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

Up Front

Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., and Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A.

Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., and Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A.

UM Pediatricians Enlist Colleagues, Teachers and Parents in Ending the “Cinnamon Challenge”

Hoping to halt the Internet-fueled fad that dares kids to swallow a tablespoon of powdered cinnamon, two of the Miller School’s top pediatric experts are urging fellow physicians, parents and teachers to discuss the potential harm of the “Cinnamon Challenge” with adolescents and teens.

Published online April 22 as a “News Highlight” by the journal Pediatrics, the “Pediatrics Perspectives” article by Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., the George Batchelor Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute, and Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., Interim Chair of Pediatrics, has garnered extensive national media attention and is slated to appear in the May print issue of the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Read more about the article »

More News

Omaida Velazquez, M.D.

Omaida Velazquez, M.D.

Miller School Surgeon Becomes Only Woman in Florida to Hold American Surgical Association Membership

Omaida Velazquez, M.D., F.A.C.S., professor of surgery and Chief of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, made history this month, becoming the only woman in Florida who is a member in the American Surgical Association (ASA), the oldest and most prestigious association of surgeons.

Inducted at the association’s 133rd Annual Meeting in Indianapolis April 4-6, Velazquez joined the elite group composed of the nation’s most prominent surgeons from the country’s leading academic medical institutions.

Read more about Dr. Velazquez »

Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D.

Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D.

Researchers Find that Combined Anti-HIV Therapies May Protect Children’s Hearts

In addition to preventing the spread and transmission of HIV, the combination drug therapies now used to treat the once-fatal virus that causes AIDS appear to protect the hearts of children born with HIV, according to a multicenter NIH-funded study led by the Miller School’s Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D.

Published online April 22 ahead of print publication in JAMA Pediatrics, the study, “Cardiac Status of Children Infected With Human Immunodeficiency Virus Who Are Receiving Long-term Combination Antiretroviral Therapy,” found that HIV-infected children who received highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, for several years had healthier hearts than HIV-infected children who in the early 1990s were not treated with anti-HIV therapy, or were treated with only one drug.

Read more about the study »

Jennifer J. Hu, Ph.D., left, and Evadnie Rampersaud, Ph.D.

Jennifer J. Hu, Ph.D., left, and Evadnie Rampersaud, Ph.D.

Researchers Identify “Obesity Genes” Among People of African Ancestry

An international team of researchers, including three from the Miller School, has discovered new regions of the human genome that influence obesity in people of African ancestry, as well as others.

Published in the journal Nature Genetics, their study, “A meta-analysis identifies new loci associated with mass index in individuals of African ancestry,” is based on the largest genomic search for “obesity genes” in people of African ancestry. Although there are notable racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence of obesity in the United States — where 50 percent of African American adults are classified as obese, compared with 35 percent of non-Hispanic whites — the study notes large genome-wide studies of Body Mass Index (BMI) are lacking.

Contributing to the study from the Miller School were Jennifer J. Hu, Ph.D., Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology and public health; Evadnie Rampersaud, Ph.D., research assistant professor of human genetics and Director of the Division of Genetic Epidemiology at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics; and Jorge L. Rodriguez Gil, B.S., research assistant at Sylvester.

Read more about the study »

Performing in the UMH lobby are, from left, Esneider Valencia, Frank Capoferri, Lewis Jones and Joe D'Aleo.

Performing in the UMH lobby are, from left, Esneider Valencia, Frank Capoferri, Lewis Jones and Joe D'Aleo.

Jazz Duo Performs Wednesday at Sylvester for “The Musicians Will See You Now” Concert Series

UHealth will present the second in a series of musical performances by students from the Frost School of Music on Wednesday, April 24, at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Freshman guitarist Jonah Udall from Rochester, New York, and upright bassist Daniel Montgomery, a sophomore from Berkeley, California, will perform in the Sylvester courtyard from 12:30 to 1 p.m., and then relocate to the second-floor lobby from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

Intended to gladden the hearts and brighten the days of patients and families who visit the medical campus, as well as faculty and staff who work here, the concerts are part of “The Musicians Will See You Now” series, which Joe Natoli, Interim Chief Operating Officer at the Miller School, hopes to make a regular feature on the Miller School campus.

