Mitchell B. Cohen, MD

This has been a year of growth and discovery for Children’s of Alabama and the UAB Department of Pediatrics. Our research report details our accomplishments by division.

In the Department of Pediatrics, we seek to discover new knowledge in order to improve the health of the children of Alabama, the region and the world. The clinical advances and research discoveries we describe here have a direct impact on children’s lives. That impact will be our legacy. We present in this report evidence of this impact as measured by major research accomplishments, grants, publications and awards. In fiscal year 2017, the Department of Pediatrics faculty had 243 publications, research funding from the National Institutes of Health totaling $15 million and total research funding of $29 million. In addition, we recruited 29 new faculty members, including nine who are expected to develop independent research careers based on their startup support and goals. 

In addition to our research accomplishments, our focus on safety and quality is always paramount. And we are using simulation and quality improvement science to improve our patient safety experience as well. This year, we reduced the number of serious safety events at Children’s and were recognized twice by the national learning collaborative, Solutions for Patient Safety, as the Children’s Hospital of the Month. For the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Children’s pediatric specialty services among the top 50 in the nation. Seven specialties were ranked: Cancer, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Gastroenterology and GI Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology and Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Pulmonology.  

We aim to build on these successes, expand the size and, importantly, the impact of our research in the coming years. We anticipate growth not only in our core areas of significant accomplishment—virology, therapeutic drug development, cancer, neonatal and rheumatology outcomes—but also in newer areas where the recruitment of talented young researchers will ensure continued and expanded success. In its second year of full operation, the Pediatric Research Office (PRO), led by David Kimberlin, M.D., seeks to dramatically assist pediatric investigators in the design, conduct and analysis of research. This, in turn, allows our physician scientists to focus on the science of the research while relying on the highly skilled PRO staff to assist with the regulatory, biostatistical and data management, and other components key to the successful conduct of pediatric investigation. The Kaul Pediatric Research Institute (KPRI) has continued to support investigators at Children’s and remains an important edge in helping our faculty achieve extramural funding through initial pilot and feasibility funding. In addition, this past year, Children’s established two new Research Funds that will further support and bolster our research efforts in the Pediatric Enterprise. And we opened the new Children’s Hospital Research Unit (CHRU) at Children’s to provide an outstanding and functional space to see children who are participating in clinical and translational research.

Children’s is a very special place. It is the only medical center in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the primary site of the UAB pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, clinical, research and residency programs. Together, Children’s and the UAB Department of Pediatrics will continue to build the world-class programs that will improve the future for the children of Alabama, the Southeast and the world.

Mitchell B. Cohen, M.D.
Katharine Reynolds Ireland Chair of Pediatrics
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Physician in Chief, Children’s of Alabama

Mike K. Chen, MD

2017 was another productive year for Children’s of Alabama and the Pediatric Surgical Subspecialties. Significant contributions were made both in the realm of basic scientific discoveries as well as participation in clinical studies. We are pleased to provide the details in this report.  Our commitment to discovery and innovation will improve the care we provide for the children in Alabama and beyond.

Mike K. Chen, M.D.
Farley Endowed Chair
Professor of Surgery
Surgeon-in-Chief, Children’s of Alabama
Director, Division of Pediatric Surgery
Department of Surgery
UAB School of Medicine

Michelle Nichols, MD

We are excited and honored this year to include a brief overview of some of the research initiatives of our Pediatric Residency Program as well as the Pediatric Subspecialty Programs. We are working to expand our programs across the board. We have not only grown by the number of residents and the number of patients, but we have also experienced great academic growth. We have been able to give our learners many opportunities not only to see incredible patients who teach them every day and to walk alongside exceptional faculty and staff who challenge and encourage them, but also to engage in research, whether it be focused on clinical projects, quality improvement and safety initiatives or traditional bench-type research. Our students, residents and fellows are seeking ways to make this world an even more wonderful place for children by being part of the change and the push to be better.

The following research reports from both our Pediatric Residency Program and our Pediatric Subspecialty Programs highlight some of the interest groups and events, educational initiatives and research accomplishments of our learners. We are fortunate to be a part of a Department of Pediatrics that values learners who want to go the extra mile to explore how they can be part of the clinical advances and research discoveries. The Founders’ Fund, established in 2004 to recognize and honor the lifetime achievements of three three Pediatric Pillars of our Department—Dr. John W. (Bill) Benton, Dr. Paul A. Palmisano and Dr. Ralph Tiller—has provided excellent avenues for our residents and fellows to have a startup fund for research, with many of these focused on quality improvement. Each year, eight to 12 projects are selected as Founders’ Fund Awardees, which enables our residents and fellows to work toward improving the medical care and quality of life for our children, as well as improve the education of our future pediatricians and pediatric specialists.

Our Pediatric Residency and Fellowship educational programs are fortunate to have strong support for research from the Department of Pediatrics. Our faculty is eager to plant the research seed in our learners, to work side by side with our students, residents and fellows, and to share some of their very own ideas and projects. Our faculty and staff serve as outstanding role models and mentors for our learners, and give them opportunities to experience what research is about. From their collaborative work, our residents and fellows have had the privilege of presenting their research and representing UAB on local, regional and national levels. It is such an exciting time to see a number of our residents and fellows take off and truly excel in the research arena.


Michele H. Nichols, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Vice Chair of Education
Director, Pediatric Residency Program
The Frederick W. Renneker, III, Endowed Chair in Pediatric Education

DOWNLOAD THE 2017 Residency
and Fellowship Academic Report