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Advances in Research

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APRIL 2014

 

INTERDISCIPLINARY UAB RESEARCHERS COLLABORATE TO ESTABLISH NEW IMAGING METHOD

An interdisciplinary collaboration at UAB recently established a research method that has expanded the institution’s already robust capacity for discovery, addressing a need that will aid in critical initiatives addressing a variety of diseases including cancer, chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases and age-related degenerative diseases. The matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry, or MALDI-IMS, method is a powerful tool for investigating the distribution of molecules within biological systems through the direct analysis of thin tissue sections. Biomedical research is typically aimed at answering the fundamental questions of how, when, where and why important biological processes occur in the body and determining their relevance to human disease.

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GULF FISH STUDIED AT UAB FOR SAFETY FOLLOWING DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL

The worst oil spill in U.S. history occurred when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and in the aftermath of this event, one potential hazard was the safety of eating seafood caught from the affected area. An environmental health science expert in the UAB School of Public Health worked with colleagues to analyze concentrations of contaminants in fish that were harvested by reef fishermen in the Gulf a year after the Deepwater Horizon blowout. The results are published online in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.

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UAB RESEARCH: HIGH-INTENSITY STRENGTH TRAINING SHOWS BENEFIT FOR PARKINSON’S PATIENTS

UAB researchers say that high-intensity strength training produced significant improvements in quality of life, mood and motor function in older patients with Parkinson’s disease. The findings were published in January online in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Fifteen subjects with moderate Parkinson’s underwent 16 weeks of high-intensity resistance training combined with interval training designed to simultaneously challenge strength, power, endurance, balance and mobility function. Before and after the 16 weeks, the subjects were compared to age-matched controls who did not have Parkinson’s and did not undergo the exercise regimen. “We saw improvements in strength, muscle size and power, which we expected after rigorous weight training; but we also saw improvement in balance and muscle control,” said Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology and lead author of the study. “We also saw improvement in cognition, mood and sense of well-being.”

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COGNITIVE TRAINING HAS STAYING POWER IN REASONING AND SPEED, UAB RESEARCH SHOWS

Training to improve cognitive abilities in older people lasted to some degree 10 years after the training program was completed, according to results of a randomized clinical trial supported by the National Institutes of Health. UAB was one of seven institutions involved in the study. The findings showed training gains for aspects of cognition involved in the ability to think and learn, but researchers said memory training did not have an effect after 10 years. The report, from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly study, appears in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The project was funded by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Nursing Research.

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FIRST STROKE GUIDELINES FOR WOMEN CREATED WITH HELP OF UAB EXPERT

While stroke occurrences have been on a consistent decline in the United States since the early 1900s, more women are still dying from them than are men. To aid in curbing these deaths, first-of-their-kind stroke-prevention guidelines for women have been released with the help of one UAB expert. “Men are physiologically different from women, so preventive tips cannot be one-size-fits-all,” explained Virginia Howard, Ph.D., co-author of the new scientific statement Guidelines for the Prevention of Stroke in Women, published from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Council on Stroke in the AHA journal Stroke.

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UAB EXPERT CONTRIBUTES TO ‘LIVING DOCUMENT’ TO PROVIDE REAL-TIME HEPATITIS C TREATMENT GUIDANCE

A UAB infectious diseases expert recently helped develop new Hepatitis C virus (HCV) guidelines that can be updated and published as new data emerge and new therapies are approved. HCV – which affects more than 3 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – last saw guidelines released in 2011. Michael Saag, M.D., professor of medicine in the UAB School of Medicine, served as co-chair of a panel of more than two dozen liver and infectious diseases doctors that created HCVguidelines.org, a new online resource launched by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, in collaboration with the International Antiviral Society-USA.

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OBESITY MYTHS PAPER MADE ITS MARK LAST YEAR IN THE NEJM

The New England Journal of Medicine, the most widely read general medical periodical in the world, has taken a look back at the past year and published its Top Articles of 2013, with five Top 10 lists that represent the most popular content among NEJM physician-readers. Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity, published in NEJM on January 30, 2013, by an international team of researchers led by David Allison, Ph.D., associate dean for science in the UAB School of Public Health, made three of the Top 10 lists. The paper was the eighth-most-viewed, with 136,272 views; the third-most-emailed article, with 930 emailed; and the seventh-most-shared, with 2,079 shares. The paper analyzed articles published in the scientific and popular press to separate myths from evidence-supported facts when it comes to obesity.

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UAH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MARKETING PUBLISHES PAPER

Dr. Yeqing Bao, Associate Professor of Marketing, recently published a coauthored article titled “Are relational ties always good for knowledge acquisition? Buyer-supplier exchanges in China” in the Journal of Operations Management (Volume 32, Issue 3, March 2014, Pages 88-98). According to the Journal Citation Reports published by Thomson Reuters (2012), the Journal of Operations Management is ranked No. 1 in the Operations Research & Management Sciences Category.

