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

Up Front

From left, Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Ph.D.; Di Ding, Ph.D.; Vittorio Porciatti, Ph.D.; and graduate student Mabel Enriquez-Algeciras.

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From left, Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Ph.D.; Di Ding, Ph.D.; Vittorio Porciatti, Ph.D.; and graduate student Mabel Enriquez-Algeciras.

Bascom Palmer Researchers Make Discoveries That Could Restore Vision in Demyelinating Disease

Identifying the mechanisms behind progressive vision loss associated with glaucoma and demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis is a goal for many ophthalmic researchers.

Now a research team from UHealth’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the Miller School demonstrates for the first time how these disease processes cause important changes to neurons in the retina. The discoveries are not only important scientifically, but they will facilitate clinical interventions to potentially reverse – or ideally prevent — vision loss before patients become symptomatic.

Sanjoy K. Bhattacharya, Ph.D., M.Tech., associate professor of ophthalmology, study lead co-authors Di Ding, Ph.D., post-doctoral associate, and graduate student Mabel Enriquez-Algeciras, and their associates discovered fundamental changes to dendritic cells of neurons in the retina that correlated with loss of vision in experimental disease models. They report their findings in the January 2 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Read more about the study »

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Jared Roeckner, far left, greets patients waiting in the dental clinic line during his medical mission to northern India.

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Jared Roeckner, far left, greets patients waiting in the dental clinic line during his medical mission to northern India.

Miller School Student Honors Memory of Another with Mission Trip to India

Eighteen years after Tod Gassen, a UM medical student, disappeared while hiking in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, fourth-year Miller School student Jared Roeckner paid tribute to Gassen’s adventurous spirit and commitment to helping others by joining a medical mission trip to northern India, where he learned as much about himself as he did the hardships of bringing healthcare to the remote reaches of the world.

“The trip was a unique growing experience for me, challenging my clinical skills and my physical endurance,” said Roeckner, the 2012 recipient of the Tod Gassen International Fellowship, established by Gassen’s family to enable medical students to travel to remote places and provide medical care to the underserved.

Read more about the trip »

Vinata B. Lokeshwar, Ph.D.

Vinata B. Lokeshwar, Ph.D.

Renowned Urologic Researcher Elected President of the Society for Basic Urologic Research

Vinata B. Lokeshwar, Ph.D., professor of urology and co-director of urology research, has been elected as the 25th President – and first of Indian origin – of the Society for Basic Urologic Research, a well-recognized society of scientists with more than 500 active members.

Lokeshwar, who is also co-director of the Pilot and Translational Studies component of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), presided over the society’s 25th Silver Jubilee Annual Meeting in November at the Trump International Resort on Sunny Isles Beach. Aptly themed “The 25th Anniversary of the SBUR: Looking Back to Move Forward,” the meeting was attended by more than 200 researchers and physicians from across the globe.

Read more about the meeting »

Celebrating the first  harvest and the Jay Weiss Center's toy giveaway are, from left, M.D./M.P.H. student Brigitte Frett, CWC coordinator (and Santa) Jamal Jones, Emanuel Washington, of the Overtown Community Optimist Club, M.P.H. students Max Johansen and Daniella Orihuela, CWC founder Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D, M.S., M.A., M.P.H., student Courtney Avery, and M.D./M.P.H. student Mari Janowsky.

Celebrating the first harvest and the Jay Weiss Center's toy giveaway are, from left, M.D./M.P.H. student Brigitte Frett, CWC coordinator (and Santa) Jamal Jones, Emanuel Washington, of the Overtown Community Optimist Club, M.P.H. students Max Johansen and Daniella Orihuela, CWC founder Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D, M.S., M.A., M.P.H., student Courtney Avery, and M.D./M.P.H. student Mari Janowsky.

Overtown’s “Grow to Grow” Community Garden Celebrates Its First Harvest

Nearly two months after planting and tending the new “Grow to Grow” Community Garden in Gibson Park, members of the Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity Community Wellness Coalition (CWC) gathered on December 18 with partners from the Overtown Community Optimist Club, UM students from the Public Health Student Association and the Miller School chapter of the American Medical Student Association to celebrate the first harvest with the kids of Overtown.

The bounty included many teachable moments as public health and M.D./M.P.H. students helped the children pick, wash and clean fresh produce, including squash, cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, romaine lettuce and carrots.

Read more about the first harvest »

Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H.

Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo Among the Hispanic Health Leaders Who Made a Difference in 2012

Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, has been recognized for his contributions to minority healthcare by VOXXI, an independent voice for Hispanic America committed to “transforming the digital media landscape and catapulting Latinos into the forefront of American dialogue.”

Carrasquillo, the co-founder of Latinos for National Health Insurance who received the Society of General Internal Medicine’s prestigious Herbert W. Nickens Award last year for his exceptional commitment to improving minority health, was named on VOXXI’s list of Hispanic health leaders who made a difference in 2012.

Read more about Dr. Carrasquillo »

Four-year-old Jesser Ferrary, left, gets some help turning a clay pot into a reindeer from second-year students Claudia Navarette, center, and Christine Pao, right.

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Four-year-old Jesser Ferrary, left, gets some help turning a clay pot into a reindeer from second-year students Claudia Navarette, center, and Christine Pao, right.

MedPals and Caring HeARTS Create Holiday Joy for Kids with Hearing Loss

Making reindeers from flower pots and penguins from paper plates may not be part of the official medical school curriculum, but for 14 Miller School students who volunteered at The Barton G. Kids Hear Now Cochlear Implant Family Resource Center’s last Family Night of 2012, the holiday merrymaking provided a poignant and refreshing reminder of why they elected to endure four arduous years of study.

“I can’t speak for others, but for me, it reminds me why I’m going to medical school,” said Christine Pao, president of the student organization MedPals, which joined forces with another student organization, Caring HeARTS, to provide arts and crafts entertainment to children with hearing loss who are being evaluated for or already have a cochlear implant at the resource center’s December 12 Family Night in the Clinical Research Building.

Read more about Family Night »

Stephen Symes, M.D., right, talks to visiting medical students at the SNMA Regional Medical Education Conference.

Stephen Symes, M.D., right, talks to visiting medical students at the SNMA Regional Medical Education Conference.

UM SNMA Chapter Tackles Health Disparities and Community Health at Annual Conference

Under the theme “Melting Pot of Modern Medicine: Exploring Cultural and Sociopolitical Barriers Within the Practice of Medicine,” the University of Miami chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) hosted its Region IV Regional Medical Education Conference in November, bringing together more than 150 medical and pre-medical students from across the United States and the Caribbean.

The SNMA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization for medical students of color and those dedicated to tackling health disparities while serving the underserved.

Read more about the SNMA Regional Conference »