The University of Miami focuses its medical might on the virus that is now local
Mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus appeared in South Florida just recently, but at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, forward-thinking researchers and clinicians began preparing for its arrival a year ago.
That’s when David Watkins, Ph.D., Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology, who researches diseases in Latin America where the infections were reaching epidemic proportions, first sounded the alarm about the potential consequences in South Florida. He was correct to be concerned. There are now 42 confirmed locally acquired infections, including the first case just documented in Pinellas County, on Florida’s west coast.
Watkins’ colleagues heeded his call months before the World Health Organization declared Zika an international public health emergency, and before experts confirmed the virus was responsible for the surging number of newborns with abnormally small heads. They stopped thinking of Zika as a potential travel risk and began preparing to battle a possible outbreak here at home. As a result, UHealth physicians are already busy counseling prospective parents and treating pregnant women, and UM scientists are working overtime to bring diagnostic and therapeutic responses from the laboratory to the clinic — some possibly by the end of this year.
Joao Braghiroli, M.D., and Oddone Braghiroli, M.D., just had the best family reunion ever. Born in Salvador, Brazil, the brothers reunited in Rio de Janeiro as medical volunteers for the Olympics. When not hard at work, they made the most of their time in Rio, because they knew they’d soon find themselves on different continents.
Xi “Steven” Chen, Ph.D., a member of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate professor of biostatistics in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine, has received a $1.8 million R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute. The funding will be used to conduct research in precision medicine for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), using statistical genomics approaches.
A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researcher has found that inhibiting or reducing oxidative stress on podocytes, key cells of the kidney filter, can prevent their damage, suggesting a potential new target for treating patients and reducing progression of chronic kidney disease.
Kari Riddle, M.S., an athletic trainer at UHealth Sports Medicine-Plantation, was named the 2016 Clinical Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida (ATAF). She received the award on July 16 during the association’s annual meeting.
Gillian A. Hotz, Ph.D., Director of the KIDZ Neuroscience Center at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and Director of the Concussion Program at UHealth Sports Medicine, has received a 2016 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership Award for her work in promoting healthy lifestyles and impactful safety initiatives.