Our department faculty have been prolific in their grant funding applications of late, and in many cases, successfully funded for their novel and outstanding research concepts.

The following is a list of awards given since March 2018 to UAB Pathology faculty and instructors. Congratulations to each of the individuals listed here and their research/lab teams for your scientific endeavors.


GRANTS AWARDED in the UAB Department of Pathology, March–July, 2018


This summer our faculty have traveled the country and the world, representing the department at conferences, meetings, and other research and clinical events. The following is a summary of some of these activities.

First, Diana Morlote, Fellow, PGY5, received a travel grant to attend the Association of Clinical Scientists 138th annual meeting, held May 16-19 in Houston, Texas. Roberty Hardy, Professor, Laboratory Medicine, is the current president of the association. Morlote presented in the Genomic and Evidence-Based Medicine track on, "Molecular and cytogenetic characterization of therapy – related myeloid neoplasms: a tertiary center experience."

Two faculty participated in UAB's 6th Annual Workshop on Metabolomics, taking place July 22-27. Victor Darley-Usmar gave the dinner lecture Tuesday on "Plotting Career Paths in Science" and Jianhua Zhang, presented, "Metabolism in the Raw-the SeaHorse, the modern Version of the Warburg Apparatus." 

Three new faculty recently joined the Division of Anatomic Pathology led by Interim Director Vishnu Reddy, M.D., Professor, Laboratory Medicine, in the Surgical Pathology section, directed by Shi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Anatomic Pathology.

Virginia Duncan, M.D., a graduate and chief resident in the UAB Anatomic Pathology Residency, will join the division as Assistant Professor. Board certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, she completed her fellowship in Pediatric and Perinatal Pathology at the University of Washington. Her research interests focus on pediatric pathology; specifically the clinicopathologic aspects of entities spanning the perinatal period from fetus to neonate.

Duncan Virginia Photo

Diana Lin, M.D., joins the division as an assistant professor whose research interests focus on cytopathology and head and neck pathology. This includes molecular characterization of thyroid tumors, specifically focusing on the sequencing of cytologic smears. Lin completed her residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at Rush University Medical Center and a cytopathology fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Three new faculty recently joined the Division of Laboratory Medicine, directed by X. Long Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert B. Adams Professor of Pathology.

Sixto M. Leal Jr. , M.D., Ph.D., completed his residency training in clinical pathology at the University of North Carolina, and a medical microbiology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. Leal joins the Division as an Assistant professor, Assistant Director of Clinical Microbiology, and Associate Director of the UAB Mycoplasma Diagnostic Reference laboratory. He is board certified in clinical pathology and medical microbiology with a special interest in mycology, parasitology, mycoplasmology, and histopathologic identification of microorganisms. Leal serves on the CAP Clinical Pathology Education Committee and harbors a significant interest in medical education. He has a basic and translational research background in mycology, immunology, and clinical microbiology and will pursue ongoing research projects focused on the development of novel molecular diagnostic tests for infectious agents and the biology of microbial pathogenesis.


Congratulations to our Chairman, George Netto, M.D., on receiving the third UAB School of Medicine Featured Discovery award. This initiative celebrates the important research from UAB School of Medicine faculty members, in particular those published in prominent scientific journals.  

Netto, an internationally recognized clinician-scientist, was selected for his study titled, “Non-invasive detection of urothelial cancer through the analysis of driver gene mutation and aneuploidy” (eLife, 2018; 7:e32143). Dr. Netto conducted research that found a new test for urothelial cancers, which is less invasive and more accurate.

George Netto 12

From the announcement by Selwyn Vickers, M.D., FACS, Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean, UAB School of Medicine:

On Friday, June 6, several of our Department's faculty were awarded by the UAB Health Services Foundation for their decades of clinical service at the Physician Service Awards event.
Presented by Tony Jones, M.D., COO, Chief Physician Executive; Patricia Pritchett, Executive Vice President; and Billy Connelley, Senior Associate Vice President of Ambulatory Services and held at the Kirklin Clinic, the event had a lighthearted tone as each award recipient was introduced with a witty description of their career at UAB.

 The Department's awardees are as follows:

Pat Bucy, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Laboratory Medicine--celebrating 30 years
Dr. Tony Jones Dr. Ralph Bucy

It was a lovely evening for a reception on Thursday, May 24, at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa as the Department celebrated its outgoing residents and fellows with a dinner and awards at the 2018 Outgoing Reception.

