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

Up Front

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranked Nation’s No. 1 Eye Hospital for 15th Time

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has again been ranked as the nation’s Best in Ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report in its Best Hospitals 2017 Edition. It is the 15th time that Bascom Palmer Eye Institute-Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital has been named No. 1 since the publication began surveying U.S. physicians for its annual rankings 27 years ago.

“Receiving the No. 1 ranking again is a great testament to the tradition of excellence that drives every aspect of Bascom Palmer’s operation,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Drawing on their deep knowledge and experience, our dedicated doctors, scientists, nurses, technicians and support staff provide high-quality compassionate eye care to our Bascom Palmer patients.”

Read more about the U.S. News hospital rankings »

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Miller School of Medicine, Schoninger Research Quadrangle

Miller School of Medicine, Schoninger Research Quadrangle

Miller School of Medicine Has Record-Breaking Fundraising Year

Continuing an upward trend, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine reached a record-breaking fundraising total for the fiscal year 2016.

According to standards set by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Miller School raised an unprecedented $159.8 million for the fiscal year, which ended May 31. The amount far surpasses FY15’s total of $116.5 million and is an increase of 37.1 percent. The total is also up 44.4 percent from FY14.

Read more about the record fundraising results »

Noriyuki Kasahara, M.D., Ph.D.

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Noriyuki Kasahara, M.D., Ph.D.

Ingenious Brain Tumor Therapy Found Safe and Effective in Early Trial

A Phase I dose-escalation trial, conducted at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and multiple sites nationwide, has shown that a new gene therapy treatment for high-grade gliomas — the most aggressive brain tumors — is safe and improves patient survival. Having passed this milestone, the treatment will move on to more advanced trials. The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Overall, 29 percent of our patients were still alive after two years,” said Noriyuki Kasahara, M.D., Ph.D., a gene therapy expert at Sylvester and professor of cell biology and pathology at the Miller School of Medicine, who originated the therapy in his lab. “If you take the higher dose cohorts, the number rises to 40 percent. Almost half of our patients are living more than two years with a disease that normally causes people to die after around seven months.”

Read more about the brain tumor therapy »

Roymi V. Membiela

Roymi V. Membiela

UHealth Hires Seasoned South Florida Health Care Marketer to Lead Patient Experience Transformation

In a move further demonstrating a commitment to transforming patient care, proven health care marketer Roymi V. Membiela has been named Chief Experience Officer (CXO) and Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications for UHealth – the University of Miami Health System.

Membiela joins UHealth from Baptist Health South Florida, where she has served in various roles since 2005, most recently as Corporate Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. In that role, she was responsible for the strategic implementation of integrated marketing communications for the organization both internally and externally, and led the digital transformation of marketing communications throughout South Florida’s diverse patient populations.

Read more about Roymi Membiela »

Sheila Conway, M.D., makes a splash.

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Sheila Conway, M.D., makes a splash.

UHealth Physicians Ready to Dive into Action in Rio

With the 2016 Olympics upon us, about 20 UHealth physicians are wrapping up cases and packing for an extended stay in Rio de Janeiro. They will be part of a 4,000-member medical staff volunteering for the games that is being led by UHealth trauma surgeon Antonio Marttos, M.D.

UHealth doctors will be working at some of the most prominent Olympic competitions, including swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball and basketball. Sheila Conway, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at UHealth, is coming full circle with her time at the Olympics. She will be returning to the pool, but this time as an attending physician rather than a swim competitor.

Read more about UHealth physicians in Rio »

Savita Pahwa, M.D.

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Savita Pahwa, M.D.

Miller School Researcher Leading International Study on HIV Infections in Infants

Savita Pahwa, M.D., a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researcher, is leading a collaborative international study on HIV infections in infants and older children in search of new insights that could point to a cure for the worldwide epidemic.

“We are focusing on how the human immunodeficiency virus establishes itself in an infant’s cellular and tissue reservoirs, where it is invisible to antiretroviral therapy and the body’s immune system,” said Pahwa, professor of microbiology and immunology, pediatrics and medicine, and Director of the Miami Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). There is increasing evidence that the sooner the treatment is started after infection, the smaller the reservoir, she said.

Read more about the HIV study »

Shaun Brothers, Ph.D.

Shaun Brothers, Ph.D.

NIH Grant Will Fund Development of Small Molecules for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A Miller School of Medicine researcher will lead a new study of small molecule compounds that could provide the foundation for future drugs to reduce fear and anxiety in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Currently, there are no medications to treat PTSD directly, only treatments for symptomatology,” said Shaun Brothers, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “However, our research indicates that activating the nociceptin receptor [NOP-R] in the brain reduces powerful long-term fear memories. This strategy could lead to new pharmacological treatments for PTSD, even long after a traumatic event has occurred.”

