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

Up Front

Stephen D. Nimer, M.D.

Stephen D. Nimer, M.D.

Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., Pinpoints New Way to Kill Cancer Cells in Science Signaling Study

Long known to stimulate cell growth, the signaling protein Akt has been implicated in a number of human cancers. But in a new study published October 23 in the prestigious journal Science Signaling, a team of researchers led by Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., Director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that Akt also can impair the growth of blood-forming stem cells that can develop into cancers like leukemia.

In the study, Nimer and his team demonstrate for the first time that Akt, a member of the family of kinase proteins that fine tunes the activity of other proteins, inhibits the function of Bmi1, a protein critical to the renewal of stem cells that are implicated in cancer. Their study showed that Akt and Bmi1 interact, a finding that not only provides insight into a novel biological pathway, but opens the door to better treatments for leukemia and possibly other cancers.

Read more about the study »

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Dipen J. Parekh, M.D., the holder of the Politano Chair is surrounded by, from left, his son Rahul, wife Amruta, son Sachin, Aida Politano, and Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

Dipen J. Parekh, M.D., the holder of the Politano Chair is surrounded by, from left, his son Rahul, wife Amruta, son Sachin, Aida Politano, and Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

Dipen J. Parekh, M.D., Named the Dr. Victor Politano Endowed Chair in Clinical Urology

Dipen J. Parekh, M.D., the Miller School’s new chair of urology, was named the holder of the Dr. Victor Politano Endowed Chair in Clinical Urology, which was bestowed in a gracious October 16 ceremony that honored the accomplishments of the founding chair of the Department of Urology and launched a new tradition.

Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., announced in the Miami home of Politano’s widow, Aida, that the endowed chair established to honor her husband in 1982 will now be reserved for the Chair of Urology.

“As endowed chairs are crucial to attracting and retaining world-class faculty, I am delighted to announce that President Shalala has declared that from now on the Politano Chair will be bestowed upon the Chairman or Chairwoman of the Department of Urology,” the Dean said, adding how pleased he was to present the chair to someone of Parekh’s caliber and accomplishments.

Read more about Dr. Parekh »

Dileep Yavagal, M.D., is conducting the first intra-arterial stroke stem cell trial in the U.S. at the Miller School.

Dileep Yavagal, M.D., is conducting the first intra-arterial stroke stem cell trial in the U.S. at the Miller School.

Interventional Neurologist Dileep Yavagal, M.D., Tests Potential New Stem Cell Stroke Therapy

Dileep Yavagal, M.D., assistant professor of clinical neurology and neurosurgery and Director of Interventional Neurology, is conducting a phase 2 clinical trial of a revolutionary new treatment for ischemic stroke derived from a patient’s own bone marrow stem cells. If proven safe and effective, the cellular therapy, ALD-401, would be the first post-acute treatment for the most common type of stroke, which affects nearly 700,000 Americans annually.

Outside of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which must be administered within hours after a blocked artery disrupts blood and oxygen flow to the brain, or the clot-removal surgeries Yavagal performs by threading a clot-retrieval device from the groin into the brain, there are no approved therapies to revascularize vessels after ischemic stroke. Yavagal believes ALD-401, the first proposed stroke treatment to be delivered directly to the brain via the carotid artery within weeks – not hours – after a primary ischemic stroke, may have the potential to be one.

Read more about the trial »

UM’s Economic Impact Tops $6 Billion

The University of Miami’s extraordinary ascent into the top tier of American higher education—the advent of the “New U”—is a testament to those who believe in the University and a success story for all of South Florida.

In spring 2012 the University of Miami commissioned Bendixen & Amandi International to conduct an independent study of the University’s economic impact. They analyzed detailed data provided by the University in various FY 2011 financial reports—the most recent period of available comprehensive data—and applied it to an economic input-output model to extrapolate total impact. The annual expenditures of the University and its student population are multiplied through additional direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts resulting in increased total economic output, employment, gross domestic product, wages, and state and local tax revenues.

Read more about UM's economic impact »

Showing off the oversized check are, from left, Rotarians R. Philip Seipp and Gary Sisler, H. Thomas Temple, M.D., Nathan Kast, senior manager of laboratory services at the Tissue Bank, and Rotarian Norman Kassoff.

