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

Up Front

J. William Harbour, M.D.

J. William Harbour, M.D.

Bascom Palmer Researcher Identifies New Genetic Mutation in Ocular Melanoma

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute ophthalmologist J. William Harbour, M.D., has identified a new genetic marker for determining the virulence of ocular melanomas in a groundbreaking study published online January 13 in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.

“Our research team discovered that the RNA splicing factor SF3B1 is mutated at a very specific location in some ocular melanomas, and this mutation indicates the likelihood that an ocular melanoma will metastasize and spread to other parts of the body, a far more deadly condition than when the cancer cells remain localized in the eye,” said Harbour, professor of ophthalmology, Vice Chairman for Translational Research at Bascom Palmer, and Director of the Ocular Oncology Service.

Harbour has been studying ocular melanomas for more than a decade, and in 2004 developed a genetic profiling test that indicates whether a patient has less aggressive “Class 1”cancer cells or highly aggressive “Class 2” cancer cells that often result in fatal metastasis.

Read more about the study »

More News

Richard J. Cote, M.D.

Richard J. Cote, M.D.

Smoking Intensity and Cancer Markers Predict Seriousness of Bladder Cancer

Smoking not only causes bladder cancer, it also affects its course, in that people who smoke more have greater likelihood of developing more aggressive and deadly disease. That is one of the conclusions of a study published January 14 in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

The study, “Combination of molecular alterations and smoking intensity predicts bladder cancer outcome: A report from the Los Angeles cancer surveillance program,” also found that a panel of bladder cancer markers can predict which particular cases are at the highest risk for a fatal outcome.

Researchers have known that smoking is one of the most common causes of bladder cancer, but they’ve wondered whether it also affects how the disease progresses. To investigate, Richard J. Cote, M.D., professor and the Joseph R. Coulter, Jr. Endowed Chair in Pathology, and Anirban Mitra, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, led a team that analyzed bladder tumors and smoking history in 212 multi-ethnic patients recruited through the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program between 1987 and 1996.

Read more about the study »

With support from wife Terry, Wayne Lobdell cuts the ceremonial ribbon to the Lobdell Mind-Body Wellness Program the couple established as Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., and M. Beatriz Currier, M.D., look on.

With support from wife Terry, Wayne Lobdell cuts the ceremonial ribbon to the Lobdell Mind-Body Wellness Program the couple established as Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., and M. Beatriz Currier, M.D., look on.

Gift Expands Mind-Body Wellness Program to All Patients at Sylvester at Deerfield Beach

Michigan entrepreneur Wayne Lobdell is convinced that the mind-and-body wellness techniques his UHealth doctors introduced him to in South Florida are key to his recovered good health – so convinced that he and his wife Terry are ensuring all patients who visit UHealth’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at Deerfield Beach can access a broad range of holistic mind-body preventive and therapeutic interventions to enhance their own health and quality of life.

With a $500,000 donation, the Lobdells established the Department of Psychiatry’s Lobdell Mind-Body Wellness Program, which was officially launched January 8 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the inaugural lecture in what will be a twice-monthly series of complimentary lunch seminars and interactive workshops at Sylvester at Deerfield Beach. The generous gift allows Sylvester at Deerfield Beach to expand its integrative and multi-specialty team approach to care to all patients, and to their caregivers, loved ones and friends, who visit the northern Broward County health center.

Read more about the program »

Ferenc Rick, M.D., Ph.D., Andrew Schally, Ph.D., M.D.h.c., D.Sc.h.c., and Norman Block, M.D.

Ferenc Rick, M.D., Ph.D., Andrew Schally, Ph.D., M.D.h.c., D.Sc.h.c., and Norman Block, M.D.

Growth Hormone Study Could Lead to New Drug Therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease

A team of Miller School and Miami VA Medical Center researchers has developed a synthetic antagonist of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) that holds promise for a new drug therapy to reverse or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings, led by Andrew V. Schally, Ph.D., M.D.h.c., D.Sc.h.c., the 1977 Nobel Prize winner for Physiology or Medicine, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pathology and Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Miller School of Medicine, were published in the November issue of the journal Aging.

In this study, “Beneficial effects of novel antagonists of GHRH in different models of Alzheimer’s disease,” Schally and his team examined the effects of a growth hormone-releasing hormone antagonist which was conceptualized, designed, and synthesized in their laboratory at the Miami VA Medical Center.

Read more about the findings »

UHealth Hosts the American Heart Association’s Fit Friendly Symposium for Area Employers

As obesity rates continue to rise among adults, UHealth is teaming up with the American Heart Association (AHA) to help local employers create “fit friendly” workplaces by co-sponsoring the AHA’s Miami Fit Friendly Symposium.

“As the American Heart Association says, there is no better benefit employers can offer employees than helping them have healthier, longer lives,’’ said Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., chief executive of UHealth, which is hosting the symposium at the Medical Wellness Center on January 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. “But studies also show that wellness programs have enormous benefits for employers, too — by increasing worker productivity, reducing absenteeism, lowering turnover rates and reducing healthcare costs.”

Read more about the symposium »

Top U.S. Policy and Industry Leaders to Discuss Election’s Impact on Healthcare Reform

In the wake of the 2012 U.S. presidential and congressional elections, the School of Business Administration will bring together some of the nation’s leading healthcare policy and industry leaders for a conference focused on the impact of the election results on healthcare reform, as well as healthcare organizations and business in general.

The conference, “The Business of Healthcare Post-Election,” will be held on Friday, February 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the BankUnited Center.

Read more about the conference and register »

Invest in Yourself This Year: Free Three-Day Trial at the Medical Wellness Center

The holidays are over, and it’s time to start fresh in the New Year. The Medical Wellness Center would like to remind you about its Shape Up rebate program that offers lower monthly membership costs by completing 42 workouts in four months. Any external physical activity counts, including going for a walk or gardening.

Read more about joining the Medical Wellness Center »

Sexual Assault Response Team Advocate Opportunities

The University of Miami Counseling Center’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is seeking dedicated, warm and empathic faculty, staff, and graduate student volunteers to serve as advocates during the 2014 calendar year.

SART is often the first line of response for UM students who have been sexually assaulted, molested, or battered, and has supported sexual assault survivors and others since 1992. As an advocate, you will provide hotline callers with much-needed emotional support, information, and referrals, in addition to help accessing resources when appropriate. You will receive comprehensive training in taking calls from students in a variety of sexual assault-related situations, orientation to UM’s varied resources for those who have been sexually victimized, and ongoing support from licensed mental health professionals at the Counseling Center.

Read more about becoming a volunteer »

Early Deadline for Submissions

Because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday on Monday, January 20, the deadline for the January 21 issue of e-Update is Wednesday, January 15, by noon.

Research News

CaneSearch University-Wide Research Day to Address Community Concerns About Obesity

In a community with nearly 80 percent racial and ethnic minorities and with two-thirds of adults and up to 20 percent of children ages 2-4 obese or overweight, the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) drives scientific discovery and its translation into evidence-based practices to improve minority health and reduce health disparities. That’s why on Wednesday, February 27, the Miami CTSI will hold its first major University-wide initiative, “CaneSearch,” to help identify these goals through a poster session on topics related to obesity, including research, educational, clinical and community-based activities across disciplines.

The goals of the event, which will focus on the Science of Obesity, are to bring together University scientists, clinicians, students, educators and caregivers to promote meaningful partnerships, advance collaborative research, display cutting-edge science and community initiatives that address this serious issue, and engage colleagues from regional universities and research institutes as well as community-based partners and research foundations.

Read more about CaneSearch »