Chair, Department of Neurobiology, University of Alabama Birmingham

Chair, Department of Neurobiology
Leadership, Neurobiology, Neuroscience, Neuroscientist
Birmingham, Alabama

Position Specifics
The School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) invites applications and nominations for the position of Chair, Department of Neurobiology. The new chair will have the opportunity to build on an already solid foundation of research and training, grow the department, and play a key leadership role in UAB’s large and highly collaborative neuroscience community. The qualified and successful candidate will be a PhD or MD/PhD neuroscientist currently holding a senior faculty position at the Associate Professor or Professor rank, with an outstanding national and international reputation, a well-funded research program and a record of transformative, collaborative, and visionary leadership. The candidate should be highly regarded as a research leader in the field, with a demonstrated commitment to training, mentoring, and leading, and a passionate supporter of diversity and inclusion programs. A robust resource package to support the position will be developed in accordance with the needs of the research programs planned.

UAB Neurobiology Primary Faculty

The UAB Department of Neurobiology consists of 15 primary faculty members and 45 secondary faculty members.

John J. Hablitz, Ph.D

Professor Interim Department Chair

Research Expertise: Neurodevelopment and developmental disabilities; ion channels and synaptic function

Michael Brenner, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Research Expertise: Neurodevelopment and developmental disabilities; neurodegenerative disorders

Jeremy J. Day, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Research Expertise: Addiction; learning and memory; epigenetics; non-coding RNAs

Lynn E. Dobrunz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Research Expertise: Learning, memory and synaptic plasticity; ion channels and synaptic functions; neurodevelopment and neurodevelopmental disabilities

Cristin Gavin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Co-Director, Undergraduate Neuroscience Program; Co-Director, Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP); Associate Scientist, Civitan International Research Center

Gwendalyn King, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Research Expertise: Neurodevelopment; neurodegeneration; brain aging

Research Expertise: Ion channels, synapses and addiction

Farah Lubin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Director, NINDS Neuroscience Roadmap Scholar Program; Associate Scientist, Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging & Comprehensive Neuroscience Center
Research Expertise: Learning, memory and synaptic plasticity; epigenetics, non-coding RNAs; gene transcription; epilepsy disorders

Linda Overstreet-Wadiche, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Research Expertise: Neurodevelopmental & developmental disabilities; learning, memory & synaptic plasticity; ion channels & synaptic function; neurotransmitter & neurotropin receptors & cell signaling

Research Expertise: Glial biology; ion channels and synaptic functions; systems neuroscience and vision

Associate Director, Comprehensive Neuroscience Center; Interim Scientific Co-Director, Civitan International Research Center
Research Expertise: Neurotransmitter & neurotropin receptors & cell signaling; learning, memory & synaptic plasticity; ion channels & synaptic function

Research Expertise: Role of phosphoinositides in developmental neurobiology

Kristina Visscher, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Co-Director, Civitan International Research Center
Research Expertise: Cognitive neuroscience

Jacques Wadiche, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Research Expertise: Neurotransmitter & neurotropin receptors & cell signaling; learning, memory & synaptic plasticity; ion channels & synaptic function

Scott Wilson, Ph.D

Associate Professor

Director, Undergraduate Neuroscience Program
Research Expertise: Nervous system development; ubiquitin; protein degradation

The Department of Neurobiology
The UAB Department of Neurobiology is one of seven Joint Health Sciences departments in the schools of Medicine and Dentistry and is also, through the collaborative undergraduate neuroscience major, an interdisciplinary department of the College of Arts and Sciences. The department is entering its 20th year as a successful and well-funded joint health science department at UAB and is part of a neuroscience core that is consistently ranked in the top 25 NIH-funded neuroscience programs in the nation by BRIMR. Neurobiology faculty have received numerous national and international awards recognizing excellence in research and training. Neurobiology is making a national and international impact in fundamental neuroscience research. Currently, Neurobiology is home to 15 primary faculty and over 45 secondary faculty.

The Department of Neurobiology is housed in custom-designed laboratories and offices in the Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building and nearby Civitan International Research Center. These locations provide unique opportunities for collaborative research with other molecular biologists and physiologists as well as a strong group of clinical investigators. A significant and growing number of faculty members have their laboratories housed in the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, one of only four such institutes in the country. The Institute is housed in the 9th, 10th, and 11th floors of the Shelby Interdisciplinary Research Building.

Neuroscience Environment
A strong and collegial neuroscience environment across departments is facilitated by several UAB centers and institutes, a few of which are described here.

