Family Expands its Miller School of Medicine Legacy

When Phillip Tenzel and Paul Tenzel received their Doctor of Medicine degrees May 10 at the BankUnited Center, the first cousins continued an expanding family medical legacy at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The cousins come from a family steeped in UM tradition. Phillip’s grandfather, Sanford Loff, graduated from the University of Miami School of Business Administration in 1960. Their fathers, Jack Tenzel, M.D. ’83, David Tenzel, M.D. ’85, and an uncle, Howard Loff, M.D. ’90, are all ophthalmologists and Miller School alumni. Their grandfather, Richard Tenzel, M.D., taught ophthalmology and practiced at the Miller School’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute from 1960-91.

Phillip will continue the ophthalmology tradition, as he heads for a residency at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary following a preliminary year of general medicine at the Miller School’s Palm Beach Regional Campus. Paul’s residency is in general surgery at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C.

Among the many family members and friends who will be cheering the cousins on at graduation will be their aunt, Shelly Lipson, who recently took a major step to support critical medical research at the Miller School. Shelly’s husband, Arthur Lipson, passed away earlier this year.

“I’m just really thrilled for Phillip and Paul, and I’m sorry that Arthur won’t be here to see it, but we are very proud of them,” Mrs. Lipson said. “Medical school is not an easy thing to go through, but they both did very well and are on their way to do what they want to do.”

Shortly before Arthur’s passing, the Lipson’s donated a gift of $250,000 to the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) at the Miller School of Medicine. Arthur, a 1962 graduate of the School of Business Administration, had been a longtime patient of Joshua M. Hare, M.D., the founding director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine, and Chief Sciences Officer.

Hare oversaw much of Arthur’s care for years, which included battles with cancer, heart and kidney disease.

“He was absolutely fantastic. I can’t say anything more. He was just a comforting, optimistic, wonderful doctor and he kept Arthur alive for a couple of extra years,” said Mrs. Lipson, who added that another relative, Arthur’s brother Robert Lipson, M.D., did his residency at the University of Miami in the 1970’s.

ISCI was established to capitalize on pioneering work in the use of adult stem cells for the repair of malfunctioning organs. The goal of the institute is to find new treatments for heart disease, neurological disease, lung disorders, bone disease, diabetes, cancer, eye diseases and other chronic, debilitating, or incurable diseases.

Mrs. Lipson said her husband, who required dialysis six times a week, was particularly intrigued by the idea that stem cell therapy could one day help so many people, including those with kidney disease.

“The doctors explained that they are trying to reproduce a kidney in the lab and that perked up Arthur’s interest, because there aren’t many kidneys available for transplant,” Mrs. Lipson said.

Hare said the majority of the Lipson family support will be used to help develop a program using stem cell therapy to repair kidney damage.

“We have discovered that there is a kidney stem cell,” said Hare. “With the Lipson family support, we are going to create a program around developing the cell.”

A separate portion of the gift will be devoted to the creation of the Lipson Endowed Speaker Series, which is scheduled to start in September. Hare said they saw the series as a way to bring the best and brightest minds together to share research in kidney disease, with a focus on regenerative medicine.

“It was a truly wonderful gift from the Lipson family. The gift really initiates the work that we hope to do in kidney regeneration,” Hare said.

Phillip and Paul Tenzel say they are inspired by the generosity of their aunt and uncle, philanthropists who were committed to giving back to their community. They hope to use what they’ve learned from them as a hallmark, as they set out to help people through their own medical careers.

“It is amazing to have a family like ours, to hear about what they are doing, as well as getting a medical perspective as a student,” said Paul.

“I think growing up with their values influenced us,” said Phillip. “Both how we spend our time in terms of becoming doctors and helping other people and how they spent their time and resources trying to help other people.”

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