Department News : 2015

Denise C. Vidot, Ph.D.

Miller School Study Finds Marijuana Users Have Lower Rate of Metabolic Syndrome

Marijuana users have a significantly lower rate of metabolic syndrome than non-users, according to a recent study by researchers at the Miller School of Medicine. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat, linked to increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems.

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From left, José Szapocznik, Ph.D., Katherine Chon and Julie Cummings.

Forum Focuses on Making Human Trafficking a Public Health Priority

Human trafficking for sex and labor is a serious, chronic problem in South Florida and throughout the U.S. But rather than treat victims and punish the criminals, a comprehensive preventative strategy is needed to address the root causes of modern-day slavery, according to José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences.

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Anat Galor, M.D., M.S.P.H., left, and Roy Levitt, M.D.

‘Dry Eye’ Linked to Chronic Pain Syndromes

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers have found a link between “dry eye” and chronic pain syndromes and mental health — a finding that suggests that a new paradigm is needed for diagnosis and treatment to improve patient outcomes.

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José Szapocznik, Ph.D.

Dr. José Szapocznik Briefs Congressional Staffers on HIV/AIDS Prevention

José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute, briefed congressional staffers on the challenge of addressing opioid addiction, HIV and viral hepatitis during a lunch meeting at the Rayburn Building in Washington, D.C., on December 1, World AIDS Day.

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From left, Hannah Kling, Kevin Moore and Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., C.P.H.

Public Health Sciences Faculty, Staff and Students Play Prominent Role at National Conference

A sizeable showing of faculty, staff and students from the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences made presentations and participated in multiple sessions at the 143rd American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, held from October 31 to November 4 in Chicago.

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Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Julie Kornfeld Leaves Legacy of Leadership in Master of Public Health Programs

Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health Programs in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Assistant Dean for Public Health at the Miller School of Medicine, has been named Vice Dean for Education at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. In that role, she will have oversight for all of the school’s doctoral and master’s programs.

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Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Eckhard Podack and Research Team Find Perforin-2 to be Potent Weapon against Bacterial Infection

The late eminent Miller School of Medicine researcher Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., and a multi-disciplinary team of investigators have discovered that the protein Perforin-2 is a highly potent mechanism of the immune system for fighting bacterial infection. Their findings may provide an answer to the looming medical threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S.

Neurology Study Receives $8.5 Million to Increase Focus on Dementia and Cognitive Impairment

The Northern Manhattan Study, a collaboration between the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and the Neurological Institute at Columbia University that started in 1990 and is believed to be the longest-running cohort study with a Hispanic majority, has received an $8.5 million, five-year NIH grant to begin a directional shift that puts new emphasis on dementia and cognitive impairment.

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Tanya Zakrison, M.D., M.P.H.

Researchers Study Perceived Health Consequences of Gold Mining in Postwar El Salvador

The mining of heavy metals, such as gold, has long been known to have the potential for negative health impacts on local populations through chemical pollution of aquifers. Now a group of researchers from the Miller School of Medicine, collaborating with researchers in El Salvador and Canada, has conducted research indicating that related political and socioeconomic factors also have serious health consequences.

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More than 50 students turned out to meet with the 12 employers and community partners that took part in the networking event.

Department of Public Health Sciences Hosts Networking Event for Students

The Department of Public Health Sciences Graduate Programs hosted a networking event for students to meet with local employers and community partners on Wednesday, October 7. Twelve organizations, some with multiple representatives, and more than 50 students attended this event.

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David J. Lee, Ph.D.

Researcher Awarded Fulbright Scholarship for Comparative Study of Mindfulness Practices

David J. Lee, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Australia to conduct a cross-cultural study of meditation, yoga and other mindfulness practices.

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Scientists and providers at the annual meeting of the Florida Node Alliance.

Renewed NIH Grant Supports ‘Real-World’ Drug Treatment Clinical Trials

A new grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will support innovative clinical trials involving drug treatment by the Florida Node Alliance, based at the Miller School of Medicine. Over the past 15 years, the University team has received more than $73 million in funding from NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, including a new five-year grant, which will provide more than $3 million in the coming year.

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Roderick K. King, M.D., M.P.H.

