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10th Annual Medical Scientist Training Program Student Research Symposium on April 12


Mark-Rosenblatt

Mark Rosenblatt

The 10th Annual Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Student Research Symposium on Thursday, April 12 will feature a keynote address by University of Miami alumnus Mark Rosenblatt, ’99, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

Rosenblatt, who will discuss “VGEF Signaling in the Cornea: Angiogenic and Neurogenic Functions” at 12 p.m. in the Lois Pope LIFE Center 7th-floor auditorium, is a physician-scientist who has made important contributions to our understanding of the regeneration of the cornea and established innovative models for investigating corneal nerve repair. His lab is also developing new tissue engineering methods for cornea regeneration and replacement.

In addition to his talk, the symposium will include MSTP Student Scientific Talks from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m., also in the Lois Pope auditorium, and a student poster session from 3:25 to 5 p.m. in the outside courtyard.

For more information, please contact Theresa Votolato at theresa.votolato@med.miami.edu or 305-243-6278.

 

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26th Annual Florida Bioethics Network/UM Bioethics Conference on April 6


The Florida Bioethics Network and the University of Miami Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy will host the 26th annual spring conference on Friday, April 6, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel. To view the conference program and to register, visit www.cvent.com/d/35q438.

This program—perhaps the oldest and largest community bioethics conference in the country—will feature presentations on public health ethics education, guns as a public health issue, medical marijuana, the role of clergy on ethics committees, electronic informed consent, and unusual advance directives.

The conference is made possible with the support of leading regional hospitals and other health care institutions that have identified professional development in ethics as an essential component of high-quality practice. These include Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, UHealth Tower, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Jackson Health System, and the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The program will be approved for continuing education credits for physicians, nurses, social workers, attorneys, and chaplains.

UM students, UM faculty and staff, and Jackson staff can attend the conference without charge. Please use the following discount codes when registering online:

UM Discount Code: UMEthics2018

JMH Discount Code: JHMEthics2018

Please contact the Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at ethics@miami.edu or 305-243-5723 for registration instructions or conference information.

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In Good Company


Two pioneering women on the UM faculty, Joanna Lombard and Giselle Guerra, are honored with In the Company of Women Awards

UM News

awardees3

Transplant specialist Giselle Guerra, left, and architect Joanna Lombard were honored for their pioneering contributions to, respectively, health and humans services, and research and education.

MIAMI, Fla. (March 14, 2018) – An architect who has studied the impacts of the built environment on the health and well-being of children and elders and a transplant nephrologist whose hard work and vision helped improve patient outcomes at the nation’s second largest kidney transplant program are recipients of Miami-Dade County’s prestigious “In the Company of Women” award, which recognizes outstanding women who have paved the way for others.

Joanna Lombard, professor in the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, and Giselle Guerra, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the Miller School of Medicine and medical director of the kidney and kidney-pancreas program at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI), are among 13 distinguished South Florida women who, fittingly, received the award on a day—March 8—that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women: International Women’s Day.

Lombard was honored in the category of Research and Education, while Guerra was recognized for her work in the area of Health and Human Services.

From the very beginning of her career, Lombard set herself apart by breaking the professional mold for women. Her bachelor of architecture from Tulane University, master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and her architecture license were received during a time when men heavily dominated the profession.

She has further distinguished herself with a joint appointment in the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, allowing her to join the fields of architecture, landscape, and public health in her teaching and research.

Guerra, who joined the Miller School faculty 12 years ago, is medical director of the Living Donor Kidney Program at MTI, which she has expanded to give more people life-saving kidney transplant. A collaboration between the University of Miami Health System and Jackson Jealth System, MTI performs about 350 kidney transplants a year—with the best results among large volume centers.

For her work, Lombard collaborates with investigators in UM’s Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Group. In one study, the researchers looked at elementary school-aged boys in Miami’s East Little Havana, investigating whether there was a correlation between their conduct grades and the type of neighborhood block where they lived. What they discovered was that boys who lived in mixed-use blocks had higher conduct grades and performed better in school. The reason?

