e-Update: News for University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Faculty and Staff

Up Front

Senate Presents Highest Honors to Three Miller School Faculty Members

From left, Eugene Schiff, M.D., Laurence Sands, M.D., M.B.A., Kristin Podack, widow of Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., and Richard L. Williamson, Jr., J.D.

From left, Eugene Schiff, M.D., Laurence Sands, M.D., M.B.A., Kristin Podack, widow of Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., and Richard L. Williamson, Jr., J.D.

The Faculty Senate last week bestowed its highest honors on Laurence R. Sands, M.D., M.B.A., and Eugene R. Schiff, M.D., two pioneering physicians at the Miller School of Medicine. For the first time, the Senate also conferred a Special Senate Award posthumously, recognizing Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., the late researcher at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, for his life-saving discoveries.

The annual Faculty Senate Awards ceremony took place April 11 in Storer Auditorium at the School of Business Administration. Senate Chair Tomás A. Salerno, M.D., gave remarks before a welcome video message from UM President Julio Frenk was broadcast.

Read more about the Faculty Senate awards »

More News

Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D.

Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D.

Florida Health Care Professionals Explore Ethical Issues from AIDS to Zika

AIDS, cancer, climate change and the Zika virus are global problems with serious ethical considerations for Florida’s health care professionals. Accessing scarce medical resources, providing screening services for large populations and making end-of-life decisions add to the list of issues that continue to challenge if not bedevil contemporary health care systems.

A distinguished group of national clinicians, researchers and policymakers took a close look at these and related questions at “Florida Ethics: Debates, Decisions, Solutions,” an April 8 conference sponsored by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy and the Florida Bioethics Network.

Read more about the conference »

David Loewenstein, Ph.D.

David Loewenstein, Ph.D.

New Cognitive Stress Test Can Detect Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

A cognitive stress test co-developed by a Miller School researcher is highly effective in detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published recently in a national journal.

“We could see a clear difference between people who had normal cognition and those with preclinical stages of cognitive impairment,” said David Loewenstein, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “The study confirmed that this test is very sensitive to early memory impairment. In addition, the results were clearly associated with the level of abnormal amyloid protein in the brain, a key risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Read more about the research »

From left, Carol M. Davis, D.P.T., Ed.D., M.S., Neva Kirk-Sanchez, Ph.D., and Sherrill Hayes, Ph.D.

From left, Carol M. Davis, D.P.T., Ed.D., M.S., Neva Kirk-Sanchez, Ph.D., and Sherrill Hayes, Ph.D.

Dr. Sherri Hayes Establishes Student Scholarship Fund in Physical Therapy

After building the Department of Physical Therapy as its longtime Chair for nearly three decades, Sherrill Hayes, Ph.D., is now offering financial assistance to the Department’s students through a newly created scholarship fund.

Hayes, who built a program that is consistently one of the top-ranked physical therapy programs in the nation, pledged $10,000 recently to establish the Dr. Sherri Hayes Student Scholarship Fund, which is designed to award funds for student-related travel expenses or scholarships.

Read more about Dr. Hayes' scholarship fund »

Renee Jones, left, with Donald Anacker.

Renee Jones, left, with Donald Anacker.

Life Alliance Hosts Organ Donation Awareness Event

Renee Jones, mother of organ donor Trevin Reddick, leaned in and listened. There, she heard the sound of her son’s heart beating in the chest of recipient Donald Anacker. Having met for the first time the night before and now joining Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency at its first Blue and Green Day awareness event, the two clung to each other while wiping away tears.

Jones made the difficult choice to have her 19-year-old’s organs donated after he was killed in a drive-by shooting. “I thought about Trevin and who he was,” Jones said. “I knew without a doubt that he would’ve said yes. But I had no idea the impact saying yes would have.”

Read more about Blue and Green Day »

Camillo Ricordi, M.D., left, and Rodolfo Alejandro, M.D.

Camillo Ricordi, M.D., left, and Rodolfo Alejandro, M.D.

Islet Transplantation Moves Toward an Approved Treatment for Severe Type 1 Diabetes

An unprecedented collaborative study across North America has found that islet transplantation — the transplant of the pancreatic cell clusters that contain insulin-producing cells in the pancreas — was effective in preventing severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, in the treatment of the most severe forms of type 1 diabetes. Eight centers, including the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, participated in the trial. Severe hypoglycemia is a particularly feared complication in type 1 diabetes that can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness and even death.

The Phase 3 trial was conducted by the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Clinical Islet Transplantation (CIT) Consortium. The investigators designed the study in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enable potential future licensure of the manufacture of purified human pancreatic islets. The results were published online April 18 in the journal Diabetes Care.

Read more about islet transplantation »

Shaun Brothers, Ph.D.

