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

Up Front

Richard K. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., left, and Richard K. Parrish, II, M.D.

Richard K. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., left, and Richard K. Parrish, II, M.D.

Bascom Palmer Researchers Will Study Prevalence of Glaucoma in Haitian-American Population

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute will be launching genetic studies in Miami’s Haitian community to identify a gene involved in controlling eye pressure that may be linked to glaucoma in all patients.

The study, funded through the generosity of donors Luz Maria and Alfredo Gutierrez, also includes beginning a study in Haiti to see if a relatively new laser treatment might be the ideal therapy in a resource-poor country disproportionately affected by glaucoma.

Read more about the glaucoma research »

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Oleksandr Kryvenko, M.D.

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Oleksandr Kryvenko, M.D.

Prostate Cancer Surveillance Criteria May Not Be Accurate for African American Men

A new study by Oleksandr N. Kryvenko, M.D., a urologic pathologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, revealed that African American men with prostate cancer produce less prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and have significantly lower PSA density (PSAD) than Caucasian men. These findings, which were published in the Journal of Urology on January 4, could have important implications when selecting patients for inclusion in surveillance programs.

Prostate cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S., with nearly 30,000 deaths annually. According to the latest recommendations by the American Urological Association, PSA remains the only screening test to select men with unremarkable digital rectal examination for prostate biopsies. For early-stage, low-grade disease, active surveillance — also known as watchful waiting — is considered appropriate.

Read more about the study findings »

Glen N. Barber, Ph.D.

Glen N. Barber, Ph.D.

Sylvester Researcher Identifies Key Connection between Cellular Sensor and Colorectal Cancer

A researcher at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has found that epigenetic silencing of a key sensor pathway allows colorectal cancer cells, and perhaps other tumors, to hide from the body’s immune system — a discovery that could help clinicians develop more effective diagnostics and treatments.

“The cellular sensor STING is frequently functionally suppressed in colorectal cancer,” said Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., holder of the Eugenia J. Dodson Chair in Cancer Research at Sylvester, and professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology. “We believe that these findings may also be relevant for leukemias and other types of cancer.”

Read more about the research »

Brian Noga, Ph.D.

Brian Noga, Ph.D.

Miami Project Researchers Receive $2.2 Million DOD Grant to Study Movement Disorders

Brian Noga, Ph.D., research associate professor of neurological surgery, and a team of researchers at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis have received a $2.2 million Department of Defense Translational Research Award for their upcoming study, “Gait Ignition Using Deep Brain Stimulation Following Spinal Cord Injury.”

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been shown to be an effective, relatively safe, reversible and adjustable treatment for difficult-to-treat movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. To date, it has had little application in people with spinal cord injury (SCI), even though a significant percentage of people with new and chronic injuries have spared connections between brain and spinal cord. Recent work in Noga’s laboratory has pointed to a potential target for controlling walking after partial SCI.

Read more about Dr. Noga's research grant »

Ernesto Bernal-Mizrachi, M.D.

Ernesto Bernal-Mizrachi, M.D.

Enzyme Protects Insulin-Producing Cells against Chronic High Glucose

Miller School researcher Ernesto Bernal-Mizrachi, M.D., has found that an enzyme called OGT (O-linked GlcNAc transferase) can protect insulin-producing beta cells against the damaging effects of chronic high glucose. The results of his laboratory study were published recently in the journal Cell Reports.

“We believe that the findings from this study can serve as a platform to design new medications to treat diabetes or its complications,” said Bernal-Mizrachi, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine and Deputy Director of Beta Cell Biology and Signal Transduction at the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Read more about the research »

Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., left, with William K. Scott, Ph.D.

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Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., left, with William K. Scott, Ph.D.

International Study Reveals New Genetic Clues to Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute are part of a consortium that has significantly expanded the number of genetic factors known to play a role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. Supported by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, the findings may help improve our understanding of the biological processes that lead to AMD and identify new therapeutic targets for potential drug development.

