Alumni & Philanthropy

Grant Creates New Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research

Sports Legends Raise Millions for Miami Project
  Macdonald Foundation Grant Funds New Genecure Diagnostics Lab
ALS Golf Tournament Passes $1 Million Level
Pursuing an Exciting, Challenging Practice

Grant Creates New Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research

Fast-Tracking Research to Patients

he ability to fast-track promising research from scientific laboratories to patients’ bedsides is taking a giant leap forward at the Miller School of Medicine, thanks to a gift from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. The $13 million grant establishes the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research at the Miller School, focusing on breakthrough treatments for diabetes, cancer, arthritis, spinal cord injury, and paralysis, along with other advances in biomedical technologies.

Over the years most federal and private funding for medical research has focused on either basic science research or clinical research, with little attention paid to translating basic science to the clinical level. Even less attention has been focused on biomedical product development. The Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research hopes to change that equation.

“This is an extraordinarily generous gift to support something of great importance,” says Luis Glaser, Ph.D., executive vice president and provost of the University. “The National Institutes of Health have called on academic medical centers to concentrate more on translational activities, and this gift will help put us at the forefront of that mission.”

The research projects will originate within five centers of excellence at the Miller School of Medicine and the College of Engineering: the Diabetes Research Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. In the new center, scientists will have access to resources and investigators who can help them design human trials to test their discoveries and turn them into patented products. Cancer vaccines, certain diagnostic tests, and even cell-based therapies for diabetes and other disorders are examples of products that could make their way to patients faster.

The center is under the direction of Norma Kenyon, Ph.D. Kenyon holds the Martin Kleiman Chair in Diabetes Research, is a professor of surgery, medicine, microbiology, and immunology, and is director of preclinical islet transplantation and co-director of the Cell Transplant Center at the Diabetes Research Institute.

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Sports Legends Raise Millions for Miami Project

hanks to a third consecutive record-breaking year, the Great Sports Legends Dinner raised more than $2.6 million for the Buoniconti Fund, which supports The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Many of the biggest names in sports attended the 19th annual event at New York’s historic Waldorf-Astoria last September. In total, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has raised more than $25 million. More than 200 athletes have been honored for their contributions to the world of sports and their commitment to high ethical standards, dedication to their community, worthy causes, and achievements as positive role models.

This year’s honored Legends were Barry Sanders, Greg Norman, Michael Andretti, Robert Parish, Jerry Bailey, Kristi Yamaguchi, Cam Neeley, Mia Hamm, and Gary Carter. Julio Iglesias accepted the Buoniconti Fund award for Outstanding Humanitarianism, and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw was the evening’s master of ceremonies.

“Millions of people worldwide suffer from paralysis, and in order for victims to achieve their dream of walking again, research must continue to accelerate,” says Nick Buoniconti, founder of the Buoniconti Fund and co-founder of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. “It is the selfless contributions of many that make me truly believe that my son Marc and all spinal cord injury victims will one day walk again.”

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Macdonald Foundation Grant Funds New Genecure Diagnostics Lab

DNA-Driven Medicine

hrough a $5 million grant from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, the Miller School of Medicine is creating Miami GeneCure Diagnostics, Florida’s first comprehensive medical genetics diagnostic laboratory. GeneCure will perform genetic diagnostic testing to determine human susceptibility to diseases, with a goal of preventing those diseases whenever possible.

“The success of the Human Genome Project has already led to important diagnostic breakthroughs and will in the near future result in entirely new approaches to prevent many devastating diseases,” says Louis J. Elsas, M.D., director of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Center for Medical Genetics at the Miller School.

The concept of genetic diagnostics is based on predictive testing of DNA, its protein products, and body chemicals produced by protein functions. Given these diagnostic tools, prevention is possible through individualized medications, avoidance of environmental toxins, nutritional adjustment, and implementation of replacement therapy for insufficient gene products.

The Miami GeneCure Diagnostic Laboratory will be composed of the newly created molecular and biomedical genetics laboratories and the cytogenetics laboratory that already exists in the Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics. It will be the first genetic diagnostic testing laboratory in Florida. GeneCure will help create biotech companies in the community that will take intellectual property research from the University’s faculty and put it into practice.

The Coral Gables-based Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Inc. supports and promotes health care and the welfare of the community.

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UM Trustee Laura Coulter-Jones
Pledges $500,000 to Support Pediatrics

niversity of Miami Trustee Laura Coulter-Jones has announced a campaign pledge of $500,000 to support the Clinical Research Division in the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. The new division, under the direction of Tracie Miller, M.D., is dedicated to the development of interdisciplinary pediatric translational and genetic research, pediatric urban health services research, research on the environmental and genetic impact on the development of pediatric disease, and research focused on prevention and therapies for childhood illnesses.

Targeted patient populations include children hospitalized for cystic fibrosis, short bowel syndrome, liver/small bowel/kidney transplant, sickle-cell disease, inflammatory bowel disease, complications of prematurity, and asthma. In making her pledge, Coulter-Jones, who has been an active supporter of UM pediatrics initiatives, expressed the hope that her gift “will provide the necessary environment to help UM physicians facilitate their understanding of the prevention and treatment of the diseases that affect children and their families.”

“Laura’s generosity will provide us with a unique opportunity to put together a team of physicians and researchers and make significant progress in understanding and developing new strategies in fighting children’s illnesses,” says Steven Lipshultz, M.D., chairman of the Department of Pediatrics.

Coulter-Jones, an alumna, is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. She created the Laura Gene Coulter-Jones Foundation in 1997, and is the former president of the Coulter Corporation, a medical device and diagnostics manufacturing, sales, and service company founded by her late father, Joseph, and uncle, Wallace Coulter.

