Universtiy of Miami Miller School of Medicine Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs

News 2017

Medical Faculty Awards 2017

December 14, 2017

The Medical Faculty Awards were established through a charitable gift to the UM Miller School of Medicine. The MFA Best Research awards recognize outstanding biomedical research among our graduate students. The MFA Travel Awards supports both graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to travel and present at national biomedical conferences.

From left, former student Xiao-Ming Xu, Ph.D., Mary Bartlett Bunge, Ph.D., and W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D.

Dr. Mary Bartlett Bunge, Who Made Major Contributions to The Miami Project, Retires

November 29, 2017

In 1989, Mary Bartlett Bunge, Ph.D., and her late husband, Richard P. Bunge, M.D., two of the world’s most respected researchers in the field of neurobiology, moved their laboratory from Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The occasion for the move was Richard becoming the scientific director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Read more about Dr. Bunge's career »

A Step Closer to Realizing the Promise of Precision Medicine in Cancer

November 17, 2017

New findings by researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center may prove to be an important solution to one of the more difficult problems faced in the field of precision medicine when it comes to treating cancer. An article reporting their findings, “Discordancy Partitioning for Validating Potentially Inconsistent Pharmacogenomic Studies,” was published online November 9 by Scientific Reports.

Read more about the findings »

From left, Kerry L. Burnstein, Ph.D., Mai Huynh, Govindi Samaranayake, Rolando Lyles, Clara Troccoli, and Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D.

Sylvester Researchers and Colleagues Identify Novel Therapeutic Target for Incurable Prostate Cancer

November 14, 2017

A collaborative study by researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and colleagues has identified a novel therapeutic target for incurable prostate cancer. The research found a critical role for thioredoxin-1, a protein that protects cells from oxidative stress, in the progression of prostate cancer to the incurable castration-resistant stage.

Read more about the research findings »

Wael El-Rifai, M.D., Ph.D.

A Renowned Physician-Scientist Joins Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

November 06, 2017

Wael El-Rifai, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally renowned physician-scientist, has joined the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as co-leader of the Tumor Biology Program and associate director for Program Development. His departmental appointments are professor and associate vice chair of surgery, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Read more about Dr. El-Rifai »

The recipients of the 2017 Louis J. Elsas Research Award in Biochemical Genetics: from left, Luc Bertrand, Ph.D., Dana Bis, Ph.D. candidate, Anastasia Vedenko, Ph.D. candidate, and David Sant, Ph.D. candidate.

Researchers Receive the Louis J. Elsas Research Award in Biochemical Genetics

October 26, 2017

Three University of Miami Miller School of Medicine doctoral students and one postdoctoral researcher have been selected for a prestigious award that honors the legacy of a renowned geneticist, the late Louis J. “Skip” Elsas, M.D. The four were named as the 2017 recipients of the Louis J. Elsas Research Award in Biochemical Genetics, established by the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation in 2011.

Read more about the Elsas award »

The many elements behind effective big data analysis.

NIH Award Will Help Expand Big Data

October 20, 2017

More and more often in this era of big data, it’s not a lack of information that’s the issue. Instead, it can be sorting through a tsunami of data to find what’s most relevant and meaningful to drive medical research forward. Now a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Health will boost efforts of a team of researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Read more about big data »

The Alzheimer’s disease Follow-Up Study research team during a study meeting. From left, Brian Kunkle, Ph.D., Jeffery Vance, M.D., Ph.D., Katrina Celis Delgado, M.D., Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., Larry Deon Adams, and Michael Cuccaro, Ph.D. Delgado and Adams are clinical coordinators for the HIHG diversity studies.

Miller School and Collaborators to Receive up to $30.2 Million for Alzheimer’s Research

October 05, 2017

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and collaborators have been selected to receive awards totaling up to $30.2 million in grant funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. The awards include a grant expected to total $22.7 million over five years and a second grant for $7.5 million. Both awards were given by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Read more about the research funding grants »

Taste buds on tongue.

Researchers Begin to Solve Mystery of Taste’s Journey to the Brain

October 02, 2017

We are all able to distinguish among different taste characteristics, but how that information is encoded and transmitted from our taste buds to our brain is still an open question. This is because the molecular “fingerprints” of gustatory neurons have remained a mystery. Now, researchers at the Miller School of Medicine have uncovered the molecular identities of the sensory neurons in taste’s gateway to the brain.

Read more about the research findings »

From left, Massimo D’Amico, Laura Bianchi, Ph.D., and Rachele Sangaletti, Ph.D.

Research Sheds New Light on Mechanisms of Protection in Ischemic Stroke

August 29, 2017

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have discovered that a gene belonging to a gene family known to be involved in cell death in ischemic stroke will, when knocked out (genetically modified), confer protection on neurons, keeping them alive despite the presence of an ischemic insult. This opens the door to possible new treatments for stroke.

Read more about the Bianchi lab's research »

Taste is the

Miller School Researchers Pursue Answers to the Mysteries of Taste

August 11, 2017

Why do we eat what we eat? As obvious as it may sound, the strongest determinant, other than availability, is taste. Our reaction to taste — a range of responses from yum to yuck — is often instantaneous yet highly personalized. So we eat what we like, but why do we like what we like? And personal preferences aside, does taste really matter? For two researchers at the Miller School of Medicine, the answer is yes.

Read more about the research on taste »

From left, Diego Venegas, M.D., advisor, Julio Barredo, M.D., international advisor, Patricia Garcia, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Minister of Health, Franklin Aldecoa, M.D., advisor, and Gino Venegas, M.D., senior advisor.

Sylvester Oncologist Dr. Julio Barredo Helps Peru Improve Outcomes of Kids with Leukemia

August 07, 2017

For Peruvian native Julio Barredo, M.D., director of children’s cancer programs at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, visits to his home country were often painful. He saw a cure rate of only 40 percent for the 700 children diagnosed annually with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. He knew that many of them were dying unnecessarily.

Read more about Dr. Barredo's work in Peru »

Dr. Guillermo Prado Named ‘Research Exemplar’

August 03, 2017

Graduate School Dean Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Ph.D., an internationally known expert in effective intervention strategies for at-risk youth, has been named a “research exemplar” by The Research Exemplar Project at Washington University School of Medicine. Prado is the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences and director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health.

Read more about Dr. Prado »

The invasive shrub Prosopis juliflora.

Study Shows Removal of Invasive Shrub Can Help Reduce Malaria Transmission

July 24, 2017

Removing the flowers of the invasive shrub Prosopis juliflora from mosquito-prone areas might be a simple way to help reduce malaria transmission, according to a new study co-authored by John Beier, Sc.D., a world-renowned University of Miami Miller School of Medicine entomologist, professor of public health sciences and director of the Division of Environmental and Public Health.

Read more about the malaria study »

MSTP Student wins Women in Neurotrauma's Award of Excellence

July 24, 2017

Stephanie Lee won the Women in Neurotrauma’s (WiNTR) Award of Excellence at the recent National Neurotrauma Symposium held in Snowbird, Utah. This award is given to the top female poster in the trainee competition. Stephanie was one of 24 trainees selected from 218 trainee abstracts to participate in the competition. She joins a long history of WiNTR awardees from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. We congratulate Stephanie who is a MSTP student in her third year of graduate training in the Neuroscience program working with Drs. Keane, Bullock and Dietrich.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program 2017

July 18, 2017

SURF fellows are spending ten weeks pursuing research projects in the laboratories of UM MSoM faculty. The program introduces fellows to the type of projects encountered during doctoral research training and lead to an understanding of the planning, discipline, and teamwork involved in the pursuit of basic answers to current questions in the biological sciences.

Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, Ph.D.

Grants Will Fund Studies of Dementia Risk

July 06, 2017

Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences’ Division of Epidemiology, is one of the recipients of two multi-institution RO1 grants from the National Institute on Aging funding studies of different aspects of the risk of dementia.

Read more about the grants »

Volunteer physicians and medical students in the Galapagos islands.

UM Medical Team Brings Life-Changing Eye Care to Remote Galapagos Island

June 27, 2017

It all started with a conversation between University of Miami Provost Thomas LeBlanc and Dr. Richard Lee of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at a Faculty Senate event. The provost told Dr. Lee about an amazing experience he had had visiting a UM undergraduate program on Isabela Island in the Galapagos. He urged Lee to visit the island during a planned trip to Guayaquil to speak at an educational meeting.

Read more about the Galapagos vision project »

Miller School physicians helped displaced families in Ecuador.

Miller School Team Finds Sharp Rise in Zika Cases in Ecuador After 2016 Earthquake

May 18, 2017

A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine team has found a sharp rise in Zika virus cases in northeast Ecuador after a devastating earthquake on April 16, 2016. “We saw many pregnant women with typical signs of Zika on multiple UM medical missions to the affected region,” said Leonardo Tamariz, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Population Health and Computational Medicine.

Read more about the Zika study »

A cardiac ultrasound photo showing epicardial fat within the yellow outline and its greatest thickness depicted by the red line according to the method pioneered and validated by Dr. Iacobellis.

Miller School Research Shows Epicardial Fat is a Modifiable Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetics

May 15, 2017

Research by Gianluca Iacobellis, M.D., Ph.D., professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has shown that a drug commonly prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes can significantly reduce epicardial adipose tissue, the fat around and within the heart.

Read more about the research findings »

Fluorescence microscopy of islets in the omentum transplanted within the biologic scaffold. Shown in red (insulin staining) and blue (DAPI nuclear staining).

Research Findings Show Tissue-Engineered Islet Transplant Achieves Insulin Independence

May 10, 2017

Scientists from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have produced the first clinical results demonstrating that pancreatic islet cells transplanted within a tissue-engineered platform can successfully engraft and achieve insulin independence in type 1 diabetes. The findings were published in the May 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Read more about the research findings »

Winston Health Policy Scholarship recipient Nawara Alawa.

Public Health Sciences Student Receives Winston Health Policy Scholarship

May 05, 2017

Nawara Alawa, a third-year student in the M.D./M.P.H. program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has won a $10,000 Winston Health Policy Scholarship. Only 10 students nationwide receive the prestigious award each year. A Miami native, Alawa studied microbiology as a UM undergraduate, then spent a year at the Brookings Institution before entering medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Read more about Alawa's scholarship »

Motorcycle fatalities account for 14 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths.

Medical Students Publish Perspective on Motorcycle Helmet Laws in New England Journal of Medicine

May 02, 2017

Two students at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have published a perspective on the relationship between motorcycle helmet laws and public health. The article, which appeared recently in The New England Journal of Medicine, takes both a statistical and a cultural look at the lives saved by helmet laws and the staggering rise in death, serious injury and public expense that occurs when those laws are repealed.

Read more about the article »

At center, Department of Public Health Sciences Interim Chair J. Sunil Rao, Ph.D., and Miller School of Medicine Interim Dean Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., MACP, with awardees at the 2017 Annual Public Health Graduate Student Showcase.

Public Health Graduate Students Showcase their Work through Poster Exhibits

March 03, 2017

A select group of graduate students at the Miller School of Medicine had the opportunity on March 2 to highlight their efforts to tackle some of the world’s most pressing and complex public health problems. The 46 students took part in the 2017 Annual Public Health Graduate Student Showcase and Reception, held at the Don Soffer Clinical Research Center. It was the fifth year for the event.

Read more about the public health showcase »

Lina Shehadeh, Ph.D.

Aptamers May Hold Clue to Treating Heart Failure

February 20, 2017

As the heart progresses toward heart failure, it produces high levels of a protein called Osteopontin, which is known to activate pathological remodeling of the heart. Lina Shehadeh, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, and a team of investigators decided to see if they could find a way to block Osteopontin signaling to prevent — or possibly even reverse — heart failure.

Read more about the research »

Postdoc Research Day 2017 Awards

February 15, 2017

The Postdoctoral Programs Office held its 8th Annual Postdoctoral Fellows Research Day, on Friday, February 3, 2017.  

Medical Faculty Association’s Best Research Awards

February 13, 2017

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at the Miami Winter Symposium, three graduate students – Matthew Field, Ryan McCormack, and Chen-Ching “Vicky” Yuan – were officially honored as the 2016 recipients of the Medical Faculty Association’s Best Research Awards. This was a great opportunity for the students to be recognized before an international audience of scholars!

From left, Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., Nanette Vega, M.A., Ivette Motola, M.D., M.P.H., and Stephen Symes, M.D.

Honoring Women in Academic Medicine and Their Achievements

February 10, 2017

Women in Academic Medicine, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Committee of Interns and Residents at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine hosted the annual Evening of Fellowship on January 23, honoring recent successes and achievements of the Miller School’s women faculty. The event began with networking among attendees from various departments, including many chairs and center directors.

Read more about the honors »

A Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center scientist searches for a cure.

Sylvester and Miller School Awarded $5.7 Million for Cancer and Tobacco-Related Disease Research

February 08, 2017

The Florida Department of Health has announced the award of 16 grants totaling more than $16 million from the Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program and the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program. Six investigators at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine were recipients of Bankhead-Coley and King grants totaling $5,728,856.

Read more about the research awards »

Amar R. Deshpande, M.D.

Next-Generation Medical Education Task Force to Design the Ideal Training for Doctors of the Future

February 03, 2017

As medicine and the delivery of health care continue to be transformed, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine — already a national leader in innovative education — is taking a global look at transforming the entire medical curriculum. And Amar R. Deshpande, M.D., who is leading the charge as chair of the Next Generation Medical Education Task Force, says the timing couldn’t be better.

Read more about the task force »

UM Investigators Win $13 Million in Zika Research Grants from Florida Department of Health

February 03, 2017

The Florida Department of Health announced Feb. 1 the award of 12 grants totaling $13,170,784 from the 2016-17 Zika Research Grant Initiative to investigators at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the University of Miami Health System. The grants are more than half of the $25 million state fund supporting a total of 34 Zika research projects at UM and nine other institutions.

Read more about the Zika research grants »

Julio Frenk with Patricia and Philip Frost.

50th Miami Winter Symposium Opens with Announcement of Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering

January 24, 2017

Speaking to an audience of nearly 300 of the world’s leading scientists, researchers and physicians attending the 50th annual Miami Winter Symposium, University of Miami President Julio Frenk announced the creation of the Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering, an umbrella structure that will house individual institutes for the purposes of elevating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) across the University.

Read more about the Frost Institutes »

Dalia Kaakour.

M.D./M.P.H. Student Dalia Kaakour Awarded 2017 Duke Global Health Fellowship

January 24, 2017

Globalization has shaped global public health issues, including human rights, health equity, food access and housing. This summer rising first-year M.D./M.P.H. student Dalia Kaakour will experience those globalization forces firsthand. Kaakour was awarded the Duke University Global Health Fellowship, and she will spend eight weeks in Geneva learning about and addressing vexing global health policy issues.

Read more about Dalia Kaakour's fellowship »

Cells with impaired chromatid separation (red arrows) in cultured WT and Asxl1+/- hematopoietic progenitor cells.

A Key Trigger in Myeloid Cancers

January 24, 2017

When the body is working well, hematopoietic (blood) stem cells in the bone marrow generate healthy red and white blood cells. However, faulty genes can produce abnormal cells, leading to myeloid leukemia and other conditions. Researchers have been working for years to untangle this complicated biology.

Read more about myeloid triggers »

Welcome to our newest team member, Francia Portacio!

January 20, 2017

Francia joins the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies with over nine years of experience in Medical Admissions at UM. Francia has held a pivotal role in helping students reach their educational goals by providing guidance in the recruitment effort and managing the administrative logistics of this process.

Laura Aladro promoted to Senior Program Coordinator, PIBS

January 19, 2017

Laura Aladro was recently promoted to Senior Program Coordinator. In collaboration with Drs. Pedro Salas and Arun Malhotra, she will now provide support to the first year program in biomedical sciences. She will also continue to manage graduate admissions.

50th Miami Winter Symposium is January 22-25

January 10, 2017

The 50th Miami Winter Symposium will take place January 22-25 at the Hyatt Regency Miami. Once again, it will showcase one of the Miller School of Medicine’s centers of excellence, in this case the Diabetes Research Institute. The topic is “Diabetes: Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Therapies.” University of Miami President Julio Frenk will welcome the visitors, who come from across the globe.

Read more about the Miami Winter Symposium »

Kathleen M. Downey, Ph.D.

Dr. Kathleen M. Downey, Retired Professor of Medicine, Passes Away

January 10, 2017

Kathleen M. Downey, Ph.D., who spent 39 years on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine faculty before retiring in 2007, passed away on November 7, 2016. She was 77. She and joined the Miller School’s Department of Medicine in 1968. She became a tenured full professor in 1982 and received a secondary appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1983.

Read more about Dr. Downey »