MARCH 2016

Welcome to UAB-HudsonAlpha's Center for Genomic Medicine quarterly eNewsletter dedicated to keeping you connected to the Center and highlighting areas of successful interaction between UAB and HudsonAlpha. Each issue will include information about new developments in the Center, including new personnel, new genomic approaches, upcoming events, and new funding opportunities. Thank you for your continued interest and support of UAB-HudsonAlpha's Center for Genomic Medicine.

The Center for Genomic Medicine
The UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine (CGM) was established to help the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and HudsonAlpha be recognized as world leaders in the integration of genetics and genomics into medicine.  The Center facilitates collaborative research activities between UAB and HudsonAlpha and translates these into clinical application.  This newsletter will highlight areas of successful interaction between UAB and HudsonAlpha. We will comment on lessons learned, provide information on how to initiate collaborative research and how to access genomic technologies in the Genomic Services Laboratory at HudsonAlpha and the Genomics Core Laboratory in the Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences at UAB. The newsletter will also provide information on new developments in the Center, including new personnel, new genomic approaches, and new funding opportunities. Thank you for your interest in this ground-breaking collaboration, which aims to improve the health of people in our region and around the world through advances in genomic medicine. By subscribing, you will be kept up-to-date on events, resources, technologies, and latest developments in the world of genomics and ways how you can benefit from the Center.

Bruce Korf, MD, PhD,

Wayne H. and Sara Crews Finley Chair in Medical Genetics
Chair, Department of Genetics
Director, Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Co-Director UAB-HA CGM

Richard M. Myers, PhD,

President, Science Director and Faculty Investigator
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Co-Director UAB-HA CGM

Pilot Grant Recipients Launch Leading-Edge Genomic Research in Cancer and Cardiac Disease
The UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine has awarded the first three in a series of yearly research grants in support of its primary mission to foster innovative research in genomic medicine with the potential to transform patient care and treatment.  Supplying $100,000 in project funding per year for up to two years, the three pilot grants have been given to collaborative teams comprised of one researcher from UAB and one from HudsonAlpha to pursue novel investigations in cancer and cardiac disease.  “The funding provides an opportunity to forge strong and collaborative relationships with HudsonAlpha, allowing us to enhance and expand our genomic research capabilities,” says grant recipient Anita Hjelmeland, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology. Read entire article. 

Introduction to HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
HudsonAlpha was founded in 2008 as a nonprofit institute, committed to improving human health and the quality of life through its unique four-fold mission: sparking scientific discoveries that can improve human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, HudsonAlpha serves as the cornerstone of the 152-acre Biotech Campus of Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in the United States and the fourth largest in the world. The state-of-the-art HudsonAlpha facility is home to the Genomic Services Laboratory, the Genome Sequencing Center (formerly the Stanford Human Genome Center),  the CAP accredited and CLIA licensed Clinical Services Lab, the Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine and 33 diverse biotech companies, all of which are involved in research, development or production related to genomics. Read entire article.

Heflin Center Genomics Core Laboratory
In addition to resources available in the Genomic Services Laboratory at HudsonAlpha, there is a Genomics Core Laboratory on campus at UAB as part of the Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences.  The laboratory is directed by Dr. Michael Crowley and bioinformatics expertise is provided by Dr. David Crossman.  The laboratory has access to next generation sequencing technology both for genomic analysis and microbiome studies.  When is it appropriate to use the UAB Genomics Core Laboratory as opposed to the HudsonAlpha Genomic Services Laboratory?  The HudsonAlpha laboratory is better equipped to handle large scale sequencing projects but there are many studies that could be done in either laboratory.  For help in choosing the appropriate place to send samples for analysis, our staff, including Drs. Handattu, Starling and Schroeder, are available for consultation.

Clinics for Genomic Medicine
There are 30 million people living with rare and undiagnosed diseases in the United States. Many have been on diagnostic odysseys for an average of seven years, often without a diagnosis.
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Children’s Hospital of Alabama have engaged in a collaborative agreement for the purpose of practicing personalized medicine to diagnose rare and undiagnosed disease. Two separate clinics have been established. The Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine is located on the campus of HudsonAlpha in Huntsville. The UAB Clinic for Genomic Medicine is located in the Kaul Human Genetics Building at UAB in Birmingham. A third clinic at Children's of Alabama will be established this year. Together they are committed to providing patients with access to high quality care and cutting edge research. HudsonAlpha Clinical Services Lab LLC, a fully certified and accredited clinical laboratory that specializes in rare and undiagnosed disease diagnosis, is performing the whole genome sequencing. In addition, HudsonAlpha has the ability to rapidly innovate in this emerging arena of medicine. Children's of Alabama and UAB Medicine provide access to world-renowned genetic diagnosis and counseling as well as subspecialty care for patients and families with previously undiagnosed diseases.


Stay tuned for the second Request for Application - details will be announced at the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine Symposium on May 4th, 2016.


UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine Symposium 2016
Presented by:
The University of Alabama at Birmingham and
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Jackson Center • Huntsville, Alabama
To view the agenda click here
Registration is free of charge; however, space is limited and registrations will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you are traveling from Birmingham, transportation will be provided to and from Huntsville.
We look forward to having you at the Symposium!

The inaugural Genomic Medicine Conference, hosted by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is an interdisciplinary and international program focused on advancing knowledge in the field of genomic medicine in a clinical care setting. Physicians will learn how to formulate a strategy for genomic testing, interpret genomic test results and implement best practices in the delivery of genomic test results to patients and families. This conference is also open to individuals with a rare or undiagnosed disease and adult adoptees with no family health history that may want to explore genetic testing. Participants can expect to receive up to ten hours of educational material at this conference. 
Registration is now open with discounted rates offered for a limited time only. Visit to learn more.

World Rare Disease Day is celebrated annually on the last day of February. Any disease that affects less than 200,000 people is called rare disease. In the United States there are nearly 7,000 rare diseases that affect nearly 30 million Americans. Two thirds of those affected by rare disease are children. The goal of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness of the challenges faced by those living with rare diseases. UAB hosted its 4th Annual Rare Disease Genomics Symposium on Feb 26th, 2016 to coincide with World Rare Disease day.
We had over 90 attendees at Children's of Alabama. Topics covered included: genome sequencing efforts at Children's of Alabama, empirical data on the path to genomic medicine, rare tumors associated with the DICER1 syndrome, immune deficiencies, pediatric cancer genetic counseling, whole genome sequencing in the clinic and tuberous sclerosis. Robert Green, MD, MPH, delivered the keynote speech, "Empirical Data on the Path to Genomic Medicine." To view the speakers and additional objectives, click here

Welcome Molly Schroeder, PhD to the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine
The UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine welcomes Molly Schroeder, PhD, a board certified clinical molecular geneticist and cytogeneticist. Schroeder is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She will support collaborations between UAB and HudsonAlpha by serving as a scientific consultant for the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine.
Schroeder received her BS in biology from Saint Louis University in St. Louis and her PhD in developmental biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She completed a fellowship in clinical molecular genetics and cytogenetics in 2015 at the University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In 2016, Schroeder joined HudsonAlpha as a senior scientist and an assistant director of the HudsonAlpha Clinical Services Lab. View full profile.

Meet Aida El Kholi Starling, PhD coordinator of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine

Aida El Kholi Starling, PhD is a professional with a scientific technical background and a proven proficiency in science management and communications. As the coordinator of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine, Starling serves as the HudsonAlpha Point-of-Contact for UAB and manages the activities of the center, which includes the annual Symposium, the annual Request for Application, the newsletter and the website. She also supports joint applications for sponsored funding opportunities. 

Starling earned her PhD in Chemistry from the Phillips University in Marburg, Germany. From 1990 to 2000, Starling led a research group in the area of microsystem technologies at the Research Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, managing projects in close cooperation with industry and research institutions from Europe and the United States. In 2000, Starling shifted her focus to science management, communications, outreach and marketing and in 2014 she joined HudsonAlpha.

Contact Aida at P: 256.327.5240 or E:

Meet Shaila Handattu, PhD, PMP Program Director III Department of Genetics, UAB and coordinator of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine
Shaila Handattu, PhD, PMP, has a scientific background and is experienced in leading and managing complex, cross-functional milestone driven projects. As the coordinator of UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine, she is responsible for annual Request for Applications, and she works with Dr. Starling in conducting the annual Symposium and the newsletter. She also supports joint applications for sponsored funding opportunities. 
Handattu earned her PhD in Biochemistry from Manipal University of Higher Education in 1998. She joined UAB in 2000 as Post Doctoral Fellow and worked in the field lipoprotein metabolism, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. She joined the UAB Department of Genetics in 2014 as Program Director.

Contact Shaila at P: 205.934.9417 or E:

Email Aida
Email Shaila
Email Molly

About HudsonAlpha: The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology represents more than $200M of investments in genomics capability made over the past six years, thanks to the generosity of private philanthropists and the state of Alabama. HudsonAlpha is a non-profit organization with the mission to translate the promise of genomics into all practical realms: medical, agricultural, energy and environmental, educational, and commercial. The Institute houses in its facilities a unique blend of nonprofit scientists and for-profit entrepreneurs and corporate leaders who share know-how and challenges across organizational boundaries—an arrangement designed to accelerate commercialization. HudsonAlpha has a unique concentration of genomics expertise, technologies and infrastructure and collaborates and partners with medical schools, research universities and with the global biotechnology industry.

About the UAB School of Medicine: With more than 800 students and 1,200 faculty members, the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of the premiere academic medical centers in the United States. UAB is among the top schools in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and is routinely listed among the best in various national rankings. As the educational arm of UAB Medicine, students, residents and fellows train in a world-class setting; UAB Hospital’s 1,200 beds places it in among the largest hospitals in the country. Doctoral students in UAB’s Graduate Biomedical Sciences Program participate in interdisciplinary thematic programs that integrate more than 25 departments and 20 research centers across UAB. The UAB School of Medicine: knowledge that will change your world.

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