“When you have a corner store, more adults looking out for children, more eyes on the street, and more interaction—it’s better for people,” Lombard said. The team also studied Hispanic elders in the same area, finding that those who lived on streets with houses that had balconies, porches, and stoops functioned better both mentally and physically than elders who live without such features.

She and Research Assistant Professor Scott C. Brown represent the School of Architecture and the Department of Public Health Sciences, respectively, as charter members of the American Institute of Architects’ Design and Health Research Consortium, an 11-university initiative aimed at investigating how design affects public health.

Lombard’s work in both architectural design and teaching has garnered numerous awards. She was named among the DesignIntelligence 30 Most Admired Educators for 2013, has twice won the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Preservation Education/Media award, and has won numerous faculty honors and awards in architectural design.

Guerra’s passion for patients in need of life-saving transplants and her visionary leadership in increasing their chances of getting and surviving one prompted Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, to nominate her for the “In the Company of Women” award.

“Dr. Giselle Guerra has dedicated her career to giving hope and the gift of life to patients, who are in desperate need of a life-saving transplant,” Migoya said. “She grew and created two successful transplant programs, in which patients receive a kidney from a living donor. These programs have provided amazing benefits to patients, including shorter waiting time for an organ, and better outcomes and survival rates.”

When Guerra joined MTI in 2008, the kidney transplant program was performing very few transplants from living donors. Recognizing that these transplants are the best option for many patients, she began educating the community and growing the program.

In 2012, Guerra created the Hispanic Kidney Transplant Clinic for pre-kidney transplant patients of Hispanic background. Designed to address cultural fears about living donations, the staff’s Spanish-speaking physicians and nurses educate families on the benefits of living donation. “Many people from all backgrounds are concerned about what it means to be a living donor,” Guerra said. “You can donate one of your two kidneys and still work, exercise, have children and enjoy a normal, healthy life.”

While growing the Living Donor Kidney Program, Guerra felt that there was more to be done to help MTI patients. In 2014, she created the Paired Exchange Program, which allows recipients to receive a better-matched kidney, and speeds up the transplant process. On July 9, 2014, MTI successfully performed Florida’s first three-way paired kidney exchange transplant, involving three donors and three recipients. The next year the MTI team performed Florida’s first four-way paired kidney exchange.

Drawing on her experience, Guerra has assisted transplant centers across the United States, as well as in Argentina and Mexico, in developing living donor and paired exchange programs that can help the 96,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Through research studies, Guerra has focused on improving the outcomes of transplant patients. Recently, she was appointed principal investigator of a national study that focuses on the mutation of the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) in African Americans and people of African descent, and how this variant leads to chronic kidney disease. The study, set to start this year, will also look at the outcomes of patients who receive a kidney from a person carrying this mutated gene. The results of this new study will help make improvements in the allocations of kidneys. The study will involve a consortium of organ procurement organizations in Florida and Puerto Rico, as well as 13 other transplant centers in the country.

“As a woman leader in an industry that has been historically led by men, Dr. Guerra has mentored many women,” Migoya said. “Several of her mentees, including a few women, have become medical directors of transplant programs at other hospitals, or have become associate professors of clinical medicine at the University of Miami Health System.”

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Facing Uncertainty in UM’s Waiting Room


By Kate Johnson
Special to UM News

Elizabeth-Jameson

Through portraits and quotes, artist Elizabeth Jameson’s ‘Facing Uncertainty’ exhibit opens a window on living with multiple sclerosis.

Visitors to the University of Miami’s medical campus can gain unique insights into the complexities of living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the MS waiting room in the Miller School of Medicine’s Neurology Clinic at the Professional Arts Center, where Facing Uncertainty is on display through May 31.

The multimedia art installation by artist Elizabeth Jameson, in collaboration with photographer Richard Bermack, includes the portraits of six people who have been diagnosed with MS, including Jameson, and their personal quotes about living with the uncertainty of the illness.

“I do not want to live smaller as a result of my diagnosis,” says Jessica, 29, who was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis when she was 26. “I have had to adjust. There is no choice in that but to do it. But I am not going to let go of my goals, passions, and vision that I am actualizing. The bad days are rough, but the good days, they shine brighter than the sun.”

