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

Up Front

Mehmet M. Altintas, Ph.D., left, and Jochen Reiser, M.D., Ph.D., are proud of the years-long collaboration that culminated in another key discovery.

Mehmet M. Altintas, Ph.D., left, and Jochen Reiser, M.D., Ph.D., are proud of the years-long collaboration that culminated in another key discovery.

Nephrologists Discover Key to Kidney Disease Progression

The Miller School’s Jochen Reiser, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, has made another important discovery in the fight against progressive kidney disease, this one published in the September 12 online edition of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Conducted with a research team at Harvard Medical School, the study explains why podocyte cells, which form the kidney filtration apparatus, often die after initial injury, increasing protein leakage into the urine and scarring of the kidneys.

Reiser, the study’s senior author who is also professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, and Sanja Sever, Ph.D., co-corresponding author and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard, specifically found that the protein dendrin is the transcription factor that promotes sustained expression of the protease cathepsin L, which the authors previously showed injures the podocyte structure and causes proteinuric kidney disease.

Slated to appear in the journal’s October print issue, the study, “CD2AP in mouse and human podocytes controls a proteolytic program that regulates cytoskeletal structure and cellular survival,” defines the critical link between the first injury of the cells (proteinuria) and the worsening of kidney disease caused by podocyte cell death.

Read more about the discovery »

More News

Celebrating the new ER are, from left, Jose A. Cruz, M.D., Anthony Degina, Edmi Cortes-Torres, M.D., Jose “Tony” Santa, M.B.A., and Stephen Friedman, Ph.D.

Celebrating the new ER are, from left, Jose A. Cruz, M.D., Anthony Degina, Edmi Cortes-Torres, M.D., Jose “Tony” Santa, M.B.A., and Stephen Friedman, Ph.D.

UMH Welcomes the New Behavioral Health ER

The string of grand openings for new, refurbished or expanded clinical units at University of Miami Hospital continued this month with a celebration of the new Behavioral Health Emergency Room, and the expansion of psychiatric and behavioral health services across UHealth.

“Our behavioral health division is an extremely important service line for our organization and for our patients who deserve to be cared for with dignity, compassion and given the utmost privacy,” David Zambrana, D.N.P, M.B.A., RN, the hospital’s chief operating and nursing officer, said at the September 1 event. “I am extremely proud of the department and this could not have been possible without the support of so many of you.”

Located not far from its predecessor on the first floor, the new Behavioral Health ER features state-of-the-art clinical equipment in two private assessment rooms, a quiet room, a nurses’ station, and a secure patient area.

Read more about the Behavioral Health ER »

Vineet Gupta, Ph.D.

Vineet Gupta, Ph.D.

UM Researchers Target Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases

Research led by a Miller School team has unearthed new findings showing that activating a specific integrin—one of the receptors that mediate attachment between a cell and surrounding tissue and play a role in cell signaling—could lead to more therapies for fighting inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that afflict millions of people worldwide. The study, “Small Molecule–Mediated Activation of the Integrin CD11b/CD18 Reduces Inflammatory Disease,” was published September 6 in Science Signaling.

The multidisciplinary research team, headed by the Miller School’s Vineet Gupta, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology and the founding co-director of the Peggy and Harold Katz Family Drug Discovery Center, discovered that activating the integrin CD11b/CD18—rather than blocking it as attempted in previous research—led to reduced tissue inflammation. The activation was spurred by leukadherins, novel small molecule compounds that were identified by the Gupta laboratory at UM and were developed to specifically enhance the function of integrins, which are located on the surface of white blood cells, or leukocytes.

Read more about Dr. Gupta's study »

Stephan Schürer, Ph.D., left, and Dušica Vidović, Ph.D.

Stephan Schürer, Ph.D., left, and Dušica Vidović, Ph.D.

UM Collaborates on Nature Study of Safer Diabetes Drugs

Researchers from the Miller School’s Center for Computational Science (CCS) and investigators from Harvard University, The Scripps Research Institute and Yale University Medical School published a study this week in the prestigious journal Nature that could lead to the development of novel, safer drugs to combat type 2 diabetes.

The study, “Anti-diabetic actions of non-agonist PPARy ligand blocking Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation,” appears in the international science weekly’s September 4 online edition. It describes a new class of compounds designed to target the nuclear receptor that contributes to obesity, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARy), without the serious side effects that accompany many of the current drugs that target PPARy.

The CCS’s Stephan Schürer, Ph.D., research assistant professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology and the center’s lead scientist for chemoinformatics, and Dušica Vidović, Ph.D., associate scientist, contributed to the study by conducting the computational molecular modeling studies that predicted the binding mode of a new synthetic PPARy ligand.

Read more about the Nature study »

Doreen G. Finkelstein, left, senior recruiter with the office of Medical Human Resources, helps a job candidate at the resource fair.

Doreen G. Finkelstein, left, senior recruiter with the office of Medical Human Resources, helps a job candidate at the resource fair.

Life Science Park Hosts Community Resource Fair

Clutching a collection of brochures filled with information on employment opportunities, Chandra Holland left the Overtown Community Resource Fair last week more confident than she’s been in quite some time. “This is definitely a good start,” said the 31-year-old Holland, a certified surgical technician who has been unemployed for the past two years.

An hour after arriving at the September 10 fair, held at the new R+D Building One of the University of Miami’s emerging Life Science & Technology Park (LSTP), Holland had already spoken to five employers, getting information and what she called “much-needed advice” on workforce training. She was one of many Overtown, Allapattah, Liberty City, and other Miami-area residents who turned out for the free event, which included job and community-resource information from several organizations as well as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and other health screenings.

Read more about the resource fair »

Funding and Research

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