Eason Hildreth, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, has been awarded an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant from the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center after submitting his proposal titled, "Investigation of the role of PU.1 in macrophages in breast cancer bone metastasis." The grant is for $40,000 to be used in one year. 

Eason Hildreth UAB Original

On May 6, UAB News released a story about the impact UAB has had on Alabama's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, titled "UAB commitment to state vital to COVID-19 response." In it, University President Ray Watts highlights the role of UAB Pathology in this unique situation.

Excerpted from the piece:

"COVID-19 has affected virtually every facet of life in Alabama, and there may be nowhere that is more apparent than at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — an institution 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,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “We continue to leverage research and innovation, community service, patient care, and education to make a big difference.” 

UAB medical student Vincent A. Laufer, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded the William Boyd Medal at the School of Medicine Dean's Awards Zoom ceremony earlier this month. The Boyd Medal is given every year to the UAB medical student whose performance in all aspects of their pathology education has been most outstanding. 

thumbnail_Vincent_Laufer.jpg.   thumbnail_Boyd-2020.jpg

Erin White, Director of Pathology Research and Grants Administration, UAB Pathology, was recently awarded a grant for $2,500 through the Research Administrators Mobility Program (RAMP). White is a member of the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI), which partnered with RAMP to offer the grant.

From their website, "RAMP provides financial support to SRAI members to participate in short-term placements to enhance professional development. The goal of RAMP is to ensure funding for excellent and innovative research administration peer engagement."


The Department of Pathology is excited to highlight the work of several of our faculty who are conducting or planning clinical and translational research projects related to SARS-CoV2(summarized below). Please keep us informed on any interests your lab may have in this area. Importantly, prior to initiating any work please ensure your lab is compliant with occupational health requirements and studies have necessary IRB/IACUC approvals.

Sixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine – Dr. Leal’s lab had developed a protocol for testing for SARS-CoV2 infection and is currently working to further optimize and increase capacity (4 fold) to include the detection of other viruses (Flu, RSV). This will speed up the time to an accurate diagnosis for patients and limit the need for unnecessary testing with expensive viral respiratory panels. Furthermore, in collaboration with Mike Crowley and Elliot Lefkowitz, Dr. Leal’s group aims to sequence all of the RNA in diagnostic samples and determine their prognostic significance. This information will allow modification of the test to not only detect the virus but provide information on whether that patient is likely to overcome infection or require more intensive care. Leal was awarded a School of Medicine grant to pursue this work.


Paul Benson, M.D. - Dr. Benson's proposed research includes autopsy of adult decedents whose death has occurred due to or with COVID-19. Information gathered from the histopathologic examination will be used for an autopsy report with a synoptic gross description, a histologic description of microscopic pathology, a list of diagnoses and findings (which could be coded to facilitate research) and a summary including an opinion regarding the mechanism and cause of death for each case. Specimens will be shared with the UAB research community for assessment of candidate mediators and markers that may provide insights into the underlying cause of disease and death.



Faculty, residents, and staff from the UAB Departent of Pathology are sharing their hobbies from home in an effort to connect across the department. 

Greg Davis, M.D., Professor, Division Director, Forensic Pathology

Dr. Davis is continuing his lifelong hobby of bread baking. He says, "I began making bread as a teenager. I like well-made bread and coaxing the dough along to form a delicious loaf. It is easy to begin baking bread. The most important ingredient in bread making is patience. You must work with the bread, not against it."

RS20777_Greg_Davis-1_-_cropped_small.jpgGreg Davis, M.D.        Screen_Shot_2020-04-30_at_12.47.06_PM.pngDr. Davis milling wheat to make flour

It is our pleasure to announce that Hannah Weems, a senior at UAB studying communications with a concentration in public relations, recently received the "Best Internship" award from the UAB chapter of the Public Relations Society Student Association (PRSSA) / Public Relations Council of Alabama joint chapters for her internship with Communications Director Christina Crowe. Hannah is scheduled to graduate from UAB at the end of the fall 2020 semester. She started with the department in late 2019 and has been an asset to the team from the beginning, Crowe says.

Hannah Weems

John Chatham, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, was recently awarded an R01 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute titled, "STIM1 and its Role in Regulating Cardiac Metabolism." The award begins April 1 and will run until March 31, 2021. The project is expected to run through 2024. The process of working toward this R01 began in 2012.

Dr. Chatham outlined three specific aims for the grant. Those were to identify the full extent to which STIM1 regulates cardiac metabolism, establish the mechanisms by which STIM1 influences mitochondrial function in the heart, and determine how diabetes regulates STIM1 levels and whether loss of STIM1 contributes to the adverse effects of diabetes in the heart. 

This project was originally funded by an R21 grant, with Dr. Helen Collins who came from the United Kingdom, to assist with the research as a post-doctoral fellow.  Shortly after arriving she was awarded a post-doc fellowship by the UAB Comprehensive Cardiovascular Center; subsequently, she obtained a post-doc fellowship from the American Heart Association, which was followed by a fellowship from the American Diabetes Association. Collins left Chatham's lab and joined the University of Louisville last fall as an Assistant Professor.


The Pathologist magazine, a pathology-themed magazine, published the second in its series of "pandemic diaries" featuring first-person stories from pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals around the globe, describing how their labs and departments have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair, UAB Pathology, is featured in this second installment of the series. An excerpt:

by Adam Pope

April 24, 2020

Pathologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been a crucial part of battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Alabama.

Testing has been a major cause for concern worldwide ever since the pandemic began, but clinicians and researchers with UAB’s Department of Pathology have been working around the clock to make testing available for as many people as possible, making sure accurate results are available in a timely manner.

