FIU Nursing Scholarships are investing in the future of nurses

April 2, 2015

Every year we fund Nursing Scholarships at Florida International University College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Here are a few samples of the letters of appreciation we received.

“I’m very grateful for this scholarship! This money will help me pay for some of my expenses next semester (spring, 15). May God bless you so you continue to bless others in need!”

“I am extremely humbled by your generosity and would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart! May your blessings triple.”

Grand Opening Held for the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation BioNIUM Nanofabrication Facility

February 10, 2015

The new nanofabrication facility at the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami (BioNIUM) gives researchers the latest technology to make major advances in the fast-growing field of biomedical nanotechnology.

A grand opening for the cutting-edge “clean room” was held January 28 at UM’s Life Science and Technology Park. University and medical school leadership, faculty, and members of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation unveiled a plaque and donned white haz-mat suits so they could tour the specialized room, which provides a controlled, particle-free environment.

The University’s nanotechnology research enterprise is led by the Miller School of Medicine’s Richard J. Cote, M.D., the Director of BioNIUM.

Cote said that at just 2,800 square feet, the clean room is a powerhouse of technology.

“This facility is highly sophisticated and absolutely state-of-the-art,” said Cote, who is also professor and Joseph R. Coulter Jr. Chair of the Department of Pathology and Chief of Pathology at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “It is capable of filtering virtually every minute particle of dust and microbes from the air, a necessity when building devices at the nano and micro scale.”

To put that in perspective, Cote said a typical office building contains 500,000 to 1 million particles per cubic foot of air. A Class 100 clean room is designed to never allow more than 100 particles per cubic foot of air.

The goal is to create a field in which scientists can work with materials on a nanoscale – less than one-millionth of a millimeter in size – to diagnose and treat serious diseases.

Among the facility’s vast range of capabilities are an ability to deposit metal films as thin as a few hundred angstroms, which is required in the biomedical device industry; a photolithography facility that uses UV light to create micron-scale device patterns on silicon wafers; and an electron-beam lithography system that employs a focused electron beam to create nanostructures with sub-10 nm resolution.

Cote credited UM Provost and Executive Vice President Thomas J. LeBlanc, Ph.D., with recognizing the importance and broad application of the program for the entire University.

“Tonight we celebrate two of the key ingredients in world-class research: partnership and patience,” said LeBlanc, referring to the process of bringing the necessary resources and faculty to support an intensive research facility.

“Six years ago, UM set out to establish a state-of-the art biomedical nanotechnology program that would unite scientific disciplines across the entire University.

The goal was an institute that would link investigators from the Miller School of Medicine with University colleagues from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering to explore and develop novel applications of biomedical nanotechnology, by allowing chemists, engineers, physicists, and physicians to combine their unique talents in a multidisciplinary approach to find new tools for diagnosis and treatment of serious disease.”

The effort was a result of a vision shared by UM President Donna E. Shalala, Provost LeBlanc and, in particular, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School, and Jim Tien, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Engineering.

They recruited Cote to serve as Chair of the Pathology Department, where he started the process of creating the program. He, in turn, recruited Ram Datar, Ph.D., Co-Director of BioNIUM. Other recruits key to BioNIUM’s success include Sylvia Daunert, Ph.D., Pharm.D., M.S., Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Associate Director of BioNIUM, and Leonidas Bachas, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

BioNIUM was established in 2012 through a transformative $7.5 million gift from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation. The cornerstone of BioNIUM is the clean room, which gives researchers a high-tech facility essential for both research and recruitment.

“The opening of the nanofabrication facility is a remarkable step forward in establishing the University of Miami as a worldwide leader in biomedical nanotechnology,” said Goldschmidt, who is also the CEO of UHealth. “It will provide tremendous learning opportunities for researchers and students who will be at the forefront of new discoveries, therapies, and cures. Those advances could lead to the early detection of disease, and more targeted delivery of highly specialized treatments. This will have a global impact on countless patients worldwide.”

Among the projects being developed at the institute are a novel filter that captures tumor cells circulating in the blood, the use of nanotechnology to restore critical body functions, “smart pills” that can detect glucose and release insulin when needed, and encapsulating anti-cancer drugs into nanoparticles to be dispatched to tumors while protecting healthy tissue.

Engineers are devising new ways to encourage tissue regeneration and cross-department collaborations are exploring ways of using nanolayers to protect transplanted tissues from rejection and also to prevent pathogens from infecting food supplies. Immunologists are working with chemists on novel nanoparticles for what could be the basis for vaccines to treat many types of cancer.

Steven Pabalan, M.D., Chairman of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, said the opening of the research facility is a fitting legacy for their namesake, as the Foundation was created to provide funding for programs designed to improve healthcare in the community.

