UAB Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Program

FAST FACTS:

UAB fellowship started in 1973 – one of the first programs in the nation
Division Director: Warner K. Huh
Fellowship Director: J. Michael Straughn, Jr
Associate Fellowship Director: Kenneth H Kim

SCHEDULE

Monday
Gyn Oncology Multidisciplinary Tumor Board 4:30 – 5:00 PM

Tuesday
Gyn Oncology Weekly Morning Conference 6:45 – 7:45 AM

Friday
Fellow’s Conference 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
OBGYN Dept Morbidity and Mortality / Grand Rounds 12:30 – 2:30 PM

The entire GynOnc division including Dr. Ronnie Alvarez, Division Director, with visiting professor, Beth Karlan, MD from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles

The fellowship in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is structured to prepare each fellow for a career in academic gynecologic oncology. The program is a 3-year program consisting of 12 months of protected research experience and 24 months of clinical experience. The Division of Gynecologic Oncology is under the leadership of Warner K. Huh, MD. The Division is an integral part of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, one of 40 NCI-designated centers in the United States. Since its establishment in 1972 as one of the original NIH NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers, the UAB Cancer Center has experienced a steady increase in faculty members, research programs, funding and space.  The Cancer Center currently receives over $110 million in extramural support and has a renovated research space of over 150,000 square feet.  

Members of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology enjoy a very close relationship with the Cancer Center and have appointments to the Center as scientists.  The division has seven gynecologic oncology attending physicians and a very large clinical volume promoting the development of skills necessary to demonstrate competency in all aspects of management of patients with gynecologic cancer

Fellows out to a fellow-only dinner, paid for by attendings

.  Over the past 30 years, the division has enjoyed significant growth in its faculty, research portfolio, and clinical volume.  This expansion has provided an opportunity to restructure the fellowship training program, particularly in areas that will fully prepare fellows to become future leading clinician scientists for our specialty.

The overall goal of the fellowship in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at UAB is to train fellows as academic gynecologic oncologists who are highly skilled,

knowledgeable surgeons capable of contributing to and advancing the field of gynecologic oncology. One of the primary goals of the fellowship program is to promote a more advanced scientific thought process regarding gynecologic oncology research.  This is currently accomplished by a multidimensional approach designed to enhance the fellow’s knowledge base specifically in

2015 Fellowship graduation – (left right back row) Dr. Warner Huh (Division Director, graduated 2002), Dr. Trey Leath (Faculty, graduated 2005), Dr. Eric Thomas (Fellow, graduated 2017), Dr. Michael Straughn (Faculty and Fellowship director, graduated 2003), Dr. Jonathan Boone (Fellow, graduated2017), Dr. Jacob Estes (Former Faculty, graduated 2008), (left to right front row) Dr. Britt, Erickson (Fellow, graduated 2015), Dr. Becca Arend (fellow-now Faculty, graduated 2015), Dr. Christy Haygood (Fellow, graduated 2016)

basic science, translational, and clinical research.  This approach currently takes advantage of multiple resources within the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.  

First year fellows are positioned within one of several laboratories involved in the Division’s translational research projects. Each first year fellow is assigned to a lab with appropriate working laboratory space and a technical support team.  In this environment, the fellow advances several hypothesis-driven basic research projects relevant to ongoing gynecologic oncology research. The fellow will become familiar with various basic laboratory techniques and animal model experimentation. The fellow participates in a weekly research meeting attended by the scientists involved in this

area of research. This meeting gives the fellow the opportunity to enhance his/her knowledge of important cancer-relevant science issues and the conduct of basic science research. This process assists the fellow to develop scientific presentation skills, and allows mentors an opportunity to provide constructive criticism, helping the fellow address any encountered obstacles. The fellow is expected to keep meticulous records of his/her research projects, as is customarily done by all pre- and post-doctoral trainees.  Working under the direct supervision of mentors, the fellow is guided through all aspects of the research project, analysis of the data, pro

2016 Fellowship graduation – Dr. Ronnie Alvarez (Former Division Director, graduated 1990), Dr. Becca Arend (class of 2015), Dr. Straughn (class of 2003), Dr. Aax Austin (UAB’s first fellow, 1974), Dr. Kenneth Kim (class of 2012), Dr. Trey Leath (class of 2005), Dr. Eric Thomas (class of 2017), Dr. Christy Haygood (class of 2016), Dr. Jonathan Boone (class of 2017)

duction of an abstract and a manuscript/thesis with clear anticipation that his/her findings will be presented at a national scientific meeting and published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. 

Emphasis in the second and third years of fellowship training is in the area of clinical research methodology. The Division of Gynecologic Oncology has a diverse portfolio of NIH, cooperative group, and industry-sponsored clinical protocols. Generally, these projects focus on important, novel initiatives enhancing our understanding of the biology of female reproductive tract cancers and devising more effective strategies for screening, prevention and treatment of these cancers.  Second and third year fellows have extensive exposure to many of these clinical research initiatives within their daily service duties. They identify various specific projects of interest and are guided by faculty members through the abstract/publication preparation of each clinical research project.  Fellows meet regularly with the Fellowship Director to review overall progress in these research projects. The effectiveness of these research activities can be measured by the acceptance of fellow-generated abstracts at annual meeting programs of leading scientific organizations including SGO, ASCO, AACR, ASCCP, and ACOG, by the inclusion of fellow-generated publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and by the advancement of our fellows into faculty positions that support clinical and translational research in gynecologic oncology.