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UAH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MARKETING CO-EDITED CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

Dr. Yeqing Bao, Associate Professor of Marketing, co-edited and published the proceedings for the China Marketing International Conference 2013, titled “China’s Contributions to Marketing: Theory and Practice”, ISSN 2357-1918.

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UAH MARKETING PROFESSORS’ PAPER ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

Drs. Yeqing Bao and Timothy D. Landry, both Associate Professors of Marketing, have a coauthored paper titled “Brand Positioning Through Print Advertising” accepted as a chapter in the book Brand Management in Emerging Markets: Theories and Practices, to be published by IGI Global.

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UAH ECONOMICS PROFESSORS’ PAPER ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

A research paper titled “The Self-Employment of Men and Women: What Are Their Motivations?” by W. David Allen, Professor of Economics at UAB, and William P. Curington, Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Arkansas, was accepted for publication in the Journal of Labor Research.

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UAH SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER (SBDC) CONDUCTS MARKET RESEARCH

The SBDC is conducting on-going market research in government contracting as well as numerous commercial industries and markets in support of new and existing clients.

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UAH ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTISTS PARTICIPATE IN FIELD EXPERIMENT

Professor Kevin Knupp, Atmospheric Science graduate students, and mobile weather instrumentation from the Severe Weather Institute-Radar & Lightning Laboratories participated in the NSF funded Ontario Winter Lake-effect System (OWLeS) field experiment in Oswego, NY, from December 2013 through January 2014.

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UAH EARTH SYSTEM SCIENTISTS TEST CAMERA IN GUATEMALA

Atmospheric Science Assistant Professor Robert Griffin and graduate student Casey Calamaio conducted tests of a multi-spectral camera during brief flights of a radio-controlled helicopter over Maya ruins at Tikal and Yaxha in Guatemala in December 2013.

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UAH SCIENTISTS OBSERVE BRIGHTEST GAMMA-RAY BURST EVER DETECTED

Last April the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) was the first instrument to detect the brightest gamma-ray burst (GRB) ever observed. The exceptional brightness made unprecedented studies possible with space-based and ground-based tele-scopes. UAH scientists participated in three papers about this GRB that appeared in the January 3, 2014, issue of Science.  Space Science Associate Professor Robert Preece and recent Physics Ph.D. graduate J. Michael Burgess were the lead authors on the paper “The First Pulse of the Extremely Bright GRB 130427A: A Test Lab for Synchrotron Shocks” showing the GBM observations do not agree with the theoretical models for GRB gamma-ray emission.

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UAH COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSOR TO EDIT A BOOK SERIES

Dr. Clarke Rountree, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Arts, is editor of a new book series in Rhetoric, Law, and Society for the University of Alabama Press.

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UAH SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR’S ARTICLE ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

In December, Dr. Kyle Knight’s manuscript “Temporal Variation in the Relationship between Environmental Demands and Well-Being: A Panel Analysis of Developed and Less-Developed Countries” was peer-reviewed accepted for publication in Population and Environment.

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UAH MUSIC PROFESSOR RECEIVES NFR AWARD TO SUPPORT MUSIC IN HEALTH CARE ENVIRONMENTS

Dr. Melody Ng of the UAH Department of Music received a 2014 UAH New Faculty Research (NFR) Program Award to support her scholarly interests in the impact of live music within the health care environment. Dr. Ng’s research agenda includes a 10-week concert series at the public areas of a local hospital, connecting professional musicians and UAH music students with the health-care community.

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UAH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS FELLOWSHIP

Each year, the internationally renowned Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh selects a handful of scholars from all over the world to pursue research in the philosophy of science or closely related fields. Dr. Nicholaos Jones received news that he won one of these fellowships to work at the Center for the Fall of 2014. As a visiting fellow, Dr. Jones will receive a supplementary stipend for living expenses in addition to office space, library access, and the opportunity to attend conferences, workshops, and talks. He will be able to work with the very top international scholars and writers in philosophy of science. This opportunity grew out of Dr. Jones’s previous international collaboration with Dr. Olaf Wolkenhauer at the University of Rostock on network diagrams of biological systems.

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PROPOSAL AWARDED

Particle Acceleration at Inner Heliospheric Shock Waves during Solar Maximum, PI G.P. Zank, Co-I’s Gang Li, Olga Verkhoglyadova, NASA Guest Investigator, Total Award amount $507,181.

