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Advances in Research

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APRIL 2015

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UAB STUDY TO EXPLORE WOMEN’S EMOTIONAL BARRIERS TO EXERCISE

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers want to help women get more exercise by finding out the underlying issues that might keep them from exercising. Jane Roy, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Education Department of Human Studies, is leading the study supported by colleagues and students in the Kinesiology, Health Education and Counselor Education programs and the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center Physical Activity and Exercise Core.

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NEW RECOMMENDATION FOR CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING, USING HPV TEST ALONE

New guidance, written by a group of cervical cancer screening experts led by University of Alabama at Birmingham gynecologic oncologist Warner Huh, M.D., were published simultaneously in the journals Gynecologic Oncology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease under the title “Use of Primary High Risk Human Papillomavirus Testing for Cervical Cancer Screening: Interim Clinical Guidance.”

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UAB, INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP COULD LEAD TO FIRST RAPID TEST FOR BACTERIAL MENINGITIS

Meningitis research efforts two decades in the making could soon come to fruition through a partnership between investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a medical device startup, with assistance from the UAB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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UAB RESEARCH PROBES MOLECULAR BASIS OF RARE GENETIC DISORDER

An international group co-led by University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher Mary MacDougall, Ph.D., has unraveled the molecular basis for the rare, inherited genetic disorder, Singleton-Merten Syndrome (SMS). Individuals with SMS develop extreme, life-threatening calcification of the aorta and heart valves, early-onset periodontitis and root resorption of the teeth, decreases in bone density, and loss of bone tissue at the tips of fingers and toes.

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UAB OBESITY RESEARCH, SELF-REPORTED DIET AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY DATA TO INACCURATE, EXPERT REPORT SAYS

Asking patients to self-report their nutrition and physical activity is a common data-collection method used by obesity investigators. But a newly published expert opinion ¬ signed by leading scientists and led by investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham ¬ says this often-misleading information can lead to disappointing research outcomes.

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UAB STUDY SHEDS LIGHT ON COST OF MEDICATIONS AND PERCEPTION OF HOW WELL THEY WORK

People’s perceptions of the cost of a drug may affect how much they benefit from the drug ¬ even when they are receiving only a placebo. The finding, from a new study of people with Parkinson’s disease led by Alberto J. Espay, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati, and Jerzy P. Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is published in the January 28 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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UAB TEAM SETS SAIL FOR ANTARCTICA TO CONDUCT PREDATORY CRAB RESEARCH

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Antarctic marine research team set sail in February from Punta Arenas, Chile, for a research expedition to the White Continent. For four weeks, the team will travel south aboard the National Science Foundation’s ship Laurence M. Gould to document populations of deep-sea king crabs that could have significant influence over the ecology of the Antarctic seafloor communities.

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UAB STUDY CONFIRMS EFFECTIVENESS OF DEVICE TO IMPROVE BOWEL CONTROL

Research led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery shows a vaginal bowel-control system designed by Pelvalon is the first device to successfully control fecal incontinence, also known as accidental bowel leakage, via a vaginal insert. The results of the research, known as the LIFE study, was published in the March 2015 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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NEW UAB MACULAR DEGENERATION RESEARCH LOOKS AT LESIONS BEHIND THE RETINA

Yuhua Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded a $1,837,500 grant from the National Eye Institute to characterize extracellular lesions associated with age-related macular degeneration, a common, vision-stealing disease.

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UAH MANAGEMENT SCIENCE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR CO-AUTHORS PAPER

Dr. Wes Colley, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Management Science, has published a paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society entitled, “Genus topology and cross-correlation of BICEP2 and Planck 353 GHz B-modes: further evidence favoring gravity wave detection” with J. Richard Gott, III of Princeton University. The paper supports a marginal detection of a gravity wave signal in the cosmic microwave back-ground, which would be an important confirming hallmark of the Inflation theory for the Big Bang.

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UAH ECONOMICS PROFESSOR PUBLISHES ARTICLE

A research article by W. David Allen, Professor of Economics, titled “The Demand for Younger and Older Workers: Patterns from NFL Labor Markets,” was published in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Sports Economics.

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UAH ENGINEERING PROFESSOR RECEIVES GRANT FROM THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

The Systems Science program at the National Science Foundation has awarded UAH a research grant of $119,462 to study “Control versus Prediction in Systems Engineering.” The project’s principal investigator, Paul Collopy, chair of the ISEEM department, says, “Huntsville is one of the world centers for systems engineering, so it is not surprising that UAH is one of the leading universities in systems engineering research. We are already conducting NASA’s largest systems engineering research program, under the direction of Professor Phil Farrington, and this is our second NSF grant for systems engineering research. The mix of NASA funding and NSF funding really strengthens our research, because NASA has very complex systems engineering applications right here at Marshall Space Flight Center, but we can use National Science Foundation funding to investigate very fundamental questions that may be further from direct application.” Almost all of the new grant will be used to support students at UAH who assist in research.

