Research at UM

Founded in 1925, the University of Miami (UM) fondly known as “the U” was South Florida’s first university. Today UM is a national research university, comprised of five campuses that house 11 schools and colleges. With approximately $350 million in annual research and sponsored expenditures, UM’s faculty are actively engaged in research, scholarship and creative activities that span the biomedical and clinical sciences, engineering, education, psychology, marine and atmospheric sciences, ethics, the humanities, arts, music, marketing, business, and politics.

For the fifth year in a row the U has ranked in the top 50 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” issue. In the 2014 report, UM is ranked No. 47 out of 281 institutions nationwide and remains the No. 1 school in Florida. Once again, The Princeton Review named UM a Best Southeastern College in 2014, and ranked it No. 3 for Race/Class interaction.

The University of Miami is ranked No. 193 of 400 top world universities by the Times Higher Education, which bases its 2012-2013 World University Rankings on teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.

Research and scholarship are integrated parts of every School and College. Check out the School and College descriptions for more detailed information about research and scholarship at UM or take a look at some recent highlights from research, scholarship and creative activities around the U:

  • In December 2012, doctors at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis perform the first-ever FDA-approved Schwann cell transplantation in a patient with a new spinal cord injury. The procedure is part of a Phase 1 clinical trial designed to evaluate its safety and feasibility as a potential treatment for patients with such injuries.
  • In February 2013 Ricardo Komotar, assistant professor of neurological surgery and director of surgical neuro-oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, uses an innovative laser technique to eradicate a brain tumor from a 64-year-old West Palm Beach man. The laser tumor ablation was performed at University of Miami Hospital, the only facility in the southeastern U.S. offering the procedure.
  • Designed and built by students in the School of Architecture’s Design-Build Studio, a 200-square-foot eco-tent is unveiled in Everglades National Park’s historic Flamingo section, which had lacked overnight camping facilities since a one-two punch from Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma destroyed a small hotel and cottages at the park in 2005. The eco-tent is a prototype for future sustainable accommodations at the park.
  • Bringing Florida into the NIH-funded Women’s Interagency HIV Study, Miller School of Medicine HIV/AIDS researchers in February 2013 are awarded $8.5 million over five years to provide clinical, behavioral, and basic science insights into the changing demographics of the HIV epidemic among women in the United States.
  • The Office of Naval Research awarded the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) a three-year, $16.5 million contract to continue collecting, processing and furnishing data from commercial satellites. Operated by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, CSTARS radar images help scientists understand oceanographic and terrestrial processes and aid in humanitarian relief operations during natural and manmade disasters.
  • The College of Engineering’s new Fortinent Cyber Security Lab, funded by the California-based Internet security provider Fortinet, is designing revolutionary ways to keep digital information safe.
  • In October 2013, oceanographers from the University of Miami, Duke University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were awarded $16 million in grants from the National Science Foundation to deploy a new observing system in the subpolar region of the North Atlantic that will measure the ocean’s overturning circulation, a key component of the global climate system.

Research Offices

Administrative Support for Research
Four UM offices collaborate to provide a comprehensive infrastructure to support the research, scholarship and creative activities of the faculty, physicians, students, staff, and trainees including:

  • providing specialized facilities, modern research infrastructure, and a safe environment
  • assisting in identifying and obtaining extramural funds
  • providing oversight of regulatory and compliance aspects, including human subject protection, conflict of interest management, and animal welfare protection
  • managing relationships between UM researchers and funding entities, including pre and post award administrative support
  • supporting commercialization of promising UM technologies

Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR)

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research facilitates scholarship, creative activities, and scientific discovery, and the responsible conduct of research. Serving all University of Miami campuses, Schools, Colleges, Centers and Institutes, the OVPR serves the UM community by:

  • assisting in identifying and obtaining extramural funds
  • managing internal award programs and limited submission competitions
  • overseeing core and shared resources
  • support for the development and review of Centers and Institutes
  • providing regulatory and compliance support for the research mission including human subject protection, conflict of interest management, animal welfare protection, export control and technology management, research integrity, biosafety, stem cell research, and responsible conduct of research instruction
  • providing administrative support for the University Research Council

