UAB Magazine Online Features
UAB Alumnus Revolutionizes Tuberculosis Research
By Meghan Davis
Bill Jacobs cracked one of the great problems in infectious disease research using a mathematician's heart, a molecular biologist's training, and a helpful handful of dirt.
Jacobs, a professor of immunology, microbiology, and genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, earned one of the top honors in American science when he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. He won the honor, in part, for identifying new ways to target tuberculosis, which is still one of the world's great public health threats. But Jacobs, who earned his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology at UAB in 1985, says it all might not have happened apart from a fateful letter to Birmingham.
While studying math at Edinboro State College near Erie, Pennsylvania (actress Sharon Stone was a classmate), Jacobs took a microbiology course that sparked his interest. He applied to several microbiology graduate programs, but few even bothered to answer his inquiry letters. Then Roy Curtiss, Ph.D., founder of UAB's molecular cell biology graduate program, invited him to Birmingham for an interview and tour.
"I told Roy that I didn't know much biology," Jacobs says. "And he told me, 'There is no sin in being ignorant. The sin is to remain ignorant.' I decided that from that day forward, I wasn't going to be ashamed to ask questions in seminars."
Jacobs says he still uses Curtiss's quote to encourage his own students.
UAB Psychiatrist Reaches Out to Mothers, Children in Africa
By Matt Windsor
UAB Department of Psychiatry who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at UAB and Children's Hospital of Alabama. "I wanted to do that."As a boy, Tolu Aduroja, M.D., M.P.H., longed for the days when he got to go to work with his mother, an obstetric nurse at the hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. "I saw patients give birth and the joy on their faces, and I just loved it," says Aduroja, an associate professor in the
Aduroja graduated from medical school at the University of Ibadan and began work as a general practitioner, but love brought him to the United States in 1997. His wife, a pharmacist who was born in the U.S. and moved to Nigeria as a high schooler, had a great job offer in Atlanta. Aduroja took the opportunity to expand his horizons. "When I came to the U.S., my mind was made up that I wanted to work with people," he says.
He began a medical residency in psychiatry in Atlanta while starting a master's degree in public health at UAB. "The courses were offered on the weekend, so I would shuttle back and forth between Atlanta and Birmingham," Aduroja says. He eventually moved to Birmingham to complete a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at UAB, joining the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry in 2005, the same year he received his master's degree in public health.
Joy drew Aduroja to the medical profession, but pain brings him back to Nigeria. "You have to have money to get health care in Nigeria," he says. "People know something is wrong, but they don't do anything about it until it is too late."
A Strong Start for At-Risk Moms and Babies
By Christina Crowe and Matt Windsor
From the moment they are born, most babies in the United States have their health care looked after in some fashion. The health of the mothers who carry them for nine months, however, is often overlooked—especially by the mothers themselves, says Mario Drummonds, executive director and CEO of the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership (NMPP).
Drummonds recently visited UAB to deliver the 2013 Ann Dial McMillan Endowed Lecture in Family and Child Health in the UAB School of Public Health. He shared lessons from his group's successful efforts to improve the health of mothers and infants in central Harlem. (Learn more about the NMPP's success and Drummond's call to action at UAB in this related article.) "Mom's health," Drummonds says, is "always secondary. Part of our job is to make her health, as well as the overall health of the household, primary."
Maternal and child health is a major challenge in Alabama. "High rates of premature birth, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and substance abuse plague our state," says Joseph Biggio, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the UAB Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine But thanks to a major grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, UAB can now offer intensive help to mothers and babies with the greatest needs.
The goal of the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative is to identify the best ways to prevent significant, long-term health problems for high-risk pregnant women and newborns enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program. In addition to UAB, 26 organizations across the United States are taking part in the Strong Start initiative.
Alabama's Medicaid Maternity Care Program currently does not provide non-medical social services to promote healthy living and reduce poor pregnancy outcomes. UAB's four-year, $730,000 Strong Start grant will address that gap by enhancing services offered at UAB clinics in and around Jefferson County. It includes enhanced screening for substance abuse, including illicit drugs as well as tobacco; social support for women with domestic issues such as income or domestic violence; screening for depression; and nutrition and dietary counseling.
New Research Unit Expands Access to Cutting-Edge Treatments at UAB
By Matt Windsor
In one six-month stretch last year, Lynn and Suzy Holt got enough bad news to last a lifetime. Suzy found out she had breast cancer in June 2012, just after Lynn had left a longtime job as a food distributor to start his own business. Then, as Suzy was in the middle of treatment in early October, Lynn was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain tumor. "I was a stage 4," he says, which means the tumor was spreading quickly. "My doctor said, 'You need to go to UAB. This needs to be handled by the experts.'"
Lynn, who describes himself as a "real online kind of guy," had done his research and knew what he was up against. Glioblastoma multiforme is the deadliest type of brain cancer, with an average survival rate of less than 15 months from diagnosis. "I wanted every hope I could get," he says.