Alumni & Philanthropy

Papanicolaou Corps Makes Record $3.25 Million Donation

A Legendary Effort to Conquer Paralysis
Friends in the Fight against Cancer
Donor Spotlight | russ oasis
A gift of foresight and generosity
alumni Spotlight | fred m. jacobs, M.d. ’62

Committed to finding a cure

Papanicolaou Corps Makes Record $3.25 Million Donation

he fight to cure cancer has many allies, but perhaps none more dedicated than the 16,000-member Papanicolaou Corps for Cancer Research. Over the past three years the group has contributed more than $7.5 million to the UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, including the announcement in 2005 of $3.25 million. In addition to last year’s donation, the Corps also increased a five-year pledge made in 2003 from $10 million to $12 million.

“Cancer affects everyone in one way or another. Many of our members are cancer survivors, so they know that research is the key to a cure,” says Gloria Berkowitz, president of the Pap Corps, a volunteer group with members across three counties that has supported cancer research at the University of Miami for 53 years.

The leadership of the Corps presented a check to UM/Sylvester Director W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., F.A.C.S., and Board of Governors Chair Joaquin F. Blaya. “The Pap Corps has truly created new hope in our search for a cancer cure,” says Goodwin. “Working together we are making a difference in the lives of cancer patients today and setting the stage for even more dramatic advances in the near future.”

“What a cherished treasure the Pap Corps is to UM/Sylvester,” adds Blaya. “A donation of this size is just unheard of from a grass- roots volunteer organization.”

The members of the Pap Corps are especially proud of their growth in membership and philanthropy. “We have added nearly 4,000 members during the past three years,” says Berkowitz.

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A Legendary Effort
to Conquer Paralysis

wenty years ago Nick Buoniconti made a promise to his son, Marc, who sustained a spinal cord injury, that money would never stand in the way of finding a cure for paralysis. Over the ensuing two decades, Nick—the former NFL Hall of Fame linebacker who co-founded The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis—has made good on that promise as this year’s Twentieth Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner raised more than $4 million for the Buoniconti Fund, which supports The Miami Project. During the past 20 years the dinners have raised more than $27 million to help bring the cure for paralysis closer to reality.

“History will remember the scientists who will find this cure,” said Buoniconti. “History will also remember those special individuals who have given so much of their time and money to this cause. Without the dedication of the Buoniconti Fund board, this dinner would not have happened.”

Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus was honored with the Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award, Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award, and founder of Outback Steakhouse, Tim Gannon, was given the Charitable Business Leader Award. Former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw again served as master of ceremonies.

Buoniconti remarked: “Celebrating The Miami Project’s 20th anniversary is significant because the reality of a cure and implementing the technology we’ve developed is finally on the horizon. We are changing the way the world looks at paralysis.”

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Donors Boost Initiatives at UM/Sylvester

Friends in the Fight against Cancer

ecent gifts to the UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, from individual donors as well as a major foundation, are supporting cancer-related research and treatment conducted by the center.

Macdonald Foundation Supports Breast Cancer Research

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation to the UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Erin Kobetz, Ph.D., M.P.H., research scientist at the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute, will be able to study and implement new ways to improve cancer screening among Haitian women.

“ We’re very grateful to the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation for supporting this initiative,” says Kobetz. The grant will help expand an existing collaboration, Se ede Se—Sisters Helping Sisters—between UM/Sylvester and the Haitian American Association Against Cancer intended to reduce cultural, social, and economic barriers to mammography and Pap tests among Haitian women.

The backbone of the program is the use of lay health advisors, women from Miami’s Haitian community, as the source for information and guidance. “Our preliminary findings, based on focus groups, was that most of the women felt that they would trust getting information from one of their friends or peers about health, and that’s who they tended to turn to for health information,” says Kobetz.

Gaines Luau Benefits Braman Institute

Hundreds came out on a warm summer evening to attend the Fifth Annual Joan G. Gaines Breast Cancer Fundraiser—a luau pool party with all proceeds benefiting the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The event, which raised $40,000, was held at The VUE at Brickell. “My goal is to obtain the support of businesses and families to raise support for breast cancer research here in Miami,” says Austin Gaines, the organizer of the event.

