NIH Director visits UAB; connects with Forge AHEAD Center leadership

NIH Director visits UAB; connects with Forge AHEAD Center leadership

Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, joined UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine UAB Department of Surgery Grand Rounds as the keynote speaker for the Kirby I. Bland Endowed Lectureship Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Bertagnolli’s presentation discussed concerning trend of declining health in the U.S. population, emphasizing the NIH’s commitment to seeking and applying knowledge to enhance and lengthen life for all Americans.

She highlighted that rising mortality rates among working-age adults are driven in part by cardiometabolic diseases, underscoring the urgent need for initiatives like Forge AHEAD Center to address these pressing health disparities.

In her keynote address, Bertagnolli emphasized the importance of community engagement and patient-centered research in advancing health outcomes. She said that “patients are partners in discovery,” and highlighted the significance of involving communities in every stage of the research process.

During the NIH Director’s visit, she met with various leaders across UAB throughout the day. Andrea Cherrington, M.D., MPH, MPI of Forge AHEAD Center, and Michael Mugavero, M.D., lead of the Investigator Development Core, had the opportunity to connect with Bertagnolli during her time on campus.

Cherrington presented on cardiometabolic risk and outcomes in Alabama and beyond. Mugavero shared insights into Alabama’s high burden of chronic diseases and how Forge AHEAD Center is addressing health disparities in the Deep South. He emphasized the importance of expanding funding for existing centers like Forge to leverage current resources and make a greater impact in the health equity space.

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