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UA RESEARCHER FOUND GENDER GAP IN OLYMPIC COVERAGE IS NARROWING

A UA researcher was part of a team who found that, in the combined 18 nights of NBC’s Sochi Olympic broadcast, male athletes received the plurality of the network’s primetime coverage, but not nearly to the extent of past Winter Olympic analyses. Dr. Andrew Billings, the Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting at UA, along with a research team consisting of professors from the University of Delaware, Utica College, and Auburn University, charted the amount of time the NBC broadcast network devoted to male and female athletes on its primetime Olympic telecast. For the 18-night composite of NBC’s primetime telecast, men athletes received 45.4 percent of NBC’s primetime coverage, women athletes received 41.4 percent of the coverage, and pairs events received the remaining 13.2 percent. The four percent gap is substantially less than the average gap of 20 percent found within primetime telecasts from 1994-2010.

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JANUARY’S WINTER STORM INCREASED CHANCES OF DEADLY CRASHES IN STATE’S RURAL AREAS, ACCORDING TO UA CAPS

Not surprisingly, vehicle crashes increased during the winter storm the last week of January in Alabama, but the iced roads shifted the risk of fatal crashes to rural roads away from the clogged roadways in the state’s urban metro areas, according to an analysis of crash data by researchers at UA. Using state crash data, researchers at the Center for Advanced Public Safety, or CAPS, compared the week of the winter storm, January 25-31, 2014, with the same dates from January 2013. Despite less traffic in rural areas, crashes in those areas rose from 25 to 38 percent of all crashes comparing the last seven days of January 2013 to the week of the winter storm in 2014. It was a significant increase, according to CAPS researchers.

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UA 3D PRINTING LAB OPENS NEW WINDOW INTO CANCER RESEARCH

The first 3D print of a G-quadruplex DNA sequence and its molecular structure was created at UA in its 3D Printing Lab, allowing researchers a potentially valuable new tool in the fight against cancer. Dr. Vincent F. Scalfani, the science and engineering librarian for UA Libraries, collaborated with researchers at the School of Pharmacy at University College London in the UK, to convert laboratory X-ray crystallography data of a G-quadruplex molecule and the  drug targeting it into a 3D digital model suitable for 3D printing. The 3D printed model of the DNA will be used to help students and researchers visualize the molecule’s structure, and the model is already being used in pre-clinical studies for pancreatic cancer research. 3D printing of DNA sequences like these allows researchers to touch and better understand their biological target.

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UA PROFESSOR FINDS LINK BETWEEN DRINKING PATTERNS, ALCOHOL ‘CUES’

The motivations for one to drink alcohol and patterns of future drinking can be related to the attentional narrowing – or zeroing-in – one has to a photograph of an alcoholic beverage, according to a psychology professor at UA. Drinking alcohol can lead to myopia, or a narrowing of focus. It’s a key reason why drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal. But people can experience the same myopic state without ingesting alcohol – a picture of a cocktail or a beer ad in a magazine can trigger the same narrowing of attention and can predict future drinking patterns, according to a study recently conducted by Dr. Philip Gable, assistant professor of social psychology at UA. Gable’s recent findings illustrate that even the idea of alcohol may change the way we see the world around us.

UA RESEARCH: REPROGRAMMED PROTEIN SHOWS NEUROLOGIC TREATMENT PROMISE

When reprogrammed in a laboratory, a protein naturally found only in single-cell organisms can correct within animal models a hall-mark trait associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases, according to a paper co-authored by UA researchers and publishing in a recent edition of the journal Cell. The work done in laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania and UA shows that variants of a chaperone protein, called Hsp 104, may be “highly promising” for eventually halting the progression of diseases such as Parkinson’s and ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to the scientific article. The research was done in yeast and the tiny nematode C. elegans, models frequently used in research laboratories. UA’s portion of the research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

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UA RELEASED 2014 ECONOMIC FORECAST FOR STATE

What’s in store for Alabama’s economy in 2014? Local and national economic experts from UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and the nation answered that question at the 26th annual Economic Outlook Conference in Montgomery. The conference was presented by the Center for Business and Economic Research at UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce. Forecasters say the economic outlook seems brighter going into 2014, but challenges remain. The UA Center, known as CBER, released its annual economic forecasts for the state and metro areas.

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UA PANEL FEATURED NOTED SOCIAL JUSTICE RESEARCHER

Dr. Susan R. Rankin, one of the nation’s leading researchers of social justice issues in higher education, was the featured speaker and panelist for a discussion about campus climate’s influence on queer-spectrum and trans-spectrum people. Rankin is research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education and associate professor of education in the College Student Affairs Program at Pennsylvania State University. Rankin, who spent 17 years as head softball coach at Penn State, has presented and published widely on the impact of sexism, racism and heterosexism in the academy and in intercollegiate athletics. Her current research focuses on the assessment of institutional climate and providing program planners and policy makers with recommended strategies to improve the campus climate for underserved communities.