Faculty Council Awards Program Recognizes Research and Teaching Excellence

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The Faculty Council of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine held its second annual awards program during its transitional meeting of the academic year on May 28. Two awards — one for research and one for teaching — were presented to honor the contributions of beginning and mid-career faculty members to the Miller School and its mission.

Center, from left, award winners Amiethab Aiyer, M.D., and Joana Almaça, Ph.D., with Faculty Council, Miller School and UHealth leadership.

Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology and speaker of the Faculty Council, led the meeting, beginning with an expression of gratitude to UHealth CEO Edward Abraham, M.D., and Dean Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., for their support of the awards program.

Carl I. Schulman, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., professor of surgery and executive dean for research, outlined the criteria for selecting the winner of each award.

Candidates for the Research Award are selected through a data-driven process rather than by nomination. It begins with compiling a list of all faculty members who hold the rank of assistant professor and have been at the Miller School for at least one year and no more than five years. Eligible candidates must have been the corresponding author for at least one paper published in a peer-reviewed journal during the prior year. The list of papers is compiled using PubMed and other databases, and sorted by impact factor. The papers are then carefully reviewed to ensure that a majority of the research was conducted at UM. In the event of a tie, the committee members conduct further investigation into the contribution by the candidate and the quality of peer review to determine the winner.

Candidates for the Clinical Educator Award are nominated by residents and/or medical students, who participate in the evaluations and selection of the winner. The Awards Committee, in conjunction with nominating residents or students, reviews candidates’ published papers in peer-reviewed journals. The number of papers, combined with the impact factors of the journals, is used to create a composite index for each candidate. The candidate with the highest index score receives the award.

The key feature of the awards is that they are driven by data, which is carefully evaluated to select award winners.

Dean Ford then announced the winners.

The winner of the Research Award was Joana Almaça, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine, who studies the role of pericytes in pancreatic islet fibrosis in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The winner of the Clinical Educator Award was Amiethab Aiyer, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedics, who specializes in foot and ankle surgery.

“We want the Miller School to be synonymous with excellence at all times,” Dean Ford said, “so it is fitting that we pause to recognize the excellence in our faculty with these awards.”

Each winner received a framed certificate and a $2,500 fund to be used for academic endeavors. The fund is administered by the office of the executive dean for research and may be spent to defray charges for publication, research-related expenses, or for travel to a national or international scientific meeting.

Also present at the meeting were Roy E. Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Medicine, and Frank J. Eismont, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopaedics, each of whom had a faculty member who was a prize winner.

The members of the Awards Committee were Joan E. St. Onge, M.D., associate professor of medicine and senior associate dean of graduate medical education, JoNell Potter, Ph.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, JoAnn Van Schaik, M.L.S., executive director of the Calder Medical Library, and F. Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and senior associate dean of faculty affairs. Dr. Bhattacharya is an ex-officio member of the committee.

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