Earning several awards and delivering compelling presentations, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine made another strong showing at the 23rd Annual Fall Scientific Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America and the International Society for Sexual Medicine.
The annual event is a sharing point for world experts to discuss the latest in the specialty through lectures, debates, and panel discussions. Miller School faculty members and students contributed 16 podium presentations, eight poster presentations, six videos, and more than 40 attendees at the event.
"Since this year's meeting was in our hometown of Miami, we were especially excited to have a strong showing from UM," said Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D., associate professor and director of the Miller School's Reproductive Urology Fellowship Program. "Our goal was to showcase our power as a top-tier research institution where attendees can see the strength and versatility of the Miller School and Desai Sethi Urology Institute."
Dr. Ramasamy presented "Implications of COVID-19 on Sexual Health" and "Update from ICSM: New Regenerative Interventions in Sexual Medicine" and took home this year's Outstanding Researcher Award, after winning last year's Young Investigator Award of Excellence.
Dr. Ramasamy’s accomplishments to date consist of 391 PubMed-indexed lifetime publications and 76 peer-reviewed papers. On the research end, he has multiple ongoing and completed NIH-funded clinical trials investigating new treatments for erectile dysfunction and Peyronie's disease. Mentorship is a crucial component of the Miller School and one that Dr. Ramasamy practices daily as director of the andrology fellowship, in which all program graduates have not only completed the fellowship but have started their male infertility/male sexual health programs.
"This award is concrete proof that teamwork, collaboration, and mutual support of physicians through all stages of school and training lead to achievement," Dr. Ramasamy said. "My focus as a physician-scientist is to find answers to burning questions that will impact my patients' lives. I am thrilled that the circular model of mentorship and the partnership environment we have built within the andrology department is being noticed as a pathway to success."
Further presentations from the department included four lectures from Kajal Khodamoradi, Ph.D., associate scientist at the Desai Sethi Urology Institute, whose presentations covered platelet-rich plasma from men with erectile dysfunction and leptin hormones. Dr. Khodamoradi received the Basic Science Abstract Prize for her work "Association of Androgen Receptor Signaling in Human Corpus Cavernosum with Serum Testosterone Levels." Her research examined the saturation hypothesis for serum testosterone levels in penile tissue and demonstrated that serum testosterone beyond a certain threshold might have a minimal impact on erectile function.
Joginder Bidhan, M.Sc., research associate at the institute, took the Best Abstract in Fertility and Andrology award for his team’s investigation of the effect of cell phone radiation on sperm quality. Findings from this study showed that Wi-Fi radiation negatively affected sperm parameters, which could be mitigated by using cell phone covers or keeping devices at a distance.
"I was honored to present our team research and humbled when awarded the best abstract prize," Bidhan said. "Our study will lead researchers to explore the effects further and hopefully also make people aware of how to safely use communication technologies in modern times."
Miller School students also made their mark at the meeting. Christian Ramsoomair, a second-year student, won the 2022 SMRU Lipschultz-Lamb Traveling Scholar Award for his work on "Mechanistic Insights into a Rare Mutation in NACAD as a Possible Cause of COVID Orchitis."
Ramsoomair and his team expect that men with histories of orchitis and increased levels of ACE2 receptors may present with a higher and prolonged risk of impaired semen parameters. By identifying the impact of COVID-19 infection on male fertility, it can be determined whether recommendations are warranted for sperm cryopreservation for men at high risk of contracting the infection, such as health care workers.
Orly Morgan, a third-year M.D./M.P.H., candidate, presented her poster "Preventative BRCA Surgeries and Sexual Function Outcomes: A Systematic Review." Her literature analysis revealed that while BRCA patients have conversations with providers about maintaining fertility, there is little conversation about how recommended surgical procedures will impact their sexual enjoyment. The study found that women experienced significant sexual dysfunction associated with gynecological surgeries to remove their breasts, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Removal of the ovaries was particularly associated with a negative impact on sexual enjoyment.
"The goal of research is to make medicine better," Morgan said. "I decided to present this review because the data is important for BRCA-positive patients and their providers to make informed decisions about when to recommend these surgeries versus high-risk screening protocol alternatives. In addition, the data is necessary for managing patient expectations regarding what side effects they will experience after these surgeries."
Rebecca Barnett, a third-year M.D./M.P.H. candidate, continued the conversation on women and sexual medicine with her podium presentation, "Characterizing Unmet Needs of Female Cancer Survivors Seeking Sexual Health Education Through Social Media." The project discussed the use of online sexual health information resources by female cancer patients, particularly premenopausal survivors, demonstrating need for improved survivorship resources, community building, open communication with providers, and evidence-based education.
"These presentations offered a unique and exciting experience for our students, residents, and faculty," Dr. Ramasamy said. "It can be nerve-wracking to present your work in front of a sometimes-harsh audience, as we had many participants at their first national meeting. Overall, we delivered a strong display across many topics in sexual medicine."