Dean Goldschmidt Showcases UM Doctors at “Collegetown” Lecture

Kicking off the UM Doctors Lecture Series, Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., introduced dozens of Coral Gables residents to the dazzling panoply of UHealth doctors, scientists, nurses and health experts who are ushering in the next revolution in medicine – and in a couple of years will be seeing patients on the Gables campus.

From William O. Neill, M.D., who pioneered the use of angioplasty during heart attacks, to Ruben Quintero, M.D., who is correcting congenital defects in unborn babies, to Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., who identified the first gene associated with Alzheimer’s, to Didier de Cannière, M.D., who performed the first robotic heart bypass, to Camillo Ricordi, M.D., who isolated the insulin-producing cells to cure diabetes, to Richard Cote, M.D., who invented a device using nanotechnology to isolate cancer cells from circulating blood, Dean Goldschmidt regaled the audience with the breadth and scope of the innovators at UM.

“It’s like a miracle,’’ he said of the cochlear implants Thomas Balkany, M.D., and Fred Telischi, M.D., have used to give the gift of hearing to scores of deaf children. “It’s just amazing what technology is doing, and I can tell you this is just the beginning.’’

Delivered Tuesday evening at the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, Dean Goldschmidt’s talk, “What’s New at UHealth: South Florida’s Most Advanced Medical Care,’’ was part of UM’s Collegetown initiative to enrich the local community with intellectual discourse and lectures by faculty experts.

Accompanied by an engaging and informative PowerPoint presentation, Dean Goldschmidt opened the lecture with a fast-paced video from Hans Rosling, M.D., Ph.D., a Swedish scholar and statistician who converted 200 years of statistics from 200 countries into animated graphics that show how, over the past two centuries, life expectancy in western countries has climbed from 35 years to 75.

Crediting critical improvements in public sanitation, the delivery of clean water, nutrition and the advent of vaccinations and antibiotics for increased longevity, Dean Goldschmidt traced the beginning of modern medicine to Edward Jenner, the British country doctor whose daring experiment ultimately led to the eradication of small pox. He also chronicled other pivotal advances, most notably in cardiac care, that were considered science fiction when he started his career.

Then, he cited the dozens of faculty across the Miller School campus who are engaged in life-enhancing treatments and research, which hold the promise of creating new hearts for transplant, preventing renal failure, conquering diabetes, preventing and treating cancer, reducing the incidence of stroke, repairing injured spinal cords and brains, controlling mood disorders and depression, recovering vision and hearing, and promoting healthy, productive aging.

As Gables resident Alicia Sirkin listened to the Dean’s overview of faculty accomplishments, from the efforts of Maria Abreu, M.D., to prevent colon cancer to the use of stem cells by Dileep Yavagal, M.D., to treat stroke, she shook her head in wonder.

“It was an excellent forum because it gave me a broad view of the phenomenal talent in research and health care that the University has gathered together,’’ said Sirkin, who attended to learn more about the UHealth facility planned for the Gables campus. “I did not realize we have so many stars in so many fields. It’ll be great to have a facility with so many top-notch, star-quality UM physicians who will manage care in my neighborhood.’’

UHealth at Coral Gables is slated to open in the fall of 2013, with the ambulatory care center providing primary care, out-patient surgery, sports medicine and other key services.

The second UM Doctors lecture will take place Tuesday, June 7, and feature Dr. O’Neill, executive dean for clinical affairs and chief medical officer of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. He will present “Innovations in Cardiology.”

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