Six years ago Gaines’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the time he was celebrating his bar mitzvah. The then-13-year-old took the monetary gifts he received for the ceremonial occasion and established a fund for cancer research. But Gaines didn’t stop there. He thought of a way to boost his research fund with a charity event—and at age 14 he convinced Glen Rice, then of the Miami Heat, to help with a celebrity basketball game that raised $10,000.

As a senior at Gulliver Preparatory Academy, Gaines organized his third NBA fundraiser with help from the Miami Heat and the University of Miami men’s basketball program. Two years ago Gaines delivered a check for $21,700 to support the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute. He has raised a total of more than $100,000 for breast cancer research, making the 19-year-old college sophomore the youngest member of the Founders Society at UM/Sylvester.

Amber Brothers Support Research

Eleven years ago Ian Amber, 10, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While he fought to stay alive, he and his 5-year-old brother, Kyle, began selling stickers and running bake sales to help pay for a possible bone marrow transplant.

Fortunately, Ian recovered without the need of a transplant—but over the last 11 years the brothers’ Kids That Care charity has raised more than $100,000. Ian’s experience with cancer convinced him not only to help raise money for cancer research, but also to enroll in the University of Miami’s highly competitive undergraduate Honors Program in Medicine.

The brothers recently presented a check for $20,000 to W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., F.A.C.S., director, and Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D., associate director, clinical and translational research, UM/Sylvester, to help in the fight against cancer. “What Ian and Kyle have done is extra special and serves as a wonderful example for all of us,” Goodwin says.

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Grateful patient enlists FedEx to support orthopaedic center

Dedicated to the CORE

he early October dawn broke sunny and mild, the beginning of a typical fall morning in South Florida. By lunchtime FedEx managing director Patti Murray would find her world turned upside down by the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. NHL, which is diagnosed in more than 54,000 Americans annually, had spread to her femur. The longest and strongest bone in the body, the femur forms the ball-and-socket joint at the hip, and now Murray was facing surgery to save her life.

In her wheelchair, slowly being pushed across the University of Miami medical campus to see her doctor, Murray was numb with fear and unanswered questions. The 20-year FedEx employee had recently returned from a trip to Europe and although there were signs something wasn’t right—including an inexplicable fall on a London sidewalk—the diagnosis was totally unexpected.

Fortunately for Murray, she was about to meet J. David Pitcher, M.D., associate professor of orthopaedics and a specialist in orthopaedic oncology at the Miller School of Medicine. “Dr. Pitcher performed my surgery on a Saturday, so I immediately knew it was serious for a doctor to give up a weekend to operate,” she remembers. Using an advanced surgical technique called micro-incision, Pitcher performed a proximal femoral replacement using a minimally invasive procedure. Murray was up and walking and back to work just four weeks after total hip replacement surgery. “There is no doubt in my mind Dr. Pitcher saved my life,” Murray says.

Pitcher believes Murray’s great strength and character were major factors in her quick recovery. “You could see she was a person of great strength. Her courage reflects an important lesson, that collectively we can accomplish more than we thought possible, even curing cancer.”

During her recovery, Pitcher and Murray discussed the possibility of securing corporate sponsorship from FedEx to help support Miami CORE, the Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education. The center, part of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, is “dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with musculoskeletal disease and finding new methods of treatment through research with the goal of finding a cure for bone cancer,” Pitcher explains.

Murray thought the FedEx community service program would provide an appropriate avenue to support Pitcher’s work. “Working together, we submitted a comprehensive package to corporate and received a generous initial commitment to support Miami CORE’s indigent study program. Next year we’ll ask for an even larger commitment.”

Murray is positive about her future and imbued with a sense of strength from the experience. “I was truly fortunate to have had excellent physicians, such as oncologist Jonathan Cohen, M.D., at Cedars Medical Center and hematologist Izidore Lossos, M.D., at UM/Sylvester. As it turned out, cancer was an inconvenience, a non-event in my life. I would not let it define me and plan to work to ensure that others can have a similar experience,” she says.

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Helping tomorrow’s fellows

Alumni Establish Hepatology Fund to Honor Schiff

or the past 36 years Eugene R. Schiff, M.D., chief of the Division of Hepatology and director of the Center for Liver Diseases, has been a physician, friend, and mentor to countless thousands of patients, medical students, and colleagues.