Public Health Professor Leading Collaborative Initiative to Address Violence in Liberty City

Supported by a BUILD Health Challenge grant, a team of health professionals and community leaders is launching a collaborative initiative to address the longstanding problem of violence and its impact on the overall health of Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

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From left, public health student Laurent Saint-Louis, Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Deborah Franqui, Ph.D., and Scott Brown, Ph.D., research assistant professor of public health sciences.

UM Architecture Students Showcase Healthy Community Designs at Pop-Up Demonstration

The Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences and the University of Miami School of Architecture hosted an interactive street fair and pop-up demonstration project on the medical campus on Friday, October 2. The event showcased dozens of design concepts on ways to improve connectivity on the medical campus and to highlight the importance and potential of the campus as a model of a healthy community.

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From left, Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Felicia Knaul, Ph.D., Sebastian the Ibis, Ana Langer, M.D., Roderick K. King, M.D., M.P.H., and Erin N. Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Lancet Report on Women and Health Presented at the Miller School

On October 1, Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and Felicia Knaul, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences, hosted an event at the Lois Pope LIFE Center to discuss the findings of a new report on women and health, which was recently published in The Lancet. The report found that women’s contribution to health care constitutes nearly 5 percent of global GDP, $3 trillion, but nearly half is unpaid and unrecognized.

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Mindful Tuesdays

Mindful Tuesdays is a weekly program sponsored by the University of Miami Mind Body Medical Group, in partnership with the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center, the Department of Public Health Sciences and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Integrative Medicine Program.

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Felicia Knaul, Ph.D.

Researchers Suggest New Approach to Caring for Patients with Chronic Illnesses

Researchers from the University of Miami and Harvard University are addressing the challenges of effective universal health coverage in low- and middle-income countries, focusing on solving one of the most pressing issues — the care of chronic illnesses. Their suggestions, aimed at strengthening health care systems, include recommendations based on a “diagonal approach” for managing health care.

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Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Exercise Shown to Reduce Falls and Injury Among Middle-Aged Adults

Falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries treated at emergency rooms in the U.S. A recently released study led by a University of Miami public health physician-scientist has revealed that engaging in regular physical activity and exercise can prevent slips, trips and falls for middle-aged adults, just as it does for seniors.

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Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Ph.D., M.S.

‘The right guidance can help change communities and people’s choices’

Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Ph.D., M.S., chats with Medical Communications to discuss his vision for preventive health mechanisms, his goal to train future preventive health scientists in the Miller School of Medicine’s new public health doctoral degree program, and his recent work to expand Familias Unidas in Ecuador, Chile and Colombia.

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Felicia Knaul, Ph.D.

Dr. Felicia Knaul Receives Interdisciplinary Appointment to UM Faculty

The University of Miami welcomes international health economist and expert in Latin American health systems and social sectors Felicia Knaul, Ph.D., to the Miller School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Sciences beginning August 16.

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From left, back row: Joaquin Jimenez, Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., and Kyle Klingbeil. From left, front row: Fanny De La Cruz, Director of the San Cristobal clinic Unidades de Atención Primaria, Manuel Hilario, M.D., and Sarah King.

Miller School Medical Students Collaborate with Provincial Minister of Health in Dominican Republic

Through the support of the non-profit organization Medical Students in Action (MSA), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine M.D. and M.D./M.P.H. students met with the Dominican Republic’s Provincial Director of Health, Manuel Antonio Hilario Acevedo, M.D., in San Cristobal on July 10 to collaborate on the development of a community health worker program.

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Hermes Jose Florez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

UM Doctors Contribute to National Effort to Improve Health and Lifestyles for the Aging

A multidisciplinary team of doctors and researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has played an integral role in a White House-led initiative to improve the quality of life and health for aging populations throughout the U.S.

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José Szapocznik, Ph.D., at the White House Summit on Climate Change.

UM Public Health Chair Attends White House Summit on Climate Change

José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute, attended the recent White House Public Health and Climate Change Summit in Washington, D.C.

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Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H.

UM Researcher Awarded Early Career Fellowship by Gulf Research Program

Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of public health sciences and Director of the Musculoskeletal Disorders and Occupational Health Lab, was recently awarded a highly competitive two-year early career fellowship by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Viviana E. Horigian, M.D., left, with Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., Director of the NIDA International Program.

