Hispanic Heritage Month Opening Ceremonies September 23

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month through October 15 with the University of Miami. Join the Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos for opening ceremonies on Tuesday, September 23, at 4 p.m. at the Hecht/Stanford Bridge. The Hispanic Heritage Month Committee, along with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, sponsors several programs and special events that celebrate Hispanic culture. Some of the programs include opening ceremonies where Hispanic cuisine, music, art, and performances are featured. Also on tap are Latino Explosion, showcasing Latino sororities and fraternities; educational forums; and much more. For more information, please contact MSA at 305-284-2855.

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Neonatal Touch Therapy Pioneer Receives Golden Goose Award in Washington

Special to UM News

From left are Golden Goose Award recipients Gary Evoniuk, Ph.D., Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., and Katie Eimers, who accepted the honor on behalf of her late grandfather, Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D.

From left are Golden Goose Award recipients Gary Evoniuk, Ph.D., Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., and Katie Eimers, who accepted the honor on behalf of her late grandfather, Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D.

MIAMI, Fla. (September 19, 2014)—A long-time Miller School of Medicine developmental psychologist, whose touch therapy program has transformed the health of hundreds of premature infants, was honored in Washington, D.C., for her holistic treatment approach that was enhanced by research with rats.

Tiffany Field, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics, psychology and psychiatry and Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development, received the Golden Goose Award on September 18 at a ceremony at the Library of Congress.

The prestigious award, created in 2012 by a coalition of business, university and scientific organizations, honors scientists whose federally funded research may not have seemed to have significant practical applications at the time it was conducted but has resulted in major economic and other benefits to society.

Field accepted the award along with two of her research collaborators, Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., and Gary Evoniuk, Ph.D. Her third collaborator, the late renowned neuroscientist Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D., discovered more than three decades ago how rats licking their pups helped induce their offspring’s growth. In his lab, he and collaborators Kuhn and Evoniuk – who were studying infant rats at Duke University Medical School – decided to rub the pups’ backs with tiny brushes and witnessed the same outcome.

Field, whose research team was already massaging preterm infants at UM, learned from the rat pup study that increasing the stimulation to moderate pressure was critical for growth. When her research group applied more pressure, actually moving the skin, the preterm infants gained more weight and were discharged, on average, six days earlier. Since starting the research program in 1982, she has seen hundreds of fragile, preterm infants at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital rapidly gain weight and make other notable improvements.

“Originally we were using light stroking because these infants are so fragile. But that was the wrong kind of touch. Much like tickling, it increases heart rate and blood pressure,” said Field. “Using moderate pressure massage involves moving the skin, and that’s when we see the positive results.”

Applying moderate pressure propels a cranial nerve to send signals to the gastrointestinal tract, which then releases food absorption hormones. This increases motility along with many other benefits, said Field, whose breakthrough research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and Johnson and Johnson.

The infants who were massaged for 15 minutes, three times a day, gained 47 percent more weight, were more alert and responsive, and were released from the hospital an average of six days earlier than premature babies who were not massaged.

In receiving this year’s award, Field and her collaborators join a list of elite scientists, selected by a panel of respected scientists and university research leaders.
“Researchers massaging rats: sounds strange, right?” said U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, who first proposed creation of the Golden Goose Award. “But infant massage has given premature babies a better start. Off-the-wall science saves lives.”

The research findings also reversed long-held beliefs in U.S. hospitals that touching preterm infants was detrimental. “It took a long time for neonatal intensive care units to overcome that attitude,” said Field.

Field’s approach to preterm infant care has been highly influential, as massage therapy is now used by close to 40 percent of neonatal intensive care units nationwide, a number that is steadily increasing. The program has also resulted in significant cost savings, since hospital stays are shortened by nearly a week.

“I hope receiving an award like this will convince Congress to commit more money to NIH funding and also help more neonatal intensive care units see the need to massage babies to help them grow,” said Field.

One out of eight infants in the U.S. is born prematurely, with associated costs that have been estimated at $52,000 per infant, or $26.2 billion annually nationwide. A recent analysis estimates the savings from Field’s approach at about $10,000 per infant, with annual nationwide savings of $4.7 billion.

