Department of Microbiology
Ronald T. Acton (b. 1941) is Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Microbiology, Medicine and Epidemiology. He was one the first investigators to observe immune recognition in invertebrates during his doctoral studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Ph.D., 1970). During postdoctoral studies at UAB, in the laboratory of Dr. J. Claude Bennett, he observed a unique tetrametic IgM-like immunoglobulin in three orders of fishes. He then performed postdoctoral studies in immunogenetics with Dr. Ray H. Owens at the California Institute of Technology, followed by postdoctoral studies with Professor Rodney R. Porter in Oxford. Upon returning to UAB in 1973 he developed the Immunogenetics Program. He has served on two NIH Study Sections and is a frequent Ad Hoc Reviewer for the NIH. His outside interests include his family, dancing and antique auto collecting.
University of Alabama at Birmingham PhD, 1970
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Postdoctoral Fellow
California Institute of Technology, Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oxford, England, Postdoctoral Fellow
The Immunogenetics Program has a number of ongoing studies to evaluate the role of genes in predisposing individuals to disease states. Presently our funded programs consists of studies of non-insulin dependent diabetes in African Americans, of genetic predisposition to cariogenic bacteria and caries and genes which predispose to hemochromatosis. A large database of information collected from previous studies of genetic disorders is also available for analysis. Our approach is to utilize recombinant DNA techniques to identify candidate genes that may predispose an individual to a given disease state and/or be used to clinically subcategorize the disease or predict outcome. This approach involves collecting and correlating extended family history of disease information, looking for genetic variants by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, polymerase chain reaction analysis or through nucleotide sequencing, obtaining lifestyle information and clinical laboratory values. In addition, the Immunogenetics Program is linked to the Immunogenetics/DNA Diagnostic Laboratory which conducts genetic testing for a number of genetic disorders, as well as paternity and forensic cases. Projects are available to establish and validate genetic tests used for these purposes.
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