Dr. Viviana E. Horigian Receives 2015 NIDA Award of Excellence

Viviana E. Horigian, M.D., associate professor of public health sciences, was honored with a 2015 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) International Program Award of Excellence. The prestigious awards were announced on June 13 at the 20th annual NIDA International Forum in Phoenix, which focused on “Building International Collaborative Research on Drug Abuse.”

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Chanelle Diaz and Hansel Tookes, M.D., M.P.H.

Researchers’ Findings Support Syringe Exchange Programs for Injection Drug Users

A team of researchers from the Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital has published an eye-opening study of the financial cost to the public and the level of mortality for injection drug users admitted to Jackson for treatment of infections.

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First-year M.D./M.P.H. student Samuel R. Huntley, left, with Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., C.P.H.

M.D./M.P.H. Student Awarded NIOSH Grant to Study Osteoarthritis in Hispanic Construction Workers

Samuel R. Huntley, a first-year M.D./M.P.H. student at the Miller School of Medicine, was awarded a Pilot/Small Project Grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for his proposal titled, “DOLORES – Determinants of Osteoarthritis Linked to Occupational Radiography: Epidemiologic Surveillance.”

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Erin N. Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Erin N. Kobetz Named Senior Associate Dean for Health Disparity

Erin N. Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., has been named Senior Associate Dean for Health Disparity at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In this role Kobetz will be responsible for elevating the awareness of current regional health disparities while developing a culture in which UHealth – University of Miami Health System and the Miller School can achieve health equity for patients.

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Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., left, and Julia E. Dallman, Ph.D.

Zebrafish Research Provides Clues on Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that affects approximately 2 percent of people around the world. Although several genes have been linked to multiple concurring conditions of ASD, the process that explains how specific genetic variants lead to behaviors characteristic of the disorder remains elusive.

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From left, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Alan Pollack, M.D., Ph.D., Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., Ronald C. Desrosiers, Ph.D., Diana Lopez, Ph.D., Jonathan C. Trent, M.D., Ph.D., Vinata B. Lokeshwar, Ph.D., and Stephen D. Nimer, M.D.

Zubrod Memorial Lecture Program Spotlights Faculty and Young Investigators

Six Miller School of Medicine physician-scientists were recognized for their contributions to cancer research and treatment as part of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 16th Annual Zubrod Memorial Lecture and Cancer Research Poster Session on May 15. It was the first time multiple faculty awards have been part of the program.

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From left, Guillermo

New Public Health Doctorate Program Centers on Preventive Health

Given that the leading causes of death in the U.S. are preventable, the University of Miami’s Department of Public Health Sciences’ Division of Prevention Science and Community Health has recently launched a unique doctoral degree program in Prevention Science and Community Health.

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From left, Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., Daphney Dorcius, M.P.H., Begoña Rovira, M.B.A., M.A., and Guillermo

Public Health Graduate Honored with Celebration of Involvement Award

Undergraduate and graduate students who display passion for service and leadership are recognized each year at the University of Miami’s Celebration of Involvement award ceremony.

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From left, Sonjia Kenya, Ed.D., M.S., M.A., Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., and Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Ph.D., M.S.

Community-Based Rapid HIV Testing is an Effective Strategy for High-Risk African Americans

A team of University of Miami champions for health equity recently published study findings showing that the use of community-based health workers along with rapid, home-based HIV testing is an effective strategy for getting more high-risk African American residents tested and connected to health services and treatment.

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From left, medical students Alexandra Cocores and Houda Boucekkine with Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.

Medical Students Honor Outstanding Teachers at 2015 Paff Awards Ceremony

For Miller School medical students and teachers, the 2015 George Paff Teaching Awards Ceremony was a warm and memorable experience, punctuated by tears of joy, plenty of hugs and a baby’s cry.

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Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Steven Ullmann, Ph.D., fourth and fifth from right in first row, with conference attendees.

Conference Focuses on Public Health Workforce Strategies

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Public Health Sciences and the School of Business Administration joined the de Beaumont Foundation to host a group of renowned public health leaders from around the country this month. The purpose of the two-day meeting was to examine innovative and effective training opportunities to provide needed business skills to the public health workforce.

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M.D./Ph.D. Student Research Symposium Takes Place April 9

The Miller School of Medicine’s 7th Annual M.D./Ph.D. Student Research Symposium will be held from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 9.

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Hemant Ishwaran, Ph.D.

Radiation Plus Immunotherapy Combination Improves Immune System Response to Metastatic Melanoma

A triple attack of radiation plus two immunotherapies appears to improve the immune system response in patients with metastatic melanoma, according to a recent study from a multidisciplinary team of researchers, including the Miller School’s Hemant Ishwaran, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences.

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Nelson Arboleda, M.D., M.P.H.

UM Graduate, CDC Country Director Launches Guatemala’s Public Health Institute

A high-profile physician who received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine continues to blaze trails as Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Central American Regional Office.

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Fourth-year medical student Michael Maguire.

Miller Medical Student Presents at Investing in Young Children Globally Forum

Fourth-year M.D./M.P.H. student Michael Maguire just returned from Hong Kong, where he represented the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine at the Institute of Medicine’s Investing in Young Children Globally Forum. Maguire has been working as an intern with the Board of Children, Youth and Families at the Institute of Medicine in Washington. Due to his success with his research, IOM asked him to present in China.

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Clockwise from left, Erryn Tappy, third-year student; Robert W. Irwin, M.D.; Nikhill Bhardwaj, second-year student.

Miller School’s SafeSpace Program Responds to LGBTQ Students’ Issues

“It’s not easy feeling you have to pretend you’re something you’re not. It’s a continual challenge, and it wears on you.”Erryn Tappy, a third-year M.D./M.P.H. student, is talking about her sexual orientation. It is not uncommon, she says, for other students, or even faculty members, to simply assume everyone in hearing range is heterosexual .

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From left, Sophie Shrestha, her mother Sapna Deo, Ph.D., Sophie Bachas-Daunert, her mother Sylvia Daunert, Ph.D., Pharm. D., M.S., Rose Kobetz and her mother Erin Kobetz-Kerman, Ph.D, M.P.H.

Faculty Honored with Women’s Cancer Association Researcher of the Year Award

Three Miller School of Medicine faculty women, who collaborated to develop a rapid human papillomavirus (HPV) test to prevent cervical cancer among minority and underserved women, were recently honored with the Researcher of the Year award by the Women’s Cancer Association of UM.

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CGIU Department of Public Health Sciences Student Seed Funding Awardees

CGI U provides select students with opportunities to gain seed funding for their innovative projects and initiatives. More than $2 million in funding has been awarded to student commitment-makers since President Clinton launched CGI U. This year three Department of Public Health Sciences students have received funding for their Public Health initiatives.

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From left, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Jennifer Auf der Springer, M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2015 - Quantum Springboard Award; Lamia Hossain, M.P.H. Class of 2015 - Springboard Award; Taghrid Asfar, M.S.P.H. Class of 2014 - DPHS Recognition Award; Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Michelle Chong, M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2017 - Global Health Award; José Szapocznik, Ph.D.

Future Public Health Leaders Showcase Projects at Poster Exhibit

A select group of graduate students at the Miller School of Medicine recently had the opportunity to highlight their work tackling some of the world’s most pressing and complex public health problems.The 46 students took part in the Department of Public Health Sciences’ 2015 Annual Public Health Graduate Student showcase and reception February 12. It was the third year for the

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Denise C. Vidot, Ph.D.

Student's Article on Marijuana Risks is Among Most Downloaded

A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine epidemiology Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences was recently recognized by academic publisher Routledge for having one of the top three most downloaded articles published in their Health & Social Care journals in 2014.

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Sandy Jiang

Medical Student Wins United Health Foundation Diversity Scholarship

First-year University of Miami medical student Sandy Jiang recently was awarded a 2015 United Health Foundation diversity scholarship as part of the National Medical Fellowships Diverse Medical Scholars Program.

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Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Faculty and Staff Support the U: Julie Kornfeld Fuels Passion for Public Health by Removing Barriers

Julie Kornfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H., is so inspired by the graduate students she guides in the master’s in public health (M.P.H.) and the combined M.D./M.P.H programs at the Miller School of Medicine that she is compelled to help them succeed. “They are passionate about transforming the health of our communities,” said the Assistant Dean for Public Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences.

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