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

Up Front

Ian D. Hentall, Ph.D., left, and Jonathan Jagid, M.D.

Ian D. Hentall, Ph.D., left, and Jonathan Jagid, M.D.

Researchers Ready to Try Deep Brain Stimulation to Reduce Pain in Spinal Cord Injured Patients

Borrowing a treatment strategy proven to work for Parkinson’s disease, a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by Ian D. Hentall, Ph.D., research associate professor of neurological surgery, and Jonathan Jagid, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery, expect to begin a clinical trial this fall to determine if electrically stimulating the brain of patients with spinal cord injuries can reduce their pain and other debilitating symptoms, perhaps permanently.

Inspired by Hentall’s preclinical research and powered by a three-year $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Hentall, Jagid and their collaborators at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Miami VA Healthcare System will test the safety and efficacy of using deep brain stimulation in spinal cord injured patients to reduce pain and episodes of high blood pressure called autonomic dysreflexia, and improve function. Already used to control some of the most disabling symptoms in Parkinson’s patients and related movement disorders, deep brain stimulation involves implanting a “brain pacemaker” in the body that transmits electrical pulses to a specific region of the brain to alter its activity.

Read more about deep brain stimulation »

More News

From left are Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., David T. Tse, M.D., and UM President Donna E. Shalala.

From left are Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., David T. Tse, M.D., and UM President Donna E. Shalala.

Renowned Bascom Palmer Ophthalmologist Receives Undergraduate Degree at Unprecedented Grand Rounds

In the rarest of events, David T. Tse, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in Ophthalmic Plastic, Orbital Surgery and Oncology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, was awarded his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami – nearly 40 years after launching his medical career.

Tse, an internationally acclaimed oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, enrolled at the University of Miami as an undergraduate in 1969, but after only two years, was accepted to medical school. While Tse received his medical degree in 1976, he never received his undergraduate degree, a detail he casually mentioned to UM President Donna E. Shalala during a celebratory dinner for the recipients of commencement honorary degrees.

Read more about Dr. Tse »

Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D.

Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D.

Young Researcher Awarded $1.5 Million NIH Grant to Study Novel Gene Associated with Lung Cancer

Hoping to uncover critical mechanisms needed to develop effective chemotherapeutic approaches for an aggressive form of lung cancer, Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, will study a novel gene associated with non-small cell lung carcinoma with a $1.5 million, five-year grant she received from the NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

For the grant, “MutT Homolog 1 (MTH1) as a Novel Mediator of RAS Oncogene-Induced Pro-Malignant Pathways,” Rai will study the protein MTH1, which eliminates oxidized DNA precursors and is elevated in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Rai hopes to use MTH1 as a prognostic marker and therapeutic target to improve treatment for tumors that carry mutations in the RAS oncogene, the most common oncogene in human cancer.

Read more about the grant »

Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., tells the students that discipline and preparation are keys to success.

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Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., tells the students that discipline and preparation are keys to success.

For the Fourth Year, Sports Medicine’s Student Ambassador Seminar Inspires Young Leaders

As a young teen, Dave Strong was playing basketball when his two best pals invited him to ride along in a car. He elected to continue shooting hoops, while his friends headed for trouble. One would wind up shot dead, the other in prison for 10 years.

Recounting the split-second decision that helped set him on a path to become a doctor, Strong was among the inspirational speakers at the 4th Annual Student Ambassador Seminar presented by UHealth Sports Medicine who turned to their own life experiences to convey a key message to 70 area high school students last week: The choices you make now will decide your future.

Read more about the student leadership seminar »

Alberto R. Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H., and Natasa Strbo, M.D., Ph.D.

Alberto R. Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H., and Natasa Strbo, M.D., Ph.D.

CTSI Awards Career Development Grants to Two Junior Investigators

The Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has awarded grants to two Miller School researchers for its Mentored Translational Research Scholars Program (K12), which helps junior faculty become successful independent investigators.

Selected from 11 applicants, Alberto R. Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H., assistant professor of clinical neurology and co-director of the Sleep Medicine Program at Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and Natasa Strbo, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, will each receive up to $100,000 per year for three years to pursue their projects.

Read more about the grants »

The Miller School’s Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., left, led the study and Vivian I. Franco, M.P.H., contributed to it.

The Miller School’s Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., left, led the study and Vivian I. Franco, M.P.H., contributed to it.

Cancer Study Pinpoints Children at Greater Risk for Heart Damage from Leukemia Treatments

Children with high-risk leukemia who are successfully treated with doxorubicin suffer significantly more heart damage associated with the chemotherapy if they carry a specific genetic mutation for the most common iron disorder, according to a national Miller School study destined to guide individualized treatments for newly diagnosed cancer patients.

Published July 17 online in advance of print in Cancer, the official journal of the American Cancer Society, the multicenter study led by Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., Director of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute, showed that children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who carry one of the gene variants associated with inherited hemochromatosis (HFE) have eight times more dead and dying heart muscle during their chemotherapy then children without a mutation for the disease in which too much iron builds up in the body. They also have more abnormal hearts two years later.

Read more about the findings »

Scott C. Brown, Ph.D., left, and José Szapocznik, Ph.D.

Scott C. Brown, Ph.D., left, and José Szapocznik, Ph.D.

Study Finds Neighborhood Walkability Encourages Recent Immigrants to Walk

In the face of a growing U.S. obesity epidemic, scientists are interested in learning how to create environments that encourage more walking, the most common type of physical activity in the country. A University of Miami study reveals that recent immigrants are more likely to walk if they live in a community that combines parks and businesses near homes. Research with recent immigrants is important because they tend to gain weight after arriving in the U.S., and over time become as overweight as many individuals who grew up here.

The study of recent Cuban immigrants, led by Scott C. Brown, Ph.D., research assistant professor of public health sciences, and an interdisciplinary team of investigators at the Miller School and the School of Architecture, found positive results related to Walk Score, a commercial, Web-based tool that measures neighborhood walkability based on the distance to amenities such as businesses, food sources, schools, and recreation. The results, say the researchers, support existing recommendations by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences that neighborhoods in which people can live, work and play increase physical activity and are associated with lower weight and lower rates of chronic diseases.

Read more about the study »

Esophageal cancer patient Anthony Jewell.

Esophageal cancer patient Anthony Jewell.

MyUHealthChart Featured in UHealth Discovery Series

Sixty-year-old Anthony Jewell, now in remission from esophageal cancer, says MyUHealthChart helps him and his wife keep his treatment on track. A component of the UChart electronic medical records system, MyUHealthChart allows patients to access their medical records securely from any computer, making it easy to stay on top of information such as lab results, appointment summaries, medications, and immunizations.

“My wife and caregiver of 30 years is comforted by knowing she won’t have to remember or explain my entire medical history at each visit,” says Jewell, who was treated for his condition at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he now volunteers and mentors patients.

Jewell’s use of MyUHealthChart to monitor his progress is one of the many stories that are being told in an advertising campaign highlighting UHealth – The University of Miami Health System. The UHealth Discovery Series, which features daily ads in The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald, showcases the health system’s state-of-the-art clinical care and clinicians, well-known centers of excellence and lesser-known specialties, the promise of biomedical research, and heartening stories that reflect UHealth’s compassion and impact on patients’ lives and the community.

Read more about the series »