AMD is a progressive disease that causes the death of the retinal photoreceptors, the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye. The most severe damage occurs in the macula, a small area of the retina that is needed for sharp, central vision necessary for reading, driving and other daily tasks. There are currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for the more common form of advanced AMD, called geographic atrophy or “dry” AMD. While therapies for the other advanced form, neovascular or “wet” AMD, can successfully halt the growth of abnormal, leaky blood vessels in the eye, the therapies do not cure the condition, nor do they work for everyone.

Read more about the research »

William J. Whelan, Ph.D., D.Sc.

William J. Whelan, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Medical Journal Dedicates Special Issue to Miller School’s Pioneering Biochemist

One of the Miller School’s most distinguished researchers, William J. Whelan, Ph.D., D.Sc., was honored in the December issue of Molecular Aspects of Medicine with a “Festschrift” celebrating his scientific accomplishments and continuing influence on biochemistry. A member of the Miller School faculty since 1967, Whelan is renowned in scientific circles for his discovery of glycogenin — the “missing link” in the molecular pathway that turns the body’s stored glucose into glycogen, the fuel for muscle cells.

In the journal’s special issue, “From Glucose to Glycogen and Back: Festschrift in Honor of Bill Whelan’s 90th Birthday,” several notable researchers provide their perspectives on Whelan’s numerous contributions to biochemistry.

Read more about Dr. Whelan's honorary issue »

Satinder Sandhu, M.D., left, with Sethuraman Swaminathan, M.D.

Satinder Sandhu, M.D., left, with Sethuraman Swaminathan, M.D.

Two Miller School Pediatricians Awarded New Board Certification in Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Two board-certified pediatricians at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine were recently awarded a new subspecialist certification in adult congenital heart disease (ACHD).

Satinder “Neena” Sandhu, M.D., professor of pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, and Sethuraman Swaminathan, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics, are among the first U.S. physicians to be awarded the ACHD board certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine. The certification is designed to recognize the qualifications of physicians’ care of a wide range of adult patients with congenital heart disease.

Read more about the new ACHD certification »

Marc E. Lippman, M.D.

Marc E. Lippman, M.D.

Breast Cancer Researcher Ready to Ride in DCC

Marc E. Lippman, M.D., is looking forward to riding in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC), on Saturday, February 20, at Sun Life Stadium. As one of the nation’s leading breast cancer researchers, Lippman understands the importance of raising funds for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“We are studying the factors in a woman’s life that can lead to metastatic breast cancer and its recurrence,” says Lippman, who is Sylvester’s deputy director, and the Miller Professor of Medicine at the Miller School. “Many people don’t realize that more women die of breast cancer after a five-year remission than during those first years after treatment,” he says. “That’s because the cancer cells can hide from the body’s immune system for many years, until depression, obesity or other conditions affect a woman’s health.”

Read more about Dr. Lippman's support for DCC »

Francisco Vega, M.D., Ph.D.

Francisco Vega, M.D., Ph.D.

Unwinding Lymphoma – How Researchers Better Understand Key Pathways

For Francisco Vega, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Hematopathology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, sorting out cancer cell biology has been a years-long endeavor. Vega is particularly focused on the molecular signals that drive lymphoma. Several years ago, he showed that a protein called Hedgehog helps cancer cells survive in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Individual cancer cells are like a tangled ball of rarely used cords hidden away in a junk drawer. At first glance, it’s hard to discern where one wire stops and another begins or how the mess is even put together. But slowly, with patience, we can unwind the ball and get at the cord we need.

Read more about Dr. Vega's research »

Lory Hayes, Ph.D.

Lory Hayes, Ph.D.

Dr. Lory Hayes Elected to Steering Committee at Forum on Conflict of Interest in Academe

Lory Hayes, Ph.D., Associate Director for Disclosures & Conflict of Interest Management in the office of UM’s Vice Provost for Research, has been elected to serve a three-year term on the Steering Committee of the Forum on Conflict of Interest in Academe (FOCI-A). As a committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges, FOCI-A is a resource for institutional leaders who oversee and manage conflicts of interest.

