l scientist profile Dr. Keyser would eventually abandon

rocketry and attend Oberlin College in

Oberlin, Ohio, where he received his under-

graduate degree in biology. he went on to

receive his Ph.D., studying neurobiology and

behavior, at Stony Brook University (SUNy)

at Stony Brook, New york. After receiving

his Ph.D., he worked as a staff fellow in one

of the laboratories at the National Institutes

of health (NIh) in Bethesda, Maryland. It

was while performing an experiment in that

lab that he met his wife, enid, a fellow scien-

tist whom he married in 1984.

A hIgh-REsOLUtION VIsION Dr. Keyser spent two years at the NIh

before returning to SUNy. After five years

there, Dr. Keyser received an unexpected

request: A colleague had been recruited

to San Diego and wanted Dr. Keyser to

join him. The Keysers made the move to

California, where they lived and worked for

nearly a decade before UAB came calling.

Dr. Keyser’s research involves nicotinic

acetylcholine receptors, which allow for the

movement of skeletal muscle. These receptors

Today that facility is known as the UAB

high Resolution Imaging Facility and is home

to a confocal imaging system that is one of only

a few of its type in the country. The facility

now has four confocal microscopes and two

brand-new electron microscopes. “We’re now

one of the best-equipped imaging facilities in

the country,” Dr. Keyser says.

Researchers from across the UAB campus

use the high Resolution Imaging Facility,

including more than 50 Cancer Center

investigators, ranging from basic scientists to

clinicians. Dr. Keyser and his staff work with

investigators to collect and interpret images

of cancerous and sometimes non-cancerous

cells. Often, Dr. Keyser and his team simply

offer advice on designing imaging experi-

ments. Because of its location on the UAB

campus, the facility can offer UAB research-

ers up-to-date equipment and expertise while

charging a fraction of the amount an outside

group would. As technology improves, plans

for the facility continue to grow.

“With confocal imaging, the resolution

capability is about 250 nanometers, which is

less than a single wavelength of blue light,”

Dr. Keyser explains. “We’re actually working

on a system now that will give us resolution

of 50 nanometers, which is smaller than the

nucleus of a cell.”

assemble a confocal lab that would be able to

sustain and grow his research activities.

At the same time, the UAB Compre-

hensive Cancer Center was performing a review

of its shared facilities—which provide neces-

sary resources for investigators across UAB’s

campus—in preparation for its impending

core grant renewal from the National Cancer

Institute. Albert LoBuglio, M.D., then direc-

tor of the center, approached Dr. Keyser about

establishing the confocal imaging facility as a

core shared facility for the Cancer Center. Dr.

Keyser took Dr. LoBuglio up on the offer and

earned the necessary funding from the NCI.

“The support from the Cancer Center was

absolutely essential in establishing the facil-

ity,” Dr. Keyser says.

and Preparative Cytometry Facility in the

Department of Immunology/Rheumatology.

Though the Southeast was not part of

his original plans, Dr. Keyser has no regrets

about coming to UAB. “I get to work with

people from all over campus who are doing

research ranging from human psychophysics

to molecular genetics,” he says. “I’ve learned

new things and gotten to know great people.

It’s been great.”

Center receives $11.5-million SPore in cervical cancer. Award is shared with Johns Hopkins university and the university of Colorado at boulder.

20 09 Cancer Center receives renewed funding for $11.5-million SPore

in pancreatic cancer. The award is in collaboration with the university of minnesota. Deep South Network named one of six National Community Network Program Centers.

Center launches nationwide trial of the uAb-developed antibody tigatuzumab for triple-negative breast cancer. breast Cancer research Foundation of Alabama makes largest donation to Cancer Center to date: $400,000.

20 10

20 11

Cancer Center launches Integrated multidisciplinary Cancer Care Program to provide more efficient treatment process. Center is first in Alabama and Southeast to offer da Vinci® robotic surgery for head and neck cancer and first u.S. medical center to offer a speedier cancer radiation therapy.

20 08

are found in the brain, retina and other body

tissues and may also play a role in some can-

cers. Dr. Keyser examines where these recep-

tors are expressed in cells and tries to deter-

mine their role in normal cell function and

abnormal cell processes. Because these recep-

tors are so tiny, his work requires extremely

high-resolution imaging equipment, such as a

confocal laser microscope.

Confocal laser scanning is an imaging

technique that allows for enhanced resolu-

tion—sharpness and amount of detail—of

images and 3-D reconstructions. At the time

of Dr. Keyser’s recruitment, however, UAB

did not have a confocal instrument that was

up to date and functional. Dr. Keyser wrote

several grant applications and was able to

thE REwARDs Of thE JOB Though his schedule does not allow much

free time, Dr. Keyser enjoys snow skiing

and “puttering” around his house. “I enjoy

working with my hands,” he says. he also

recently inherited a stamp collection, which

he is learning more about, and both he and

his wife enjoy antiques. his wife also holds a

position at UAB as manager of the Analytical

“We’re NoW oNe oF the


IN thE COUNtRy.” – Kent Keyser, Ph.d.

Dr. boris Pasche recruited to lead Division of Hematology/oncology.

20 08

12 u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r 13