UAB Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology ranks fourth in nation for NIH funding

The ranking measured 79 anatomy/cell biology departments in U.S. medical schools.

Interior of Dr. Anath Shalev laboratory in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism showing unidentified Asian male employee conducting research.The Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham continues its rise in the top tier of U.S. anatomy/cell biology departments. 

The department’s 2019 National Institutes of Health funding of $16,479,206 is ranked No. 4 in the nation out of 79 anatomy/cell biology basic science departments, according to a newly released report. Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., professor in the UAB CDIB department (pronounced “see-dib”), had the third highest NIH funding out of 821 principal investigators in the anatomy/cell biology departments, with funding of $6,600,693. Bamman is director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine

“While being ranked fourth is exciting and well deserved,” said Brad Yoder, Ph.D., professor and chair of CDIB, “I think the most important thing to recognize is that this is really a reflection of the exciting, innovative and impactful research that the faculty in CDIB are directing and that our trainees are performing.” CDIB is one of the basic science departments in the UAB School of Medicine

Two other CDIB researchers were in the top 100 in NIH funding in 2019, with more than $1 million — Yoder and Qin Wang, M.D., Ph.D., a CDIB professor. Fourteen other CDIB researchers had NIH funding in 2019, that averaged $464,000.

In 2017, CDIB ranked 14th in NIH funding, and in 2018, the department ranked ninth, according to annual reports of NIH funding compiled by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

The research excellence of the CDIB department is partly the fruit of a 2012 merger of two former basic medical science departments at UAB.

CDIB4Brad Yoder, Ph.D., Qin Wang, M.D., Ph.D., and Marcas Bamman, Ph.D.“That merger between the former Department of Cell Biology and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics is really one of the major strengths that has contributed to our growth and high performance,” Yoder said. “We have a highly collegial and collaborative faculty with highly diverse research programs that span from very basic studies of how proteins fold and move around a cell, or how cells communicate with each other, to clinical studies that have direct impact on human health. This diversity has brought groups together to work on common biological problems from very different perspectives.”  

This interdisciplinary collaboration supports one of the pillars of UAB’s strategic plan, Forging the Future — the pillar of research, innovation and economic development.

At the time of the merger, UAB President Ray Watts, M.D., who was then the medical school dean, said, “The basic sciences — cell biology, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, toxicology and neurobiology — are where breakthroughs in cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders often begin. The new department will leverage existing strengths of two faculties to help us move even faster toward the development of new treatments.”

At UAB, Bamman holds the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation School of Medicine Endowed Professorship in Regenerative and Translational Medicine, and Yoder holds the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research.