The UAB School of Health Professions has awarded inaugural faculty grants to Matt Ithurburn, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, and Haiyan Qu, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Health Services Administration.

Ithurburn wins the Junior Faculty Research Grant for his proposal: “Temporal Associations Between Daily Physical Activity and Daily Pain in Individuals with Femoroacetabular Impingement Syndrome: A Pilot Study.”

Qu wins the Outstanding Collaborative Unit Grant award for her proposal: “Develop a Home-based Multimodal Prehabilitation Program for Potential Liver Transplant (LT) Candidates.”

“We are so excited for the opportunity to offer these awards to support research productivity of our junior faculty and strong research collaborations across our school, UAB, and the community at large,” said Brenda Bertrand, PhD, RDN, FAND, professor and director, M.S in Nutrition Sciences program and chair, SHP Faculty Affairs Committee (2020-2021). “We are appreciative of the Dean’s commitment to supporting innovative research and collaborations in our school.”

The Junior Faculty Research Grant award, provided funding up to $50,000 for a one-year period, Priority was given to preliminary projects with the potential for substantial impact on the scientific field and career development of junior faculty.

Matt IthurburnMatt Ithurburn, Dept. of Physical TherapyIthurburn, who is also an associate scientist in the Center for Exercise Medicine and the Comprehensive Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, Bone, and Autoimmunity Center, says his winning proposal will determine if collecting daily physical activity and pain data is feasible in individuals with femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAIS), as well as examine variability and associations among device-measured physical activity, daily pain, and participant-reported daily specific tasks.

“Our pilot study supported by the SHP Junior Faculty Research Grant will help me to develop the expertise and interdisciplinary research team needed to successfully secure future external funding and positively impact clinical care for individuals with FAIS,” said Ithurburn. “I am very excited for this opportunity and appreciative of the Dean’s and School’s commitment toward supporting the research development of junior faculty members.” 

The Outstanding Collaborative Unit Grant award provides funding in the amount of $25,000 for a two-year period to add a research or technological component to advance a current collaborative research project or teaching curriculum.

Qu, who teaches quantitative research methods in M.S. in Health Administration and the Graduate Programs in Health Informatics, says her grant includes UAB School of Medicine faculty Robert Cannon, M.D., from the Liver Transplant Program, Division of Transplantation, and Meagan Gray, M.D., from the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. They will work collaboratively to develop and pilot test a prehabilitation intervention for potential liver transplant candidates and their caregivers.

“This collaborative project will support our research team to develop the prehabilitation program that targets to improve frailty, decrease waitlist mortality, and improve post-liver transplant outcomes,” said Qu. “Findings from this project will provide data and support us to seek external funding to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of the prehabilitation program with a nationally representative sample.”

“Haiyan and Matt are passionate scientists who are committed to discovering new ways to strengthen health and health care in their areas of expertise – they are the prototypical researchers that the School is excited to support each year with these grants,” said School of Health Professions Dean Andrew J. Butler, Ph.D.

In addition to awarding the grants each year, the School of Health Professions will host an annual school-wide Town Hall session where the previous years’ winners will provide details on new advancements of their funded research projects.

The 2021 SHP Faculty Grant awards will include three opportunities:

  1. Junior Faculty Research Grant ($25,000 award for 1 year)
  2. Education Innovation Grant ($25,000 award for 1 year)
  3. Outstanding Collaborative Units Grant ($25,000 award for 2 years)

The application submissions will open in late August/early September with an application deadline late November/early December 2021. Announcements for applications will be made during future SHP Town Talk meetings, via email announcements, and in updates on our website at