“Our department faculty and staff have been both proactive and nimble in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Department of Pathology Chair George Netto, M.D. “Pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals, both here at UAB and nationally, have been at the forefront of fighting this pandemic. As always, we are used to working behind the scenes; however, this event has allowed our colleagues to step up and retool their labs and staff to pivot toward tackling COVID-19.”

Sixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine, and Director, Clinical Microbiology, Fungal Reference Laboratory and Mycoplasma Laboratory, 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.

Leal SixtoSixto Leal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine

Leal's proposal was titled, "Optimization of SARS-CoV-2 Diagnostic Testing Throughput and Prognostic Significance." It seeks to optimize the current assay to increase test capacity fourfold and include the detection of other viruses, such as flu and RSV on the differential diagnosis to speed the time to an accurate diagnosis for our patients and limit the need for unnecessary testing with expensive viral respiratory panels.

This week, April 19-25, marks Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, and now more than ever we have a reason to celebrate the tireless efforts of our pathology faculty and staff and UAB Hospital labs colleagues. 

Screen_Shot_2020-04-22_at_11.17.29_AM.png    Screen_Shot_2020-04-22_at_11.17.44_AM.png

It is our pleasure to welcome the following employees to the UAB Pathology Finance Team:

Janiece Finkley, MPA, joins the Department as Administrative Director. Janiece began her career with UAB 14 years ago and has worked in various roles at UAB, including recruitment/staffing, employee relations, compensation and benefits.  Janiece joins us from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences where she served as the Human Resources Manager. In that role, she provided HR leadership to 19 departments, managing daily HR operations and initiatives.  

Janiece will lead HR initiatives and serve as a strategic partner to help the Department of Pathology achieve greater levels of effectiveness and productivity.

She expresses a true appreciation for diversity and challenges, and always strives for continuous improvement.

Ralph Sanderson. Ph.D., Endowed Professor of Cancer Pathobiology and Division Director, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, recently co-authored and edited  the book Heparanase along with Israel Vlodavsky, Ph.D., the world's leading expert on heparanese, an enzyme that cleaves heparan sulfate-a linear polysaccharide found in all animal tissues. Dr. Vlodavsky has collaborated with Sanderson for years in this work, and was the sixth annual Listinsky lecturer in 2019, for a lecture titled, "Heparanese: From Basic Research to Novel Therapeutics for Cancer Inflammation." Sanderson and Vlodavsky's collaboration began two decades ago. Their research now focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying the ability of heparanase to promote tumor progression. 

Heparanase cover

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is the first and only national medical organization to call on the federal government to immediately develop and implement a widespread COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing and Support Strategy to help mitigate the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and deter its spread. The plan will be used by states, healthcare systems, providers, clinical laboratories and others to address patient care needs in this crisis.
"It is imperative that we save lives by implementing a national diagnostic testing and support strategy,” said ASCP President Gene P. Siegal, MD, PhD, FASCP, Professor, UAB Pathology. “The federal government has estimated that hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake. Therefore, in order to flatten the curve, we are calling on the federal government to immediately coordinate resources and work with scientists, the public health community, the private sector and state governments to ensure that we reduce and eliminate unnecessary COVID-19 infections and deaths." 
RS19133 Gene Siegal 3 scrDr. Gene Siegal

Six patients had tested positive for COVID-19 in Dr. Monica Williams's Huntsville ER room as of Monday, though she said that number may have been low. 

"I'm aware of at least two people who were hospitalized, whose initial tests were negative, whose subsequent tests were positive," she said. 

She thinks that could be because viral counts are too small for detection at some phases of the disease. 

SW3CWMJNMBB2HIAMKG4FT67MOA.jpgA woman delivers medical supplies at a screening clinic at Hartselle Family Practice, organized by Decatur Morgan Hospital, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Hartselle, Ala. Those who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing are sent to another site. (Dan Busey/The Decatur Daily via AP)AP

Several faculty members from the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology recently published articles based on their respective areas of research. Read more about their research and publications: 

Joanne Murphy-Ullrich, Ph.D., Professor

Dr. Murphy-Ullrich published the following article on April 3: 
"Calreticulin is important for the development of renal fibrosis and dyfunction in diabetic nephropathy" in Matrix Biology Plus.

010UAB_Pathology2018.jpgJoanne Murphy-Ullrich, Ph.D.

The Department of Pathology congratulates Paul Benson, M.D., Associate Professor, Division of Anatomic Pathology, on assuming directorship of the autopsy section on April 1, 2020, and recognizes Silvio Litovsky, M.D.Professor, Anatomic Pathology, for his service as interim director since June 1, 2019.

The section head oversees the day-to-day autopsy section operations for the Department in collaboration with Thurman Richardson, UAB Autopsy Supervisor. This role is essential in supporting the education, services, and research mission of the UAB Autopsy Service. 

Headshot of Dr. Paul Benson, MD (Associate Professor, Anatomic Pathology) in white medical coat, 2020.

The UAB Department of Pathology is excited to welcome a new faculty member to the Division of Anatomic Pathology, Andrea Kahn, M.D., Professor. She will join us on Wednesday, April 1. 


Starting Monday, UAB hospital, in partnership with the Jefferson County Department of Health, will offer testing for COVID-19.

Officials say the drive-thru testing center will be located at University Blvd and 22nd St S, at a former Southern Research Institute site.

The center will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is by appointment-only. UAB has set up a call-line that will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Symptomatic patients must call and go through a screening process to set-up an appointment. Patients can call the center starting Sunday at noon. The number is 205-975-1881.

UAB officials anticipate the drive-thru site will be able to test up to 250 people a day.