By offering educational programs, supporting a discussion on the development and application of national standards, and serving as a resource for institutions, policymakers, the media and the public, FOCI-A promotes high ethical and professional principles relating to conflicts of interest in research, medical education and clinical practice.

Read more about Dr. Hayes' election »

Yue Pan, M.S.

Yue Pan, M.S.

Public Health Sciences Doctoral Student Receives Sponsorship Award at National HIV Conference

Yue Pan, M.S., a doctoral student in epidemiology in the Department of Public Health Sciences, received the Sponsorship Award at the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) held recently in Atlanta by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This preeminent conference brings together scientists, public health officials, community workers, clinicians and people living with HIV from a wide variety of organizations to share their expertise, with the ultimate aim of preventing infections, strengthening care and reducing disparities.

Pan’s awarded research conference paper, titled “Sexual Risk Behaviors among HIV-infected Hospitalized Patients with Unsuppressed HIV Viral Load: Screening Data from the Project HOPE Study,” described the characteristics of a cohort of HIV-infected hospitalized patients in the U.S., particularly focusing on their injection drug use and sexual risk behaviors, and the associations with viral suppression. The data came from 2,291 HIV-infected patients at 11 hospitals in the U.S. who were interviewed at bedside after providing informed consent as part of the baseline assessment for Project HOPE (Hospital visit is an Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement, CTN-0049).

Read more about Pan's sponsorship award »

Human Genetics Project Collaborators Wanted

Stephan Züchner, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics and Co-Director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, and Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Professor of Human Genetics, Executive Vice Chair of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics and Director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, are seeking faculty members who wish to find a collaborator or explore new projects with the genetics faculty. If you are interested, please contact Susan H. Blanton, Ph.D., Associate Director for Collaboration and Compliance, at 305-243-2321 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

From left, medical students Eric Ardman, Daniel Miklin, Nelson Sanchez and Miguel Escanelle-Almarall, HAMSA faculty advisor Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., medical students Jasmine Kirby Thomas and Roberta Lagrandeur, and Miami Dade College Professor of Chemistry Pedro Garcia.

From left, medical students Eric Ardman, Daniel Miklin, Nelson Sanchez and Miguel Escanelle-Almarall, HAMSA faculty advisor Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., medical students Jasmine Kirby Thomas and Roberta Lagrandeur, and Miami Dade College Professor of Chemistry Pedro Garcia.

UM Medical Students Inspire Local Minority Pre-Med Undergraduate Students

University of Miami medical school students recently organized a medical school panel in collaboration with Miami Dade College’s Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS).

Representatives from the Miller School of Medicine’s Hispanic American Medical Student Association (HAMSA) and the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) were well represented at the program, held at MDC’s North Campus. The December event brought together nearly 100 minority undergraduate pre-medical students who networked with and gained insight from medical students from UM and Florida International University.

Read more about UM's participation in the medical school panel »

Far left and right, M.A. Emergency Consulting trainers Claudia Gutierrez and Luis Requejo, center from left, students  Paige Finkelstein, Zoltan Buchwald and Sarah Ring.

Far left and right, M.A. Emergency Consulting trainers Claudia Gutierrez and Luis Requejo, center from left, students Paige Finkelstein, Zoltan Buchwald and Sarah Ring.

DOCS Holds CPR Classes for Residents of Lotus House

Members of the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (DOCS) — a medical-student-run, non-profit organization that brings health screening and educational services to underserved communities in Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward counties — held a CPR training clinic for residents of Lotus House, a Miami shelter dedicated to improving the lives of women and children experiencing homelessness by providing sanctuary, support and the educational tools needed to help them succeed.