In recognition of this pledge, the Clinical Research Division’s conference room, located on the fifth floor of the Batchelor building, will be named the Coulter-Jones Family Conference Center.

Since 1997, contributions from Laura Coulter-Jones and the Laura Coulter-Jones Foundation have exceeded $1 million.

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Philanthropist Looked To The Future of Medicine

Investing in the Next Generation of Doctors

y all accounts, Jean Fiegelman, an elementary school teacher from Pittston, Pennsylvania, and her husband, Harry, a jeweler, lived very modest lives. They retired to Florida in the 1960s and settled in North Miami Beach, keeping the same condo for nearly four decades. They had no children, rarely traveled, and placed their savings in a variety of stocks and bonds.

Harry died in 1988 at age 82, and Jean passed away in February 2004 at age 95. Her will revealed that the Fiegelmans had left the bulk of their $8 million estate—$5 million—to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to fund scholarships for “worthy medical students regardless of their race, religion, sex, or national origin.”

John G. Clarkson, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine, says, “The Fiegelmans’ gift came as a complete surprise. She obviously cared very deeply about the next generation of doctors and the financial burdens caused by the high cost of attending medical school.

“Jean Fiegelman dreamed about being able to make a difference. Her remarkable generosity is an investment in the future of our school that will help assure her dream will come true.”

The Jean B. and Harry L. Fiegelman Scholarship is the medical school’s single largest bequest for student scholarships. Jean Fiegelman’s nephew, Steven Zelkowitz of Miami, says, “She was always philanthropic. She got it from her mother and father. We had no idea how generous she was until she passed away.” He added that the family doesn’t know why Fiegelman chose the medical school to receive the bulk of her estate.

Steven Brooks, vice president and trust officer with Bank of America Private Bank, says, “Mrs. Fiegelman never put on airs. She was generous with family members and charities and donated to medical research in the United States and Israel.”

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ALS Golf Tournament Passes $1 Million Level

he recent ninth annual Jose Perez ALS Golf Classic raised more than $1 million to support amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research at the UM ALS Research Foundation. The tournament was started by the late Jose Perez, a patient with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He developed the golf outing as a way to increase awareness and research funds for the disease that he later succumbed to after a decade-long battle.

“The ALS Research Foundation established by Jose Perez and his family brings hope for a cure to all afflicted with this terrible disease,” says Walter Bradley, D.M., F.R.C.P., chairman of the Department of Neurology. “What the Perez family does is a labor of love to help Miller School of Medicine physician-scientists pursue new treatments and to find a cure for ALS.”

Fundraising golf tournaments supporting UM’s ALS research have spread across Florida. The Tampa Friend of a Friend ALS Foundation continued its generous support of ALS research by presenting a $20,000 check from its golf tournament to the UM ALS Research Foundation. The golf tournament, now in its fourth year, has raised $53,000 to support ALS research programs.

“The generous support of those who participate in the Tampa Bay golf tournament provides the funds to further research in ALS,” says Dino M. Scanio, president of the Friend of a Friend ALS Foundation.


Caring Partners

n March 8 the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine recognized 45 organizations that have shown a strong commitment to the medical school’s missions of research, patient care, education, and community service. These Partners In Caring (PIC) were honored at a luncheon recognizing their long-term support of the medical school. More than 250 people attended the luncheon at Miami’s J.W. Marriott Hotel.

Norman Braman, co-chair of the Miller School of Medicine’s Momentum campaign and chair of the Medical Affairs Committee of the University of Miami Board of Trustees, announced that the 45 Partners In Caring have collectively raised $120 million toward the medical school capital campaign. To date the medical school has raised $539 million of the current University campaign total of $861 million.

“Thanks to the PIC we are changing the face of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and health care as we know it,” Braman said.  “Whether it’s developing new therapies for curing deafness or treating cancer, we stand at the threshold of beating some of mankind’s greatest enemies. And so much of this progress is directly related to the work of Partners In Caring.”

John G. Clarkson, M.D., senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Miller School of Medicine, noted, “None of the medical school’s recent accomplishments, from securing major campaign investment to creating strategic alliances, would have happened without the strong foundation of philanthropic support provided by our Partners In Caring.”

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Pursuing an Exciting, Challenging Practice

Kenneth Rothenberg, M.D. ’67, has established a $100,000 scholarship to support the John K. Robinson Fund in honor of his parents, Aaron and Sylvia Rothenberg.

PROFESSION: Staff anesthesiologist, Englewood Hospital, Englewood, New Jersey

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: My wonderful family: my wife, Gillian; my children, Fiona, Heather, Adam, David, Anne, and Paul; and my grandchildren, Andie, Nicole, Hannah, Ryan, and Jack.

Board-certified anesthesiologist with certification in pain management. Served in Vietnam as a staff anesthesiologist at the 312th evacuation hospital and the 91st evacuation hospital.

HOBBIES:Going to Broadway shows with family; astronomy.

MEDICAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE: I remember living next to The Biltmore Hotel campus in Coral Gables and the close relationships with my fellow students. I remember studying with Marshall Abel and Myron Persoff. I left medical school after one week in a panic and then returned after a few days. I distinctly recall our sophomore year and the Friday lectures, particularly the pathology lecture immediately after lunch. It was hard to stay awake!

I spent the summer of my sophomore year in Cartagena, Colombia, at a pediatrics hospital, Casa del Ninos, with Dave Danzer. We had a great time touring and sightseeing through Medellin and Bogotá. My junior year I spent the summer on active duty at Walter Reed Army Hospital on a surgical rotation.

PHILOSOPHY: Don’t be afraid to show up and try. Hard work is the easy way out.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I find the practice of anesthesia to always be exciting, interesting, and challenging. With each day comes a new group of patients with their own particular medical conditions.

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Photos by Pyramid Photographics (Kenyon and Iglesias)
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