Tag Archive | "Department of Public Health Sciences"

Zika Forum Spotlights the Epidemic

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Zika Forum Spotlights the Epidemic

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

John Beier of the Department of Public Health Sciences discusses the importance of effective mosquito-control efforts to help prevent the spread of Zika and other vector-borne diseases.

John Beier of the Department of Public Health Sciences discusses the importance of effective mosquito-control efforts to help prevent the spread of Zika and other vector-borne diseases. Seated are, from left, Jose Szapocznik, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences; Anna Marie Likos, director of the Division of Disease Control and Health Protection for the Florida Department of Health; and Lillian Rivera, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 24, 2016) – Here’s the tally, though by the time you read this, the number will have probably changed: 907.

That is the number of confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil. The birth defect, in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and often incomplete brain development, has been linked to an explosion of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus in that country.

The virus, which is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, has dominated the headlines for months. While no local mosquito-borne cases have been reported in the U.S., there have been travel-associated cases. In Florida alone, Zika cases now stand at 72.

And it was that number, as well as other startling statistics, such as how Zika has hit more than three dozen countries and territories in the Americas, that drew more than 300 people to a forum at the University of Miami’s Shalala Student Center on Wednesday that addressed recent developments on the virus.

The four-hour forum, which was presented by the Miller School of Medicine; UHealth – the University of Miami Health System; the Department of Public Health Sciences; the Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, whose founder and director, Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D., served as the forum’s facilitator; the Department of Medicine; and the Division of Infectious Diseases, included panel discussions and remarks from several researchers and physicians from UM and elsewhere.

“We’re very concerned about the Zika virus,” said John Beier, professor and director of the Division of Environmental and Public Health in the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “It causes microcephaly, but it is also the first sexually transmitted vector-borne disease.”

He called the virus an Aedes problem, referring to the mosquito that spreads it.

Aedes aegypti, which can also transmit dengue fever and the chikungunya virus, is proving to be “a little bit more fierce than we’re used to seeing,” said Esper G. Kallas, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, who delivered the forum’s keynote address.

While females are known to lay their eggs in stagnant freshwater, Aedes aegypti are now showing an ability to multiply in polluted water sources as well, said Kallas. And rising temperatures that are the result of global warming are helping the mosquito to adapt to northern locations, where in the past, the insect would never have been found.

Beier called the Aedes aegypti a challenge for vector biologists to control, noting that the mosquito has even demonstrated an ability to go underground and find suitable habitats during winter.

“We have tools for controlling mosquitoes,” said Beier, who also studies mosquito ecology and behavior in West Africa, “and we have newer methods, but they haven’t been validated yet.”

Florida has some of the world’s most effective mosquito control practices, Beier said. But in developing countries, mosquito infestations can be difficult to control, allowing vector-borne diseases to spread easily. Giving people better access to safe drinking water and improving sewage treatment practices could help, he said.



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Register for March 23 Forum on Zika Virus

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Register for March 23 Forum on Zika Virus


Please note: Registration for the forum on Wednesday, March 23 closes on Monday, March 21. 

The Miller School of Medicine, the Division of Infectious Diseases, the Department of Public Health Sciences and UHealth – the University of Miami Health System will present Zika Forum: State of the Science, Public Health Safety and Ethics, on Wednesday, March 23, from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center, on the  Coral Gables campus. Miller School and other local and international experts in vector control, infectious diseases, public health, neurology, virology, and bioethics will discuss the state of the science, medical implications, public health concerns, and ethical challenges of the Zika virus.

The forum is presented in partnership with University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, Institute of AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases, International Medicine Institute, University of Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade.

The event has been designated for CME/CEU credit, and registration fees apply. The general public and non-credit-seeking attendees may attend at no charge. For additional program details and to register, visit the cvent page.

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Department of Public Health Sciences Open House on March 15

The Department of Public Health Sciences is hosting a Spring Open House on Tuesday March 15 at the Newman Alumni Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The open house will include a panel discussion with current students and a mock class. Interact with students, faculty, and alumni and learn about the admission process for  MD/MPH, MPH, MSPH and dual degree programs. RSVP for the open house today, or email any questions or concerns to [email protected].

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Alumnus Appointed Dean of the Graduate School

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Alumnus Appointed Dean of the Graduate School

UM News

Prado photo

Guillermo “Willy” Prado

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 1, 2016)—The University of Miami has appointed UM alumnus Guillermo “Willy” Prado, the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences and the director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health at the Miller School of Medicine, as the new dean of the Graduate School, effective immediately.