DOCS teamed up with M.A. Emergency Consulting, a training organization, to provide free CPR certifications to Lotus House residents. Nine women signed up and attended this certification event, which was facilitated by Paige Finkelstein, a second-year M.D./M.P.H. student, who serves as the DOCS Emergency Preparedness Project Manager. Zoltan Buchwald, a second-year M.D. student who serves as Emergency Preparedness Assistant Project Manager, Sarah Ring, a first-year M.D. student who serves as Emergency Preparedness Assistant Coordinator, and Marie Douglass, a second-year M.D./M.P.H. student and Lotus Wellness Center Project Manager, also helped organize the November 21 event.

Read more about the CPR training at Lotus House »

From left, Blanca Rivera, M.Pharm, M.B.A., Executive Director of Pharmacy Services for UHealth, Marlene Delavalle, Pharm.D., UMH Pharmacy Clinical Manager and PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency Program Director, and Luis Hernandez, Pharm.D., UHealth PGY-1 pharmacy practice resident.

From left, Blanca Rivera, M.Pharm, M.B.A., Executive Director of Pharmacy Services for UHealth, Marlene Delavalle, Pharm.D., UMH Pharmacy Clinical Manager and PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency Program Director, and Luis Hernandez, Pharm.D., UHealth PGY-1 pharmacy practice resident.

UHealth Pharmacy Residency Program Well Represented at National Pharmacy Conference

Three UHealth pharmacists and one pharmacy resident joined about 20,000 other attendees at the 2015 American Society of Health System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting in New Orleans, the world’s largest gathering of pharmacists. UHealth was well represented at the residency showcase, student poster session and resident poster session.

The showcase allowed candidates from around the world to learn about the UHealth residency program, which provides opportunities in rounding with a multidisciplinary team, sharpening critical thinking skills and learning leadership skills as a licensed practitioner. The goal is to prepare each individual to deliver high-quality care and education to patients, pharmacists, pharmacy students and other health care professionals.

Read more about the pharmacy residency program »

Dr. Sara J. Czaja Publishes Book on Behavioral Intervention Research

Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D., Leonard M. Miller Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Scientific Director of the Center on Aging, has just published Behavioral Intervention Research: Designing, Evaluating, and Implementing. Co-authored with Laura N. Gitlin, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Innovative Care in Aging at Johns Hopkins University, the book reviews state-of-the-art methodologies in conducting behavioral interventions, such as lifestyle changes, technology use in health care or behavioral approaches in depression care.

Written for masters- and doctoral-level courses, as well as novice and expert researchers in the field, it examines the most critical issues surrounding this form of research in order to maximize the ability of intervention researchers to successfully implement current and future evidence-based protocols in practice settings. Expert contributors embrace key challenges — the complexities of health care delivery, disease management and prevention, rising costs and changing population demographics — in shaping the push toward advancing more efficient and effective behavioral interventions and methodologies.

Read more about Dr. Czaja's new book »

Pitbull will perform at Destination Fashion 2016.

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Pitbull will perform at Destination Fashion 2016.

Destination Fashion 2016 to Benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, March 5

Destination Fashion 2016 to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, will be held on Saturday, March 5, at Bal Harbour Shops. Global music icon Pitbull, Mr. Worldwide, will perform in concert and Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour has selected Italian luxury brand Brunello Cucinelli as the featured designer to showcase their Spring 2016 Collection at the event. Co-Anchor of NBC’s Today Show Savannah Guthrie, will serve as emcee for the progressive party and dinner hosted by Honorary Co-Chairs Grammy Award Winners Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Academy Award Winner Tommy Lee Jones and wife Dawn Jones, Golden Globe Winner Christian Slater and wife Brittany Slater, who will join a who’s who of celebrities, philanthropic icons, business leaders, fashionistas and other South Florida notables at the main event. For sponsorships, tables or more information visit thebuonicontifund.com/destinationfashion or call 305-243-4656.