Shaun Brothers, Ph.D.

Dr. Shaun Brothers Receives $1.7 Million NIH Grant to Study Rare Disease

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Shaun Brothers, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, his first major research award. With the five-year R01 grant of nearly $1.7 million, he will work to discover novel therapeutics for a rare genetic disorder called mucopolysaccharidosis type I (MPS-I).

MPS-I includes a full spectrum of challenges including arthritis, heart disease, blindness and neurodevelopmental defects. Treatment options for MPS-I are limited to a symptomatic treatment, enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), which costs on the order of $400,000 per year, or bone marrow transplants, which carry a high mortality rate. The most severely affected MPS-I patients may only live 10 years. Others with less severe forms of the disease may live much longer, but with complications arising from the disease being present throughout their lives.

Read more about Dr. Brothers' grant »

Brian M. Slomovitz, M.D.

Brian M. Slomovitz, M.D.

Sylvester Researcher Launches Study on Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer

A Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher is leading a new clinical study focusing on early detection of ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women.

“An effective screening or diagnostic test could potentially save the lives of thousands of women around the world,” said Brian Slomovitz, M.D., who is Co-Leader of Sylvester’s Gynecologic Cancers Site Disease Group and Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Read more about the research »

From left, Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., Thomas M. Hooton, M.D., Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D., Lillian Rivera, Ph.D., M.S.N., Administrator, Florida Department of Health, Miami-Dade County, John Beier, Sc.D., Micheline McCarthy, M.D., Ph.D., Esper G. Kallas, M.D., Ph.D., Mario Stevenson, Ph.D., Raymond F. Schinazi, Ph.D., Ronald Desrosiers, M.D., Ph.D., Christine L. Curry, M.D., Ph.D., Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., David I. Watkins, Ph.D., Rafael E. Campo, M.D., and Anna Marie Likos, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Department of Health.

From left, Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., Thomas M. Hooton, M.D., Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D., Lillian Rivera, Ph.D., M.S.N., Administrator, Florida Department of Health, Miami-Dade County, John Beier, Sc.D., Micheline McCarthy, M.D., Ph.D., Esper G. Kallas, M.D., Ph.D., Mario Stevenson, Ph.D., Raymond F. Schinazi, Ph.D., Ronald Desrosiers, M.D., Ph.D., Christine L. Curry, M.D., Ph.D., Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., David I. Watkins, Ph.D., Rafael E. Campo, M.D., and Anna Marie Likos, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Department of Health.

Miller School Researchers Making Major Strides Against Zika Virus

Monoclonal antibodies may be the key to developing a treatment for the Zika virus, according to researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who are collaborating with other infectious disease specialists in Brazil and the United States.

Speaking at the Miller School’s “Zika Forum: State of the Science, Public Health Safety and Ethics,” Mario Stevenson, Ph.D., professor of medicine and Chief of Infectious Diseases, said, “We have a formidable team of virologists here who are up to the task of taking appropriate action against the virus.”

More than 300 researchers, clinicians, public health officials and students attended the March 23 conference to share the latest findings about the virus and discuss related ethical issues.

Read more about the Zika Forum »

Kevin Park, Ph.D.

Kevin Park, Ph.D.

Researchers Find Transcription Factor Promotes Axon Regrowth in Central Nervous System Injuries

Researchers at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have found that a classical transcription factor known as STAT3 locates to different cellular regions and promotes axon regeneration in an injured adult central nervous system.

Data developed by Kevin Park, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery, and fellow investigators provide mechanistic insights into the mode of actions of STAT3 in the mature central nervous system. They demonstrate that capitalizing STAT3’s effects in combination with modulation of other growth-regulating molecules allows a neural intervention for extensive axon regrowth.

Read more about Dr. Park's research »

Lilian M. Abbo, M.D.

Lilian M. Abbo, M.D.

Dr. Lilian M. Abbo Plays Key Role in Developing New Guidelines for Antibiotic Stewardship

Lilian M. Abbo, M.D., has co-authored new guidelines for antibiotic stewardship that are now available from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Published online April 13 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the guidelines provide recommendations to ensure antibiotic stewardship programs are most effective in reducing the emergence of antibiotic resistance, including that they be led by infectious-disease physicians and pharmacists who have the expertise and education to ensure the right drug is being prescribed at the right time for the right diagnosis.

Read more about the new guidelines »

Sylvester physicians and Miller School students teamed up for three days of head and neck cancer screenings.

Sylvester physicians and Miller School students teamed up for three days of head and neck cancer screenings.

Sylvester and UHealth Hold Head and Neck Cancer Screenings

Last week, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and UHealth recognized the annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week with three days of community screenings at the VA Medical Center, University of Miami Hospital, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Center for Haitian Studies in Miami.

