Leadership Changes in Research to Foster “Large Team Science”
The Miller School of Medicine has experienced a steady rise in research funding and ranking over the past several years as we continue to grow an infrastructure that enables us to do the best science. Now it is time to move to the next level with increased emphasis on “large team science.” As we face increased competition for more limited research dollars, it is imperative that we identify areas of scientific strength and establish outstanding interdisciplinary teams to target these areas.
In this regard, we have reorganized the research leadership structure to move us into the next era of scientific discovery and its translation into clinical practice at the Miller School of Medicine. The Miller School Office of Research aims to facilitate the conduct of outstanding research, reduce barriers to the achievement of scientific advancements, increase needed training opportunities, and educate the next generation of discovery scientists. José Szapocznik, Ph.D., whom I have appointed executive dean for research and research training, will be leading us in this new era of our research mission.
Dr. Szapocznik is professor and chair of epidemiology and public health and director of the Clinical Translational Science Institute and the Center for Family Studies. Dr. Szapocznik has been charged with stimulating interdisciplinary research and research training, supporting discovery research and expediting translation, while improving protocol, regulatory and ethical compliance. He is a pioneer in national efforts to prevent and treat adolescent drug abuse and other behavior problems among Hispanic youth, and his Brief Strategic Family TherapyTM has received national and international recognition for its success as a family-based intervention.
Working with Dr. Szapocznik will be leaders for each of the four major research areas — discovery science, translational science, clinical research, and research education. The NIH Roadmap is prioritizing moving research from the bench to the bedside much more rapidly, and while we will continue our deep commitment to discovery research, we are also emphasizing the interface of discovery and translation. W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., and Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D., two extraordinary scientists, are uniquely qualified to lead this interface. John W. Newcomer, M.D., the new Leonard M. Miller Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, will oversee our clinical research activities and infrastructure.
Dr. Dietrich, Kinetic Concepts Chair in Neurosurgery, professor of neurological surgery, neurology and cell biology and anatomy, and scientific director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, has been named senior associate dean for discovery science. Dr. Dietrich’s experience with leading large research teams probing the pathobiology and treatment of central nervous system injury, in particular brain and spinal cord injury, makes him superbly qualified to identify areas of opportunity and enhance collaborations across departments, centers, and schools at the University in the area of discovery/basic science.
Dr. Kenyon, the Martin Kleiman Professor of Surgery, Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Biomedical Engineering, has been named senior associate dean for translational science. Dr. Kenyon’s research has focused on biological replacement of insulin producing cells as a cure for type 1 diabetes. Recognizing that new therapies must become products in order to transform medical care, and as executive director of the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research, she has worked closely with the Office of Technology Transfer and UM Innovation to identify and develop biomedical research with commercial and clinical potential. In her role as senior associate dean, she will continue these activities and will develop, lead and coordinate the translational science components of major collaborative research initiatives.
Dr. Newcomer has been named senior associate dean for clinical research. He recently joined us from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was the Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry, medical director of the Center for Clinical Studies, as well as co-director of the Center for Applied Research Sciences and co-director of the Regulatory Support Center, both within the university’s CTSA-funded Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences. Dr. Newcomer’s research involves disturbances in endocrinology and metabolism relevant to psychiatric disorders, the development of novel treatments, and management of cardiometabolic risk in psychiatric populations.
John L. Bixby, Ph.D., is tasked with one of our core missions as a medical school: to train and educate the scientists who will make the breakthrough discoveries of tomorrow. Dr. Bixby, professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology and neuroscience, has been fulfilling that role since 2006 as associate dean for graduate studies, but he will now become senior associate dean for graduate and postdoctoral studies. As a researcher focused on the signaling mechanisms underlying axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury, Dr. Bixby has long mentored and trained scores of up-and-coming scientists.
Jennifer McCafferty, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, has been named deputy executive dean for research and research training. Dr. McCafferty will continue to support all aspects of the Miller School research enterprise working closely with Dr. Szapocznik, the senior associate deans, and executive director to develop and implement research policy, improve research administrative processes and facilitate the conduct of leading edge research. In addition, she will have oversight and management of the internal grant programs, research communications and central coordination of the development of new centers and institutes.
Tomas Pereira has been brought on to assist this outstanding team with the general oversight of administrative operations. Mr. Pereira comes to this office from the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, where he worked under Dr. Joshua Hare’s leadership as the senior center administrator. Mr. Pereira will be tasked with providing direction in all fiscal matters, facilitating the expansion of training of research staff, and leading operational matters for the Miller School Office of Research, always keeping the standard of making research administration in the support of research, not administration.
We believe that this new team will take the great forward strides accomplished by the prior research administration to new, unprecedented heights for the Miller School of Medicine. Please join us in welcoming and congratulating our new Miller School research leadership.
Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean,
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
CEO, University of Miami Health System