Miller School Graduates Reconnect at Medical Alumni Weekend

Hundreds of University of Miami medical alumni from around the country flocked to South Florida recently for a weekend of reunions, celebrations, and seminars — all part of the Miller School of Medicine’s Medical Alumni Weekend 2018.

The annual event, held March 2-3, celebrated the school with two days of activities that provided an opportunity for former classmates to reconnect and learn about recent advances in research and patient care at the Miller School.

The weekend kicked off with one of the medical school’s most enduring traditions — the 17th annual John G. Clarkson Freshman Pinning Ceremony. Family members and friends cheered as the Class of 2021 was symbolically pinned by alumni and academic society leaders, officially welcoming them into the ranks of the UM family of physicians. Barry Byer, M.D. ’69, served as the keynote speaker.

The ceremony is named in honor of one of the giants in the medical school’s history: John G. Clarkson, M.D. ’68, dean emeritus and former director of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, who played a vital role at the Miller School as an educator, clinician, researcher, and administrator.

He was welcomed by Edward Abraham, M.D., executive vice president for health affairs, chief executive officer of UHealth, and dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine.

“During his tenure from 1995 to 2006, Dr. Clarkson recruited significant research and academic talent and presided over dramatic annual growth in scientific research,” Abraham said. “He led the physical transformation of the medical campus — creating the Schoninger Research Quadrangle through the completion of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute and the Lois Pope LIFE Center — the buildings surrounding us today. He also led the medical school’s largest capital campaign at the time, culminating in the historic $100 million gift from the family of the late Miami developer Leonard M. Miller, which led to the naming of the medical school. It is an honor to carry on the programs and successes you started.”

Medical Alumni Weekend also included tours of the medical campus and continuing medical education courses, featuring members of the UM faculty. More than 250 alumni and their guests also gathered at the weekend’s main event, the Reunions Banquet at UM’s Donna E. Shalala Student Center in Coral Gables.

The evening began with the 26th University of Miami Medical Alumni Association Hall of Fame Award. The prestigious honor is presented to alumni at least 10 years post-graduation who have achieved national or international recognition for an outstanding contribution in academic, research or societal aspects of medicine.

This year’s honoree was Carl R. Alving, M.D. ’66, Emeritus Senior Scientist, Laboratory of Adjuvant and Antigen Research, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Alberto A. Mitrani, M.D. ’84, chair of the Alumni Awards Selection Committee, noted many of Alving’s qualities that made the selection committee’s choice an easy one.

“An internationally recognized innovator, inventor, leader, research scientist, husband, and father, you have made an outstanding contribution to the medical profession and society as a whole through your work and service in improving the prospects of the lives of the ill and the healthy with innovative drug delivery systems and vaccine development,” Mitrani said. “It is a privilege of the alumni association to induct you into the Medical Alumni Hall of Fame.”

During his distinguished career as one of the country’s preeminent research scientists, Alving created adjuvants for many types of experimental vaccines, including vaccines for malaria, HIV, meningococcal infection, heroin addiction, biological threat agents, and prostate and intestinal cancer. He holds 31 U.S. patents and is the co-inventor of the needle-free transcutaneous immunization.

Alving spoke about how his early experience at the University of Miami prepared him to serve his country as a physician, scientist, and soldier. He also noted how several months working in the laboratory of renowned biochemist Albert Lehninger, chair of biochemistry at Johns Hopkins University, sparked his lifelong interest in research.

“I was constantly driving back and forth from Miami to Baltimore — it was a chaotic time, and I-95 did not exist then, but I was so thankful for the experience,” Alving recalled.

In 2008, he and his wife, Barbara — a prominent physician-scientist in her own right — established the Drs. Carl and Barbara Alving Endowed Biomedical Research Award, given each year to the Miller School student who has exhibited the most significant research accomplishment.

Following the Hall of Fame ceremony, alumni reconnected with former classmates at the Reunions Banquet, which went late into the night with food and dance. The classes of 1968 and 1993 celebrated their 50th and 25th anniversaries, while graduates from 1963, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1998, 2003, and 2008 also marked milestone anniversaries.

To see photos from Medical Alumni weekend, click here.

For more information on alumni events and news, visit

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