Under the direction of head and neck cancer specialists from Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, medical students from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine conducted cancer screenings for members of the community at each location. They also held educational awareness sessions about the various forms of head and neck cancer, risk factors and symptoms.

Read more about the head and neck cancer screenings »

From left, Deborah Newman, Jael Hodgson and Monique Gattuso, all from pediatric critical care at Holtz Children's Hospital.

From left, Deborah Newman, Jael Hodgson and Monique Gattuso, all from pediatric critical care at Holtz Children's Hospital.

1,500 Turn Out for Medical Campus ‘Week of Well-Being’ Event

For Nicole Crooks, a family care coordinator at the Mailman Center for Child Development, the University of Miami “Week of Well-Being” medical campus event on Tuesday, April 5, provided an opportunity to learn about UM’s comprehensive benefits programs. For Frank Sotolongo, a patient account representative in the Miller School’s Department of Surgery, the goal was “to see all latest wellness offerings available to us.”

Crooks and Sotolongo were among the estimated 1,500 students, faculty and staff members who attended the wellness fair on the Schoninger Research Quadrangle.

Read more about the health fair »

Fleta Netter Bray.

Fleta Netter Bray.

Miller School Student Wins First Prize in National Medical Essay Competition

Fleta Netter Bray, a fourth-year student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has won first prize in a national medical essay competition held annually by the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

The Melbourne Beach, Fla., native won top honors and a $2,000 cash award in the Helen H. Glaser Student Essay Contest, and is the first Miller School student ever to win a prize in the competition. Her essay, “Shakespeare’s Macbeth: An Insight into Politics, Religion, and the King’s Touch,” won the top award for 2015, but winning entries are not published until the following year in the spring edition of The Pharos, the society’s journal, which comes out this month.

Read more about the medical student's winning essay »

Abigail S. Hackam, Ph.D.

Abigail S. Hackam, Ph.D.

New Research Supports Grapes’ Benefits to Eye Health

Compounds found in grapes may help protect against eye disease, according to new research led by researchers at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The study, published in the journal Nutrition, showed that a diet supplemented with grapes was able to counter damage from oxidative stress and preserve retinal structure and function in a laboratory model of retinal degeneration.

“Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study,” said Abigail S. Hackam, Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology at the Miller School, and lead investigator of the study. “These results are very exciting and build on the growing evidence that suggests a compound in grapes is beneficial to eye health.”

Read more about the research »

Sylvester visitors had the opportunity to walk through a giant colon to learn about colon diseases.

Sylvester visitors had the opportunity to walk through a giant colon to learn about colon diseases.

Sylvester Showcases Giant Colon to Raise Awareness of Colon Cancer

Patients, staff and visitors at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center had the opportunity to walk through a giant, inflatable colon in the Sylvester courtyard on March 29 to learn about polyps, inflammatory disease, and colon cancer. The engaging event was to recognize March as colon cancer awareness month.

“The purpose of having the giant colon at Sylvester was to educate everyone that colon cancer screenings can save lives,” said Joy Ness, B.S.N., nurse navigator in the Colon Cancer Site Disease Group at Sylvester. “The giant colon allowed people to walk through a 3-D replication of a healthy colon, a section with inflammatory disease, a section with polyps and a section with colon cancer. It attracted a lot of attention because of its size and subject matter.”

Read more about the Giant Inflatable Colon event »

Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A.

Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A.

Diversity Discussion Series Begins June 14

Beginning Tuesday, June 14, the Miller School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Multiculturalism will host monthly discussions to increase knowledge, dialogue and access to information about the culturally distinct populations that work, study and receive health care at UM and the surrounding communities.

“We are working to expand our program offerings as part of a UM-wide initiative,” said Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A., Education and Research Officer at the Office of Diversity and Multiculturalism. “Our goal is to improve cultural awareness through interactive learning and informal conversations that lead to a more inclusive campus climate in which people from all backgrounds feel safe and valued.”

Read more about the diversity discussions »

Rendition of the Helene Fuld Skills Resource Center.

Rendition of the Helene Fuld Skills Resource Center.

School of Nursing and Health Studies Receives $1.7 Million Helene Fuld Health Trust Grant

One of the nation’s largest private funders devoted exclusively to nursing students and nursing education, has awarded $1.7 million to the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies. The Helene Fuld Health Trust will provide funding to build a cutting-edge skills resource center within the school’s new Simulation Hospital, currently under construction, and also to educate second-career nursing students.

In November of 2015, the school broke ground on the five-story, 41,000-square-foot Simulation Hospital. This transformative facility is expected to provide an enhanced education center for students by replicating the true activity of a clinical practice and hospital. The Helene Fuld Skills Resource Center, supported by the Helene Fuld Health Trust grant, will occupy the entire fifth floor of the hospital and provide a setting for students to master fundamental techniques and procedures.

