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lscientist profile

KeNT KeySeR, Ph.D., didn’t realize that

a walk on a sunny beach in California on a

beautiful August day would eventually lead

him to UAB.

“I was working at the University of

California-San Diego at the time, and as I

began to receive my own grants after becom-

ing established there, I began getting calls

and letters asking me to apply for other jobs,”

Dr. Keyser recalls. “My wife and I were tak-

ing a walk on the beach and trying to decide

what to do. We decided that if something

interesting came along, we would look at it,

as long as it wasn’t in the Southeast. And the

minute you say something like that, your fate

is sealed.”

That was in 1994. Just over a year later,

Dr. Keyser joined the faculty at UAB as

an associate professor in the Department

of Physiological Optics. The decision to

move was a good one, Dr. Keyser says.

“Birmingham is an easy city to live in, with

the offerings of a big city but the charm of a

small town,” he says. “It’s really great.”

A fUtURE sCIENtIst Birmingham is a long way from Dr.

Keyser’s roots. Born in Texas as the son of

an Air Force major, Dr. Keyser grew up all

over the United States and around the world,

including a three-year stint in Iran. “We

lived there before the Ayatollah,” he says. “It

was during my language-building years, so I

grew up speaking Farsi.”

Growing up, Dr. Keyser remembers always

being interested in science, even going so far

as to make his own rockets—complete with

his own rocket fuel. Once he made a rocket

that flew several hundred feet in the air before

exploding, causing a commotion among his

neighbors. “That was the end of my rocket

career,” he recalls, laughing.

KENT KEysER, PH.D. B y J o s h T i l l

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UAB Comprehensive CAnCer Center salutes KeNt Keyser, ph.D., professor iN the uab DepartMeNt of visioN scieNces, Director of

the visioN scieNce research ceNter, Director of the uab high resolutioN iMagiNg facility aND scieNtist iN the uab coMpreheNsive

caNcer ceNter. Dr. Keyser is aN iNterNatioNally recogNizeD expert iN the fielD of high-resolutioN iMagiNg. Much of his research

iNterests iNvolve NicotiNic acetylcholiNe receptors, which are fouND iN the braiN aND retiNa aMoNg other boDy tissues aND which

May play a role iN soMe caNcers. iN 2011, he receiveD the saM browN briDge builDer awarD iN recogNitioN of his

MaNy research collaboratioNs across caMpus.

“BIRMINghAM Is AN EAsy CIty tO LIVE IN, wIth thE OffERINgs Of A BIg CIty BUt thE ChARM Of A sMALL tOwN,” – kent keyser, ph.D.

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