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UAH COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING BEGINS WORK ON CFIRE GRANT

ISEEM Associate Professor Sampson Gholston kicked off work on a $130,000 grant from the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) to perform transportation research. UAH is the lead institution for a collaborative group that includes Southern Mississippi University, University of Wisconsin-Superior, and Michigan Technological University.

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UAH ENGINEERING PROFESSOR RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS NSF CAREER AWARD

Dr. George Nelson, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has received an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. This five-year award, totaling $502,491, seeks to further our understanding of the degradation in lithium-ion battery electrodes operating under elevated temperature conditions. Insights from the research will improve battery performance and reliability and thereby extend the range and lifetime of hybrid and electric vehicles.

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UAH ENGINEERING PROFESSOR RECEIVES NSF AWARD

Dr. Babak Shotorban, a newly promoted Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has received an NSF award to investigate fundamental charging of dust in complex plasmas. The duration of the award, totaling $135,000, is three years. The project will be conducted in collaboration with Baylor University.

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UAH COMMUNICATION ARTS FACULTY AND STUDENT PUBLISH ARTICLE

Communication Arts Associate Professor, Dr. Eletra Gilchrist, and Assistant Professor, Dr. Pavica Sheldon, along with student Adam Lessley published “‘You Did What?’ The Relationship Between Forgiveness Tendency, Communication of Forgiveness, and Relationship Satisfaction in Married and Dating Couples” in the journal Communication Reports.

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UAH LIBERAL ARTS PROFESSORS WIN NEW FACULTY RESEARCH AWARDS

Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Anna Foy, Assistant Professor of History, Dr. Andrei Gandila, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Kyle Knight, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Christina Steidl, and Assistant Professor of Art, Mr. Chris Taylor, received New Faculty Research awards from UAH’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

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UAH ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE PROFESSOR RECEIVES $4M GRANT

Atmospheric Science Professor Dr. Mike Newchurch and his group have been awarded a $4M ($1.4M UAH share), 3-year grant from NASA to make measurements and perform scientific analyses on their recently formed national network of five tropospheric-ozone lidars called TOLNet (Tropospheric Ozone Lidar Network).

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UAH CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR RECEIVES FUNDING

Dr. Bernhard Vogler, UAH Chemistry Professor, received a $170,000 Research Infrastructure Fund for HPLC-MS-MS with orbitrap for high resolution.

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UAH CHEMISTRY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR WINS GRANT

Chemistry Associate Professor Dr. Robert McFeeters received a UAB/UAH collaborative grant for joint work with Dr. Will Placzek of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

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UA SURVEY REVEALS EDUCATION-WORKFORCE TRAINING TOP ISSUE FACING STATE

Education, including workforce training, is the top issue facing the state, according to a survey of Alabama’s state business executives conducted by UA researchers. The other issues gathered from the survey are competence in government, economic and business development, job growth, healthcare costs and infrastructure improvements. The “Alabama Business Confidence Index” panelists voiced their opinions about the top issues facing the state and the top issues facing their companies in a survey conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. Those surveyed perceived company finances and development as the top issue facing their companies. Government taxation, regulation and uncertainty was ranked second, followed by the lack of a qualified workforce, economic recovery and healthcare costs.

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UA’S ED POLICY CENTER TO STUDY RETURN ON INVESTMENT OF STATE’S UNIVERSITIES

How much does the state of Alabama benefit from its 14 four-year universities? While most of the schools in the state, including UA, have conducted return-on-investment studies before, none have examined ROI at a statewide level, according to Dr. Stephen Katsinas, director of the Education Policy Center at UA. A more accurate representation for each school’s impact on its local community and region of the state, which will provide more detailed and useful data, requires a different model and factors. Katsinas and the UA Education Policy Center have been commissioned by the Higher Education Partnership of Alabama to study the per-dollar return on the state’s investment in its public universities and what they contribute to their respective regions and local labor markets. The study is tentatively scheduled to be completed in March 2015.

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UA RESEARCHERS LEAD GULF COAST OIL SPILL STUDY

Two UA biologists are leading a new, three-year, $1.5 million study of the 2010 oil spill’s impact on the northern Gulf of Mexico in an effort to improve responses to future spills. Dr. Behzad Mortazavi, UA associate professor of biological sciences, and Dr. Patricia Sobecky, associate provost for academic affairs and professor of biological sciences, are part of a multi-disciplinary team of scientists con-ducting the research. The study focuses on the role biodiversity – the measurement of the variety of organisms in an environment – played in the northern Gulf of Mexico’s ecological recovery. The study is part of a $6.5 million grant awarded to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab/Marine Environmental Science Consortium by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.