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

Up Front

Tan A. Ince, M.D., Ph.D.

Tan A. Ince, M.D., Ph.D.

Researchers Discover New Hormone Receptors to Target When Treating Breast Cancer

About three-quarters of breast cancers, the most common cancer in women in the U.S., are estrogen hormone dependent. Patients with this type of breast cancer are initially treated with drugs that block estrogen, such as Tamoxifen. However, one-third to half of these patients eventually become resistant to this treatment. For these patients and those whose tumors are not estrogen dependent to begin with, there are no alternative hormone treatment options.

In a new study directed by Tan A. Ince, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at the Miller School of Medicine and member of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, researchers have developed a new breast cancer classification system that shifts the focus away from genetic mutations, a common approach of mainstream cancer research, but one that has been less effective than first imagined. The findings of this study, published online January 27 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, offer a new approach to treating breast cancer, by using normal tissue and hormone receptors as a guideline to determine effective therapies.

Read more about the study »

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Dean Emeritus Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., addresses the crowd at his retirement reception

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Dean Emeritus Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., addresses the crowd at his retirement reception

Dean Emeritus Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., Honored at Retirement Reception

A large group of faculty, donors, community leaders, family members and other well-wishers came together on January 17 at a reception honoring former Miller School Dean Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., on the occasion of his retirement. As string music filled the air on the sixth floor of the Life Science and Technology Park, “friends of Bernie” – some of whom had known Fogel for decades – offered toasts and traded stories.

Fogel, who graduated from the School of Medicine in 1961, joined its pediatrics faculty in 1966. He became Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean in 1981. In those roles, he presided over significant fundraising and growth for the School, including the launch of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital Burn Center, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ryder Trauma Center, and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, as well as UM’s partnership with Jackson and the long-standing relationship with the National Parkinson Foundation. After he stepped down in 1995, Fogel served as Dean Emeritus and Advisor to the President, and he has remained active in donor relations and other community outreach activities.

Read more about Dr. Fogel »

John Guy, M.D.

John Guy, M.D.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Announces LHON Breakthrough

A research team led by John Guy, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has pioneered a novel technological treatment for Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), an inherited genetic defect that causes rapid, permanent, and bilateral loss of central vision in people of all ages, but primarily males ages 20-40. Guy and his team recently advanced their research significantly by demonstrating that the vector, adeno-associated virus or AAV (a small virus that infects humans but is not known to cause disease), coupled with the ND4 gene, was made human grade expressed in the ex vivo human eye and was proven safe in experimental models that are closest to the human eye, suggesting possible progression to a clinical trial.

These latest findings will be shared in the January 23 online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology under the title “Safety and Effects of the Vector for the Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy Gene Therapy Clinical Trial.” Funding for a clinical trial, which would allow injection of therapeutic genes into patients who have visual loss from mitochondrial disease, is currently being sought from governmental and other appropriate sources.

Read more about the study »

Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D.

Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D.

Sara J. Czaja Appointed to Institute of Medicine Committee and Board

Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D., Leonard M. Miller Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Scientific Director of the Center on Aging, has been appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies to the Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of Cognitive Aging and reappointed to the National Research Council Board on Human-Systems Integration.

The committee will make recommendations focused on the public health aspects of cognitive aging with an emphasis on definitions and terminology; epidemiology and surveillance; prevention and intervention opportunities; education of health professionals; and public awareness and education for a study the Institute will conduct to examine cognitive health and aging, as distinct from Alzheimer’s.

Read more about Dr. Czaja »

From left are Leonardo Tamariz, M.D., Ana Palacio, M.D., Kiera Wallace, Marie Fatil, Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D, M.S., M.A., and Ikenna Okoro.

From left are Leonardo Tamariz, M.D., Ana Palacio, M.D., Kiera Wallace, Marie Fatil, Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D, M.S., M.A., and Ikenna Okoro.

Resident Scholarly Activity Program Helps Undergrads Become Scientists

The Resident Scholarly Activity Program (RSAP), traditionally a curriculum aimed at improving the quantity and quality of research projects pursued by residents, enrolled its first group of undergraduate students to complete an adapted model geared specifically toward their needs.

Led by Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D, M.S., M.A., assistant professor of medicine, and program directors Leonardo Tamariz, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, Ana Palacio, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, and Stephen Symes, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the three-year RSAP core training program provided Marie Fatil, Ikenna Okoro, and Kiera Wallace the basics of research methodology, including the processes involved in preparing data for publication and identifying faculty mentors who share their research interests.

Read more about the program »

Steven Green

Steven Green

Faculty and Staff Support the U: Tropical Biologist Ensures His Department’s Conservation Legacy


A biology professor who has worked in tropical forests for decades, Steven Green is as committed to preserving the unique habitat as he is to giving future generations the chance to enjoy them. Have a story to share? Tell us why you support the U, or about a colleague who does.

Read his story »

Voice Your Choice! Cast Your Vote by January 31


Do it now! Help choose a name for the Momentum2 Faculty and Staff Campaign by Friday, January 31, and you will be eligible to win special prizes featuring the new logo. Voting is fast and easy. Just visit miami.edu/alumni/eblasts/voiceyourchoice, then click the “Cast Your Vote” button and make your selection from one of the three logos. Thanks for all of your support and for making the University of Miami an extraordinary place to work. Learn more about the Momentum2 campaign.

Ride with Heart for the Cardiovascular Division

Show your support during heart awareness month by participating in the 3rd Annual Ride with Heart event benefitting the Miller School’s Cardiovascular Division. The event, a 62- or 32-mile bicycle ride, will take place on Sunday, February 9, with opening ceremonies starting at 7 a.m. at the Harbor Shops, 1815 Cordova Road in Fort Lauderdale.

Support from the annual event, launched by a grateful patient of Robert J. Myerburg, M.D., professor of medicine and physiology and the American Heart Association Chair in Cardiovascular Research, has helped open a clinic at University of Miami Hospital to reduce sudden cardiac deaths in athletes. Myerburg oversees the clinic, which focuses on detecting and reducing the risks of sudden cardiac death through screenings, physical evaluations, family histories and genetic testing for inherited syndromes like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Register now to participate in Ride with Heart, and help the clinic and ongoing research projects in the Cardiovascular Division. Early registration is $35 per rider; onsite registration also will be available the day of the event. For volunteer opportunities, contact Stephanie Fernandez at 305-243-5009, or for event related questions, contact Kerry Cichon, event coordinator, at 954-665-0089.

Registration Deadline for 2014 Corporate Run/Walk is March 27

Put on your running shoes and join Team UM for an evening of healthy fun with friends and colleagues. The Corporate Run/Walk, a 5K (3.1-mile) race around downtown Miami, takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, at Bayfront Park, with all Team UM proceeds benefiting the United Way of Miami-Dade. Immediately following the race, join us at the Team UM tent for food, games, prizes, and more.

Be one of the first 800 employees to join Team UM and receive $15 off your registration fee, courtesy of Well ’Canes, plus an official Team UM dry fit shirt. In addition, if you are a participant in the Well ‘Canes Incentives program, you will receive 250 points toward your incentives goal.

Read more about the Corporate Run/Walk »