The University of Alabama School of Medicine at UAB, or UAB School of Medicine as it is more commonly known, is a public medical school located in Birmingham, Alabama with branch campuses in Huntsville, Montgomery, and at the University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences in Tuscaloosa. Residency programs are also located in Selma, Huntsville and Montgomery.
The School of Medicine at UAB can trace its roots back to the 1859 founding of the Medical College of Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. By the early 1900s, the work of Abraham Flexner led to the move of the medical school to Tuscaloosa to become closer affiliated with the University of Alabama. That move of the college from Mobile to Tuscaloosa took effect in 1920. In 1936, the University of Alabama Extension Center was opened in Birmingham because of the recent population growth there. In 1943, Governor Chauncey Sparks created the four-year Medical College of Alabama with the passage of the Jones Bill (Alabama Act 89). In 1944, Dr. Roy R. Kracke was named dean of the Medical College of Alabama and began assembling teaching staff. In 1945, the Medical College of Alabama was moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham and the University’s Medical Center was founded. Later, in November 1966, the Extension Center and the Medical Center were merged to form the “University of Alabama in Birmingham,” an organizational component of The University of Alabama. In 1969, UAB became an independent institution, one of three autonomous universities within the newly created University of Alabama System. The university’s name was changed in 1984 from the “University of Alabama in Birmingham” to the “University of Alabama at Birmingham.”
The School of Medicine has nearly 900 students and 1,200 residents and fellows, 1,100 faculty in 23 academic departments and more than 1,100 full-time faculty who attract more than $200 million in NIH funding. The UAB School of Medicine is home of The Kirklin Clinic, a multi-disciplinary medical home; University Hospital, one of the largest academic hospitals in the country; and faculty serve the new Children’s of Alabama hospital.
Regional and national emergence
Dr. Tinsley R. Harrison became dean of the new medical school and chairman of the Department of Medicine in 1950. Dr. Harrison began a program of recruitment aimed at making the school a major research and health care center.
In 1966, Dr. John W. Kirklin joined UAB as chairman of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-In-Chief for University Hospital. Dr. Kirklin brought his knowledge and expertise from Mayo Clinic down to Alabama. He was most noted for revolutionizing cardiovascular surgery through his development and refinement of the heart-lung machine. From his legacy, the University of Alabama School of Medicine and the hospital have continued to be leaders in the healthcare industry.
Selwyn Vickers, M.D.
On Aug. 15, 2013, UAB announced Selwyn Vickers, M.D., would be the next senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine effective Oct. 15, 2013. Vickers, 53, spent his formative years as a young faculty member at UAB, beginning in 1994, and he directed the section of gastrointestinal surgery from 2000 to 2006. He is currently the Jay Phillips Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Anupam Agarwal, M.D., served as interim dean of the School of Medicine for eight months from February to October 2013 after Ray Watts, M.D., former dean of the School of Medicine, was named the seventh president of UAB in January 2013. Agarwal returned to his position as director of the Division of Nephrology and vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine on Oct. 15, 2013.
The main campus of the School of Medicine at UAB is located in Birmingham. All students complete their first two years at the main campus in Birmingham. The remaining two years can be completed in Birmingham or at one of three branch campuses in Tuscaloosa, Montgomery or Huntsville.
In 1974 the University of Alabama created the College of Community Health Sciences. This is a college organized under the University of Alabama, and in conjunction with the University of Alabama School of Medicine provides medical education for the 3rd and 4th years of students who choose to study in Tuscaloosa.
The School of Medicine maintains a branch campus in Huntsville affiliated with Huntsville Hospital. The Huntsville campus was originally a part of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, however in 1974 UAB assumed control over the Huntsville program.
UAB’s Montgomery campus is a collaborative effort among UAB, Baptist Health and the city of Montgomery. Beginning in May 2014, 10 third-year medical students will begin taking classes in Montgomery. In 2015, the incoming class size will expand to 20.
For the class entering in 2013, the average MCAT score was 30.0 and the median undergraduate GPA was a 3.72. Of this same year 2,866 applied, 373 were interviewed, 267 were accepted, and 185 matriculated.
In 1960, Dr. Basil Hirschowitz was the first to explore the stomach with his new invention, the fiber optic endoscope, which is now in the Smithsonian Institution.
UAB heart surgeon, the late John W. Kirklin, developed a computerized intensive care unit that became a model for modern ICUs around the world. They help improve care and reduce complications. Kirklin initially gained fame by improving the safety and usefulness of the heart-lung bypass pump.
The Diabetes Research and Education Hospital was dedicated in March 1973, as the first public, university-affiliated diabetes hospital in the nation.
In 1977, Dr. Richard Whitley administered systemic antiviral for the treatment of the deadly HSV (herpes simplex virus) encephalitis, leading to the world’s first effective treatment for a viral disease.
The first use in the United States of color doppler echocardiography for visualizing internal cardiac structures was introduced by Dr. Navin C. Nanda and occurred at UAB Hospital in 1984.
In 1986, Dr. Thomas N. James, then chairman of UAB’s Department of Medicine, presided over the tenth World Congress of Cardiology held in Washington, DC.
World’s first genetically engineered mouse-human monoclonal antibody was used at University Hospital in the treatment of cancer in 1987.
Dr. John Richard Montgomery, known for co-implementing the environmental bubble used to protect David Vetter, has served as the chief of pediatric programs at the Huntsville campus.
The first simultaneous heart-kidney transplant in the Southeast was performed at UAB by Drs. David C. McGiffin and David Laskow in 1995.
The journal Science named three UAB faculty, Drs. Michael Saag, George Shaw, and Beatrice Hahn, among the top 10 AIDS researchers in the country, and highlighted the AIDS research program at UAB in 1996.
The AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Unit (AVEU) became the first evaluation unit to enter a Phase III trail of an AIDS vaccine in 1999.
UAB’s Kidney Transplantation Program is the world’s leading transplant program, with more than 5,000 transplants being performed since 1968. In each of the last seven years, more kidney transplants have been performed at UAB than at any other institution in the world. UAB is also a national leader in other organ transplants.
The UAB AIDS Center was the first to perform clinical trails of the protease inhibitor Indinavir (Crixivan), one of the first protease inhibitors used in the [triple drug cocktail] to fight HIV.
UAB researchers were the first to discover the protein that led to the development of the now well-known drug Viagra, causing what some have called the second sexual revolution.
UAB hosts one of only 45 Medical Scientist Training Programs in the country. A highly selective program funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the UAB MSTP offers students the ability to earn both an MD and a PhD during a 6-8 year time period. During this time, all tuition is waived and a stipend of $25,000 per year is awarded. Generally, 6-10 students per year are admitted to the program.
In the 2012 edition of US News and World Report, the University of Alabama School of Medicine was ranked No. 30 nationally in research and No. 10 nationally in primary care
Five medical specialties at UAB are ranked in the top 20 nationally by the magazine: AIDS, 4th; women’s health, 8th; internal medicine 18th; geriatrics, 19th; and pediatrics, 19th. The school’s primary care program was ranked 34th.