Office of Research Administration (ORA)

The Office of Research Administration serves the Coral Gables, Miller School of Medicine and Rosenstiel Marine School communities by providing:

  • Budget Development Pricing Assistance;
  • Medicare Coverage Analysis;
  • Review, Approve and Submit Proposals;
  • Contract/subcontract development, negotiation and execution;
  • Award Receipt, Negotiation and Acceptance;
  • Sponsored account opening and budget distribution;
  • Sponsor, Regulatory and Expenditure Compliance;
  • Financial and Effort Reporting;
  • Billing and Collecting;
  • Account Reconciliation and Closeout;
  • Research Administration Training; and
  • Liaison with University of Miami hospitals, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Institutional Review Boards, Partners, and Medicare Fiscal Intermediaries and Administrative Contractors.

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Founded as Florida’s first medical school in 1952. The 153-acre complex is shared by the School and Jackson Memorial Hospital and is known as the University of Miami / Jackson Memorial Medical Center. Research is a top priority; we rank in the top 3rd of U.S. medical schools in terms of research funding. The School’s commitment to community and culturalized medicine (a theme that continues today in our NIH Center for Translational Science Award) was recognized in 2001 with the first ever American Association of Medical Colleges’ Community Service Award.

In 2004, the School received an unrestricted $100 million gift from the Leonard Miller family and was formally designated as the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Today, it is ranked fifth of all medical schools for Hispanic medical students. Pascal J. Goldschmidt, MD, was recruited from Duke University to lead the School in 2006. He has led a major renaissance of academic and clinical programs with the School’s annual operating budget more than doubling since his arrival to just over $2 billion. Laudable accomplishments include establishing the University’s Health System (UHealth), South Florida’s only comprehensive network of university-based patient care, anchored by the $350 million purchase of the University Hospital in 2007; and the $100 million Hussman Institute for Human Genomics. The Miller School and UHealth proudly serve Miami, South Florida, South America, and the Caribbean in its quaternary mission of education, research, patient care, and community partnership. Dean Goldschmidt’s strategic transformation of the School proved successful in advancing the University’s research achievements. The Miller School of Medicine climbed to No. 38 in National Institutes of Health funding in 2012, solidifying its position as the top NIH-funded medical school in Florida.

Engaging in more than 2,000 ongoing projects, Miller School researchers are making rapid progress at the bench and the bedside, working to better understand and eradicate devastating illnesses in the fields of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, substance abuse and vision. New tools and techniques in the disciplines of stem cell, genetics and data management empower researchers to move at unprecedented speed toward new methods of analysis and treatment.

College of Arts & Sciences

Research and scholarship in the College Arts & Sciences covers an extremely wide range of disciplines. From artistic expression to the natural sciences, the humanities to the social sciences, the range of research topics is as diverse as the human experience. In the Physics Department, an astrophysics team tracks down microwave radiation that originated in the Big Bang. Psychology faculty dissect autism spectrum disorders and their causes while scholars in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature study the sociolinguistic, cultural and ideological aspects of Spanish in the United States. Amid this tremendous diversity of research interests, the College focuses on interdisciplinary research areas that offer especially high promise, including:

  • Complexity Science: The development of new methods to analyze and extract useful information from large sets of data with strong temporal and spatial components.
  • Migration Studies: This initiative takes advantage of the location of Miami as a currently active “melting pot” for people of various cultures and origins.
  • Understanding the Brain: A recent initiative to hire a cluster of new faculty interested in developing new scientific methods to investigate the nervous system, complementing the recently built Neuroscience Annex and the installation of the only fMRI system fully devoted to research within the University.

School of Communication

The School of Communication’s research encompasses both scholarship and creative activity. Faculty members conduct scholarly work in social science and humanities and they create videos and websites and much more. They study films and tell journalistic stories. They conduct evidence based research in journalism and media management, advertising and public relations, health communication and intercultural communication, and they write scripts, produce documentaries, create games and develop interactive media. This diversity of scholarship is often complementary in nature; research may inform creative activity, which in turn may be studied for audience response and impact; or creative activity may spark research ideas and study.