“Dr. John T. Macdonald was a founding board member of Doctors’ Hospital, a surgeon and gynecologist,” said Pabalan. “When the hospital was sold in 1992, the funds were placed into the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation to serve as a charitable organization, dedicated to serving the needs of the Miami-Dade community, and finding solutions to healthcare issues.”

Since becoming a grant-making foundation in 1992, the Foundation has awarded more than $40 million to more than 350 organizations throughout the community.
A large part of that has been an ongoing partnership with the University of Miami that has resulted in more than $30 million in support of many UM initiatives.

An earlier gift to UM elevated the Miller School’s programs in genetic research to world-class stature through the creation of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics.

The Foundation’s generosity also led to the signature School Health Initiative, which makes it possible for the Miller School to provide comprehensive, primary healthcare to 15,000 children at nine Miami-Dade public schools.

The opening of the nanofabrication facility adds another signature piece for the Foundation to take healthcare to the next level.

“What is unique about this Foundation is their ability as partners to identify leadership roles, and to identify world-class physicians and clinicians and researchers in cutting-edge areas,” said Shalala. “Thanks to their leadership gift, we have taken a major step forward in advancing the institute’s research.”

Cote and LeBlanc also expect the facility will be used not only by BioNIUM, but by the broader University community, scientists throughout the region, and by local high-tech industries.

Nursing Scholarships Really Make a Difference

March 12, 2014

Here are some letters from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation FIU Nursing Scholarship recipients 2013.  They speak for themselves.

It is with great honor and pleasure that I receive this scholarship.  It will help me to pursue and better focus on my nursing education.  Your generous help and support is greatly appreciated.  Be assured that I will strive to get the best education ever at FIU, and in return I’ll be able to help and serve the community to the best of my ability.

Researchers Uncover 48 New Genetic Variants Associated with Multiple Sclerosis

October 30, 2013

Scientists of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium (IMSGC) have identified an additional 48 genetic variants influencing the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. This work nearly doubles the number of known genetic risk factors and thereby provides additional key insights into the biology of this debilitating neurological condition. The genes implicated by the newly identified associations underline the central role played by the immune system in the development of multiple sclerosis and show substantial overlap with genes known to be involved in other autoimmune diseases.

International Collaboration Finds 11 New Alzheimer’s Genes to Target for Drug Discover.

October 30, 2013

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers played a key role in the largest international Alzheimer’s disease genetics collaboration to date, which identified 11 new regions of the genome that contribute to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, doubling the number of potential genetics-based therapeutic targets to investigate. Published October 27 in Nature Genetics, the study gives a broader view of the genetic factors contributing to Alzheimer’s and expands the understanding of the disease to new areas, including the immune system, where a genetic overlap with other neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, was identified.

Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation donates $35,000 for medicines

October 2, 2013

The Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has donated $35,000 to Camillus House to purchase medications that are needed for the treatment of persons who are homeless and who come to Camillus for comprehensive healthcare. More than 80% of the patients seen by Camillus’ medical staff are uninsured and have no resources to purchase the medications and medical supplies they need.

For persons who are poor and homeless, one of their first contacts with any homeless service in Miami-Dade County is through the Camillus emergency shelter. Individuals are offered access to a system of care which includes shelter, three meals daily, showers, clothing, case management and healthcare.

Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Announces Submission Deadlines for 2014 Grant Cycle

September 23, 2013

Organizations proposing programs to meet the healthcare needs of Miami-Dade residents may submit letters of inquiry from February 1 to April 15 for the 2014 grant cycle. For more information, click here.

School Health Initiative Receives All Star Award for Innovation

November 19, 2012

The Miller School’s Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative took home the All Star Non-Profit Award for Innovation at Switchboard Miami’s inaugural awards luncheon, held November 9 at Jungle Island to recognize and celebrate the vital work of non-profits in our community.

The School Health Initiative, a partnership between the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation and the Miller School Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, offers free health care services to children in eight Miami-Dade County public schools.

UM Researchers Identify New Gene Associated with Moderate Hearing Loss

November 5, 2012

Miller School researchers collaborated with an international team to identify a new gene associated with the most common form of inherited childhood deafness. Published November 1 in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the study led by Mustafa Tekin, M.D., associate professor in the Dr. John T. Macdonald Department of Human Genetics and the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, found that mutations in the OTOGL gene are a cause of moderate autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing loss.

UM Researchers Identify Gene That Contributes to Alzheimer’s Disease

November 5, 2012

Researchers from the Miller School of Medicine have identified a gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease in Caucasians. Published online October 27 in Neurobiology of Aging, their study demonstrated that a change in the C9ORF72 gene, called a repeat expansion, could be a new cause for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, mostly in Caucasians.

The research was led by Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., Director of the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, and Stephan Züchner M.D., Interim Chair of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics. Dr. Pericak-Vance’s post-doctoral fellow, Martin A. Kohli, Ph.D., was the first author on the paper, Repeat expansions in the C9ORF72 gene contribute to Alzheimer’s disease in Caucasians.