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10.19.2010

Miller School Sweeps the 2010 Excellence in Health Care Awards

Staff and faculty at the Miller School received three of the South Florida Business Journal’s 2010 Excellence in Health Care Awards, earning the top honor in every category for which they were finalists.

A team at The John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics received the Community Outreach Award, while Laurence Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy, was honored with the Educator Award, and Victor Perez, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, with the Innovator Award.

Each was nominated by Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who was pleased judges recognized the Miller School’s commitment to making a difference in patient care, medical research, innovation, community outreach and service to the poor and uninsured at the October 14 awards ceremony at The Westin in Fort Lauderdale.

“Congratulations to the Genomics team and to Drs. Gardner and Perez for winning these wonderful awards,” Dean Goldschmidt said. “They recognize the many outstanding contributions these individuals make to our institution, our patients, and our students every day.’‘

Led by Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., the HIHG team received the Community Outreach Award for its Genetic Awareness Project, which promotes genomic literacy by educating black and Hispanic families in South Florida about why genomics will be important to their future health care.

“We are proud that the Genetics Awareness Project was honored,’‘ Dr. Pericak-Vance said. “We are working hard to educate our diverse community through an intensive multifaceted program that includes a culturally sensitive media campaign, outreach activities, and a large education and outreach event.”

Dr. Gardner was honored with the Educator Award for establishing the combined M.D./M.P.H. program, which will enable medical students to earn both degrees in four years, preparing them to address the ever-changing medical needs of their communities with a global approach.

“I am honored and thank all my colleagues and, most importantly, all the patients who have allowed us to teach for all these years,’‘ Dr. Gardner said.

Dr. Perez received the Innovator Award for performing the first modified osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis in the United States, a revolutionary procedure that restored a blind woman’s vision with her eyetooth. A cornea specialist, Dr. Perez led the multidisciplinary surgical team that last year combined medicine, dentistry, and ophthalmology to remove patient Kay Thornton’s tooth, fit it with an optical lens, and, after letting it “bio-integrate” in her skin for a few months, implant it into her eye, restoring her sight after nearly a decade of blindness.

“Bascom Palmer Eye Institute congratulates Dr. Perez and his entire team on having received this prestigious recognition,’‘ said Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., chairman of Bascom Palmer. “The innovation used to create this revolutionary procedure is remarkable, but as Dr. Perez often states, the one who truly deserves an award is the patient, Kay Thornton, who underwent this dramatic surgery. We are all so pleased that it was such a success and that she has been given back the precious gift of sight.”

In addition to Dr. Pericak-Vance, the genomics team includes Michael Cuccaro, associate professor of human genetics; Joycelyn Lee Robinson, Ph.D., associate research scientist and project manager; Kayla Czape, M.S., genetic counselor; Carla Jean, M.P.H., clinical research coordinator; Maria Gavier, project coordinator; Susan Hahn, M.S., C.G.C., instructor; and Larry Deon Adams, outreach specialist.

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