UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Winter 2018 2018 Volume XXXIII Number 3 - Page 5

Getting Started Other than the warmer weather that Birmingham offers, Dr. Birrer was impressed with UAB’s cancer program in that it is one of the original eight comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, and has maintained continuous funding from the National Cancer Institute for about 45 years. He was also amazed with the Cancer Center’s commitment to health disparities. “The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is perhaps one of the few cancer centers in the nation, if not the only one, that engages underserved populations effectively.” Now that he is here, Dr. Birrer is determined to take the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center to the next level. “When you are starting with one of the best in the nation with a rich history, it is easy to get excited about the spectacular prospects for the future.” Dr. Birrer knew at an early age that he wanted to be a doctor. After watching his older brother go through medical school, Dr. Birrer decided as a freshman in college at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, that he was committed to it too. Upon getting his bachelor’s degree in biology, he headed to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City where he says he made the smartest decision in his entire life. “I went into the M.D./ Ph.D. program, a medical scientist training program, where I came out of medical school without any debt while doing what I loved, which was research.” While there, his primary area of study was microbiology and immunology. He did his internship and residency in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He wanted to # K N O W U A B C C C • U A B . E D U / C A N C E R 3