Read more about the research grant »

From left, Nora Volkow, M.D., Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., and Natalie Rasgon, M.D., Ph.D.

From left, Nora Volkow, M.D., Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., and Natalie Rasgon, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff Headlines Capitol Hill Hearings on Depression, Suicide and Opioid Addiction

The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Liaison Committee, co-chaired by Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., Leonard M. Miller Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, presented a briefing on depression and suicide titled “A Precision Medicine Approach to Mental Illness,” at the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus on June 29. The briefing gave congressional staffers information about the latest research in this area.

Read more about Dr. Nemeroff on Capitol Hill »

Krishna V. Komanduri, M.D.

Krishna V. Komanduri, M.D.

Dr. Krishna V. Komanduri Named President-Elect of Transplantation Society

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, has announced that Krishna V. Komanduri, M.D., Director of the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program and Kalish Family Chair in Stem Cell Transplantation, was recently named President-Elect of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT).

“I am pleased and humbled by this vote of confidence in me by the ASBMT officers, directors and members,” said Komanduri, who is also professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “As President-Elect of the ASBMT, I will work with members from across the country and the globe to improve the application and success of blood and marrow transplantation, as well as related cellular therapies. Together, we will promote research, education and clinical practice.”

Read more about Dr. Komanduri's appointment »

From left, Vice President Charlotte Morel, M.D., President Zeina Hannoush, M.D., and Grace Wu, M.D., and Melissa Vitolo, M.D., both volunteers.

From left, Vice President Charlotte Morel, M.D., President Zeina Hannoush, M.D., and Grace Wu, M.D., and Melissa Vitolo, M.D., both volunteers.

Residents and Faculty Stage Anti-Smoking Art Exhibit

Art MD, a non-profit organization recently founded by a group of residents and faculty at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital with the mission of creating art-based health promotion campaigns, has its first exhibit on display.

“Smoke Out,” which focuses on tobacco cessation, opened July 16 at Broward College’s Bailey Hall. All of the art pieces presented — some of which were made from recycled cigarette butts collected at clean-up events — seek to inspire the viewer to stop smoking.

“As physicians, we are constantly struggling to find effective ways to motivate our patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Zeina Hannoush, M.D., an endocrinology resident and President of Art MD. “Art is a powerful communication tool that transcends all language barriers. We are inviting our colleagues to join us in looking for creative ways to deliver powerful health messages that bridge the gap between art and medicine.”

Read more about the art exhibit »

Khemraj Hirani, Ph.D., M.Pharm., M.B.A.

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Khemraj Hirani, Ph.D., M.Pharm., M.B.A.

Human Research Protection Program Celebrates Active First Year of Accreditation

The Human Research Protection Program at the University of Miami recently celebrated its first anniversary as an accredited organization through the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP).

AAHRPP accreditation offers assurances to research participants, researchers, sponsors, government regulators and the general public that a Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is focused first and foremost on excellence.

Read more about HRPP »

From left, Nick and Marc Buoniconti.

From left, Nick and Marc Buoniconti.

The Miami Project’s 31st Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to Honor Iconic Athletes

A group of sports legends and special honorees will be celebrated by The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, at its 31st Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner on Monday, September 12, at The Waldorf Astoria in New York. The annual benefit, hosted by NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc, will honor New York Yankees great and World Series Champion Mariano Rivera, seven-time tennis major winner and fashion designer Venus Williams, NFL Hall of Fame running back from the New York Jets Curtis Martin, New York Knicks legend and NBA Hall of Famer Willis Reed, four-time IndyCar Series Champion Dario Franchitti, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, two-time NCAA basketball champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Cheryl Miller, and record-setting long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad.

Read more about the Great Sports Legends Dinner »

From left, Eduardo Alfonso, M.D., David T. Tse, M.D., the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in Ophthalmology, UM President Julio Frenk, Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid, Fahad Al-Rashid, Ibrahim Al-Rashid, UM Trustee Ron Stone and Dean Emeritus Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

From left, Eduardo Alfonso, M.D., David T. Tse, M.D., the Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Chair in Ophthalmology, UM President Julio Frenk, Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid, Fahad Al-Rashid, Ibrahim Al-Rashid, UM Trustee Ron Stone and Dean Emeritus Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Launches Dynamic New Master’s Degree

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute — the global leader in eye care, vision research and ophthalmology education — has launched the world’s first Master’s degree in Vision Science and Investigative Ophthalmology (MVSIO). This innovative program offers comprehensive training in ophthalmic translational research, problem-based learning, management and a skill set available only at Bascom Palmer.

Led by Bascom Palmer’s world-class faculty and supported by leading-edge technology, the goal of the unique MVSIO degree is to educate the next generation of global leaders in ophthalmology, including clinicians and vision researchers. The interdisciplinary program focuses on science and laboratory research, research management, and administrative skills to sharpen the critical thinking and communication expertise essential for careers within the realm of ophthalmology.

