e-Veritas Archive | June, 2015

High Schoolers Learn What It Takes to Succeed at Ambassador Seminar

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

From left, student ambassadors Giulissa Honoré, Julia Veloso, and Karina Abadia of Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High School imagine their future as physicians.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 26, 2015) – The man with the baritone voice, signature mustache, and graying hair was surely out his mind. The University of Miami, which hadn’t been to a bowl game in more than a decade and was on the verge of mothballing its football program, would win a national championship within five years, he told a group of 18- and 19-year-old kids.


“Everybody thought he was nuts,” Don Bailey Jr., who was a freshman center for the Miami Hurricanes during the early 1980s, recalled about the talk then-coach Howard Schnellenberger gave to his players. “But that was his goal. He talked about it everyday, and he got everyone else to believe in it.”

Turns out, Schnellenberger was right on the money. Miami would defeat Nebraska 31-30 in the 1984 Orange Bowl Classic to win its first national title—a championship Bailey says “was truly a miracle,” but attainable because one man set a goal and stuck to it.

Goals, Bailey told a group of about 50 high school students from Miami-Dade and Broward counties on Friday, are certainly the first step toward success, but “you need to work towards them every single day.” His advice, while certainly nothing novel, was still good medicine and among the many words of wisdom the students would receive on this day.

With their summer break from high school classes now well underway, they had gathered at UM’s Newman Alumni Center on the Coral Gables campus for the UHealth Sports Performance and Wellness Institute’s 6th annual Student Ambassador Seminar, a half-day event that uses the personal experiences and life stories of influential community leaders to motivate and inspire youngsters.

“We’re living in a community where you guys face problems that we didn’t have to face,” said Lee Kaplan, M.D., chief of UHealth Sports Medicine, who, along with UM head athletic trainer Vinny Scavo, started the seminar six years ago after two high school students who they had treated as patients got into trouble.

Many of the students at Friday’s seminar were interested in becoming sports medicine physicians. Others were athletes. But what they all shared was a desire, and willingness, to learn what it takes to succeed. There was no shortage of role models to point them in the right direction—starting with Bailey, the longtime Hurricanes football radio analyst for 560 WQAM who stressed the importance of making a good first impression through a bright smile and firm handshake.

“Everybody in here has a million dollars—a million-dollar smile,” he said. “That first impression may change your life.”

Bailey told the students the story of a young man who, one evening, walked into his flooring business looking for a job. Bailey couldn’t offer him one at the time, but when he saw the young man on the street five days later, he hired him. Then, after learning that the young man had no parents, a failing report card, and lived in a house where six mattresses were strewn across the floor, Bailey placed himself “in charge” of the youngster’s life, helping him to graduate from high school and earn a degree from Florida Atlantic University.

The students also heard from Dave Strong, an emergency medicine physician at Boca Raton Regional Hospital and a team doctor for FAU, who recalled how he cried as a 3-year-old when he learned that his mother and father were divorcing. Even at such a tender age, said Strong, he decided to lead, making it his mission to move his mother out of an Ohio inner city.

Strong also recalled the obstacles he faced as a student himself, such as being placed on academic probation and failing a biochemistry class during his first year of medical school. “But I bounced back,” he said. “You’re going to face failure. It humbles you. It teaches you. Look in the mirror and say, ‘Not only am I going to get up, but I’m going to fight stronger.”’

Among the other speakers at the seminar were UM alumna Dany Garcia, founder and president of the Garcia Companies; Ivette Guttmann, a physician with UHealth Sports Medicine; attorney and entrepreneur Matthew Krieger; sports agent Drew Rosenhaus and his client, Clive Walford, a former Hurricanes football player drafted by the NFL Oakland Raiders; David Wyman, associate athletic director and assistant dean of undergraduate education for UM Athletics; and Ross Wodicka, an orthopaedic surgery resident at UM/Jackson.

Briana Killian, a 16-year-old junior at MAST Academy on Key Biscayne who wants to become a physician, said the seminar furnished her with exactly what she needed to know: “That I should never give up,” she said.


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Human Research Protection Program Receives Accreditation

Special to UM News


From left are AAHRPP’s Michelle Feige, executive vice president, and Elyse I. Summers, president and CEO; and UM’s Dushyantha Jayaweera, Thomas J. LeBlanc, and Pascal J. Goldschmidt.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 23, 2015) —The University of Miami’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) has been awarded full accreditation by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs.

