The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the creation of a new center and three new scholarships plus made several appointments during its regular meeting Feb. 2.

Trustees gave approval for UAB to establish the UAB Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics. The center will allow for increased coordination among disciplines such as neurology, neurobiology, psychiatry, psychology, neurosurgery and neuropathology in the understanding and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

The center will develop highly interactive and multidisciplinary efforts to accelerate laboratory discoveries into effective therapies for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and others.

David G. Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology, will direct the center. Standaert also is the director of the Division of Movement Disorders in the Department of Neurology and the inaugural holder of the John T. and Juanelle D. Strain Endowed Chair in Neurology.

Scholarships endowed
Trustees approved an endowed scholarship for the School of Optometry. The endowment, made possible by a $25,000 gift from Energen Corp. and its subsidiary Alabama Gas Corp. (Alagasco), will assist qualified students from under-served and under-represented populations enrolled in or admitted to the UAB School of Optometry.

UAB School of Optometry Dean John F. Amos, O.D., expressed his appreciation to the benefactors, saying: “The scholarship will help us diversify the student body by reaching out to individuals from ethnically diverse backgrounds. The endowment also allows us to eliminate much of the financial burden for deserving students in need.”

Trustees accepted a  $25,000 gift from WGN-TV anchorman Steve Sanders and his wife Julie to create the Lauren McLellan Sanders Endowed Scholarship in the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences. The gift honors the memory of the Sanders’ daughter, Lauren McLellan, who died of an undiagnosed neurological disease at age 6. Both Sanders and his wife earned undergraduate degrees at UAB.

Trustees also approved the creation of the Donna Lee Rickert Endowed Scholarship in the School of Public Health, The scholarship has been established by Edward Rickert to celebrate his wife’s memory and to recognize her dedication to public health, particularly maternal and child health, epidemiology and international health.

“This memorial to one of our outstanding graduates will allow many more students to pursue their passion for public health and to contribute to the health and well being of people in some of the same ways that Donna did,” said UAB School of Public Health Dean Max Michael, M.D.

Rickert earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology, master of public health in epidemiology and doctorate in maternal-child epidemiology from UAB. In addition to her time as a program director and instructor at UAB, she was director of the Division of Health Statistics for the Jefferson County Department of Health in Birmingham and was the lead epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Immunization Program, in Atlanta.

Professors recognized
Trustees also awarded two UAB faculty members the rank of professor emeritus:
Jorge Antonio Aldrete, M.D., who first joined the UAB faculty in 1980 and later returned as a volunteer professor, professor emeritus of anesthesiology.
Michael J. Pitt, M.D., a UAB School of Medicine faculty member since 1993, professor emeritus of radiology.

Shin Oh, M.D., professor of neurology and pathology and director of the Division of Neuromuscular Disease in the Department of Neurology at UAB has been designated a distinguished professor. Oh, an internationally known clinician, researcher and educator, is the recipient of the Distinguished Researcher Award for 2006 from the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Rosalinda C. Roberts, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UAB, has been named the second holder of the Kathy Ireland Endowed Chair for Psychiatric Research. Roberts, an internationally recognized figure in schizophrenia research, was recruited to the UAB faculty in 2007 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Roberts is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, and she also is a journal reviewer for the Veteran’s Administration and the National Institute of Mental Health. ?????