Dear Friends and Colleagues,

In the UAB Department of Pediatrics, we seek to discover new knowledge in order to improve the health of the children of Alabama, the region, and the world. While this work is certainly impacted by COVID-19, it doesn’t stop. In fact, it accelerates because there are new questions to answer. In this Annual Report, we describe some of our COVID-19 research, and policy efforts (pages 10-13). We also responded to our national dialogue this year and reaffirmed our strong stand against systemic racism, our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and our belief that racism is a public health crisis. We will not achieve health or justice until we achieve health and justice for all. 

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 2020, the Department of Pediatrics faculty had 375 publications and in FY 2020, we had funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $21.5 million and total research funding of $33.1 million. This puts us in the top 15 Departments of Pediatrics in the country. We achieved this 16% increase in NIH funding and 8% increase in overall funding compared with last year, with a diversified portfolio of grants including many new investigators. We have grown from eight NIH funded investigators in 2013 to 21 NIH funded investigators this year; 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, neonatology and outcomes—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 11th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Children’s of Alabama’s pediatric specialty services among the top 50 in the nation. 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 30 children’s hospitals in the country ranked in at least nine specialties.

Our clinical mission is to deliver exceptional, safe and accessible care to improve the outcomes for children in Alabama and elsewhere. This year we had the added responsibility of caring for children with COVID-19. Through November 2020, we cared for 194 patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2, 993 Patients Under Investigation (PUI) for suspected COVID-19 and 28 patients with known or suspected Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). From the simple to the most complex conditions, we continue to work as a team to deliver the best care. 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 are finding ways to further increase access to our providers using telemedicine, improve provider-to-provider communication and identify even more subspecialty services that we can offer to our patients and those who help care for them.

I am very hopeful that 2021 will be better than 2020. No matter what the next year holds, 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

Download the 2020 Department of Pediatrics Academic Annual Report