Host James Hackney, M.D., Director of the Pathology Residency Programs, emceed the event which included refreshments and dinner, followed by comments from Chair George Netto, M.D., and the presentation of awards.

Netto 2George Netto, M.D., Chair of the Department of Pathology, welcomes guests at the Residents and Fellows Outgoing Reception

Two faculty awards came first. Alexander Feldman, M.D., Chief Resident in Anatomic Pathology, presented Frida Rosenblum, M.D., Assistant Professor in Cytopathology, with the Leonard H. Robinson Award for Resident Education in Anatomic Pathology.
Joseph Drwiega, M.D., Clinical Pathology Chief Resident, presented Lawrence Williams, M.D., Associate Professor, Laboratory Medicine with the Shu T. Huang Award for Excellence in Laboratory Medicine Education. These were followed by the presentation of resident awards.

For the past two years, the research lab of X. Long Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., Division Director, Laboratory Medicine, UAB Department of Pathology, has hosted an annual Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) Fair and Education Day. The event brings together physicians and researchers working to improve the available treatments, outcomes, and recovery times for the disease, with patients and community members affected by TTP.

TTP is a rare blood disorder in which blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body. The clots can limit or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body's organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and heart. As a result, serious health problems can develop.

This year’s TTP Fair and Education Day took place Saturday, June 9, in the Shelby Biomedical Research Building.

This spring the Department launched its inaugural Pilot Grant Awards Program to support clinical and translational research. The program, spearheaded by Rakesh Patel, Ph.D., interim vice chair for research and Professor, Molecular & Cellular Pathology, was inspired in part by feedback provided at an annual department-wide faculty retreat.

The request for proposals was announced in December 2017, with a proposal deadline of February 15, 2018, and requests for full applications announced on March 15.

The American Society for Matrix Biology (ASMB) holds its biennial meeting October 14-17 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joanne Murphy-Ullrich, Ph.D., Professor, UAB Department of Pathology in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology as President of ASMB is involved in the programming and organization of this meeting. In addition to Plenary and Concurrent Platform Sessions and Poster Sessions, the ASMB meeting also supports Special Interest Sessions led by students and trainees. Shyram Bandari, post-doctoral fellow of MCP Division Director, Ralph Sanderson, Ph.D., will be organizing and leading a trainee-led session at the meeting on “Extracellular vesicles: the next SMALL thing.” 

“This is a unique opportunity for students and postdocs to gain leadership experience in organizing and chairing scientific sessions and to gain exposure for their scientific specialty,” says Murphy-Ullrich. At the 2016 ASMB meeting, Kurt Zimmerman, a past UAB Pathology graduate student, chaired one of the trainee sessions. In addition, there are two mentoring breakfasts focused on career development and issues pertaining to women scientists.

American Society for Matrix Biology

Murphy-Ullrich serves as 2017-18 president of this international organization dedicated to promoting basic, translational, and clinical research on the extracellular matrix (ECM), cell-ECM interactions, and ECM-based therapies and devices, and to support the growth and professional development of the ECM research community. She previously served as Secretary/Treasurer and as President-elect 2015-16 and as Chair of the 2016 ASMB meeting in St. Petersburg, FL. She will chair the ASMB-sponsored workshop at the upcoming Matrix Biology Europe 2018 Conference in Manchester, UK, in July.

“We hope the meeting will attract attendees not only from ASMB and related matrix-centric societies, but also from related disciplines,” she says. Extracellular matrix is critical for development and plays major roles in directing stem cell differentiation, normal and dysfunction tissue remodeling in wound healing, fibrosis, aging, and in cancer, and it is emerging as a significant factor in immunity and inflammation and regenerative medicine.

Integrating molecular diagnostics into patient care to truly personalize medicine is key to the future of successful medicine, in particular cancer care.

That was the message delivered by Reinhard Büttner, M.D., Professor and Chair, Pathology, at the University Hospital in Cologne, Germany, when he gave a lecture as part of the joint Surgery-Biomedical Engineering-Pathology seminar series, on Tuesday, May 22. Buttner is an authority on the genomics of lung cancer and targeted therapy.