Read more about the series »

BSFT Institute members are, front row, from left, Jackie Lopez, administrative assistant; Monica Zarate, M.S.Ed. L.M.H.C., model manager; José Szapocznik, Ph.D.; Joan A. Muir, Ph.D.; and Diane K. Finek, M.S., M.A., research analyst; and, back row, from left, Seth J. Schwartz, Ph.D., associate professor of public health sciences; Keith Moak, M.B.A., marketing consultant; Stephen Denny, RMHCI, model manager; and Ruban Roberts, M.S.W., M.B.A., model manager.

BSFT Institute members are, front row, from left, Jackie Lopez, administrative assistant; Monica Zarate, M.S.Ed. L.M.H.C., model manager; José Szapocznik, Ph.D.; Joan A. Muir, Ph.D.; and Diane K. Finek, M.S., M.A., research analyst; and, back row, from left, Seth J. Schwartz, Ph.D., associate professor of public health sciences; Keith Moak, M.B.A., marketing consultant; Stephen Denny, RMHCI, model manager; and Ruban Roberts, M.S.W., M.B.A., model manager.

Brief Strategic Family Therapy Model Awarded Contracts for Child Advocacy Programs in New York City

The Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) program, which was developed at the Miller School to help troubled youth and their families by strengthening parent-child relationships, was awarded contracts with four child welfare programs in New York City this month.

The New York City Administration for Children’s Services awarded $6 million to implement BSFT in all five boroughs of New York City and treat more than 800 families.

Developed by José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of Public Health Sciences (formerly Epidemiology and Public Health) and Director of the Center for Family Studies, the BSFT model is a cost-effective, evidence-based, family-focused intervention offered by the Miller School’s Brief Strategic Family Therapy Institute, the premier center for development and testing of minority family therapy interventions. The intervention has gained international attention for its success in promoting positive family interactions and reducing drug use and delinquency in children.

Read more about the program »

David Zambrana, far left, stands with respiratory team members, from left, Stephanie Moss, Ph.D., Pilar Hombreiro, RRT-NPS, CPFT, RN, Francisco Pittevil, Tanira Ferreira, M.D., and Carlos Aja.

David Zambrana, far left, stands with respiratory team members, from left, Stephanie Moss, Ph.D., Pilar Hombreiro, RRT-NPS, CPFT, RN, Francisco Pittevil, Tanira Ferreira, M.D., and Carlos Aja.

UMH Earns Quality Respiratory Care Recognition in National Program

The Respiratory Therapy Program at University of Miami Hospital has earned Quality Respiratory Care Recognition (QRCR) under a national program identifying the top respiratory programs in the nation.

The QRCR program was established by the American Association for Respiratory Care in 2003 to help patients identify facilities that use qualified respiratory therapists to provide respiratory care. The University of Miami Hospital team, led by Pilar Hombreiro, RRT-NPS, CPFT, RN, manager of the Pulmonary Medicine Department at UMH, met a series of criteria to become one of just 15 percent of U.S. hospitals to receive the award.

Read more about the respiratory program »

Diabetes Research Institute

Diabetes Research Institute

Article Highlights DRI’s “Exciting Work” and cGMP Cell Processing Facility

The “exciting work” and “contagious confidence” of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute and its cGMP Cell Processing Facility are profiled in the April issue of Telegraft, the newsletter of the International Society for Cellular Therapy.

Titled “Beginning with the End in Mind: How the Diabetes Research Institute Supports All Phases of Research,” the article showcases what sets the DRI apart as a world-class translational research and treatment center for diabetes.

Read more about the DRI »

UM to Implement Vacation Policy Change for Exempt Staff

In a move to foster work-life balance, encourage employees to take regular time off, and reduce financial liabilities, the University of Miami is modifying its vacation policy for exempt, paid-monthly staff.

The policy change, which takes effect on June 1, 2013, states that as of June 1, 2015, maximum accrued vacation balances for exempt employees cannot exceed one year of vacation accrual. In addition, the maximum vacation payout upon separation will be capped at one year of vacation accrual, based upon formal documentation of vacation usage. To avoid losing accrued vacation time, employees are encouraged to manage and reduce vacation balances to no more than one year of accrual between June 1, 2013, and May 31, 2015.

Read more about the policy change »

UM Partners with Homeland Security to Help Keep the Country Safe

You may have already noticed printed messages urging employees and students at the University of Miami to help keep the country safe.

The messages are part of UM’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, an initiative aimed at engaging the public to identify and report indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime.

Spearheaded by Scott Burnotes, UM’s Director of Emergency Management, the UM campaign includes five different posters and postcards produced by the Department of Homeland Security for all three UM campuses.

Read more about the campaign »