Dr. Galli Receives Award

The UAB Department of Surgery is highlighting faculty, residents and staff who have an intriguing out-of-the-office hobby. The goal of the series is to connect individuals across the department by helping illuminate out-of-the-office moments and achievements.

Aurelio Galli, M.D., D.Sc. is the director for gastrointestinal biology research as well as a professor in the UAB Department of Surgery. Galli completed his Ph.D. and D.Sc. at State University of Milan, Italy.

He conducted his postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Physicology at Emory University. In 2018, Galli received almost $200,000 in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to complete a study that found a specific kind of bariatric surgery can reduce the rewarding effects of cocaine use by elevating bile acids in the gut.

Galli is also an award-winning jiu jitsu competitor.

What inspired you to start this hobby?

For me, this hobby started as a way to spend time with my daughter. She loves Brazilian jiu jitsu and gets so much enjoyment out of participating.

So, I started to compete about four years ago. What began as a way to connect with my daughter turned into something that I love. I truly look forward to the competitions, but I still see it first and foremost as a relationship-building activity.

What does participating in this hobby mean to you?

Jiu jitsu is a great outlet for cardio exercise, and for me, it is very relaxing. Even though the sport is full-contact and has a lot of ground fighting, it reminds me of a chess game. The sport requires you to engage your mind as much as it requires you to be physically active and agile.

I actually train in a gym where are few world champions train as well. Occasionally, I’ll have the opportunity to fight with them. Although fighting someone on their skill level is a huge challenge, it is always a lot of fun. 

As a researcher, my work can take multiple days, weeks, months, or years to see final results. We work to create something over a long period of time and are very meticulous with procedures and methods. Jiu jitsu is very different than that pace, which makes it such a special sport for me. When you are on the mat, everything moves so, so quickly. You have to be prepared and ready at all times, anticipating your opponent’s next move, making a split decision, and reacting accordingly. It is an exhilarating competition.

What are the competitions or awards that you are most proud of?

In November, I won the International Open IBJJF Championship in both my division and the open weight. One of the competitors that I was up against in the open weight won a bronze medal at the IBJJF Pan Ams (2019)– one of the largest competitions in the world. Pretty proud of it.

Galli will compete in March, at the IBJJF Pan Ams (2020) in California.

Are you part of the UAB Department of Surgery and have an interesting hobby? Then we would love to know about it. Please reach out to our communications team.