Comprehensive Neuroscience Center
The Comprehensive Neuroscience Center (CNC) is one of 24 university-wide inter¬disciplinary research centers (UWIRCs) and was established in 2006 to promote and support interdisciplinary neuroscience research, clinical care, and education at UAB. The CNC is a network of 500 UAB neuroscience professionals and trainees from 23 UAB Departments and 7 UAB schools, including over 200 faculty. The CNC produces a variety of symposia and retreats for basic and clinical researchers. It also organizes educational initiatives, including NeuroScience Café, in which neuroscience faculty present at local public libraries to a lay audience. It also sponsors several core facilities for neuroscience research and an internal grant review mechanism, GRiP (Grants in Preparation). Recently, on the strength of several neuroimaging collaborations, the CNC lead the initiative in the acquisition of the new Siemens 3.0 Tesla Prisma MRI scanner and lead the development of the Alabama Advanced Imaging Consortium (AAIC) with Auburn University MRI Research Center

Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute
The mission of the McKnight Institute is to promote research and investigation into the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the neurobiology of memory, with emphasis on research of clinical relevance to the problems of age-related memory loss. The institute, under the auspices of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Foundation, has enhanced the established research enterprise in the Neurosciences through generous endowment support. These funds are used for recruitment and establishment of new investigators at UAB, for pilot research projects and educational symposia, McKnight Behavioral and Physiology Core support, and for seminars and conferences.

Civitan International Research Center
The Civitan International Research Center (CIRC), similar to the CNC, is a UWIRC and has a specific focus on development of the mind-brain through a mission of research, education, and service. The CIRC was established in 1989 at UAB with the support of Civitan International, a volunteer service organization. The mission of the Civitan International Research Center is to improve the well-being and quality of life of individuals and families affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. CIRC seeks to expand our knowledge about human development and developmental disabilities through fundamental and clinical research on experimental animal models and humans, and provide interdisciplinary clinical and research training in developmental disabilities. The aim is to use this knowledge to develop and provide high quality, exemplary services, and programs, through exchanging information in a timely way with consumers, practitioners, scientists, and society.

Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapies
The Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics (CNET) is devoted to finding therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and ALS. CNET’s core goals are to promote the discovery of novel treatments for neurodegenerative disorders through basic and translational research, to teach scientists and clinicians about these diseases, and to facilitate the application of these discoveries to
clinical care of patients.

Center for Clinical and Translational Science
Supported by a recently renewed Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA; UL1TR001417), this Center provides a variety of services utilized, ranging from biospecimen handling and banking in state-of-the-art facilities, educational programs, pilot grant funding, and internal grant review and mentoring programs. Since 2008, UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science has invested $1,037,000 in 36 pilot projects and recipients have garnered $33,722,319 in new grants. The UAB CCTS has also partnered with several other institutions as the hub of a Deep South network for translational research. This network was developed in large part to help address health disparities and to facilitate minority recruitment into clinical research studies.

The Vision Science Research Center
The UAB Vision Science Research Center (VSRC), also a UWIRC similar to the CNC and CIRC, has the specific goal of creating an internationally recognized center of excellence in vision science, which, by its research and related activities, will constitute a major resource for the generation of knowledge and the training of new vision scientists. The VSRC provides technical assistance in the development of new projects, equipment support, laboratory facilities, and management of shared services and instrumentation to UAB vision scientists.

EPSCoR Grants

Four teams of University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have been awarded National Science Foundation grants
totaling $5.4 million meant to stimulate competitive research in regions of the country that are less able to compete for these
research funds. Three of the four grants will support basic neuroscience studies, one of UAB’s hallmark research strengths. Lori McMahon, Ph.D., the Jarman F. Lowder Professor of Neuroscience, dean of the UAB Graduate School and director of the
UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, highlighted the three neuroscience EPSCoR grants at this fall’s Comprehensive
Neuroscience Center retreat, calling them prestigious and competitive. Alabama now has more EPSCoR Track II grants than any other state following the award of basic science grants meant to stimulate competitive research in regions of the country traditionally less able to compete for such research funds.

UAB neuroscience teams and their goals
The three neuroscience EPSCoR grants support a study to understand the initiation of epileptic brain seizures; a project to
develop a new tool for optogenetics, which is the control of neural cells using light; and an effort to discover a universal rule for the
relation between neural activity and increased blood flow in areas of the brain. In all three EPSCoR grants, UAB is a partner
institution, and the lead institution is in another EPSCoR state.

Graduate Trainees
Most neuroscience graduate trainees arrive via the UAB Graduate Biomedical Sciences program (GBS). GBS trainees can perform their doctoral research in more than 350 different labs across campus. The training program is subdivided into eight individual themes, based on scientific disciplines. Neuroscience is one of 8 GBS themes, and students also enter Neurobiology labs from many of the other themes, including Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology; Genetics, Genomics & Bioinformatics; Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine; and Biochemistry, Structural & Stem Cell Biology. UAB has a large NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) with many students training in neuroscience labs. Graduate programs from the departments of Vision Sciences, Psychology, and Biomedical Engineering also contribute to the diverse make-up of neuroscience graduate trainees. As of summer, 2016, 192 PhD students were training in neuroscience labs.