Read more about Destination Fashion 2016 »

Register Now for First Systems Biology Data Science Symposium January 19-20

The BD2K-LINCS DCIC (Big Data to Knowledge NIH initiative, the Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures consortium, and the Data Coordination and Integration Center) and the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology are hosting the first Systems Biology Data Science Symposium January 19-20 on the Miller School and Coral Gables campuses, bringing together the BD2K-LINCS DCIC, local researchers and outside experts who apply or develop computational systems biology resources.

In presentations by local experts, invited guests and DCIC members, a poster reception and several working sessions, the symposium will show the tools/resources and scientific projects at the DCIC, connect developers with users, initiate new collaborations, and obtain feedback from expert and casual users of computational systems biology resources. Undergraduate/graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are invited to participate in both sessions, the first at the Lois Pope LIFE Center on the Miller School campus on Tuesday, January 19, and the second at the Toppel Career Center on the Coral Gables campus on Wednesday, January 20. To register, visit the symposium registration.

Read more about the Systems Biology Data Science Symposium »

Upcoming SBIR/STTR Workshops Can Steer You Toward Millions in Research and Development Funding

Each year, the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs award billions in non-dilutive grant funding to advance and commercialize game-changing technologies. The process of getting funded by these highly competitive federal programs is complex and requires strategic proposals. The impact, however, of receiving millions in high-risk research and development funding is worth the effort.

On February 9 and 10, SBIR/STTR expert Lisa Kurek of BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting will lead two workshops at the University of Miami focusing on program eligibility, selecting the right agency and key components of a competitive proposal. She will also be available for individual consultations, offering tailored guidance to interested attendees.

Read more about the funding workshops »

Sign Up Now for Holistic Holiday at Sea 2016

Sign up now for Holistic Holiday at Sea 2016 and earn CMEs/CEUs while you enjoy the world’s largest, most comprehensive health and wellness program ever held on a ship at sea. Produced by the University of Miami’s Integrative and Complementary Academic Medicine Programs (iCamp), Holistic Holiday at Sea takes place from February 27 to March 5, 2016, aboard the MSC Divina.

The CME/CEU program features renowned speakers who will cover evidence-based research and its applications in modern clinical medicine. Topics will include cardiovascular disease, cancer prevention, diabetes, the function of the retina, what current research says about GMO foods and our health, nutritional supplementation, the gut-brain axis, and much more. Of the 135 classes offered, up to 40.75 CEU hours and 37.75 CME hours are obtainable.

For more information on the Holistic Holiday at Sea CME/CEU Program, click here or call 305-243-4751. For more information on first booking your cruise, click here.

Sexual Assault Resource Team Seeks Volunteers

The UM Counseling Center’s Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) is seeking dedicated, warm and empathic faculty, staff and graduate student volunteers from the medical campus to serve as advocates during the 2016 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 concerned 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 the SART volunteer opportunities »

2016 Winter Symposium, January 24-27

The University of Miami’s 2016 Miami Winter Symposium will be held January 24-27 at the Hyatt Regency Miami. This year’s theme is “Inflammation: Causes, Prevention and Cures.” The annual event highlights advances in science discovery and brings together hundreds of scientists from the academic and industrial worlds.

Renowned scientists from institutions across the U.S., U.K., Switzerland, Israel and other countries will be featured. While registration fee waivers have been exhausted, discounts are available for Miller School of Medicine faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. A limited number of session passes are available for purchase.

Read more about the Miami Winter Symposium »

Get Greener, Healthier and Richer by Walking (to the Trash Bin) More

Green U and HR Benefits have teamed up to provide a healthier, greener way to start the new year and earn 50 points in the Well ’Canes Incentive Program. To qualify, office teams need to sign up for the Green Office Certification Program and give up their desk trash cans, throwing their non-recyclable garbage in a communal trash bin. As research shows, employees who keep only recycle bins at their workstations not only walk more, but also significantly increase single-stream recycling in the workplace. To apply, visit the Green Office program or contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).