The School of Communication’s Center for Communication, Culture and Change and its doctoral program are both engaged with research that focuses on scholarship and action for positive change in people’s lives. This work will comprise the broad area of communication for social change and the more specific arena of health communication.

Interdisciplinarity and locational diversity are the hallmark of the School of Communication’s research. The faculty members’ scholarly and creative activities span across the University, community, region and world in terms of collaboration and impact.

Visit the following links for more information about research, scholarship and creative activities at the School of Communication:

School of Education and Human Development

The mission of the SEHD is to produce knowledge and prepare the next generation of leaders, researchers, and agents of change and well-being in education and the community. Approximately 540 undergraduate and 332 graduate students are enrolled in the School of Education’s three departments: Educational and Psychological Studies (graduates the largest number of bilingual PhDs in counseling psychology in the nation), Kinesiology and Sports Science, and Teaching and Learning. Isaac Prilleltensky, PhD, an internationally recognized expert in organizational change for community well-being, community psychology, and interdisciplinary approaches to community well-being, was recruited as Dean in 2006. Under his leadership, the School has become a center of excellence in the promotion and integration of educational, psychological, and physical well-being in multicultural communities. The School plays a pivotal role in the University’s commitment to the South Florida community with over 30 major health-related community initiatives.

Research within SEHD and in the Community and Educational Well-Being Research Center focuses on understanding and promoting the pillars of a healthy society—emotional, physical, intellectual, relational, organizational, and community well-being. Research projects run the gamut from the pursuit of the “good life” at the individual level to the assessment of the developmental progress of children participating in early intervention and preschool special education programs across the state. Examples of current research at the SEHD include the adaptation and well-being of immigrants and refugees, the healthy involvement of fathers in children’s lives, posttraumatic growth among victims of domestic violence, school and community-based services, mental health and well-being in diverse populations, the development and functioning of community based organizations, environmental justice and sustainability, technological applications for wellness, cancer disparities in medically underserved Latina/o populations, peer dynamics and instructional practices in linguistically heterogeneous and bilingual classrooms, the acquisition and development of literacy skills in bilingual children and adults, institutional processes involved in educational decision making for diverse youth at-risk, mathematics education, cognitive and social processes of interdisciplinary understanding, technology-enhanced learning assessment tools, human metabolism at rest and during exercise, gait analysis, motion capture driven musculoskeletal modeling, isokinetic mapping analyses for diagnosis and prescription, electromyographic analysis of sports-specific training and testing techniques, and the application of advanced data analytic techniques to solve complicated data issues in meta-analysis. Beyond the ways in which each of the research projects conducted in the SEHD represents innovations in their respective content areas, the SEHD conducts work with direct relevance to the lived realities of vulnerable populations. Much of our work is meant to leap of the printed pages of professional journals and books into the planning, design, and implementation of programs, interventions, and policies affecting the daily lives of these groups

College of Engineering

Under the leadership of internationally renowned researcher and member of the National Academy of Engineering, Dean James M. Tien (recruited in 2007), the College offers graduate programs in both traditional and interdisciplinary areas of study. The primary focus lies in three major research areas: Health and Technobiology, Informatics and Risk, and Sustainable and Smart Systems, each of which is innovative and requires cross-disciplinary collaboration across schools.

Healthcare and Technobiology is focused on the application of technology to biomedical and healthcare delivery issues, including personalized medicine, DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, preventive care, drug delivery and neuroprosthetics. Ongoing efforts include new islet transplant technologies for treating diabetes; control of artificial limbs by human thought; optics and devices for ocular surgery and diagnostics; medical imaging; medical physics; neural networks; stem cells; bionanomaterials; biomechanics; and tissue engineering. Informatics and Risk is focused on sensors, imaging, big data analytics, evidence-based decision making, risk analysis, financial services and cyber-security. Ongoing efforts include multi-modal data fusion; cloud-based security for smartphones and wireless communications; trusted computing; smart storage; Big Data; aerospace simulations; and control of autonomous unmanned vehicles. Sustainable and Smart Systems is focused on clean energy, fuel cells, water resources, climate change, food security, environmental spills, resilient construction, and smart structures and materials. Ongoing efforts include assessments of energy usage in small companies; simulations of energy microgrids; structural health monitoring of bridges using acoustic emissions; and water recycling in dormitories.