“AAHRPP accreditation is a ‘gold seal’ that offers assurances—to research participants, researchers, sponsors, government regulators, and the general public—that an HRPP is focused first and foremost on excellence,” said Dushyantha T. Jayaweera, M.D., professor of medicine and associate vice provost for human subject research, who directs the Miller School of Medicine’s Human Subject Research Office.

“Accreditation demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the most comprehensive protections for human research participants, and to high quality and ethically sound research,” Jayaweera said. “Becoming accredited is a remarkable achievement and a true testament to what we can accomplish together.”

The Institutional Review Boards, supported by the Human Subject Research Office, are the backbone on which UM’s HRPP is built, but accreditation acknowledges the critical contributions and collective excellence of the entire HRPP team. That includes principal investigators and their study teams, Research Compliance and Quality Assurance, Clinical Research Operations and Research Support, Research Information Technology, Disclosure and Conflict Management, and the Office of Research Administration.

“AAHRPP accreditation is a voluntary process that exemplifies the University of Miami’s commitment to high-quality clinical research and the protection of human subjects,” said UM Interim President Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost. “By choosing to undergo this accreditation process, we have demonstrated our confidence in the faculty and staff who conduct clinical research, serve on the Institutional Review Boards, and oversee human subject research.”

“When you hold yourself up to the highest standards, your efforts will be recognized and rewarded,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine and CEO of UHealth. “The AAHRPP accreditation confirms that we meet the highest standards of research with human subjects, and it will open new doors to collaborative ventures and additional funding.”

“This accreditation is a real milestone for our HRPP on its journey to the top tier,” said John L. Bixby, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and neurological surgery, and vice provost for research. “The process is demanding, and our Human Subject Research Office deserves huge praise for organizing and leading the entire effort.”

Jayaweera says the AAHRPP accreditation was an involved process that required two years of effort, but it was eased by strong support from top administration at the Miller School and at UM.

“It fosters a spirit of trust among research and industry partners, as well as federal agencies,” he said. “This enables us to be in a better position to compete for the pharmaceutically sponsored trials, serve as the IRB of record for national multi-center studies, and continuously look at our processes.

“The preparation for accreditation is a comprehensive review of the entire program. It serves as a form of quality assurance in an effort to minimize the risk of noncompliance to the institution, enhance protection of the human subjects, and make the operation more efficient.”

AAHRPP is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body that uses a voluntary, peer-driven, educational model to ensure that HRPPs meet rigorous standards for quality and protection. To earn accreditation, organizations must provide tangible evidence—through policies, procedures and practices—of their commitment to scientifically and ethically sound research and to continuous improvement.

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Wellness Center Launches Cycling for Parkinson’s

Brittany Dixson

NOTE: The Cycle for Parkinson’s program begins today, Monday, June 29, not July 29, and  offers rolling enrollment through the year.

By Mike Piacentino
Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 24, 2015) – With a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation, the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center is launching a new program, Cycle for Parkinson’s, designed to decrease the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those afflicted with the degenerative neurological disorder. The $22,000 grant will enable people with Parkinson’s disease to participate in a new stationary cycling program beginning Monday, June 29, free of charge.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, almost one million Americans are afflicted with the disease that causes slowed physical movements and loss of motor skills, and almost 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Locally, the South Florida chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association reports that the disease affects more than 7,000 Floridians.

“In an effort to reach more patients within the UHealth system, we are integrating new clinical exercise programs at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center,” said certified personal trainer Brittany Dixson, a health fitness specialist at the UHealth center who holds a master’s degree in exercise science. “Programs like Cycle for Parkinson’s enable doctors to refer their patients directly to specialized programming in the local community.”

Dixson worked with Tony Musto, director of fitness programs, and Raeah Braunschweiger, health fitness specialist, to establish the cycling program, which was designed from a Cleveland Clinic study that showed Parkinson’s patients who took part in cycling programs reported up to a 35 percent decrease in their symptoms.

The UHealth program will offer rolling enrollment throughout the year, with 60-minute sessions held twice a week at the UHealth wellness center, located in the Miller School of Medicine’s Clinical Research Building, west of downtown Miami. Parking is available for just $2 per session.

Before enrolling, participants must receive clearance from their physician. To sign up or for more information about Cycle for Parkinson’s, contact the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center at 305-243-7802 or email [email protected].