In the quote under her portrait, Jameson, who is now quadriplegic, said she is trying to find purpose in a life consumed by a chronic illness. “You want to love your life, but you can also hate your life. It’s impossible not to feel overwhelmed. As an artist, I’m forced to redefine my profession each time my disease progresses. I would be a fool if I didn’t admit that I’m terrified of what MS has in store for me next.”

Facing Uncertainty, which began as an online photography project but has evolved into the campaign #FacingUncertainty, is now part of Art MD, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote health campaigns through the use of art.

“The main objective of Art MD is to bridge the gap between art and science,” says Art MD’s president and cofounder, Zeina Hannoush, assistant professor in the Miller School’s Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, who previously worked with Jameson on “The Art of Health,” which debuted during the 2016 Art Basel week.

Art, Hannoush says, provides the perfect medium to inform the community about serious and often preventable health risks and diseases. “Art is magnificent, has no barriers, and can inspire people,” she explains.

Catherine Monahon, Jameson’s studio assistant, describes the difficulties of installing art in patient waiting rooms, noting that “in a lot of clinical spaces you can’t even thumbtack a poster up.”

In turn, Hannoush had to navigate many layers of bureaucracy and red tape to bring the installation to UM’s Neurology Clinic. “It touches on the important topic of dealing with chronic diseases,” she says.

At the UM Neurology Clinic, the portraits hang in the hallway, accompanied by plaques with each participant’s quote, which, tailored to Miami’s audience, are printed in both English and Spanish. The portraits are dynamic and thought-provoking. They catch your eye as you walk down the hallway and inspire curiosity, making you want to read more and take a deeper look into the art. If you look closely at the bottom of each portrait, the participant’s signature is visible.

You’ll also notice the people living with MS are diverse—young and old, black and white, gay and straight—because, Monahon says, Jameson wanted people to know MS is diverse.

But the main goal of Facing Uncertainty, Monahon says, is to “get people talking about their experience. Breaking that silence and breaking the taboo of talking about illness and disability and building community as well.”

Another goal is to turn the “wasted time” spent in waiting rooms into something productive. Typically, Monahon notes, waiting rooms have pictures of puppies and trees, which made Jameson feel, “kind of infantilized, like this is a waste of time.” Instead, Jameson sought to create a space where people would be “seeing one another, acknowledging their own experience, and feeling empowered.”

Jameson began Facing Uncertainty, Hannoush says, when she “started making artistic representations of her own MRIs. They frightened her, so she started painting over them to make them artistic.”

The artwork of her MRIs, which can be viewed on the Facing Uncertainty website, evolved into the idea to use art to start a conversation about MS. Now others can reach Jameson personally and others from the website, creating a support network for those affected by the disease.

“One thing I want the world to know about MS is that the disease of MS is one giant compromise after another . . . one loss after another . . .,”  Jameson wrote in an email.

The other participants have their own unique take on the illness, and their goals for the future, but they all have a common thread that connects each story: Living with MS is living with uncertainty, but that cannot stop you from living, which Jameson has proven with Facing Uncertainty.

Visitors may view the exhibit at the UM Neurology Clinic at 1150 N.W. 14 Street, Suite 609, Miami, FL 33136.

 

 

 

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Join the Livestream Dialogue on ‘Healthcare Innovation in the Medicaid Space’ on March 5


Join a livestream event on Monday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as the Miller School of Medicine hosts Beth Kidder, the state Medicaid director for Florida, in a dialogue with various stakeholders on “Healthcare Innovation in the Medicaid Space.”

This event will bring together state government officials, health insurers, large and small Medicaid providers, healthcare startup companies, representatives from UM, UF, FIU, and USF, venture capital firms, accelerators, NGOs, and national policy experts from Washington D.C., Boston and California.

Organized by the UHealth Care Lab, under the direction of Richard Bookman, Ph.D., in partnership with the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the meeting will develop a roadmap of actions to be taken at the local, state, and federal levels to support testing of innovative approaches to improve both the experience of care and health outcomes among Medicaid beneficiaries. Watch the meeting live by visiting bit.ly/medicaid-innovation.

Sponsors include Miami-Dade Beacon Council, U Innovation, StartupBootCamp/Miami, and California Health Care Foundation.

 

 

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