Two Miller School Faculty Honored with Health Care Heroes Awards

Two Miller School of Medicine faculty members were honored at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Health Care Heroes Awards at Parrot Jungle Thursday afternoon. W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., chief medical officer of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of otolaryngology, was presented the premier honor at the luncheon, the AXA Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a leader who has made a significant contribution to the health and well-being of the South Florida community, and Goodwin’s selection was greeted with thunderous applause. A brief video detailed how he decided to become a doctor after undergoing a tonsillectomy as a child. After a fellowship at M.D. Anderson and teaching at Yale University, Goodwin returned to UM to chair the Department of Otolaryngology.

It was his work as director of Sylvester that truly distinguished him, building the cancer center into a world class institution known for its research and clinical breakthroughs. Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., remarked that Goodwin “built the cancer center with his brains and his hands, but also with his heart – and that was the key ingredient.”

Accepting the award to a standing ovation, Goodwin humbly told the crowd it was “embarrassing” to hear so much about himself, and a true privilege to receive the honor. Thanking his colleagues and family, he said the medical school was making “miracles of discovery every day and in every corner.”

Winning the Bio-Medical Award, Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D., Martin Kleiman Professor of Surgery, microbiology and immunology, and biomedical engineering at the Miller School, reiterated a common theme, that “it takes a village” to achieve greatness in health care. Kenyon, who is also director of the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research and director of the Executive Research Council at the Diabetes Research Institute, was recognized for her research in transplant immunology, specifically using biological replacement therapies for patients with type 1 diabetes. She said, “In the end, it’s all about translating the discoveries we make to the bedside of the patient.”

Eckhard R. Podack, M.D., Ph.D., Sylvester Distinguished Professor of Medicine and chairman of Microbiology and Immunology, was a finalist in the Health Care Professionals category for his body of work developing vaccines to help fight life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and HIV. Dean Goldschmidt described Podack as “deeply dedicated” and his work as “truly amazing.”

In a nod to the future of health care, the Youth Volunteers Award went to Samantha DePriest-Capparelli of Coral Reef Senior High School, who developed swimming classes for children with special needs. The finalists were acknowledged as heroes in their field and awarded certificates and $500. Among them was Payton Liberto, of Gator Run Elementary in Weston, who donated her hair to the Locks of Love Foundation which benefits the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, for children who lose their hair to illness. Payton, age 10, was accompanied by her very proud mother, Jacquelyn Liberto, executive director for strategic operations at the Miller School.

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