patent.

Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, Ph.D., Professor, MCP, along with UAB faculty members Joel Berry, Ph.D. (Biomedical Engineering), Jessy Deshane, Ph.D. (Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine), and Roy Koomullil, Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering) joined forces to study how the biomechanics of breast tumors influences immune suppression. The group recently published a paper entitled “Mechanical Strain Induces Phenotypic Changes in Breast Cancer Cells and Promotes Immunosuppression in the Tumor Microenvironment” in the journal Laboratory Investigation. (Wang Y, Goliwas K, Severino P, Hough K, Van Vessem D, Wang H, Tousif S, Koomullil R, Frost A, Ponnazhagan S, Berry J, Deshane J. 2020 Jun 22.doi: 10.1038/s41374-020-0452-1.Online ahead of print).

This collaboration also led to a June 2020 R01 submission of a Multi-PI proposal to NCI’s special announcement Cancer Tissue Engineering Collaborative: Enabling Biomimetic Tissue-Engineered Technologies for Cancer Research.

From the Residency Program Director: A Changing of the Guard

As the end of the academic year looms, our Residency Training Program is sending out seven young Pathologists to great fellowship programs, including four who will be staying at UAB for a first fellowship and another three who will be departing for fellowships in other good places including Moffitt Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina and Emory University. Several of these also have second fellowships lined up. We are very proud of the accomplishments of these fine young pathologists, and expect to see them in the forefront of our profession in the coming years.

IMG 1466Fellowship directors gathered with outgoing fellows for a send-off.

At the same time, we are welcoming an incoming class of six new PGY1’s who are arriving from as far afield as the West Coast, the Northeast, and South America. This group also includes one of our own, UAB graduate David Brown, who has done electives with us in the past. Dr. Jeffrey Chang, from St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies, has also done rotations with us in the past year. Dr. Igor Vidal comes to us from Brazil, by way of Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Kesley Green, from Howard University, came to our second look weekend this past January. I guess we did something right! Dr. Steven Mari, who did a Forensic rotation with us this past year, is a graduate of Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, Yakima, Washington. Dr. Jacob Havens has recently graduated from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, New Jersey. Our new Class covers quite a bit of territory!


Godspeed to all our departing graduates! We wish you success in your careers and happiness in your personal lives. At the same time, we welcome with excitement our new PGY1 pathology trainees. It is our desire that your training careers at UAB be enjoyable and productive! — Rob Hackney, M.D., Pathology Residency Program Director

Professor Andrea Kahn, M.D., Anatomic Pathology, joined UAB Pathology in April 2020, and is already taking on a new role as Interim Section Head for Gynecologic Pathology, effective July 1. Dr. Kahn joined the Department from the University of South Alabama, where she served as the Director of Anatomic Pathology and Autopsy Pathology. I would like to continue the work that has been accomplished, with the goal of continuous quality improvement, focusing on patients and clinicians needs,” Kahn says. “In order to take the section to the next level, it will be important to engage faculty, residents and fellows in all aspects of GYN pathology.”

Dr. Kahn has several years of experience in leadership roles, including directorships in surgical pathology and anatomic pathology, which are invaluable when undertaking this new role.

Andrea KahnAndrea Kahn, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology

Robert Hardy, Ph.D., Professor, Laboratory Medicine will retire effective July 1, 2020, after 30 years in the UAB Department of Pathology. Hardy worked the entirety of his pathology career at UAB—first joining as a postdoctoral fellow with his mentor and former department chair Jay M. McDonald, when he moved to Birmingham. He served as section head of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Director, Core Chemistry for UAB Hospital since 2004. He also worked for a year and a half as interim director of the UAB Hospital Immunology Lab.

Head shot of Dr. Robert Hardy, PhD (Professor, Laboratory Medicine), 2019.

Dr. Hardy is Senior Associate Editor for the journal Laboratory Investigation since 2008, and has served as ad hoc reviewer for dozens of journals on pathology and other medical disciplines throughout his career.

UAB medical student Hannah Cutshall has been awarded a 2020 AΩA Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, designed to foster the development of the next generation of medical researchers. Cutshall conducts research in the laboratory of Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology. Cutshall's award-winning proposal is titled, "Transcriptomatic Characterization of Multiple Myeloma." She will receive $5,000 to support her research project and up to $1,000 in travel reimbursement over a period of 1-2 years. 


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 faciliated by a member of the dean's leadership team. This year, the school recognized 16 faculty for their outstanding achievements, and UAB Pathology is excited to announce two faculty from our department have received the award: Silvio H. Litovsky, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, for teaching, and Isam Eltoum, M.D., M.B.A., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, and Vice Chair, Quality and Patient Safety, for service. 

Dr. LitovskySilvio H. Litovsky, M.D.

Faculty and trainees in the division of Anatomic Pathology published the following articles March-May, 2020:

Deepti Dhall, M.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, will assume the role of Surgical Pathology Fellowship Director in the Division of Anatomic Pathology beginning June 1. She will be replacing Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology, who has served as director since April 2015. 

dhall_Crop.jpgDeepti Dhall, M.D.

Nicole Kocher, a graduate student and previous researcher in Laboratory Medicine, joined the division's staff in March as an Office Associate II. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Biotechnology from the UAB School of Health Professions, scheduled to graduate August 2020, and is additionally pursuing a Certificate in Leadership and Professional Development from the UAB Graduate School, scheduled to graduate December 2020.