UAB and Civitan International celebrate longstanding partnership while making plans for the future

UAB and Civitan International have met a $20 million philanthropic milestone. 

Exterior of Civitan International Research Center, 2017.UAB and Civitan International have met a $20 million philanthropic milestone. The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Civitan International have enjoyed a long and beneficial partnership, beginning in 1989 with a $20 million commitment from CI to fund research in the neurosciences at UAB. That commitment has been fulfilled, and leaders of both organizations will celebrate reaching that milestone this October while planning on ways to continue the partnership in the years to come.

In the late 1980s, Civitan International conducted a nationwide search for a partner that would share its vision of assisting individuals with developmental disabilities. A small group of faculty collaborated to submit an application on behalf of UAB. With Civitan International’s distinguished record of public service focusing on assisting individuals with developmental disabilities and with UAB’s record of exceptional achievement and contributions to the improvement of human health and welfare, the UAB proposal was selected. A partnership was formed in 1989, and the Civitan International Research Center was established at UAB.  

With the fulfillment of that original commitment, the Civitan International Board of Directors and Selwyn Vickers, M.D., senior vice president and dean of the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, along with other UAB leaders, will honor the partnership at an event Oct. 14 and announce a new funding commitment from Civitan International for the future.    

Click here to learn more about the Civitan International Research Center at UAB from Center Director Craig Powell, Ph.D.

“Civitan International and its members around the country and around the globe have been instrumental in the establishment of the research center here on the UAB campus that bears their name,” said Craig Powell, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and director of the UAB Civitan International Research Center. “Their support has provided care for children and their families, as well as groundbreaking research aimed at identifying novel therapies for developmental disorders. Our goal is to continue working together to make a difference in the lives of patients and their families every day.” 

Funding from Civitan International has resulted in the development of numerous research projects. The most recent project is the Civitan Autism & Neurodevelopment Research Database & Biorepository, which began enrolling research participants in 2021. CANDR is a research project that includes diagnostic testing by a licensed clinical psychologist, providing critical clinical diagnosis. With the patient’s consent, biological samples are collected for future research and analysis. Participants who complete diagnostic assessments are provided with a written report that includes test results, recommendations and referrals. This service is provided at no cost to the participants and would not be possible without the support of Civitan International.  

The impact the original agreement has made on the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities has been immeasurable. The Civitan Sparks Clinics provide many essential clinical and community services for individuals and families, including several interdisciplinary specialty clinics that conduct more than 4,500 patient visits each year. The clinics provide evaluation and intervention services for individuals with a broad range of physical, developmental, learning and/or behavioral challenges in a family-centered, culturally sensitive setting.  

MRI machine being delivered to room. The Civitan International Research Center added a research focused MRI machine, called an fMRI, in 2014 to greatly enhance the research opportunities at the center.The CIRC’s mission is to improve the well-being and the quality of life of individuals and families affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. Civitan International is focused on creating a world full of opportunity and a more open, welcoming, accessible, inclusive and friendly place to live for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“All of us at CIRC are looking forward to this next chapter in the relationship between Civitan International and the Civitan International Research Center,” Powell said. “We share a renewed sense of excitement as we strive to fulfill the missions of both organizations.”