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SEEDS: Reproducibility in Science

Special to UM News


Panelists discuss one of the greatest challenges in contemporary science—the failure to reproduce or replicate research results.

MIAMI, Fla. (April 25, 2016)—One of the greatest challenges in contemporary science—the failure to reproduce or replicate research results—was tackled by a first-ever symposium that linked reproducibility and the responsible conduct of research.

The SEEDS “You Choose” Awards and the Miller School’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy presented “Reproducibility in Science: Writing, Data and the Growth of Knowledge” on April 24 at the Mailman Center for Children Development, with a keynote talk by Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the California-based Science Exchange and co-director of its Reproducibility Initiative.

“It is rare and reassuring to see institutional leadership take such a supportive role” in fostering reproducibility, Iorns said during a subsequent panel discussion with John Bixby, Ph.D., vice provost for research and professor of pharmacology and neurological surgery; Dushyantha T. Jayaweera, M.D., executive dean for research and research education and professor of medicine; and Joyce M. Slingerland, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for translational research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor of medicine, and director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute.

The program was chaired and the panel was moderated by SEEDS grant recipient Joanna Johnson, Ph.D., director of writing in the College of Arts and Sciences, who described her work on a project that identifies poor, boastful, and hedging scientific prose as a potential contributor to failures of reproducibility.

What has been called a “crisis” in science, repeated failures to reproduce complex and costly experiments is thought to be an obstacle to public trust in science, especially worrisome in times of budget uncertainty.

Iorns discusssed ways of measuring and incentivizing reproducible research, and included results from the first replication studies published by the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology. Iorns was an assistant professor at the University of Miami before starting Science Exchange in 2011. Bixby, Jayaweera, and Slingerland addressed efforts at UM to improve reproducibility and made clear that such efforts are an important component of the responsible conduct of research—and a key element of National Institutes of Health compliance rules for academic institutions.

SEEDS (A Seed for Success) “You Choose” Awards support investigator-initiated activities that enhance the awardee’s community and career. The event was co-sponsored by the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

For more information about SEEDS, please contact Marisol Capellan, SEEDS manager, at mailto:mcapellan@miami.edu.


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Free Colorectal Cancer Screening for Employees

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Together with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University of Miami encourages employees and their spouses/partners to get tested in accordance with screening guidelines. Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer among men and women in the U.S. With regular screenings, polyps and pre-cancerous growths can be removed before they become cancer, and early cancers can be treated more effectively. Survival rate for early-stage colon cancer is higher than 90 percent.

The Miller School of Medicine is one of many organizations in the U.S. that pledged to promote screening for colorectal cancer and to reach the goal of “80 percent by 2018,” established by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and the American Cancer Society.

There are several options for screening. For adults ages 50-75 with no risk factors or symptoms, the recommendations are either a fecal occult blood test, such as the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) once a year, a sigmoidoscopy every five years, or colonoscopy every 10 years.

To get a colonoscopy, contact your doctor to get an order for the test. If you want to have the test at UHealth, call 305-243-8644 to schedule the procedure.

An alternative to a colonoscopy is FIT, a noninvasive test of a sample of your stool that can be done in the privacy of your own home. Only one sample is needed, and there are no dietary restrictions as with previous stool tests. You may be eligible if you are age 50-75, and do not have any of the following: personal or family history of colon cancer, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or blood in your stool. If you have any of these conditions, ask your doctor what is the best screening test for you.

To order an FIT kit for yourself and your spouse/partner, click on this link: https://is.gd/CRC_Screening

Informational websites about colorectal cancer:


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Public Health Graduate Students Showcase Their Work

Special to UM News

Showcase Group Photo

The winners of the showcase with Interim Dean Laurence B. Gardner, in white coat, and, to the left, J. Sunil Rao, interim chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences.

MIAMI, Fla. (March 3, 2017)—A select group of graduate students at the Miller School of Medicine had the opportunity last week 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, which provides a stage for the students to display posters that represent highlights from their field experiences, capstone projects, and thesis projects.

The participating students were this year’s recipients of the prestigious Springboard, Global Health Scholar, Public Health Travel, and Miami, Israel, Science and Health (MISH) Fellowship awards, and nominees from the Department of Public Health Sciences. The students are part of the Public Health Department’s M.D./M.P.H., M.S.P.H, and M.P.H. programs.

Winners were selected from each category based on content, methodology, and oral presentation.