Showing off the oversized check are, from left, Rotarians R. Philip Seipp and Gary Sisler, H. Thomas Temple, M.D., Nathan Kast, senior manager of laboratory services at the Tissue Bank, and Rotarian Norman Kassoff.

UM Tissue Bank Gets Rotary Support for New Digital Processing System

The Rotary Club of Miami renewed its longtime support for the University of Miami Tissue Bank with an $8,000 gift to support further development of digital imaging software that securely stores and matches tissue donors with tissue recipients.

H. Thomas Temple, M.D., professor and vice chair of orthopaedic surgery and Director of the Tissue Bank, received an oversized check representing the gift at the Rotary Club’s October 4 luncheon and meeting.

Read more about the Tissue Bank »

Pictured with Victorious, of the Heat's Xtreme Team, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center's Ana Espinosa was among the hundreds of employees who got free Heat tickets last year.

Pictured with Victorious, of the Heat's Xtreme Team, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center's Ana Espinosa was among the hundreds of employees who got free Heat tickets last year.

United Way Contributors May Pick Up Free Tickets to Miami Heat Game Today

The Heat is still on! Miller School and UHealth employees who make a United Way donation and did not pick up Miami Heat tickets at the ticket distribution event last week have another opportunity to see Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the rest of the NBA Championship Heat at American Airlines Arena on October 26.

Representatives from the Miami Heat will be on the Schoninger Research Quadrangle today, Tuesday, October 23, from 9 to 11 a.m. to hand out tickets for Friday’s exhibition game to employees who already have made their United Way pledge. Employees who have yet to pledge to the United Way may sign up for the payroll deduction at today’s distribution event and receive either two or four free tickets to the October 26 pre-season game against the New Orleans Hornets while supplies last.

Read more about United Way incentives »

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., fifth from right, is surrounded by Sabrina Taldone, Sarah Sonny, Mitch Phillips, Laura Teisch,  Gabe Mascaro (back row), Dalal Eldick, Danielle Bodzin, Jamie Rosenkrantz, Jonathan Steinman, and Amar Deshpande, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine.

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., fifth from right, is surrounded by Sabrina Taldone, Sarah Sonny, Mitch Phillips, Laura Teisch, Gabe Mascaro (back row), Dalal Eldick, Danielle Bodzin, Jamie Rosenkrantz, Jonathan Steinman, and Amar Deshpande, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine.

DOCS Program Promotes Wellness at First Dean’s Walk/Run

With the first Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (DOCS) health fair of the year under its belt, the student-run organization introduced a wellness event of another kind: the first Dean’s Walk/Run.

Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who is also Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and CEO of UHealth, led nearly 100 students, faculty, administrators and community members at the October 13 fundraiser, a three-mile walk/run held on the Coral Gables campus to promote wellness and health awareness.

Read more about the first Dean's Walk/Run »

Bringing the Community Wellness Coalition and the Miller School’s AMSA chapter together are, from left, Jamal Jones, Chanelle Diaz, Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A., Mari Janowsky and Brigitte Frett.

Bringing the Community Wellness Coalition and the Miller School’s AMSA chapter together are, from left, Jamal Jones, Chanelle Diaz, Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A., Mari Janowsky and Brigitte Frett.

Community Wellness Coalition Partners with AMSA to Improve Health in Overtown

The Community Wellness Coalition at the Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity has joined forces with the Miller School’s chapter of the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) to improve health opportunities for Overtown residents.

Founded in 1950, AMSA is a national, student-governed organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. AMSA strives to improve health care and health care delivery to all people; promote active improvement in medical education; involve its members in the social, moral and ethical obligations of the profession of medicine; assist in the improvement and understanding of global health problems; and advance the profession of medicine. AMSA encourages its chapters to be actively engaged in the community. As the Miller School’s AMSA Co-President Chanelle Diaz, a second-year M.D./M.P.H. student, said, “That was our goal for our AMSA chapter this year and the reason that we’re partnering with the Community Wellness Coalition.”

Read more about the partnership »

Marc D. Gellman, Ph.D., left, and Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D.

Marc D. Gellman, Ph.D., left, and Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D.

