Dear Friends and Colleagues,

In the UAB Department of Pediatrics, we have one mission: to improve the health of the children of Alabama, the region and beyond. In order to do this, we focus on the four pillars of: 1) clinical care and service to the profession, 2) teaching and training the next generation of providers and leaders, 3) research and new knowledge discovery and 4) advocacy. During the second year of COVID-19–related challenges, we have rededicated ourselves to these pillars and accomplished much. Because racism is still a public health crisis, we reaffirm our pledge to create an anti-racist department with a commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Cohen Mitchell Cohen LabThe clinical advances and research breakthroughs we describe throughout this Annual Report have a direct impact on children’s lives. That impact will be our legacy. We present evidence of this impact as measured by major research accomplishments, grants, publications and awards. In 2021, the Department of Pediatrics faculty had 375 publications. In FY 2021, we had funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $21.5 million and total research funding of $35.1 million. This puts us in the top 16 departments of pediatrics in the country. Since FY 2013, we have had a 3.8-fold increase in NIH funding, and we have grown the number of NIH-funded investigators from 8 to 26 (a 3.3-fold increase). Many of these new investigators have been supported by the department’s investments in their research programs, by pilot and feasibility awards from the Children’s of Alabama Kaul Pediatric Research Institute and by the combined investments from the department and Children’s of Alabama in research infrastructure.

The department aims to build on these successes, expand the size and, importantly, the impact of our research in the coming years. We anticipate continued growth not only in our core areas of significant accomplishment—virology, therapeutic drug development, cancer, sickle cell disease, neonatology, acute kidney injury and outcomes research—but also in newer areas, where the recruitment of talented young researchers will ensure continued and expanded success.

In addition to our research accomplishments, our focus on safety and quality is always paramount. For the twelfth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Children’s of Alabama’s pediatric specialty services among the top 50 in the nation, and we ranked third in the Southeast. Nine specialties were ranked: Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Neonatology, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Urology. We are proud to be one of only 27 children’s hospitals in the country ranked in at least nine specialties.

Our clinical mission is to deliver exceptional, safe and accessible care in order to improve the outcomes for children in Alabama and elsewhere. This year we had the added responsibility of caring for children with COVID-19. In the last 12 months, we have cared for almost 1,000 inpatients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2. This care and our achievements simply would not be possible without the physicians, nurses and staff who bring their talents and passion to the care of children every day, from everywhere in the state, the region and the nation. This coming year, we will continue to grow our subspecialty expertise, our research strength and our advocacy efforts. We have also launched new resident programs for those interested in education, rural health, global health and health equity. We will also initiate a mini-medical school curriculum for middle school students to increase the pipeline for those traditionally under-represented in medicine and STEM careers.

I am very hopeful that 2022 will be the best year ever. Please know that one thing always remains in focus: our commitment to serving the patients and families who look to us for healing and hope. Thank you for being part of that most worthy endeavor.

Mitchell B. Cohen, M.D.
Katharine Reynolds Ireland Professor
Chair, Department of Pediatrics
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Physician in Chief, Children’s of Alabama

Click to view the 2021 Academic Annual Report