Each of the three thrust areas cuts across all five of the departments within the College, including Biomedical Engineering; Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering; and Industrial Engineering. Within each thrust area, the specific research topics are as diverse as the funding sources, which include NSF, NIH, DARPA, Army, Air Force, Office of Naval Research, state government and industry.

School of Nursing & Health Studies

Established in 1948 as the region’s first baccalaureate nursing program, the School has nearly 800 undergraduate and graduate trainees. With a minority enrollment of over 60% (30% Hispanic and 13% Black or African American, the student body remains among the most diverse in the nation. The school is a national leader in cultural competency and is home to El Centro, an NIH-funded Center of Excellence for Hispanic Health Disparities Research and the first P60 center grant ever awarded to a school of nursing. Under Dean Nena Peragallo’s leadership, El Centro was successfully renewed with a second NIH/NIMHD award for the 2012-2017 funding cycle, and has engaged 2,800 subjects in research studies since its inception. Having succeeded in several projects designed to improve health and living standards in the Caribbean and Latin America, the School was designated a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Nursing Human Resources Development and Patient Safety in 2008.

Faculty and students at the School of Nursing & Health Studies are engaged in a wide variety of interdisciplinary, evidence-based, culturally-competent research that advances nursing knowledge, improves patient safety and patient care, and impacts health systems, health policy and health disparities in minority populations. Research expertise at the school ranges from health disparities and minority health, HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases prevention and care, intimate partner and family violence, family and maternal/neonatal health, to patient safety and community-based health outcomes with a special emphasis on populations in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The school is currently ranked 1st in the state of Florida and 19th nationwide among schools of nursing for NIH funding.

The school is also committed to patient safety research initiatives that seek to address the grave issues of patient safety breakdowns and preventable medical errors in the health care system. An innovative study assessing the effectiveness of mindfulness training on ethical decision making by health care professionals has been funded by the Arsht Research on Ethics and Community grants program, with the school’s designated Patient Safety Assurance Director and Wallace Gilroy Endowed Chair in Nursing as lead scientist on this project. The school seeks to continue increasing the breadth and depth of its research capacity via completion of the simulation hospital, continued recruitment of faculty with strong research portfolios, and the inclusion of students at all levels in research initiatives.

Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

RSMAS or “The Marine School” includes six divisions, each with significant research activities that are supported primarily by federal research grants and industry partners. Research at focuses on ways to improve understanding and prediction of the Earth’s geological, oceanic, and atmospheric systems in order to provide a sound scientific basis for managing natural resources and adapting impacts of natural disasters and global change. Research topics are wide-ranging and include investigation of the climate and the environment with an eye toward defining the ecological, biogeochemical and societal imprints on the environment in a changing climate and predicting, simulating and understanding climate variability and changes on time-scales of seasons to centuries. Another research area is predicting the fate of hydrocarbons (oil) released into the environment. The overall goal of these studies is to guide risk management and response efforts to minimize damage to human health, the economy and the environment.

Active programs aims at defining sustainable coastal ecosystem and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are also underway. A long standing research area looks at the relationships between oceans and human health. This work involves research into the integrated biomedical and oceanographic sciences for the safety of human and animal activity threatened by contamination and toxins in seafood supply and coastal marine waters. Lastly, RSMAS scientists are working to improve severe weather observations and predictions. Using new observational technologies and advanced air-wave-sea-land coupled numerical models to improve the prediction of the track and intensity of tropical cyclones and other disastrous natural events, these researchers are addressing some of the most challenging problems in marine, atmospheric, and geophysical sciences.

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