Gynecologic oncology services directed from the Division of Gynecologic Oncology occur at the University of Alabama Hospital. Patients are hospitalized in the Women & Infant’s Center, a 30 bed unit dedicated to gynecologic oncology and gynecology ca

Dr. Jonathan Boone (2017), Dr. Eric Thomas (2017), Dr. Taylor Turner (2018), Dr. Chirsty Haygood (2016), Dr. Michael Straughn in the division office

re. Two of the clinical gynecologic oncology fellows are responsible for this busy inpatient service.  Four residents are assigned to this rotation. A third clinical fellow is assigned to the Clinic rotation. This fellow focuses his/her work on ancillary educational activities including research, faculty clinics, chemotherapy, radiation, palliative care, and mentoring resident research projects.  Fellows rotate on a monthly basis.  Clinical inpatient fellows round daily with the residents and supervise the preoperative workup and postoperative care performed by the residents.  Gynecologic oncology faculty round daily with the fellows and residents.  All hospital admissions, emergency room consults, and hospital consults are initially seen by the residents and fellows.  Faculty, fellows, and residents attend a “sit-down” conference call to discuss all patients currently admitted. Complicated and/or problem patients are discussed in detail and patient care decisions are made at this time. The workload for the following day and the OR schedule are discussed and coverage assignments made by the residents and fellows.

Out for a birthday celebration

  
All patients are seen in the Division’s state-of-the-art clinical offices at The Women & Infant’s Center.  This beautiful facility is located on the UAB campus in the heart of the Medical District in downtown Birmingham.  All new patients are evaluated initially by the resident physician and then presented to the attending physician. All gynecologic oncology patients are seen at this facility. The fellow also has his/her own weekly Fellow’s Clinic.  A faculty is always present and immediately available to the fellow for consultation and surgical assistance. The Gynecologic Oncology Chemotherapy Infusion Center is also located at the Women & Infant’s Center.  Four chemotherapy infusion treatment suites are located in this facility, staffed with full-time oncology certified nurses. The fellow is responsible for treatment decisions regarding his/her chemotherapy patients. The research nursing staff and support personnel are also located at the Women & Infant’s Center. This team of research nurses monitors in-house protocols and industry protocols. In addition to the outpatient clinics, a weekly Colposcopy Clinic is held on Friday mornings.  This large referral clinic provides colposcopy and therapeutic services to the patients within the state.  The clinic is staffed and supervised by the first year fellows, as their sole clinical duty during the research year. The fellow performs and/or supervises LEEP procedures, and performs new and follow-up colposcopy evaluations.  Residents and students from the gynecologic oncology service attend this clinic.

Fellowship holiday party

Each Tuesday from 6:45-7:45 a.m., fellows and attending physicians share responsibility for a Resident Teaching Conference where selected common gynecologic oncology topics are discussed.  Fellows are asked to present a topic in detail to the gynecologic oncology service during the Tuesday morning conference.  The purpose of this presentation is to give the fellow an opportunity to critically review the literature on a particular subject, provide a relevant and concise summation, and field questions from the attending physicians. At 4:30 p.m. each Monday, the Gynecologic Oncology Tumor Board convenes.  This multidisciplinary conference is attended by gynecologic oncology faculty, fellows, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, residents, and students.  All pathology specimens are presented by the Department of Pathology in a PowerPoint format. All conferences occur in the Women & Infant’s Center conference room.

  
Monthly, the fellows and attending physicians meet after work for Fellow’s Journal Club. This journal club is designed to review landmark articles and studies related to a disease site or clinical scenario.  The purpose is to provide a comprehensive review of each disease site based on landmark trials.  Fellows are assigned responsibility for presenting on a monthly basis.  Articles are collated, summarized, and archived in digital format. The intent is to provide the fellows with all relevant data to assist with patient management and later can be used for board preparation.  Each Friday, fellows also participate in a fellow didactic conference that is tailored to fellow level gynecologic oncology topics. One or more of the faculty lead this discussion and topics are covered over a two-year curriculum on a continual basis.

  
Upon completion of the fellowship, the newly trained gynecologic oncologist should have the necessary skills to accept and perform in an academic position, evaluate and manage patients with a variety of malignant and complex gynecologic conditions, perform advanced open and minimally invasive surgical procedures, and participate in departmental education and research activities.

Interview: Christen Walters Haygood, MD

Interview: Kenneth H. Kim, MD

Number of Fellows Graduated (as of 2017) 46
Academic Program Leadership
Department Chairs 7
Division Directors 16
Fellowship Program Directors 5
National Leadership
President, The American Cancer Society 1
Director, NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center 1
Presidents, Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) 6