“Dr. Prado is well positioned to raise the Graduate School at UM to a new level of excellence, thanks to his passion as a researcher and educator,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc.

As dean of the Graduate School, Prado will work in partnership with the deans of the schools and colleges to support and develop strategies for attracting the next generation of scientists and researchers to graduate education at the University of Miami.

He will specifically manage the process of external program reviews and new program proposals, oversee the selection process for University of Miami graduate fellowships, chair the Graduate Council meetings, and meet regularly with graduate program directors, among other duties.

“This appointment is particularly meaningful to me because the University of Miami has been my academic home for 15 years, inclusive of my graduate training,” said Prado, who earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology and public health in 2005 and his Master of Science in statistics in 2000. “My plan is to work collaboratively with University leadership, graduate program directors, and the rest of the University community to continue to increase the quality of graduate education for our students.”

Prado joined the UM faculty in 2007. In the areas of research, he has served as principal investigator of approximately $10 million of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. He also has served in the roles of mentor and co-investigator of approximately $60 million of NIH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding, including a leadership role on two NIH-funded center grants.

His research has appeared in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, including The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, and American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

During his tenure, Prado has led the development of the Ph.D. program in Prevention Science and Community Health, as well as redesigned the epidemiology doctoral program. Having taught more than 10 graduate courses in prevention science, epidemiology, and biostatistics at UM, Prado has mentored many junior faculty, post-doctoral students, and graduate students.

As chief of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health since 2013, Prado has overseen a research program endowment of $375,000. Before that, he led the Ph.D. in Epidemiology Doctoral Program and served as acting chief of the Division of Epidemiology.

John L. Bixby, vice provost for research and professor of pharmacology and neurological surgery, chaired the search committee for the Graduate School dean and describes Prado as the “best of the best.” Noting that Prado will play a key role in UM’s progress in education and research, Bixby said, “Even among a number of highly impressive applicants who interacted with the Search Committee, Willy’s personality, accomplishments, and insight stood out. I am personally delighted that he will be our next dean.”

“Willy is an extraordinarily bright, dedicated public health researcher whose enthusiasm for his work is infectious,” said José Szapocznik, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences, who recruited Prado to the faculty after he completed his doctoral degree. “His work in prevention science has made him a superstar at UM and in the national scientific community.”

Prado replaces M. Brian Blake, who was named provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Drexel University last spring. In the interim, Angel Kaifer, professor of chemistry and senior associate dean for research and graduate education in the UM College of Arts and Sciences, served as dean.

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Faculty and Staff Support the U: Julie Kornfeld Fuels Passion for Public Health by Removing Barriers

Julie Kornfeld

Julie Kornfeld

Julie Kornfeld is so inspired by the graduate students she guides in the master’s in public health (M.P.H.) and the combined M.D./M.P.H programs at the Miller School of Medicine that she is compelled to help them succeed. “They are passionate about transforming the health of our communities,” says the assistant dean for public health in the Department of Public Health Sciences. “But graduate education is expensive, and I want to help remove the financial barriers for our students.”

Kornfeld has been contributing to the University for more than 20 years through the United Way and Momentum2 campaigns. “My donations have primarily been focused on providing scholarships for our public health students,” she says. “My dream is for every qualified student to be able to afford the training they need to address our nation’s public health problems.”

Kornfeld grew up in Philadelphia and worked in television and the nonprofit sector before joining the University 21 years ago. A double UM alumna, she earned a master’s degree in public health in 1997 and a doctoral degree in 2009. Her husband, Fred Silverman, a TV producer and communications consultant who also has taught at UM, is now enrolled at the University as a graduate film student. They have three children, Dylan, Morgan, and Ely.

“We all volunteer our time and raise funds for nonprofit organizations,” she says. “There are so many needs in our community, and we believe it’s important to give something back.”

At the University, Kornfeld plays a critical role in the development and implementation of the Miller School’s public health curriculum. Since 2010, she has served as the co-principal investigator on an educational development grant to accelerate the M.D./M.P.H. program so students can obtain both degrees in four years rather than five. She is also an active instructor for a wide variety of public health courses, including special seminars for dual degree programs at the law and medical schools.

Reflecting on the importance of donations, Kornfeld says, “I believe that all faculty and staff members should support UM. It’s important for our University’s future and it demonstrates to our students and co-workers that we truly believe in what we do every day.”

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