UAB Magazine Online Features
Weighing the Value of Public Health
By Jo Lynn Orr
UAB Public Health students helped bring visibility to their future profession by taking part in the "This Is Public Health" campaign, placing stickers on examples of public health in action around Birmingham. See more of their handiwork here.
Public health has an image problem. This is somewhat surprising, considering that the field has spent the past hundred years transforming American life for the better. In 1900, the life expectancy of the average American was just over 47 years; a century later, it was 77 years and rising. And according to a 1994 study cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 years of this 30-plus year gain in life expectancy can be attributed to advances in public health. Vaccinations, food safety, workplace safety, motor-vehicle safety, infectious disease control, smoking prevention—each of these public health measures has played a part in extending the lives of millions in the United States and around the world.
UAB Engineers Push the Boundaries of 3-D Technology
By Grant Martin
Bharat Soni and Alan Shih are exploring uses for UAB's 3D visualization technology in a wide range of fields, including rehabilitation, medical training, and homeland security.
Imagine a place where amputees can learn to ski without risking serious injury; where bomb squads can disarm explosive devices with no chance of casualties; and where surgeons can make perfect incisions and perform flawless operations—before they ever touch a patient.
Researchers in the UAB School of Engineering’s Enabling Technology Laboratory have assembled just such a facility—a virtual-reality environment that can be used for a host of creative applications. This “visualization cube” is the latest expansion of the school’s computer imaging and simulation capabilities, and it could lead to revolutionary advances in a host of fields, including engineering, medicine, rehabilitation, emergency management, and education.
In Step with Debora Kimberlin, M.D.
By Lisa C. Bailey
Dancer, doctor: After a full week treating patients at UAB, Debora Kimberlin often drives to Nashville for a weekend of dance lessons and competitions.
By day, Debora Kimberlin, M.D., helps high-risk obstetric patients at UAB navigate the difficult steps of challenging pregnancies. Most nights and weekends, she can be found moving smoothly through the steps of very different challenges—such as waltzes, fox-trots, and tangos.
Kimberlin says she fell in love with ballroom dancing the moment she tried it. In fact, she entered her first competition just six weeks after her first lesson. “I’ll never forget going to that first competition and seeing the beauty of the sport,” she says. “I was hooked.”
The Original Graduate Reflects on 40 Years at UABBy Jo Lynn Orr
Ronald Acton has seen UAB grow from an extension center to a worldwide scientific power.
But soon after he was awarded a doctorate in microbiology at UAB’s inaugural graduation ceremony, Acton was making history once more. In 1973, after postdoctoral training at UAB, the California Institute of Technology, and Oxford University, Acton came back to Birmingham and joined UAB’s faculty, positioning him to take part in the rise of the university’s research enterprise.
“My primary appointment was in the Department of Microbiology,” Acton says, “but I had joint appointments in medicine, genetics, and epidemiology in the School of Public Health.” Today Acton is an active researcher and adjunct professor of microbiology, and he serves on the School of Medicine’s admissions executive committee, interview committee, and selection committee.
Acton also is writing a book on the history of UAB’s microbiology department—a success story he witnessed firsthand. “Several years ago the department had evolved into the number-one National Institutes of Health-funded department nationwide,” he says.