Additional studies by Field and others around the world have continued to show beneficial outcomes of infant massage and revealed the underlying physiological mechanisms involved. Schanberg and Kuhn collaborated with her, using insights from the animal work to explore potential physiological and hormonal mechanisms responsible for the benefits of touch in human infants.

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From Seat Belt Use to Distracted Driving, Safety Fair Helps Raise Awareness

UM News

Safety Fair

With Florida Highway Patrolman Joe Sanchez monitoring its operation, a rollover accident simulator is demonstrated during UM’s annual safety fair, which was held on the UC Rock Plaza.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 18, 2014) – Ejected from their vehicle during a violent rollover accident, the bodies of a man, woman, and small child went soaring through air, landing lifeless on the green space in front of the University of Miami bookstore as a crowd of onlookers reacted in shock.

While paramedics and law enforcement officials would normally arrive at such a tragic scene within minutes, there would be no such response on this day. After all, it wasn’t real—just a simulation conducted with crash test dummies and the cab of a pickup truck mounted on a trailer equipped with hydraulics.

The purpose: to show what happens to automobile occupants when they don’t wear safety belts in a rollover crash.

It was just one of the teaching tools demonstrated last Thursday at a safety fair on the Coral Gables campus aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, and the importance of buckling up.

The rollover simulator, operated by Florida Highway Patrolman Joe Sanchez, proved to be the day’s most dramatic demonstration. But it was a pair of ordinary-looking goggles that gave students and employees the chance to become active participants. Dozens of people attempted, unsuccessfully, to perform the walk-and-turn field sobriety test while wearing the special goggles, which simulate impaired ability.

Held on the UC Rock Plaza, the safety fair featured the UM Police Department, UM Parking and Transportation, Association of Commuter Students, PIER21 (the William W. Sandler, Jr. Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education), RED (Responsible and Educated Drivers), and members of the UM Student Government executive board.

The Dori Slosberg Foundation, Florida Highway Patrol, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, City of Miami Beach, and AAA/Traffic Safety Foundation also participated.


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UM and Melissa Institute Present Inaugural Conference October 3 on Preventing Aggression and Bullying in School and Community

CORAL GABLES, Fla.  (September 11, 2014)—It is estimated that about 60 percent of 4th to 8th graders are the victims of bullying. Studies show that the consequences of this abuse can psychologically affect victims until middle age, with higher levels of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

An important inaugural conference will be held Friday, October 3, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Newman Alumni Center on the Coral Gables campus to discuss ways to prevent and help victims and their families deal with the aftermath of bullying incidents. The conference is co-sponsored by UM’s School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) and the Melissa Institute, a nonprofit organization housed within SEHD that is dedicated to preventing violence and promoting safer communities.

Titled “Preventing Aggression and Bullying in School and Community: Multi-Systemic Approaches,” the conference will bring together professionals in the field, including Isaac Prilleltensky, SEHD dean, Judy Schaechter, interim chair of pediatrics at the  Miller School of Medicine, Daniel Santisteban, a clinical psychologist and professor at SEHD, and  Debra Pepler, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Ontario. Pepler is the keynote speaker.

Open to the general public, the event is complimentary for UM faculty and students. The registration fee is $25, with proceeds benefitting The Melissa Institute.  For more information call 305-284-2930. To register online go to: www.MelissaInstitute.org.

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Fall 2014 Commencement: Dates and Regalia Information

The University of Miami invites all faculty members to participate in the Fall 2014 commencement ceremony as part of the Academic Procession. The ceremony will be held in the BankUnited Center on Thursday, December 18 at 10 a.m. for all graduate and undergraduate degrees awarded from all schools and colleges, as follows:

  • School of Architecture
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business Administration
  • School of Communication
  • School of Education and Human Development
  • College of Engineering
  • Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
  • Miller School of Medicine (non-M.D. degrees)
  • School of Law
  • Frost School of Music
  • School of Nursing and Health Studies


Visit www.miami.edu/capandgown to RSVP for the ceremony and order your regalia no later than Wednesday, October 15. If you are attending as a dissertation advisor, please email commencement@miami.edu and include your candidate(s) name. If you need further information regarding commencement, call 305-284-1821 or email the director, Lexi Matiash, at LMatiash@miami.edu.


Thursday, May 7, 2015
Graduate Degree Ceremony

Friday, May 8, 2015
Undergraduate Degree Ceremonies


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