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Experts Forecast Latin American Economy

UM News
LA Economic Forecast

From left are Margaret Myers, Luisa Palacios, Susan Kaufman Purcell, and Mauricio Mesquita Moreira.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 18, 2015)— The outlook for trade in Latin America remains poor, as intraregional and external trade has declined over the last several years and will likely continue to do so. As such, the region needs to look globally for trade opportunities, beyond the regionally focused Mercosur or the Pacific Alliance, to open new opportunities and boost competitiveness.

That outlook, provided by Mauricio Mesquita Moreira, principal economist of the Integration and Trade Sector at the Inter-American Development Bank, was one of many viewpoints expressed by a panel of experts at the University of Miami Center for Hemispheric Policy’s Latin America Economic Forecast 2016 conference earlier this month.

Held at the Conrad Miami, the symposium also addressed topics such as the changing energy landscape in the region, economic policies to boost growth, and the expanding Chinese presence.

Margaret Myers, program director for China and Latin America at Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Dialogue, noted that despite slowing trade growth between China and Latin America, the East Asian country continues to broaden its engagement with the region, which covets China’s loans and investments. Although the economic relationship is uneven, both sides see it as a win-win: Latin America is able to export its commodities and have access to investment, while China is able to diversify its sources of agricultural and energy imports, according to Myers.

Energy producers in Latin America (Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia) are feeling the effects of the nearly 50-percent decline in oil prices over the past year. The decline, said Luisa Palacios, senior managing director and head of Latin American research at Medley Global Advisors in New York City, will impact all countries in terms of growth, current accounts, and fiscal balances. Falling capital investment by state oil companies due to declining revenue will likely contribute to further declines in oil production.

Experts at the June 18 conference also provided country-by-country economic forecasts. Manuel Suárez-Mier, an economist in residence at American University’s School of International Service, said Mexico’s economic growth outlook compares favorably with the rest of Latin America. The drop in oil prices has boosted Mexico’s competiveness, and rising labor costs in China have also aided its manufacturing sector, according to Suárez-Mier. While short-term growth will likely remain low, major reforms in the energy and telecommunications sector should further boost growth in the medium-term.

In Brazil, wide-ranging corruption scandals, including one involving the state-owned oil company, Petrobras, has embroiled the administration of recently reelected President Dilma Rousseff. Growth this year will be negative and flat in 2016, predicted Christopher Garman, head of country analysis at the Eurasia Group in Washington, D.C. While the corruption scandal will make governance messy in the short-term, it has the potential to improve corporate governance in Brazil, improving the country’s competitiveness in the long-term, he said.

Joydeep Mukherji, managing director in the Sovereign Ratings Group at Standard and Poor’s, said Colombia and Peru will see lower growth over the next few years due to slowing global growth and falling commodity prices. He noted that both saved gains from the commodities boom and have strong fiscal policy frameworks, and that flexible exchange rates should allow them to adjust to lower growth.

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Canine Companion: Puppy Comes to College to Learn How to Help People

By Maya Bell
UM News

The Beverly family—from left, Alexandra, Joy, Samantha, Jerry, and Gabriela—show 8-week-old Trenton the campus, and some potential new friends.

The Beverly family—from left, Alexandra, Joy, Samantha, Jerry, and Gabriela—show 8-week-old Trenton around campus, and introduce him to some potential new friends near Lake Osceola.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 19, 2015) — Barely a foot tall and weighing just over 10 pounds, Trenton is not a typical college freshman. But don’t be fooled by his irresistible, tail-wagging cuteness. The eight-week-old puppy arrived on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus this month to do some very serious learning—and a good bit of teaching, too.

For the next 18 months, the yellow Labrador-golden retriever mix will be learning house manners, public etiquette, social skills, and basic commands from his volunteer puppy raisers, the family of Joy Beverly, a math instructor and associate faculty master at Pearson Residential College, and a handful of students. Together, they are committed to establishing UM’s first service club dedicated to raising puppies who could become highly trained assistants for people with physical and developmental disabilities.

Though they’re starting by providing the preliminary training and socialization Trenton needs to become an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), they have bigger dreams. They think UM could become a permanent training ground for puppy raisers who, year after year, will help the nonprofit organization match people who could enhance their independence with help from a dog who can open doors, pull a wheelchair, turn on lights, pick up dropped objects, push elevator buttons, and perform innumerable other  tasks most of us take for granted.

“It’s the start of a legacy, and Trenton is the founding father,” said junior Lindsey Slavin, a psychology major who learned about the club in Beverly’s calculus class. “It’s an awesome and unique way to get involved in something that will really make an impact.”

