News : 2016 : April

Alumni Reception and Reunion Banquet Highlight Medical Alumni Weekend

Miller School alumni from around the country had the opportunity to reconnect and reminisce March 5 at the annual Alumni Reception and Reunion Banquet, the crowning event of one of the Miller School’s most eagerly anticipated weekends.

Medical Alumni Weekend is a yearly celebration that brings former classmates back to campus to celebrate the Miller School through activities, traditions, and continuing education courses. It also marked many milestone anniversaries for past classes, including the classes of 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006.

This year, one class, in particular, had extra reason to celebrate. The Class of ’56 commemorated 60 years since they became the first graduating class of the School of Medicine. A video, featuring Norman Kenyon, M.D. ’56, and Sheldon Zane, M.D. ’59, highlighted the school’s early days and its struggle to open.
During the banquet, which was held at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., Miller Professor of Medicine and Executive Dean for Education and Policy, delivered the annual ‘State of the School’ address.

Among the highlights: the recent ceremonial groundbreaking for the Miller School of Medicine Center for Medical Education; the naming of the Don Soffer Clinical Research Center; the planned December 2016 opening of UHealth Coral Gables in The Lennar Foundation Medical Center; and the designation of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as a Cancer Center of Excellence by the State of Florida.

“Of all our accomplishments, perhaps none is more important than our students and alumni,” said Gardner. “We actively recruit faculty who are the best in their fields and ready to train the next generation of physicians and scientists. Last year, more than 7,800 students applied for just 198 spots in the class of 2019. Our tradition of excellence in medical education continues.”

Alberto Mitrani, M.D. ’84, Chairperson of the Alumni Awards Selection Committee, presented the 24th UM Medical Alumni Hall of Fame Award to Lori Laffel, M.D. ’80, M.P.H., the Chief of the Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Section at the Joslin Diabetes Center and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Mitrani lauded Laffel as a world-class pediatric endocrinologist focused on improving the lives of children with diabetes.

“On a local, national and international level, Dr. Laffel actively chairs, or is a member of, 17 care-related committees, is a grant reviewer for 20 agencies, an editor of four publications, and has been invited to make presentations in her area of expertise more than 100 times,” said Mitrani. “She is also the author of six clinical guidelines and two books that serve to help physicians managing patients with diabetes. She has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 17 years and is recognized as a worldwide leader in the use of continuous glucose monitoring in young people with type 1 diabetes.”

“It is an incredible honor to receive the 2016 University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine Hall of Fame recognition on this 60th anniversary of the first graduating class,” Laffel said. “It is additionally humbling to be placed alongside the illustrious group of 20-plus past Hall of Fame recipients.”

Medical Alumni Weekend also included a celebration at the 16th annual John. G. Clarkson Freshman Pinning Ceremony, where more than 300 students, faculty, family members, and alumni saluted the nearly 200 freshmen in the Miller School’s class of 2019.

“We officially welcome you to the University of Miami family of physicians with this symbolic pinning by our alumni and society leaders,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School of Medicine.

In her keynote talk to the class of 2019, Marilyn K. Glassberg Csete, M.D. ’85, told the future physicians to “be the hero in your own story — but don’t forget the people here who helped you write it.”

A Miami native, Glassberg talked about her early interest in medical research and the support she received from a series of mentors who encouraged her career. Now a professor of medicine, surgery and pediatrics, Vice Chairman of Medicine for Diversity and Innovation, Director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Program, and Chief of Pulmonary Diseases at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, Glassberg encouraged the students to take risks and challenge themselves.

“Be an active listener to your colleagues and your patients,” she said. “Finally, be happy, because that will allow you to conquer any challenge.”