The winners are:

  • Global Health Scholar Award— Sarah Simko, M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2019
    • Project: Community Analysis and Patient Education in Bocas del Toro, Panama
    • Advisor: Nick Cuttriss, M.D., M.P.H.
  • MISH Award— Nadia Abouhana, M.P.H. Class of 2017
    • Project: Raising Awareness About Women’s Heart Disease in Israel
    • Advisor: Tatiana Perrino, Psy.D.
  • Public Health Travel Award— Xeniamaria Rodriguez, M.S.P.H. Class of 2017
    • Project: Assessing Perceptions of Healthcare Professionals on the Warning Signs Associated with Dengue in Pediatric Hospitals in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    • Advisor: Viviana Horigian, M.D.
  • Springboard Award — Karyn Meshbane, M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2017
    • Project: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice Toward Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Among Women Experiencing Homelessness
    • Advisor: Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Department of Public Health Sciences Special Recognition:

  • Layla Bouzoubaa, M.S.P.H. Class of 2017
  • Aliyah Gauri, M.S.P.H. Class of 2016
  • Vivek Singh, M.S.P.H. Class of 2016
  • Roxanne Williams, M.P.H. Class of 2016


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Department of Medicine’s Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Research Day on March 8

GladwinUM alumnus Mark Gladwin, M.D. , the Jack D. Myers Chair of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the director of the Pittsburgh Heart, Lung, and Blood Vascular Medicine Institute, will be the keynote speaker at the Department of Medicine’s 3rd Annual Eugene J. Sayfie, M.D., Research Day on Wednesday, March 8.

Gladwin, an expert on nitric oxide signaling, pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary complications of sickle cell disease will discuss “Novel properties of hemoglobin in NO and CO signaling and therapeutics” at noon in the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Jose Berrcal Auditorium.

His talk will be followed by a “Meet the Speaker Lunch” at 1 p.m. in the ABLEH Breezeway, abstract presentations at 1:30 in front of the Lois Pope LIFE Center, and an awards ceremony and reception at 4:30 p.m. in the center’s 7th-floor auditorium.


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UM Investigators Win $13M in State Zika Research Grants

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UM Investigators Win $13M in State Zika Research Grants

Special to UM News

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.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “I am proud to announce the recipients of these important research grants today. While we are currently in winter months when Zika is not as prevalent, we must remain vigilant and continue to do everything we can to help protect pregnant women and their developing babies. I look forward to seeing the innovation and progress of Florida’s world-class research institutions as we continue to work together in the fight against Zika and to find a vaccine.”

State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip said, “I am grateful for Governor Scott’s leadership that enables us to provide researchers in Florida funds to expand the body of knowledge related to Zika, particularly in the areas of prevention and effects on infants and children.”

“Despite the time pressures related to the Zika Research Grant Initiative, investigators from the Miller School of Medicine and across the state responded with projects that have the potential to quickly advance both science and benefit to patients,” said Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., Director of the Mailman Center for Child Development and Chair of the Florida Biomedical Research Advisory Council. “It is clear that the Miller School, UHealth and other Florida investigators are leading in innovation and impact, and increased funding support is needed to bring the best of science to patients who will benefit.”

Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., interim Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, credits the leadership of Dushayantha Jayaweera, M.D., Executive Dean for Research, in encouraging faculty to submit proposals for research funding. “It’s a reflection of the high quality of our faculty that we had so many successful applications,” Gardner said.

The Zika Research Grant Initiative focused on vaccine development, innovative diagnostic testing or therapeutics, and health effects of Zika, and included discovery science, clinical studies, screening and prevention, and dynamic change team science studies. UM investigators were funded for work in all of these areas, and include:

• Sylvia Daunert, Pharm.D., M.S., Ph.D., Excma.Dra., Lucille P. Markey Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: “Antibody-based Zika diagnostics,” $1,141,585

• Natasa Strbo, M.D., D.Sc., research assistant professor of microbiology and immunology: “Development and testing of novel secreted GP96-Ig Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine,” $981,901

• Emmalee S. Bandstra, M.D., professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology: “Health effects of Zika virus,” $1,989,654

• Sapna Deo, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology: “Rapid RNA test for Zika virus,” $199,280

• Gaurav Saigal, M.D., professor of clinical radiology: “Characterization of Zika-positive and exposed children using enhanced MRI techniques and correlations with neurodevelopmental outcomes,” $1,141,457

• Ramzi Younis, M.D., professor of otolaryngology: “Early diagnosis and rehabilitation for craniofacial disorders in congenital Zika syndrome,” $1,140,125

• Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., professor and chair of cell biology: “Evaluation of novel vaccines that prevent Zika infection,” $1,141,582

• Claudia A. Martinez, M.D., associate professor of medicine: “Cardiovascular complications related to Zika virus infection,” $963,109

• Ivan Gonzalez, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics: “Evaluation of infants for Zika related end organ damage: A team science approach,” $1,989,654

• Mario Stevenson, Ph.D., professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases: “Identification of the duration of ZIKVpersistence to guide reproductive health decisions,” $1,141,582

• Shanta Dhar, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology: “Nano-formulations of anti-helminthic drugs for Zika therapy and prevention,” $1,141,582

• Mark E. Sharkey, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine: “Development of a rapid diagnostic assay for Zika virus infection,” $199,273

The grant programs are administered by the Florida Department of Health and implemented by the Biomedical Research Advisory Council. All of the grants were externally and independently peer reviewed by scientific experts.

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