Experts & Partners

The University of Miami’s Zika Global Network is connecting UM physicians, researchers, public health and business specialists, geographers, mathematicians, faculty from partner universities and other health professionals the world over. UM’s Zika Global Network experts are examining and predicting the spread of vector-borne diseases, developing effective testing and treatment of the Zika virus, establishing protocols for care, and measuring the impact of the epidemic on individuals and communities.

The Zika Global Network encompasses the pediatric Zika Response Team, which provides acute diagnostic, preventative, and treatment expertise for expectant mothers, fathers, newborns, infants, and family members affected by the virus.

Scientists are on the front lines of developing vaccines and diagnostic tools, field-testing mosquito control strategies, and helping families cope with unknowns about epidemics like the current spread of the Zika virus. Faculty and staff are well versed in the public health, geographic, and societal effects of pandemics, such as Zika, and can speak to some of the lesser-known effects such as the legal and ethical implications of mitigation strategies as well as the business and economic impacts on communities. With an ever-increasing globalized world, including the interconnectivity of people, biodiversity, and the environment, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems.

Miller School of Medicine

Glen N. Barber, Ph. D.Glen N. Barber, Ph.D. — Associate Director of Basic Research and Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology. Barber is pursuing a novel approach to a vaccine for Zika. His research focuses on understanding mechanisms of innate immunity to virus infection and malignant disease.

John Beier, Sc. D.John C. Beier, Sc.D. — Director of the Division of Environment and Public Health, Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and Professor in the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Beier’s expertise and research interests lie in vector-borne diseases, vector biology and control, environmental management, insect ecology and behavior, and transmission dynamics.

Sylvia Daunert, Ph. D.Sylvia Daunert, Ph.D. — Associate Director of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute, Director of Research for the Center for Integrative and Complementary Medicine, the Lucille P. Markey Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Daunert’s research interests include bionanotechnology, biosensing and molecular diagnostics.

Sapna Deo, Ph. D. Sapna Deo, Ph.D. — Director of Graduate Studies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Director of Molecular Medicine Pathway of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Deo’s research interests include bionanotechnology, biosensing and molecular diagnostics. Deo’s research focuses on the development of technologies for the detection of pathogens for resource-poor settings.

Ronald Desrosiers, M.D., Ph.D.Ronald C. Desrosiers, M.D., Ph.D. — Professor of Pathology. Desrosiers’s research is focused on understanding how individual viral genes contribute to the successful survival strategies employed by persisting viruses. Desrosiers studies KSHV, HIV, and the monkey homologs of these viruses (RV and SIV). His approach includes laboratory-based research and use of monkey models of these human viral infections.

Ivan Gonzalez, M.D.Ivan A. Gonzalez, M.D. — Director of the Zika Response Team, housed in the Department of Pediatrics, and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. Gonzalez specializes in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases and his research interests include patients with recurrent soft tissue infection with MRSA, recurrent fevers, fevers of unknown origin, tropical infections as well as potential immunodeficiency patients.

Thomas Hooton, M.D.Thomas M. Hooton, M.D. — Associate Chief of Staff for Medical Service in the Miami VA Healthcare System, Clinical Director, Medical Director for UHealth Infection Control, Occupational Health and Workers’ Compensation, and Professor of Clinical Medicine. Hooton has a strong interest in antimicrobial stewardship and methods to reduce human dependence on antimicrobials in the treatment and prevention of infections, especially UTIs. Hooton’s principal research focus has been to better understand the epidemiology, pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of UTIs in women.

Larry Kalkstein, Ph. D.Larry S. Kalkstein, Ph.D. — Voluntary Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, in the Environment and Public Health Division. Kalkstein is a bioclimatologist who studies the impact of weather and changes in climate on human health, air quality, and insect migration. Kalkstein’s research interests include extreme weather warning system development, community intervention/stakeholder education, and synoptic climatology. Kalkstein served as a lead author and co-author on IPCC Working Group II chapters pertaining to the impact of climate change on human health and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with other IPCC lead authors.

Naresh Kumar, Ph. D.Naresh Kumar, Ph.D. — Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the Division of Environment and Public Health, in the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and in the Department of Geography and Regional Studies. Kumar’s research and teaching are dedicated to preventing and managing environmental disease burden. A novel aspect of his research includes engaging communities in prevention measures through a personalized real-time environmental risk surveillance system. His research interests include environmental interventions and public health, public health surveillance using mobile phone technology, personal environmental exposure, and air pollution and health.

Paola N. Lichtenberger, M.D.Paola N. Lichtenberger, M.D. — Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Tropical Disease Program. Lichtenberger’s research focuses on infectious and tropical diseases. Lichtenberger has been working with David Watkins, Ronald Desrosiers, and investigators at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, taking a preventative approach for the virus by using antibodies from Zika patients.

Freddy J. MonteroFreddy Jesus Montero, M.D. — Dr. Montero is certified in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. His clinical interests include prenatal diagnosis, management of medical complications during pregnancy, and preterm labor.

J. Sunil Rao, Ph. D.J. Sunil Rao, Ph.D. — Director of the Division of Biostatistics and Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences. Rao’s research interests include high dimensional modeling, mixed model selection, predictive modeling, bump hunting, and statistical cancer genomics.

