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Building a Game to Fight the Rural AIDS Epidemic

By Matt Windsor

Comfort Enah, Ph.D., a researcher in the UAB School of Nursing, can't build a time machine to help teens avoid making bad decisions in the future. So she's creating the next best thing: a video game.

Working with a team from the UAB School of Engineering, Enah is crafting a simulation of the challenges of modern teen life—including social media shaming, drug and alcohol use, dating boundaries, and the wildfire spread of misinformation on the Internet. The goal is to slow the HIV epidemic among adolescents in the rural South. Enah's dream, if the game proves effective, is to take it to the even more hard-hit communities of sub-Saharan Africa, where she grew up.

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Building the Car of Tomorrow

Mechatronics and the Future of the Auto Industry

By Todd Dills

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Alabama has become an unlikely leader in the automotive industry, with manufacturing plants from Mercedes, Honda, and Hyundai producing the latest SUVs, minivans, and sedans. Meanwhile, at the UAB School of Engineering, Vladimir Vantsevich, Ph.D., Sc.D., and his students are working on the next generation of vehicles.

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By Matt Windsor • Illustrations by Tim Rocks and Jessica Huffstutler

In some ways, America’s obesity problem has the simplest of solutions. If we could reduce the calories in our diets and increase the time we spend exercising, we could virtually guarantee ourselves longer lives and billions in health-care savings.

But that’s a big “if.” Despite persistent public health messages, physicians’ warnings, and other outreach efforts in recent years, Americans are heavier than ever. Fresh ideas are desperately needed. Dozens of UAB research teams are engaged in the search for answers, exploring everything from new motivational techniques to a field-ready tool for measuring body fat. Learn more about four of these investigators and their big ideas:

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Partners in Progress

Strategic Funding Accelerates Research

By Matt Windsor • Illustrations by Ernie Eldredge

In July 2005, after months of troubling symptoms, inconclusive tests, and incomplete answers, Ken Cater finally received the definitive diagnosis he wanted—and the answer he dreaded. Cater, like actor Michael J. Fox, had early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

“I went into that spot where you don’t like to go and had my moment and cried on the sofa with my dog and family,” says Cater, an executive at SSOE Group, a global engineering firm. “After that I didn’t look back. I’m an engineer. I’m used to having a problem, finding a solution, and moving on.”

Cater arranged a meeting with Ray L. Watts, M.D., an international expert on Parkinson’s disease who was then chair of the UAB Department of Neurology and is now the university’s president. “I said, ‘What can I do to help?’” Cater recalls. Watts said his top priority was recruiting David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D., to UAB from Harvard University. “Dr. Watts said, ‘He’s the best there is, and I want to get him here,’” says Cater. “I responded, ‘What do we have to do to make that happen?’”

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