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11.05.2014

UM Researcher Wins 2014 Micah Batchelor Award to Study Neonatal Respiratory Care

Surrounded by family, colleagues, University leadership, and many of the Miller School of Medicine’s top researchers, Nelson R. Claure, Ph.D., MS.c., received the prestigious 2014 Micah Batchelor Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Research.

The award was presented October 30 in the lobby of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute, which was dedicated in 2001 with a $10 million gift from the Batchelor Foundation.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious and very generous award,” Claure said. “Although I never met Mr. Batchelor, I did learn about his vision, the love he had for his grandson, and the wish to celebrate his life. Today I am honored, and in a small and humble way, a part of that celebration.”

The late George E. Batchelor, a renowned aviation pioneer and philanthropist, established the annual $300,000 award in 2004 in memory of his grandson, Micah. The award recognizes a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics researching children’s diseases at the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute.

“George Batchelor had a vision and a passion about helping children,” said University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala. “That passion is represented in everything we do for children here at the University of Miami.”

Seeded with a $5 million endowment, the Batchelor Award is one of the largest awards nationally for children’s health research.

“Thanks to supporters like the Batchelor Foundation, we are conducting groundbreaking research specifically focused on finding the cures for many childhood diseases,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, and CEO of University of Miami Health System. “Clearly, research is at the heart of what people like Dr. Claure do, and it is the cornerstone of what goes on here at the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute on a daily basis.”

Also in attendance at the presentation were Batchelor Family Foundation Trustees Sandy Batchelor, Daniel Ferraresi and Jon Batchelor, who is also a UM trustee.

Claure is a research associate professor of pediatrics and Director of the Neonatal Pulmonary Research Lab, where he began his career as a research assistant. He developed a passion for neonatal respiratory physiology, leading to a doctorate in bioengineering from the University of Miami.

He earned the Batchelor award for his work on neonatal control of breathing, respiratory failure, lung injury, and the advancement of neonatal respiratory support. Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, says Claure is a hero for the smallest babies.

“Dr. Claure is one of the world’s leading experts in neonatal respiratory care,” said Schaechter. “He is a prolific researcher and directs the same laboratory that he once served in as research assistant. Dr. Claure is truly an innovator in respiratory physiology.”

Claure will use his research grant to continue studying neonatal respiratory support, and further develop a system for automated oxygen control for tiny babies. Researchers know that premature infants require supplemental oxygen, a measure that can sometimes cause complications in developing eyes, lungs, and other organs. Claure will work to minimize that toxicity and maximize the benefits of care.

Though many of his colleagues congratulated him on his achievements leading to the award, Claure said there is still much more work to be done.

“This award, to me and to my group, is just a beginning,” he said. “It is a strong place to continue the work and achieve the goals that we have set out in our proposal. Only then can we see this as an achievement.”

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