UM Collaboration Leads to Publication of Major Guide to Behavioral Medicine

More than 50 University of Miami faculty members and graduate students contributed to the first encyclopedia devoted to the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of behavioral medicine, the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. UM’s cross-disciplinary team was led by Editor-in-Chief Marc D. Gellman, Ph.D., research associate professor of psychology and associate director for administration at the Behavioral Medicine Research Center, and Associate Editor Alan M. Delamater, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and psychology.

Spanning four volumes and including 700 contributing authors from 26 countries, the encyclopedia is a major resource for health care professionals, and includes more than 1,200 synopses and full-length essays covering many aspects of behavioral medicine principles, research, clinical investigations, health policies and much more.

Read more about the book »

Ricardo Komotar, M.D.

Ricardo Komotar, M.D.

UHealth “Breakthrough Medicine” Documentary Series Nominated for Emmy Awards

Two recent “Breakthrough Medicine” episodes, produced by the University of Miami Health System, have received nominations for the 36th Annual Suncoast Emmy Awards. In the category of Human Interest Program, the episode “A Matter of the Mind: Extracting a Deadly Brain Tumor,” featuring Ricardo J. Komotar, M.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery, was nominated. The story focuses on a patient as he undergoes an awake craniotomy and then receives a brain cancer vaccine developed with his own tumor tissue.

The other program nominated is “Hearing is Believing: Treating a Child’s Deafness,” which follows a family as they cope with their child’s deafness. Thomas Balkany, M.D., Hotchkiss Professor of Otolaryngology and Director of the UM Ear Institute, performs a cochlear implant procedure in the program that highlights the comprehensive services at the Barton G. Kids Hear Now Cochlear Implant Family Resource Center.

The University of Miami Health System won a Suncoast Emmy Award in 2010 for its “Breakthrough Medicine” episode “Stem Cell Therapy: Healing Force of the Future.” This year’s winners will be announced at the Westin Beach Resort & Spa in Ft. Lauderdale on December 1.

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and UM Trustee Stuart Miller cross the finish line at the 2011 Dolphins Cycling Challenge.

Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and UM Trustee Stuart Miller cross the finish line at the 2011 Dolphins Cycling Challenge.

Support the Dolphins Cycling Challenge by Cheering Riders at First Water Stop

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center will host the first water stop for the third annual Dolphins Cycling Challenge on Saturday, November 3, and needs your support and enthusiasm in welcoming riders who are raising money for cancer research at Sylvester.

Bring your family, friends and co-workers as we join a number of grateful cancer survivors from 7 to 8:30 a.m. in cheering on the riders, passing out water and raffling off great prizes. The prizes include two tickets and a parking pass to the Miami Dolphins football game against the Tennessee Titans at Sun Life Stadium on November 11, and a Sylvester duffel bag filled with goodies.

Read more and RSVP »

Richard A. Iacino,
1946 – 2011

Richard A. Iacino, 1946 – 2011

Join the Miller School’s “Team Iacino” at This Year’s Out of the Darkness Community Walk

The Miller School of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences have always supported efforts to raise awareness about suicide. It is the country’s 10th leading cause of death, claiming 36,000 lives each year. Walks sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are designed to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention while also raising funds for research. The event is also an effort to reach out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

We have committed for the third year to supporting the Out of the Darkness Community Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Miller School’s “Team Iacino,” in honor of our dear friend and colleague, Richard Iacino, will join together again to walk in his memory. We hope that all of you will join us in remembering him – and all the friends and family members we have lost — on Sunday, November 11, at 10 a.m. on the Coral Gables campus.

Read more and register for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk »

Call for Applications for SEEDS ‘You Choose’ Leadership Awards

The SEEDS (Scientists and Engineers Expanding Diversity and Success) “You Choose” program will provide several Leadership Awards of $2,500 each. The competition, which targets tenure- and research-track faculty members, is designed to support activities that improve the environment for career satisfaction and success of a diverse faculty. The type of activity is not specified. For example, you may propose to stage a career skills event, develop a seminar series, take advantage of a leadership opportunity, visit another lab to establish collaborations, or bring in a speaker or collaborator.

Read more and learn how to submit your proposal »