But assistance dogs aren’t just born; they are specially bred and, in the case of CCI’s charges, raised in a very structured environment for 18 months by volunteers who agree to provide them safe homes, proper diet, and obedience training, plus lots of love, opportunities for socialization, and exposure to real-world situations.

“Being on a college campus is really ideal for that,” says Beverly, who with husband Jerry and their three daughters raised their first assistance dog-in-training, Colin, six years ago, when they lived off campus. “Service dogs can’t flinch when they hear noises; they can’t be afraid of getting on an elevator or a bus. They can’t freak out when a skateboarder zips by, and they’ll get exposure to all of that on campus, and more.”

 Samantha Beverly, an education major and resident assistant, will be on the Trenton's primary handlers.

UM student Samantha Beverly, an education major and resident assistant, will be one of Trenton’s primary handlers.

Indeed. Don’t be surprised to see Trenton in Pearson Residential College, where the Beverlys’ middle daughter, Samantha, an education major, will be a residential assistant. Or in Joy Beverly’s calculus class, or at the Rathskeller, the Wellness Center, the library, on the Metrorail, in the grocery story, or, by next fall, a Hurricanes football game. After all, his job is to soak up all the experiences he can, and remain calm, unfazed, and focused through all of them.

Then he’ll be ready for his advanced training with professional instructors at CCI’s Regional Training Center in Orlando. He’ll spend nearly a year there, and if he shows he is the kind of gold-medal athlete it takes to become a Canine Companions assistance dog—only a minority are—he’ll be paired with a recipient who has requested an assistant, and they’ll train together for another two weeks.

For now, Trenton, who is largely housebound until he’s had all his shots, has no idea about his important mission. After being weaned from his mom, who gave birth to him at CCI’s California breeding facility, and arriving in Miami on June 12 in the cargo hold of a jetliner, he’s been busy napping, nipping, and exploring his new surroundings. He was curious, but calm, when four ducklings checked him out during a brief visit to Lake Osceola and he’s already accustomed to the strange sounds of daily life—the sneezes, the coffee grinder, the dishwasher— in the Beverlys’ apartment.

If he was absorbing the lesson imparted last week, he’s also learning from big brother Colin not to be possessive. Colin, who was returned to the Beverlys when, like nearly 60 percent of CCI candidates he did not place with a recipient, was unbothered when Trenton snagged and trotted off with his bone.

Once Trenton is allowed out and about, he won’t be hard to spot. If he’s working—and training is work—he’ll be wearing his bright yellow-and-blue CCI vest, a signal that those inclined to pet him should resist the temptation. It’s also a reminder to the Beverlys, Slavin, and Trenton’s other student handlers that he is not their dog.

“Puppies melt your heart, but people, including us, have to use self-control around assistance dogs,” says Jerry Beverly, who with Samantha plans to be Trenton’s primary puppy raiser. “When they want to hug him and say, ‘Oh I love your dog,’ we have to say, ‘He is not our dog. We’re just raising him.”’

Jerry Beverly, who owns the leadership development firm Leaders Unlimited, credits his family’s experience with Colin with making both him and his wife better parents and his daughters more consistent, empathetic, and responsible. “We’re so eager to get UM deeply involved with CCI because with Colin I saw what it did for my daughters,” he said. “It opens you up to a new phase of development, which is why having a puppy-raising club on college campuses makes sense.”

It also makes sense to Cathy Benson, the executive director of CCI’s Southeast region, which welcomed a puppy-raising club at Tulane University about two years ago and is working with the University of Central Florida on establishing its own program.

“Recruiting college students to become volunteer puppy raisers is a big interest of ours,” Benson wrote recently. “It opens us up to a whole new demographic, and college students can provide great socialization opportunities for our dogs. In addition, they help us promote awareness of our mission and help increase other students’ awareness of disabilities.”

It will also give Slavin, who over her lifetime has raised nine yellow labs as family pets, the most unexpected but cherished opportunity. The vice chair of the eco branch of Student Government and a member of the Honor Council, she transferred to UM last year specifically to become more active on campus.

“But never in a million years did I think that I’d be able to help raise a Labrador for someone who really needs one,” she said. “Dogs are true life-changers; I can’t imagine my life without the special bond I share with my own labs. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to raise an intelligent, supportive companion for someone in need. It feels meant to be.”

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