Mario Stevenson, Ph. D.Mario Stevenson, Ph.D. — Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Co-Director of CFAR, and Professor of Medicine. Stevenson’s research is aimed at uncovering the functions of viral accessory genes, mechanisms of viral persistence and immunopathogenicity as well as cellular factors influencing virus-host cell interplay. He worked with colleagues to develop a diagnostic blood test for Zika that costs a fraction of current tests, delivers results quickly, and can be performed on the spot in any hospital or outpatient clinic.

Jose SzapocznikJosé Szapocznik, Ph.D. — Co-Director of the Florida Node Alliance of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network, Honorary Founding Director of the Miami Clinical Translational Science Institute, Professor of Architecture, Psychology, and Counseling Psychology and Educational Research, and Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Szapocznik’s research interests include public health, built environment, social processes, behavior (physical activity) and health outcomes (obesity), family-based interventions, Hispanic families, adolescent drug abuse and related problems.

David WatkinsDavid Watkins, Ph.D. — Professor of Pathology and Vice Chair of Research. Watkins’s research interests include understanding the relationship between the immune system and pathogens. He has developed a program to understand the relationship between the MHC Class I molecules of humans and non-human primates over the past 20 years. More recently, he has devoted considerable time and effort to HIV vaccine development.

College of Arts and Sciences

Chris Cosner, Ph. D.Chris Cosner, Ph.D. — Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Cooper Fellow of the College of Arts and Sciences. Cosner’s research interests include partial differential equations and mathematical biology. Cosner has worked with Shigui Ruan and John Beier on a project focused on studying vector-borne disease outbreaks in the Middle East.

Jill Ehrenreich May, Ph. D.Jill Ehrenreich May, Ph.D. — Associate Professor in the Child Division of the Department of Psychology. Ehrenreich May’s research interests include novel treatment approaches for anxiety disorders and related conditions in youth, etiology of child anxiety, clinician training and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents. She advocates for clear communication and education between parents and children on Zika to help lower anxieties children and adolescents may be facing regarding unknowns about the virus.

Doug O. Fuller, Ph. D.Doug O. Fuller, Ph.D. — Professor in the Department of Geography and Regional Studies and Senior Associate Dean. Fuller’s specializations include biogeography, applied remote sensing and medical geography. He teamed up with Shigui Ruan of the Department of Mathematics and John Beier of the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences on a project in Costa Rica focusing on the distribution of breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito—the primary vector for Zika.

Marc D. Gellman Marc D. Gellman, Ph.D. — Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Associate Director in the Division of Health Psychology, and Associate Director for Administration in the Behavioral Medicine Research Center. Gellman’s research interests include behavioral medicine, stress and heart disease, drugs and behavior, and Hispanic community health.

Louis Herns MarcelinLouis Herns Marcelin, Ph.D. — Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Marcelin is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research focuses on anthropology of family and kinship in the Americas. His research also examines questions related to health and human security and the roles of power, violence, and marginalization in society, particularly in Brazil, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

Imelda Moise, Ph.D., M.P.H.Imelda K. Moise, Ph.D., M.P.H. — Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Regional Studies. Moise is a health geographer and a mixed-methods researcher of issues affecting vulnerable populations. Her research focuses on the two-way links between health disparities research, and linking research to practice or policy. Her scholarly work has focused on program evaluation and addressing health disparities as it relates to: minority populations, health care/utilization; geographical targeting, food environments; maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa, southeastern United States and Illinois.

Brian PageBryan Page, Ph.D. — Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Page specializes in studying the consumption of drugs in urban, street-based settings. His career in the anthropology of drug use has focused on the consequences and impacts of various patterns of legal and illegal drug use in a wide variety of cultural settings.

Shigui Ruan, Ph. D.Shigui Ruan, Ph.D. — Professor in the Department of Mathematics. Ruan uses mathematical formulas to study vector-borne diseases. He created a first-of its-kind mathematical model to determine how much of a role sexual transmission plays in the spread and control of Zika. Ruan’s research interests include differential equations, dynamical systems, mathematical biology, and modeling and studying transmission dynamics of infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant bacteria infection in hospitals and the community.

Justin Soler, Ph.D., M.P.H.Justin Stoler, Ph.D., M.P.H. — Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Regional Studies. Stoler’s research explores the geographic patterns of urban health disparities, particularly in the developing world, and environmental influences on social and behavioral epidemiology. He uses spatial modeling techniques to integrate household survey data, GIS layers of urban infrastructure, and remote sensing data. He has worked in Accra, Ghana, for several years exploring links between neighborhoods, the environment, and infectious diseases. Stoler co-directs the Health Geographics Lab.

School of Business Administration

Arun Sharma, Ph. D., M.B.A.Arun Sharma, Ph.D., M.B.A. — Professor of Marketing and Vice Dean of the Graduate Business Programs and Executive Education. Sharma’s research interests include understanding markets, marketing strategies and productivity, industry and paradigm shifts, firm-level value creation and management. Sharma has spoken about Zika’s impact on South Florida businesses.

School of Law

Jan L. Jacobowitz, J.D.Jan L. Jacobowitz, J.D. — Director of the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program and Lecturer in Law. As an expert on legal and mindful ethics, Jacobowitz can speak to potential legal and/or ethical considerations for mitigation strategies—such as insecticide spraying—that local and state governments have been using to fight the spread of Zika.


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