Kong Michele WEBWe are pleased to announce that Michele Kong, M.D., professor in the Division of Pediatric Critical Care, will receive an endowed professorship from Children’s of Alabama on Oct. 1, 2022. This celebrates Dr. Kong’s significant contributions to Children’s of Alabama, UAB and to our larger community.

Dr. Kong is a native of Malaysia. She attended medical school at the University of Calgary before moving to Jackson, MS where she completed her pediatric residency in 2005. She then came to UAB for her fellowship in pediatric critical care before joining our faculty as an assistant professor in 2008. She was promoted to associate professor in 2015 and to professor in 2020.  She will also receive tenure on Oct. 1, 2022.

Dr. Kong has made substantial contributions, particularly in the realms of service and research. Her service contributions include her clinical roles in the PICU and her efforts to improve the care of children with autism and sensory integration abnormalities, both locally as well as across the country.  For both she has received too numerous to count local, regional, national and international awards. She, along with her husband Julian Maha, M.D., founded, KultureCity in 2013. They dedicate this nonprofit organization to acceptance and inclusion of children with autism and other sensory processing problems. At Children's of Alabama, she initiated the sensory pathway and developed the Sensory Integration Program in 2016 to meet the unique needs of developmentally and cognitively delayed children when they present with an acute illness to the hospital.

Dr. Kong is a skilled translational researcher. Her research is focused on understanding the role and impact of protease dysregulation in the pathogenesis of RSV-induced respiratory failure in children. Through careful analysis of lower airway secretions from pediatric subjects, she has identified a unique profile of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and their inhibitors in RSV infection, and found correlation between these proteases, specifically active MMP-9 with clinical outcome measures.  Furthermore, in  pre-clinical studies utilizing established in vitro and in vivo models, MMP-9 inhibition resulted in decreased cellular inflammation and viral burden. Azithromycin, a macrolide antibiotic was used successfully as a small molecule inhibitor of MMP-9, and treatment resulted in similar decrease in mouse lung inflammation and viral burden. This work has led to her current R01 funded research study which aims to determine whether azithromycin therapy during RSV-induced respiratory failure would reduce lung MMP-9 levels, and modify the course of the disease in humans.

We are very proud of Dr. Kong’s accomplishments for the children of Alabama, the region and beyond.