Undergraduate Neuroscience Major
Established in 2008 in response to growing interest in neuroscience among undergraduates and the consequent need to coordinate coursework and research opportunities, the UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Program (UNP) is an interdisciplinary program between the Neurobiology Department in the School of Medicine and the department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Currently there are 125 UNP students and Science and Technology (Sci-Tech) undergraduates engaged in research in neuroscience laboratories.

Training Awards
Neuroscience training and education are enhanced by several NIH-funded training awards. The Neuroscience Roadmap Scholars Program, supported by an NINDS R25 grant, is designed to attract underrepresented minority students toward careers in neuroscience research and to ensure their long-term success with a program of mentoring, weekly meetings, supplemental curriculum, and an annual conference for underrepresented trainees in neuroscience, held each year at UAB. Neuroscience trainees at UAB are also supported by multiple NIH T32 training grants, including programs in the Neurobiology of Cognition and Cognitive Disorders, Brain Tumor Biology, and Cell and Molecular Biology, as well as a NINDS R25 award that supports research trainees for residents in the clinical neurosciences.

UAB School of Medicine
With more than 1,200 full time faculty and almost 1,200 medical and graduate students, the UAB School of Medicine has grown into a world class, research intensive school consistently ranked in the top 30 of NIH ranked Schools of Medicine. The School of Medicine includes 1.9 million square feet of clinical and research space, including 741,000 square feet of lab space that is spread among 26 academic departments, some rank in the top 10 nationally among academic departments in funding from the NIH. Total research funding exceeds $450 million annually; $250 million in NIH funds can be attributed to the School of Medicine alone. The UAB School of Medicine ranks 25th nationally in NIH research funding and in the top 10 for all public institutions. Its historical success in its teaching mission is reflected in the fact that 80% of physicians in Alabama owe their training to the School of Medicine. The UAB School of Medicine exceeds 12 million square feet and covers nearly 100 city blocks. For more than 20 years, the UAB Hospital has been ranked by US News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals.”

Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS
Dean, UAB School of Medicine 

Dean of UAB School of Medicine
In 2013, Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., F.A.C.S., was appointed Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. A member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, Vickers is a world-renowned surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher, pioneer in health disparities research, and a native of Alabama. Previously, he served as the Jay Phillips Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham
UAB is a comprehensive metropolitan university, established in 1969 with the intention of building a major biomedical research institution. In its short history, the University has steadily and dramatically expanded its facilities, resources, and faculty to become an internationally recognized research entity. It is the largest employer in the state of Alabama with operating revenues of $3 billion. UAB’s economic impact on the Alabama economy exceeds $5 billion annually. UAB supports 61,025 jobs and generates $302.2 million in tax revenue to state and local governments. Further, $1 in every $25 in the state's budget is generated by UAB, and every $1 invested by the state in UAB generates $16.23 in the total state economy. The university is situated on 83 square blocks on the ‘south side’ of Birmingham’s central business district and encompasses over 10 million square feet of assignable space. According to the Princeton Review, UAB has one the most diverse student populations. About 21% of UAB students are African-American, 3% Hispanic, and 4% multiracial. UAB is home to 19,535students, with record enrollment in 2016, 2,468 faculty and 12 colleges and schools.

UAB is a Carnegie R1 (Highest Research Activity) Doctoral University with current research funding of over $440 million per year. U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-2017 Best Hospitals report ranks UAB Hospital number 1 in Alabama, and nine UAB specialties, including Neurology and Neurosurgery (25), are listed among the nation’s top 50, up from six specialties the previous year.

The University of Alabama (UA) System, which is composed of UAB, the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, was created in 1969. A single Board of Trustees governs the three autonomous campuses.

Dr. Ray Watts
President of UAB

UAB’s former Chairman of Neurology, Dr. Ray Watts was recently appointed as the President of the University of Alabama Birmingham, after serving as the Sr. VP and Dean of the School of Medicine. In August 2013, Dr. Selwyn Vickers was selected as the new Sr. Vice President and Dean of the School of Medicine.

