October 17, 2013
Alumni News

Alumni Dedicated to Animal Welfare

Alumni John F. Lisk, B.B.A. '74, J.D. '77, and Ann Whitten Lisk, B.S.C '76, have been working in animal welfare for over 16 years. Ann was on the Board of Directors of the Humane Society of Greater Miami and a volunteer at the South Florida SPCA, a horse rescue group, and the Horse Protection Association of Florida. John was the Executive Director of the Humane Society of Greater Miami and both helped found the Ashe County Humane Society in Ashe County, North Carolina. That experience has translated into Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary, where they provide a resource /solution for animal control functions, veterinarians and other horse enterprises. These Hurricane's roots run deep. John is a former UM Trustee and two term President of the National Alumni Association and Ann was Director of Development at UM's School of Nursing. Ann's father was Norman A. (Chink) Whitten, for whom the Whitten University Center is named.

Named using the starting lyrics of the UM alma mater, Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the North Carolina High Country and faces the southern sun. The property is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway and located at 3500 feet. The purpose of Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary is to provide a safe, secure place for abandoned, abused, neglected or retired animals. Although the emphasis is on equines, the "herd" also includes various dogs and cats (as well as the occasional raccoon, possum or fawn). Some animals are adopted into loving homes, some can have useful lives on the Sanctuary as riding horses and some are simply "pasture potatoes." No matter their outcome, all are treasured.

Pictured below is a Hackney Pony that had been seized by a local Animal Control as part of a cruelty investigation and brought to Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary. Lisk's nephew, David Viggiano, B.S. '04 and M.S. '07, suggested that the Hackney Pony be named "Shane Larkin", because he's the smallest "player on the floor" around the Sanctuary, but "plays big" and has some real attitude! Lisk is training him to be a "driving" pony which is somewhat different than "driving the lane" in basketball, but in keeping with the overall "theme".

The University of Miami Alumni Association, salutes John and Ann Lisk for their dedicated resolve in animal welfare. To learn more about the Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary visit www.southernsunfarm.com and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/southernsunfarm and follow the adventures!

John and Ann Lisk on the Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary. John with Shane Larkin are shown on the right

Pictured on the left, John and Ann Lisk on the Southern Sun Farm Sanctuary. John with Shane Larkin are shown on the right.

City of Miami Appoints Alumna as City Attorney

Victoria MendezVictoria Mendez, A.B. '96, M.P.A. '99, J.D. '99, has been recently appointed the new City Attorney for the City of Miami. Mendez's job will entail being the chief legal counsel for the largest municipality in Miami-Dade County with over 440,000 residents. She will provide legal advice to the Mayor and City Commission and run an office of over 20 attorneys and nearly 40 staff. She will also oversee the review of contracts, drafting of legislation, and law suits filed against and on behalf of the City of Miami.

The 1999 Miami Law graduate says she never imagined this much success in her life. "I do remember when I was a law student, I thrived on all the opportunities Miami Law gave me: HOPE, Student Government, HLSA, Criminal Law Society, Bar and Gavel, Iron Arrow, etc.," she said. Mendez still has strong contacts at Miami Law today.

Mendez advice for the future lawyers currently still in school? "Network! Network! Network! Take every opportunity to meet future employers."

Mendez officially began her job as City Attorney on Monday, September 30th.

Briefly Noted

Sabrina R. Ferris, B.S. ’94, J.D. ’00, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Honey Shine Mentoring Program.
John F. Fournier, B.M. ’90, M.M. ’94, is the composer and lyricist of the original play "The Life & Death of Madam Barker,” premiering soon at the Red Tape Theatre in Chicago, IL.
Gene D. Gomberg, B.Ed. ’70, will be one of ten recipients to receive the Broward Ultimate CEO Award by the South Florida Business Journal.
Dorothy J. Harden, J.D. ’90, has been elected to the 2013-2014 Executive Board of the American Business Women’s Association.
Aida T. Levitan, A.B. ’69, has been named to the Board of Directors of U. S. Century Bank.
Jason B. Muslin, B.F.A. ’03, developed Fanmento!, a smartphone application which allows fans to add licensed images or templates featuring University themed logos.
Julie S. Napear, B.S.C. ’04, wrote an article and her photography was featured on the cover in the Fall 2013 e-magazine cover of Get Married Away www.destinationweddings.com/media/fall2013/.
Jose Rodriguez, B.S. ’79, is the new CEO and Chairman of the Board of Patriot Fluid Solutions.
Bruce S. Rubin, A.B. '69, founder of RBB Public Relations, received the 2013 Bill Adams Lifetime Achievement Award from the Public Relations Society of America Miami, during the 26th annual EV Clay/PRSA Miami Chapter Endowment Fund Luncheon, held October 4, 2013, at Jungle Island in Miami.
Octavio A. Santurio, B.Arch. ’73, was awarded the Society of American Registered Architect’s Gold Medal.
Julio C. Sevilla, Ph.D. ’13, recently graduated from the PhD Project, an award winning program to create a more diverse corporate America. He has accepted a faculty position at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.
Chene M. Thompson, J.D. ’01, has joined the Pavese Law Firm.