Read more about the grant »

During construction, the pop-up café,

During construction, the pop-up café, "Open for Business," is serving food from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

New Central Table Café to Open at UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center

The UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center Café is undergoing a comprehensive renovation. University Facilities Design & Construction, in concert with Compass One Healthcare Food and Nutrition Services, is taking the opportunity to update café operations (currently occupied by Pasha’s Mediterranean Restaurant). This project will feature a newly designed Central Table Café set to open in mid-June.

Central Table Café offers a dynamic, seasonal and fresh menu. The new café also emphasizes the power of food through the art of classic cooking and conscious procurement of whole and sustainable foods to share, nourish, re-fuel, celebrate and comfort.

Read more about the new restaurant »


Calder Library Patron Satisfaction Survey

The Calder Library Patron Satisfaction Survey is now available for all on-site and virtual users of the Medical Library at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Please complete this brief survey so we can identify your priorities and preferences. The more information you provide, the better the Library can serve you! You can access the survey here.


Women and Minority Leadership and Professional Development Symposium, May 13

The Women in Academic Medicine Advisory Board and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine present a leadership and professional development symposium on Friday, May 13, at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center on the Coral Gables campus. The event is intended to inspire and empower minorities, women, University of Miami faculty and alumni to assume greater leadership roles and to increase their value to the organization. The symposium will also show how to strategically leverage abilities and talents for positive results in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Space is limited. Additional information and registration are available here.


UHealth Sponsors Final Family Day at Lowe Art Museum May 15

UHealth — the University of Miami Health System will sponsor the final family day this spring at Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus.

Spring into Color! Family Day
Sunday, May 15, noon to 3 p.m.
Families are invited to explore the works of Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and many others in the Lowe’s permanent collection of contemporary and modern art. Learn about color and line as you create your own modern painting using masking tape and paint on canvas. Painting fun for the whole family!

Read more about Family Days »


Save the Date: Miami Winter Symposium to Explore Diabetes January 22-25, 2017

The University of Miami’s 50th Miami Winter Symposium — “Diabetes: Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Therapies” — will take place January 22-25, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Miami. The annual event highlights advances in scientific discovery and brings together hundreds of researchers from the academic and industrial worlds.

Reduced registration fees are available at www.miamiwintersymposium.com for all University of Miami faculty, staff and students by entering the Miami registration portal. Fee waivers will be available to UMMSM personnel at the same portal, with preference given to those presenting posters — one waiver per poster. Applications will be dealt with in the order received. The abstract submission deadline is November 7, 2016.

Important Update: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Proposed Changes

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and employment standards affecting full-time and part-time workers. The Department of Labor, which has oversight for the FLSA, has proposed changes that will be finalized in 2016. Changes include an amendment to the definition of exempt and non-exempt, which includes overtime eligibility. The University is closely monitoring the proposed changes, and is actively meeting with leaders across the institution to review exempt job descriptions and hours worked to prepare for the changes. At this time, final regulations are anticipated to be released in May or June. We will continue to update you on any new developments. You can read more about the proposed FLSA changes here.

If you have any questions, please contact HR Compensation at hrcomp@miami.edu.

*** Reminder: This Newsletter is Now Published Twice a Month ***

Our schedule has changed. e-Update is now published twice a month, on the first and third Tuesday of each month. The next issue will be Tuesday, May 17. The deadline for submissions will be the prior Wednesday, May 11, at noon.

Upcoming Grand Rounds

Tuesday, May 3, 2016Best Practice - Preschool Wheeze & Wheezing in Infancy

Wednesday, May 4, 2016Psychiatry Grand Rounds: "The Role of Social Environment, Neuroendocrines and Sympathetic Remodeling in the Progression"

Thursday, May 5, 2016Osteoporosis in the Spine Surgery Patient?

Thursday, May 12, 2016Ophthalmology Grand Rounds

View more Grand Rounds »

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, May 4, 2016Global Mental Health Research Challenges and Questions

Wednesday, May 4, 2016Medical Grand Rounds: The Barrier of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes

Wednesday, May 4, 2016Headache Update for the PM&R Specialist

Tuesday, May 10, 20162016 Distinguished Schulz Lecture - Dr. James Spudich, Stanford University School of Medicine

Wednesday, May 11, 2016Capsule Two-Day Training, Day 1

Wednesday, May 11, 2016Farewell to Alex

Wednesday, May 11, 2016Medical Grand Rounds: Innate Airway Epithelial Defenses

Thursday, May 12, 2016Capsule Two-Day Training, Day 2

Saturday, May 14, 2016The Art & Science of Acupuncture for Physicians

View more Events »