The University of Alabama Birmingham Fast Facts

  • UAB is a founding partner of Innovation Depot, the largest high-tech incubator in the Southeast, which had an economic impact of $1.33 billion between 2009 and 2014.
  • There are currently 16 new drugs in the pipeline for the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance, a UAB-Southern Research Partnership.
  • UAB Hospital is the 3rd largest public hospital in the United States.
  • 391 UAB physicians are on the Best Doctors in America list for 2015-2016.
  • 124,000+ individuals in underserved communities reached through cancer awareness and education programs from UAB’s Deep South Network for Cancer Control.
  • UAB is one of 7 inaugural NIH designated Centers for AIDS Research.
  • The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center provides oncology treatment and care and performs some of the nation’s most advanced cancer research, utilizing the largest cyclotron in a U.S. academic medical center. 5,000 new patients per year are treated at the Cancer Center.
  • UAB’s nationally ranked Heart and Vascular Services provides the full spectrum of cardiovascular care and performs the most advanced cardiovascular, peripheral, vascular, and thoracic surgery procedures available.
  • As the only Adult Level I Trauma Center and as the only Comprehensive Stroke Center in Alabama, UAB Hospital is equipped to handle any medical emergency.
  • UAB’s Comprehensive Transplant Center is a national leader in kidney transplants.
  • The UAB Callahan Eye hospital was the first Level I Ocular Trauma Center in the nation and is the only one in Alabama.


Location Specifics – Birmingham, Alabama

The Vulcan Statue – The Largest Cast Iron Statue in the World, reflecting Birmingham’s Steel and Iron roots

The rolling countryside of the greater Birmingham area provides a beautiful metropolitan city with an excellent quality of life. Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama with a population of approximately 1.3 million people. It is a culturally diverse city that ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States. The Birmingham metropolitan area has consistently been rated as one of America’s best places to work and earn a living based on the area’s competitive salary rates and relatively low living expenses. Birmingham is perfectly suited to young families with superior public and private schools and a low cost of living. It is one of the few places in the United States where a 4-hour drive affords one the access to mountains, beaches or a major metropolitan area.

Region’s Field, located within walking distance of the Children’s Hospital

Culture & Arts

  • Birmingham is the cultural and entertainment capital of Alabama with numerous art galleries in the area including the Birmingham Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the Southeast.
  • Birmingham’s vibrant downtown area features the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, McWane Science Center, Alabama Theatre and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
  • Other Birmingham attractions include Vulcan Park & Museum, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham Zoo and Barber Motorsports Park.
  • The Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham is one of the largest malls in the entire Southeast US


World Class Cuisine

  • On December 2013, The Highlands Bar and Grill (which is located within a 5 minute walk of the Medical Campus) was recognized by Open Table on the list of the 100 Best Restaurants in the America. The Open Table recognition was based on 5 million restaurant reviews for more than 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states.
  • Frank Stitt III, the owner and executive chef of Birmingham’s Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega Restaurant, and Chez Fon Fon was named as the “Best Chef in Southeast” in 2001.
  • Chris Hastings, an understudy of Frank Stitt III’s and the owner and executive chef of Birmingham’s award winning restaurant Hot & Hot Fish Club, was recognized as the “Best Chef in the South” by the James Beard Foundation in 2012.


Largest Business Centers in Southeastern US

  • The Birmingham area serves as headquarters to one Fortune 500 company: Regions Financial, along with five other Fortune 1000 companies.
  • Birmingham area also serves as the headquarters to a large number of Health care services providers including HealthSouth, Surgical Care Affiliates, and Diagnostic Health Corporation. Caremark Rx was also founded in the city.


Education Hub

  • Birmingham is home to three of the state’s five law schools: Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham School of Law, and Miles Law School.
  • Birmingham is also the headquarters of the Southeastern Conference, one of the major U.S. collegiate athletic conferences.
  • The Birmingham area has major colleges of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, law, engineering, and nursing.


Largest Banking Centers in US

  • Birmingham is home to two major banks: Regions Financial Corporation and BBVA Compass.
  • SouthTrust, another large bank headquartered in Birmingham, was acquired by Wachovia in 2004. The city still has major operations as one of the regional headquarters of Wachovia, which itself is now part of Wells Fargo Bank

How to apply

How to Apply
In an overall effort to identify the most qualified potential candidates, UAB has retained the services of Academic Med. Academic Med is an executive search firm that focuses solely on academic medicine and are the leading experts in the neurosciences. Academic Med is tasked with building and developing some of the top neuroscience programs in the country, recruiting NIH-funded scientists, physician-leaders, and clinicians. If you have interest or questions regarding this position please contact the search lead, Gentry Zacheis, President of Academic Med, via email ( or phone (214.396.5124). Supporting Mr. Zacheis in UAB’s national search for the Department Chair of Neurobiology is Austin Taylor, Executive Search Consultant, who can be reached by email ( or phone (214.396.5024). You can submit your CV to Mr. Taylor via the email address above. Those with interest can also apply here.