Read more about the new master's degree »

Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D.

Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D.

Dr. Neil Schneiderman Given Lifetime Achievement Award by Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research

The office walls of Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D., are far from bare; the objects displayed on them range from plaques of past academic achievements to vintage snapshots of South Florida and his younger self in the 1960s. Most recently, Schneiderman added another accolade to the wall behind his desk — a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.

The award was given “in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the integration of behavioral science and medicine and to honor his longstanding and significant impact on the field of behavioral medicine.”

Read more about Dr. Schneiderman's award »

From left, Jessica Hershberger with Nerissa Morris.

From left, Jessica Hershberger with Nerissa Morris.

UM Strikes Gold, Recognized for Wellness for Sixth Year

For the sixth year in a row, the University of Miami has been named a Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association.

“We recognize employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health,” said Jessica Hershberger, Senior Heart Walk Director with the Miami Heart Walk. “We want to reward organizations for their progressive leadership and concern for their staff.”

Read more about the award »

Recycle for a Cause!

Since 2015, the University of Miami has partnered with a local recycler to repurpose copier toner cartridges throughout our campuses. Contributing empty ink and toner cartridges to be “re-used” (remanufactured) instead of simply “recycled” (de-manufactured) helps to save energy, reduce air and water pollution, and conserve natural resources.

All proceeds from this program are donated to United Way. We started in 2015 with eight cartridge recycling bins on the RSMAS and Coral Gables campuses. They generated $432 in donations. Today, our expanded network includes the Medical campus, with a total of 28 cartridge recycling bins, and has resulted in $2,287 donated to United Way.

Read more about toner cartridge recycling »

Human Trafficking Conference on Coral Gables Campus September 9

A conference on stopping human trafficking through a mix of awareness and activism will be held at the BankUnited Center on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus on Friday, September 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The conference, “Organizing for Change: Students Taking Action Against Human Trafficking,” is being held in partnership with The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, with numerous other organizations, including University of Miami Women’s and Gender Studies, and Project Freedom: Medical Students Against Human Trafficking, participating.

Neural Engineering Research Symposium, October 13

UHealth – the University of Miami Health System and the College of Engineering will hold the first Neural Engineering Research Symposium on October 13, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the auditorium of the Lois Pope LIFE Center. Neural engineering facilitates the development of new clinical technologies for the assessment of neurological function and the treatment of neurological diseases. The goals for the symposium are to energize fundamental aspects of neural science, engineering and reparative medicine, and facilitate collaborations across various disciplines. Featured speakers will be Jonathan Wolpaw, M.D., Director of the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies, and Justin Sanchez, Ph.D., Acting Deputy Director of the Biological Technologies Office at Darpa. You are invited to be part of this event. To submit an abstract for presentation, click here. The deadline for submissions is August 20.

Register Now for Synergy 2016, November 3-6

Registration is open for Synergy 2016, a multidisciplinary approach to interventional oncology, being held November 3-6 at the Eden Roc Miami Beach. The international conference has now been endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer. Synergy 2016 will feature extended ablation and embolization workshops, world-renowned speakers from multiple disciplines, and the latest developments in medical, interventional and surgical therapeutic options.

More information, including the complete agenda, is available here. To register, click here.

40th Anniversary Miami Neonatology 2016 Open for Registration

Miami Neonatology 2016, to be held this year from Sunday, November 6, through Tuesday, November 8, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, is now open for registration. The conference strives to provide medical professionals with comprehensive knowledge of the leading trends and best practices in neonatology. Presentations will highlight the most current concepts in the pathogenesis, management and prevention of problems in the newborn infant.

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, Miami Neonatology has become one of the largest and most prestigious international conferences that address issues in perinatal and neonatal medicine. Attendees will participate in an extensive educational program featuring new developments in treating conditions that are causally associated with morbidity and mortality in the neonate.

Read more about Miami Neonatology 2016 »

Save the Date: Miami Winter Symposium to Explore Diabetes January 22-25, 2017

The University of Miami’s 50th Miami Winter Symposium — “Diabetes: Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Therapies” — will take place January 22-25, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Miami. The annual event highlights advances in scientific discovery and brings together hundreds of researchers from the academic and industrial worlds.

Reduced registration fees are available at www.miamiwintersymposium.com for all University of Miami faculty, staff and students by entering the Miami registration portal. Fee waivers will be available to UMMSM personnel at the same portal, with preference given to those presenting posters — one waiver per poster. Applications will be dealt with in the order received. The abstract submission deadline is November 7, 2016.

*** Reminder: Submission Deadline for the Next Issue ***

The next issue of e-Update will be published on Tuesday, January 24. The deadline for submissions will be the prior Wednesday, January 18, at noon.