Last year the prestigious American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases honored him with its Distinguished Service Award. Schiff was recognized for his contributions to the field of hepatobiliary disease and to the community of hepatology researchers. In presenting the award, Stuart Gordon, M.D., a gastroenterologist with the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and a former student of Schiff’s, noted, “The pride you take in your former fellows is matched only by the pride we all take when we tell others that we trained under Gene Schiff.

“Last summer a group of his former colleagues got together to consider how to best honor Dr. Schiff and his contribution to our careers,” Gordon said. “We decided to honor Dr. Schiff by creating the University of Miami Hepatology Fellows’ Research Fund to provide financial support to the Hepatology Fellowship Program and the needs of its participants. This endowed fund supports activities that range from research assistance for current fellows to financial stipends.”

According to Gordon, “Our careers in clinical hepatology could not have been possible without Dr. Schiff. His knowledge of the field was extensive and all of us came away from the fellowship with a newfound grasp of hepatology.”

The goal is to raise $250,000, and to date nearly half has been raised.

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Supporting the Leading
Medical Research Center

NAME: Russ Oasis

OCCUPATION: Broadcasting entrepreneur

GIFT: I support the work and research being conducted by Frank Eismont, M.D., in orthopaedics. My directive is to allow him to utilize the money solely as he sees fit.

ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE: As a patient who greatly benefited from back surgery performed at the Miller School of Medicine, I believe it’s important to support the leading medical research center in your hometown. I’ve received wonderful medical care at UM and would like to make sure the same great experience is available to others. In my opinion, Dr. Eismont is the finest orthopaedic surgeon and researcher in the country today. It’s an honor to be able to help further his cutting-edge research in orthopaedic medicine.

WHAT THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE MEANS TO ME: It is a powerful statement that people from all over the world come to Miami for treatment, whether it be for orthopaedic surgery, cancer, or organ transplantation. I believe that the Miller School of Medicine is the leader in the area of back surgery. Dr. Frank Eismont and Dr. Mark Brown are spearheading the push to open our lead even further. It is a nice feeling to be able to play even a small role in sup-porting these efforts.

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A gift of foresight and generosity

Rosenfields Establish Imaging
and Macula Center at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

ongtime University of Miami Miller School of Medicine donors Estelle and George G. Rosenfield continue to develop their legacy of helping others. A recent significant gift from the Coral Gables couple to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute led to the creation of the Estelle and George G. Rosenfield Imaging and Macula Center.

The center enables ophthalmic technicians, nurses, photographers, and others to perform cutting-edge diagnostic procedures, including optical coherence tomography (co-invented by Carmen Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., chairman of Bascom Palmer), angiography, fundus photography, photographic studies, fluorescein studies, indocyanine green angiography, and slit-lamp photography. These tests benefit a growing number of patients with all types of eye diseases and disorders. The images produced in the Estelle and George G. Rosenfield Imaging and Macula Center will play a vital role in research studies.

“George and Estelle’s lifetime interest in optics and lenses was a natural fit with the world-class work Bascom Palmer’s physicians practice every day with every patient they see,” says Puliafito. “Thanks to the Rosenfields’ foresight and generosity, more than 34,000 patients at Bascom Palmer will benefit each year.”

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AlumniSPOTLIGHT|Fred M. Jacobs, M.D. '62

Practicing Medicine in the Public Interest

PROFESSION: Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, State of New Jersey

HOBBIES: Golf and flying radio-controlled model airplanes and helicopters.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:As commissioner, one of my objectives is to reduce health care disparity. New Jersey is the most culturally diverse state in the United States. We have great disparities in many different diseases among African American, Latino, white, and Asian populations. Diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS, and hypertension all affect the minority and underserved medical community in a disparate way.

MEDICAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE: I remember my first two years of medical school and the legendary teachers. We knew they were legends back then because they told us! In the clinical years following my sophomore year through graduation, I worked in the pulmonary function laboratory in the summer. That’s what attracted me to pulmonary disease as a career.

PHILOSOPHY: It’s my responsibility to put the interests of my patients first. Unfortunately, these days with medicine becoming ever more entrepreneurial, people tend to forget that. I believe we practice medicine in the public interest and as a public trust.

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