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

Up Front

Andres M. Kanner, M.D.

Andres M. Kanner, M.D.

Internationally Renowned Epilepsy Expert Andres M. Kanner, M.D., Joins Miller School Faculty

Andres M. Kanner, M.D., who is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on the behavioral aspects of epilepsy, has joined the Miller School’s Department of Neurology as chief of the epilepsy division, and director of the International Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. His primary goal is enhancing the evaluation, comprehensive treatment and surgical program for adults with epilepsy, who often are unaware that surgery could end their seizures.

“Surgery is an effective but underutilized treatment for epilepsy, but there really isn’t a well-developed adult comprehensive epilepsy center in South Florida,” said Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., professor and Chair of Neurology and the Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Disorders. “Dr. Kanner is the ideal person to build our program at University of Miami Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital and lift the treatment, prevention and care of epilepsy across the health district. He has international experience and stature and extensive expertise in running a surgical epilepsy program — plus he’s a wonderful clinician, a great teacher, and a really nice guy.”

Read more about Dr. Kanner »

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James D. Potter, Ph.D.

James D. Potter, Ph.D.

Miller School Researcher Helps Develop Molecular “Calcium Sponge” to Tackle Heart Failure

The Miller School’s James D. Potter, Ph.D., professor and Chairman Emeritus of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, collaborated with researchers at the University of Minnesota to optimize heart performance in models of diastolic heart failure by creating an optimized protein that aids in high-speed relaxation similar to what occurs with fast-twitching muscles. Published online February 10 in Nature Medicine, the research could have unique clinical application for treating diastolic heart failure.

Within heart cells, calcium plays a major role in orchestrating normal heart pump function. However, in diastolic failure the calcium signaling process is slowed; calcium levels rise to the peak needed for the squeezing action of the heart but don’t then drop quickly enough for an efficient relaxation period – the condition known as diastolic heart failure.

With help from Potter and his former post-doctoral fellow Qi Li, Ph.D., researchers led by Joseph M. Metzger, Ph.D., professor and chair of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, pinpointed a specific protein, parvalbumin – which aids in high-speed relaxation of fast-twitching muscles in nature – and optimized it to become a calcium sponge for the heart muscle. As a result, the optimized protein, ParvE101Q, soaks up excess calcium at a precise instant, allowing the heart to relax efficiently after contraction.

Read more about the research »

Tracie L. Miller, M.D.

Tracie L. Miller, M.D.

Prenatal Antiretroviral Therapy Does Not Affect Growth, UM Researchers Find

Miller School pediatrics researchers have found that exposure to antiretroviral therapy in the womb does not adversely impact growth, a finding that supports the use of the potent drugs to block the transmission of HIV/AIDS from pregnant women to their newborn children.

In the study published online January 28 in advance of print in The Journal of Pediatrics, senior author Tracie L. Miller, M.D., professor of pediatrics, Associate Chair of Pediatrics for Clinical Research, and Director of the Division of Clinical Research, and her team found no statistical growth differences between children who received antiretroviral therapy (ARV) prenatally and were born uninfected to mothers with HIV/AIDS, and a demographically matched group of children who were not exposed to HIV, nor the drugs that have dramatically reduced the mother-to-child transmission rate.

Read more about the study »

From left are symposium directors Angelo Azzi, M.D., Ph.D., past president of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Sylvia Daunert, Ph.D., and Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

From left are symposium directors Angelo Azzi, M.D., Ph.D., past president of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Sylvia Daunert, Ph.D., and Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

2013 Miami Winter Symposium Focuses on Metabolism and Nutrition

More than 200 biochemists and molecular biologists from around the world, many of them luminaries in the growing field of metabolism and nutrition research, are gathered in Miami this week for the 46th annual Miami Winter Symposium to explore the interaction of nutrition, genetics, epigenetics and human health.

“I am delighted that once again we could bring to Miami some of the most brilliant scientists in this area and share new information and, perhaps even more importantly, ideas for future research and future discoveries,” Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., said in welcoming the 2013 Miami Winter Symposium: The Molecular Basis of Metabolism and Nutrition, organized by the Nature Publishing Group, the Miller School, the University Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Foundation, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Scripps Research Institute Florida and, for the first time, the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB).

Read more about the Miami Winter Symposium »

RSAP team members are, from left, Leonardo Tamariz, M.D., M.P.H., Deidre T. Campbell, Stephen Symes, M.D., M.P.H. and Ana Palacio, M.D., M.P.H.

RSAP team members are, from left, Leonardo Tamariz, M.D., M.P.H., Deidre T. Campbell, Stephen Symes, M.D., M.P.H. and Ana Palacio, M.D., M.P.H.

Resident Scholarly Activity Program Publishes First Paper Outlining Scholarly Success

Members of the Miller School’s Resident Scholarly Activity Program (RSAP) have published their first paper, which appeared in February’s AAIM Perspectives, the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine’s section of the American Journal of Medicine. The paper, “Predictors of scholarly success among internal medicine residents,” outlines the program’s successful integration of research into the internal medicine residency, which enabled residents to achieve scholarly success.

The study specifically found that, since the RSAP’s 2007inception, more than 70 percent of internal medicine residents have presented their research at a national forum or published it in a peer-reviewed journal.

Read more about the RSAP study »

From left are Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., Stephen G. Schwartz, M.D., M.B.A., and Michael Gittelman at the new site in Naples.

From left are Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., Stephen G. Schwartz, M.D., M.B.A., and Michael Gittelman at the new site in Naples.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Breaks Ground on New Site in Naples

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute officially began its expansion to better serve patients on Florida’s Gulf Coast at a February 8 groundbreaking ceremony for its new and bigger location in Naples.

Bascom Palmer Chairman Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., Stephen G. Schwartz, M.D., M.B.A., Medical Director of Bascom Palmer at Naples, and Michael Gittelman, Executive Administrator at Bascom Palmer, joined Naples Mayor John F. Sorey and other community leaders at the 1.5-acre site Bascom Palmer purchased on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Cypress Woods Drive. Due to increasing patient demand, Bascom Palmer has outgrown space it has leased since first opening in Naples in 2004.

Bascom Palmer’s expanded presence in Naples will contain clinical space customized for the treatment of all ophthalmic diseases and disorders, as well as imaging, laser vision correction, vision research and an ambulatory surgery center. Ranked the No. 1 eye hospital in the nation for the past nine years by U.S. News & World Report, Bascom Palmer is expected to draw more visitors to the region, contributing to Collier County’s growth as a medical destination.

Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour Partners with Sylvester

During the month of February, Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour will give 5 percent of all registered purchases made with a Saks Fifth Avenue credit card to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Miller School of Medicine with an initiative called Saks Loves Your Cause. The donations will benefit cancer research at Sylvester, keeping support within each Saks Fifth Avenue store’s immediate community.

“After Saks Fifth Avenue’s successful charity initiative in 2012, we were excited to be able to continue with the February promotion for the second year,” said Steve Sadove, Chairman and CEO, Saks Incorporated. “We appreciate our customers’ charitable involvement and again look forward to giving back locally with this exciting national program.”

Read more about Saks Loves Your Cause »