Meet Students, Faculty Featured in New UAB PromosBy Matt Windsor
What do you want to be? What do you want to change today? That’s the call to action delivered by UAB faculty and students in two new 30-second advertisements focused on student recruitment ( click here to watch) and philanthropic support for the university (above). The ads mark the second phase in the university’s branding campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world,” and the launch of The Campaign for UAB: Give Something, Change Everything, the university's largest-ever fundraising campaign.
Once the cameras finished rolling, UAB Magazine talked with several participants in the new commercials to learn the stories behind their star turns. (Read how music student Kevin Peek wrote the music for these commercials in this related story.)
Olaf Kutsch, Ph.D.
Co-Director, UAB Center for AIDS Research
Many scientists struggle to explain their work in layman’s terms. Olaf Kutsch can accomplish the task in three words: cure HIV-1 infection. “We are trying to identify means to eradicate the virus from infected patients,” Kutsch says.
Antiretroviral medicines block the production of HIV-1 in the body, but reservoirs of the virus live on in immune cells known as memory T cells. To create a cure, scientists must find a signal that can reactivate these dormant viruses and then destroy the infected cells. Kutsch’s laboratory is trying to discover drugs that may be able to provide that signal.
“The most exciting part of my research program is that it gives me the possibility—hopefully one day in the near future—to make a difference for many people," Kutsch says. "Finding a cure for HIV-1 infection would end the hardship for many affected individuals and families.”
Read more about Kutsch's research in this UAB Magazine feature.
Music Student Supplies Soundtracks for New UAB TV CommercialsBy Matt Windsor
You won’t see Kevin Peek in UAB’s new student recruitment ad (above), but the senior music technology major plays a prominent role. Peek’s rippling, piano-driven score propels the fast-moving commercial, which launched the second phase in the university’s new brand campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world.” (Learn more about the faces behind these commercials in this related story.)
Peek is no stranger to high-profile gigs. In 2012, he won a national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival sound design award for the 20 original songs he wrote for UAB Theatre’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and he has composed music for a host of films produced for UAB Digital Media. So the 30 seconds of music required for the new TV commercial was no big deal—which was a good thing, because he didn’t have much time to work with.
Learn more about Digital Media fellowships and internships.)Following recommendations from Scott L. Phillips, Ph.D., co-director of UAB’s music technology program, and Rosie O’Beirne, director of Digital Media and Learning, Peek was commissioned by BLR Further, the advertising agency producing UAB’s new commercials. Because the project was part of his UAB Digital Media Fellowship, he earned course credit as well. (
“Deadlines were pretty tight,” Peek says. He wrote a first draft in five days, but it “didn’t end up working when the editing process began,” so Peek went back to the piano, creating a new piece in “about 24 hours,” he says. (His original piece wasn’t wasted however; it forms the soundtrack for a new commercial for the recently launched Campaign for UAB.)
Preparing Students for a New Era in Genetic Counseling
By Gail Short
Ever since high school, Rachel Reese has wanted to be a genetic counselor. "I loved science, but I knew I didn't want to be in a lab all the time," she says. "I liked the challenge of having to be a knowledgeable health care provider and an empathetic listener who helps people make tough decisions."
Once she found her career match, Reese pursued it with a passion, majoring in biomedical science as an undergraduate while shadowing genetic counselors and working at a local crisis center.
A Field in Flux
The Memphis native knew there were no genetic counseling programs in her home state. Researching online, she heard "great things" about UAB's Genetic Counseling Program, including its interdisciplinary teaching philosophy and inclusion of career-building skills, such as courses in Spanish and phlebotomy.
The two-year program is based in the School of Health Professions and includes faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Education. Since it was launched in 2010, the program has attracted highly motivated students such as Reese from across the country, says interim director Christina Hurst, M.S., CGC. The program currently accepts six new students a year, which is comparable to class sizes of other programs across the country, Hurst says.
Job prospects are strong, Hurst adds—a fact U.S. News and World Report noted when it listed the profession among its "10 Hidden-Gem Careers for 2013 and Beyond." Medical advances are leading to an explosion of new genetic tests, along with a subsequent demand for professionals to interpret the complex results to patients—and to their physicians, who often don't have time to stay abreast of the latest advances in the field.