Two of the Department of Pathology Faculty members are recipients of the 2018 School of Medicine Dean's Excellence Awards: Marisa Marques, M.D., Professor, Laboratory Medicine who won the Senior Excellence in Teaching Award, and Adam Wende, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Molecular & Cellular Pathology, with the Junior Excellence in Research Award.  

 Fifteen outstanding faculty members were named recipients of the 2018 Dean’s Excellence Awards, an honor recognizing exceptional contributions made by School of Medicine faculty in service, teaching, research, diversity enhancement and mentorship.

The 13th Annual Department of Pathology Trainee Research Day took place on Wednesday, May 2, in the Hill University Center on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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The event is run by a committee of trainees who assist in its planning and execution, which this year included:
Manoja Brahma, Gobinath Shanmugam, Ann Hanna, Dominque Hinshaw, Tshering Lama-Sherpa, Ashish Kurundkar, Jianhua Zhang, Lijia Yu, Shyam Bandari, and Joo Lee and Helen Collins, who also served as event emcees. The event is organized by Rajeev Samant, Ph.D., Professor, Pathology, with support from the Division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology administrative staff Cindy Brown and Kathy Coleman.

This exciting event featured:


  • Morning and afternoon poster sessions
  • Oral presentations by Department trainees
  • A Data Blitz of six five-minute presentations
  • Keynote Speaker Laurie Harrington, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, on "My Life with T Cells"

Funding Opportunity Request for Applications

Grant proposals to the General Endowment Fund (GEF) of the UAHSF are now welcome. 

The HSF-GEF grants are intended to enhance the infrastructure of Academic Health Center’s Patient-Oriented and Laboratory Research efforts, Clinical Care Program Development, and Medical Education Initiatives and for university-wide projects by providing funding from the Health Services Foundation’s General Endowment Fund.

Funding Opportunity Request for Applications

The UAB School of Medicine invites applications for seed funding to move a one-R01 investigator to a two-R01 investigator. The PI of the application must have a primary appointment in a department within the School of Medicine and a record of substantial accomplishment in the subject area. One of the criteria for eligibility is having a currently funded R01 that has two years remaining in its current funding cycle. Intents to submit must be submitted online via the SOM research funding website.

The Department of Pathology was proud to welcome visiting faculty from the University of Zagreb and the University Clinical Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia in April. The visit was part of a reciprocal exchange initiated by Department Chair Dr. George Netto, who visited the university in Eastern Europe in winter 2017.Visiting Faculty From Croatia From left to right: Sooryanarayana Varambally, Ph.D.; Monika Ulamec, M.D., Ph.D.; George Netto, M.D.; Nino Sincic, M.D., Ph.D., Selvarangan Ponnahazan, Ph.D.

The visitors included Monika Ulamec, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology, Clinical Department of Pathology & Cytology at the University Clinical Hospital; Ana Katusic Bojanac, Ph.D., and Nino Sincic ,MD., Ph.D., both assistant professors in the Department of Biology, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb.

The Multiple Myeloma Clinic at UAB, supported by a robust research team made up largely of Department faculty, celebrated its fifth anniversary in March. 

Five faculty in the Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology, professors Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D., MPH, Joanne Murphy-Ullrich, Ph.D., and Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, Ph.D., associate professor Yang Yang, M.D., Ph.D., and division director Ralph Sanderson, Ph.D., serve as investigators on the clinic's research team.

Since its opening in 2013, the clinic has seen a three-fold increase in the number of patients receiving treatment at UAB, and is currently running eight clinical trials.

A review on Histone methyltransferase EZH2 in ovarian cancer by Soory Varambally, Ph.D., Director, Integrative Translational Oncologic Pathology Research and Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, is the editors' pick in the March issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, an American Association for Cancer Research journal.


The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) held its annual meeting March 17-23, 2018, in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Department of Pathology had a robust representation at this important event.

Several members of our faculty and staff attended the conference, representing the Department at platform presentations, posters, and a Fellowship Fair to promote our programs.

Additionally, Drs. George Netto and Anna Yemelyanova taught a special course, "Molecular Diagnostic and Genomic Applications in Cancer: A Primer for the Pathologist." You can access the full conference program here. View a conference recap video on the USCAP website.

Match Day 2018 was held around the country on Friday, March 16, with UAB's Match Day Ceremony taking place at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Read more about UAB Match Day via UAB News.

The Department is thrilled to announce matches for each of our eight open slots. The students who will be joining us as the class of 2022 are: