Join Team Hurricanes in the Fight Against Cancer

DCCWithMePromoPinFINALYou’re invited to join Team Hurricanes for the Dolphins Cancer Challenge (DCC) on Saturday, February 11. Every dollar raised during DCC directly funds cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System.

Since its inception in 2010, DCC has raised $16.5 million for cancer research at Sylvester, and it’s one of our cancer center’s most important fundraising initiatives.

There are so many ways to DCC. As a University of Miami employee, student, alumnus, family member, friend or cancer survivor, you’ll receive a 50 percent discount on your registration fee to ride, run, walk or virtually ride in the fight against cancer. Just use the code UMFightsCancer50 when you register.

Sylvester physician-experts and cancer researchers work together to discover, develop, and deliver some of the world’s most advanced targeted treatments for cancer, knowing that the right diagnosis and the right treatment delivered at the right time leads to better outcomes, more options, faster responses, and fewer side effects.

Remember, register to participate as a member of Team Hurricanes and receive a 50 percent discount on your registration fee when you use the code UMFightsCancer50. Join Team Hurricanes today!

Posted in Events, For Your Benefit, Health and Lifestyle, NewsComments (0)

Celik Receives Presidential Early Career Award

Special to UM News


Nurcin Celik

Outgoing President Obama honored Nurcin Celik, associate professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Industrial Engineering, with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Celik is the first University of Miami recipient to be honored with a PECASE. The award recognizes her federally funded research into smart cities – specifically the use of dynamic data-driven multi-scale simulations for distributed energy systems in those cities.

“I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” President Obama said when he presented the awards. “These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”

Celik is one of 102 PECASE recipients for 2017. The awards recognize some of the nation’s finest scientists and engineers, who show exceptional potential for leadership in advancing scientific knowledge and engineering in the 21st century.

“All of us at the College of Engineering are excited to congratulate Nurcin on this extremely prestigious, well-deserved recognition. This award is a great honor to Nurcin, the industrial engineering department, the College of Engineering and the entire University of Miami,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the University of Miami College of Engineering. “The PECASE is highly competitive, and recognizes not only the excellence and significance of Dr. Celik’s research contributions, but also her potential for future leadership and research impact.”

As part of her presidential award, the U.S. Department of Defense will grant Celik funding of $200,000 per year for five years to advance her research. She will also receive a citation and a plaque.

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, as well as their commitment to community service – as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

To see the full list of the 102 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, click here.

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Surveys Explore Sad State of Water in Cuba

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (January 17, 2017)—When Evaristo lived in his native Cuba, hardly a day went by where he wasn’t dealing with water-related problems such as contaminated drinking water, leaky pipes or streets flooded with raw sewage.

The 60-year-old emigrated to the United States two years ago, leaving those problems behind. But when he returned to Cuba recently to visit his daughter in Havana, he discovered matters hadn’t improved but worsened—he still had to drink bottled water, shower late at night when the water pressure was sufficient, and avoid swimming in dirty rivers and streams.

“Everything in the island needs refurbishing,” he told University of Miami student Nancy Mendoza while waiting for a friend at Miami International Airport (MIA). “Water is no different.”

His story is a recurring one for Mendoza, a Miami Law student who for the past year has been conducting surveys of newly arriving travelers from Cuba to document the water problems on the Communist island.

Her work is part of an interdisciplinary study by College of Engineering Professor Helena Solo-Gabriele, School of Communication Professor Joseph Treaster and Catholic University of America sociologist Enrique Pumar to determine the state of the water in Cuba.

“The information we have on Cuban water is old and the data that is available is not peer-reviewed,” said Solo-Gabriele, who is of Cuban descent but has not visited the island. “We wanted to know the state of the water on the island.”

Initially funded by the UM Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the School of Communication, the study hopes to quantifythe availability of water, its quality and the impact it may have on people’s health, said Solo-Gabriele.

So far Mendoza and other UM students participating in the study have logged 500 interviews through a 43-question questionnaire. They hope to finish 100 more for the study to be completed. The interviews are taking place at Miami International Airport so as to avoid the restrictions Cuba would impose on external scrutiny of thecountry’s infrastructure, said the scholars.

Cuba water issues stem from an obsolete and deteriorating infrastructure. The original water and sewage systems on the island were installed prior to the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Very little maintenance has been done on the system in the five decades since, said Solo-Gabriele.

Daily water shortages, leaky pipes, non-working toilets and contaminated water is common. This may surprise many people, especially tourists who are visiting the island by the thousands since renewed relations between the U.S. and Cuba were established in 2014, said Treaster, who has worked on other water-related projects and visited Cuba several times in the ‘80s as a reporter for the New York Times.

“First thing I thought was Cuba has a great reputation for public health, what water problems could there be,” said Treaster, but then he remembered that as a visiting journalist in the ‘80s he only drank bottled water.

Tourists who visit the island encounter a very different reality with water issues. Hot baths and potable water is available around the clock for those who visit Cuba and stay at hotels, said Solo-Gabriele. But for every day citizens the reality of dealing with water issues can be daunting.

A large part of the problem in Havana stems from the aquifer underneath the Almendares River, said Solo-Gabriele. “The river is receiving all of the sewage and river water infiltrates into the aquifer, putting the drinking water at risk.”

Among the initial findings of the study:

  • Water scarcity affects Cuban citizens almost daily.
  • The outdated pipes are so corroded that often the water is contaminated.
  • Most Cubans have cisterns or water tanks in their yards to store water because official water systems usually provide running water for a few hours a day.
  • Water pressure is an issue in many buildings, requiring residents to use buckets to bathe themselves.
  • Disposal of garbage is spotty. Often, the trash ends up in the water, causing health problems.

Pumar, who was born in Cuba, and has visited the island in the ‘70s and ’80s, said that he was surprised by the extent of the water problems, noting that their interviews of newly arrived visitors cover folks who have come from several cities on the island.

“We have even heard of people getting sick from bottled water that they bought on the black market,” he said. “One journalist got sick because he ordered ice in a restaurant.”

Often, water bottles sold on street are filled with tap water and sometimes ice cubes are made with purified water, but they become contaminated by bartenders and waiters who failed to wash their hands after using the bathroom, said Treaster.

The scholars have an invitation to present at the Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas at UM in the spring. Their study will be published in the journal Cuba in Transition, and they will write an article on the study for the journal Cuban Affairs.

Pumar said the scholars presented their findings at the July 2016 conference of the Study of the Cuban Economy in Miami.

They plan to launch a website with all the data to help organizations and businesses interested in investing in the island to become acquainted with the challenges.

On the practical side, the researchers want the website to be useful to the Cubans on the island and Cuban-Americans who visit their families and friends. Pumar believes that a push to educate both populations with tips such as how they should boil water and store it and the use of water filters would be very beneficial.

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Martha Stewart: ‘Embrace Change’

By Megan Ondrizek
UM News


Melissa Medina, right, chair of the 2017 Women’s Leadership Breakfast, moderated a discussion with Martha Stewart, left.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 20, 2017) –Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart urged nearly 1,200 Miami-Dade women gathered for the “sweet” 16th Annual United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast at the University of Miami Watsco Center last week to never stop evolving.

“When you’re done changing, you’re through,” Stewart advised.

Presented by The Lennar Foundation Medical Center, UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, and Leslie Miller Saiontz and Family, the breakfast also celebrated the legacy of Susan “Sue” Miller, the matriarch of the Miller family whose passion for philanthropy was instrumental in shaping the United Way of Miami-Dade as well as the University. Miller died in November after a battle with cancer. She was 81.

Miller’s signature United Way event, The Women’s Leadership Breakfast, “epitomizes women’s leadership,” said UM’s first lady, Felicia Knaul, professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine and director of the Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, who currently serves as a United Way board member.

“Her spirit forever transformed this community we all call home,” Knaul said of Miller. “Her memory will forever be a blessing, as she was a champion of causes and a leader of institution building.”

Sue Miller’s daughter, Leslie Miller Saiontz, founder and chief executive officer of Achieve Miami, applauded the “stadium filled with women” looking to do incredible things.

“It’s been an emotional morning celebrating the legacy that [my mother] created. She built something that outlived her but will continue to strengthen,” Miller Saiontz said before introducing Stewart.

The founder and chief creative director of Martha Stewart Living was joined on stage for a question-and-answer style conversation moderated by Melissa Medina, chair of the 2017 Women’s Leadership Breakfast and executive vice president of eMerge Americas.

Stewart, who said her secret to achieving balance is “good living,” admitted to the women leaders in the room that she herself found it hard to be a professional woman. But, she said, she always succeeded when she believed in herself, in her passion, and in change.

“Don’t be afraid to embrace change,” she said.


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Soar with the Ibises: Attend The Lennar Foundation Medical Center’s Open House January 29


Glass ibises soar in the windowed lobby of The Lennar Foundation Medical Center’s impressive new facility on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 20, 2017)—One of The Lennar Foundation Medical Center’s first patients, Victoria Bassil was thrilled that the University of Miami Health System’s world-class physicians and services are finally so convenient to her home. “Everybody was so warm and welcoming and I was very impressed with the facility,” the 86-year-old Westchester resident said. On Sunday, January 29, faculty, staff, students, and the community at large are invited to tour UHealth’s spectacular new Coral Gables home, which from the soaring ibises in the windowed lobby to the soothing garden on the roof-top terrace is designed to provide exactly the welcoming, healing, and streamlined experience Bassil enjoyed.

From 1 to 4 p.m., The Lennar Center’s community-wide grand opening celebration will give visitors the opportunity to meet UHealth experts, win prize drawings, enjoy music, dance competitions, mad scientist shows, face painting, photo booths, food and refreshments, and appearances by Sebastian the Ibis, other mascots, and UM athletes and cheerleaders.

When Lennar opened its doors on the Coral Gables campus last month, the 200,000-square-foot ambulatory care center provided an alternative for Miami-Dade County residents who want the world-class patient care provided by Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and other UHealth specialty areas, including women’s and men’s centers, a comprehensive diabetes center, cardiology, primary care, neurology, and otolaryngology—but want it closer to home.


Patient representative Nicole Cabrera processes Victoria Bassil’s registration.

“The Lennar Center is only three or four miles from where I live,” said Bassil, who likes to joke that she’s only four years younger than UM itself. “My daughter and I just got in the car and drove there. It was so easy.”

During its first month of operation, Bassil had three appointments at The Lennar Center. Although she is still hobbled by a slow-healing hip fracture from a fall 18 months ago, she is considered to be in excellent shape for her age, but she wanted a comprehensive evaluation by her new team of doctors.

So on December 5, Bassil was one of the first patients through the doors of the new facility, where she had her eyes examined by Elliott S. Brafman, O.D., an optometrist from Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. She returned on December 20 to be examined by her primary care physician, Andrea M. Sosa-Melo, M.D., and again on January 3 for tests ordered by pulmonologist Roger A. Alvarez, D.O., M.P.H. Technicians Barbara Perez and Diano Sebastian skillfully conducted Bassil’s echocardiogram and CT scan, respectively.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had such thorough checkups,” Bassil said.

The awareness that The Lennar Center offers a completely new patient experience began the moment Bassil and her daughter arrived. Outside, they were met by the friendly valets, who parked their car. Inside, registration went without a hitch.

“It’s so new and clean — everything just sparkled. It’s a very pleasant place to go to,” Bassil observed.

As Chief Administrative Officer Ben Riestra said, “Better accessibility to our academic-based health care services is one of our goals, and we are clearly achieving this at The Lennar Center. It is great to hear, directly from our patients, that their experience at The Lennar Center is very positive.”

And now that she has experienced The Lennar Center difference—unmatched patient care, with a wide variety of medical specialties available under one roof—Bassil promises she will be back, if for nothing else, for well-being check-ups.





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