UM Headlines

UM Brain Endowment Bank Receives NIH Contract to Establish National Brain and Tissue Biorepository

Deborah C. Mash, Ph.D.The University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank will receive up to $8 million from a National Institutes of Health contract to centralize this research resource and advance studies of brain diseases in the United States.

The award, lasting up to eight years, underscores the growing importance of studying neurological and psychiatric disorders and the significant national standing of the Miller School program, led by Deborah C. Mash, Ph.D., professor of neurology and molecular and cellular pharmacology.

The new initiative, a joint effort of the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, aims to improve the support of brain banks, facilitate access to tissue by researchers and better educate the public about the need for donated tissue for research.

"The Miller School of Medicine is really poised to do this," Mash said, "because our Brain Bank has always believed in providing tissue specimens to medical researchers nationwide to support academic missions and America's engine of discovery."

Established in 1987, the Brain Endowment Bank is one of the largest in the U.S., with a biorepository of more than 2,000 brains and an additional 500 living donors who have registered to donate their brains upon their death.

With this announced award comes major changes to how brain banks are funded and operated. The Miller School's Brain Endowment Bank will be one of five NIH Brain and Tissue Repositories, which will establish best practice protocols and quality standards for acquiring, processing and storing collected tissue donated for research and coordinate the effort to provide tissues to qualified scientists and doctors.

To learn more about the more the National Brain and Tissue Biorepository visit med.miami.edu/news.

Sports News

Building Champions in the Classroom: Student-Athletes Set Semester GPA Mark

student athletesUniversity of Miami student-athletes not only excelled in competition during the 2013 spring semester but also shined in the classroom, posting a 3.01 semester and 2.98 cumulative grade point averages—the highest marks in the athletic department's history.

Nine of Miami's 17 teams posted a spring semester GPA of 3.0 or above, while all teams finished above a 2.75. Thirteen student-athletes also recorded a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester. Nearly 200 student-athletes (180) earned at least a 3.0 semester GPA and 139 student-athletes earned Athletic Director's Honor Roll Recognition for earning a 3.2 GPA or higher.

"I am tremendously proud of our Hurricanes for setting a new standard of excellence in classroom achievement," said David Wyman, associate athletic director for academic services.

It's all about the U

UM Dedicates Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence

Donors, trustees, coaches, administrators, and guests gathered on October 4 to dedicate the new Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence—a facility that will serve the University of Miami's more than 400 student-athletes with resources such as a new academic center and expanded training facilities.

Designed by AECOM and built by Moss Construction, the 34,000-square-foot center is located on the north side of the Hecht Center, a facility dedicated in 1979 that also ushered in a new era for Hurricane athletics. Members of the Hecht family, longtime supports of Hurricane athletics, attended the dedication ceremony.

Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence

Get Involved - Links to School and College Alumni Web Sites

UM Psychology Website Helps Solve Your Marriage Problems

Our RelationshipApproximately half of marriages end in divorce and many others are unhappy. To combat this problem, Dr. Brian Doss, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, is offering free, online marriage or relationship help through www.OurRelationship.com. This online program, which was developed through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, offers objective feedback on how the relationship is doing and helps couples identify and solve their relationship problems. The program takes about 4-6 hours to complete and participation is confidential. Couples earn $150-$190 for completing research surveys.

According to Dr. Doss, "Too many people who are having serious problems in their relationship don't seek help or, by the time they do, it's too late to save the marriage. This program helps couples solve their problems in their own time from their own home." For more information, visit www.OurRelationship.com or contact the office at OurRelationship@psy.miami.edu or (305) 284-5613.

Joshua Hare Wins Grant to Take Cardiac Stem Cell Experiments to Space

Through his groundbreaking research that showed stem cell therapies repair damaged hearts, the Miller School's Chief Science Officer Joshua Hare, M.D., already shattered the earthly view that heart muscle cannot rejuvenate. Now, armed with a new grant from the organization that manages research aboard the International Space Station, Hare is ready to expand his stem cell therapy research to the final frontier – outer space.

Hare, the founding director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute and the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine, is among seven stem cell researchers across the nation who this week were awarded up to $300,000 each for the opportunity to use the space station's unique environment to explore "the impact of microgravity on fundamental stem cell properties."

"We believe that microgravity could play an important role in generating new heart muscle," Hare said. "We are thrilled that this grant gives us the opportunity to test that theory."

Until NASA certifies Hare's CASIS proposal, "The Effects of Modeled Microgravity on c-kit+ Cardiac Stem Cell Division and Differentiation," as "flight-capable," he and his team will conduct ground-based experiments comparing c-kit+ cardiac stem cells cultured in normal gravity to the same cells grown in a three-dimensional rotary cell culture system, which simulates microgravity. Part of the grant will be used to purchase the 3-D system.

A pioneer of stem cell therapies for heart attack and heart failure, Hare led the seminal studies that showed that injecting bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from either the heart patient or a donor during bypass surgery could do what cardiologists were long taught was impossible: repair damaged hearts, and restore heart function.

Now Hare and his team hope the unique microgravity environment of the International Space Station will shed new light on how mechanical forces influence the generation of new heart muscle from CSCs, leading to the development of novel, less invasive, and less expensive stem cell therapies for people with heart failure.

"Doing so," they wrote in their grant proposal, "we hope, will help us achieve our overarching goal: to improve the health of individuals wherever they work, play and live, be that on Earth or in space."