Photograph by Kiko Rocote
Dear Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends of the Miller School Family,
Aging is a distinct privilege, a stark reality amplified by the ravages of COVID-19, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives. Fortunately, the exceptional effort and heroism displayed by our amazing health care professionals, community workers, and first responders in confronting the global pandemic, along with the recent introduction of three effective vaccines, have restored our hope for a return to “normal” life and an uninterrupted natural aging process.
But even so-called normal life has its attendant challenges, such as the development of Alzheimer’s disease. I am proud to report that our investigators are continuing to lead the charge in unraveling the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. “Healthy Aging,” our cover story in this issue of University of Miami Medicine, details their groundbreaking contributions in elucidating the underlying cause of this growing problem facing our aging population and offers some salient advice for extending our “healthspan.”
In addition to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, our society has been confronting a pandemic of racism. We have witnessed an alarming increase in blatant discrimination, violent acts, and racial injustice toward Black and Brown people, and Latinx, as well as our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. These events remind us that we must never waiver from our values — that every life is valuable and should not be taken for granted. In this issue, you’ll read an update on the top-down push for racial equality and opportunity at the Miller School and UHealth.
Indeed, this past year has been unlike any other. Nevertheless, I remain filled with excitement and unbridled optimism about the trajectory of the Miller School of Medicine. Our NIH portfolio is the highest ever ($154M), the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics is ranked #2 in the country in NIH funding, and we remain #1 in NIH funding among Florida medical schools. The Miller School is now ranked #45 among U.S. medical schools by U.S. News & World Report (compared to #52 when I started 3 years ago) and #7 for diversity. Soon, we will be launching the construction of a new medical education building and a new cancer research building.
Our scientists continue to make significant strides in solving the critical puzzles surrounding some of the more vexing illnesses we face. Across the globe, our dedicated alumni are making a difference in various fields of medicine, while our generous donors propel us forward with their commitments to our shared causes.
Thus, I am confident that we shall emerge from the pandemic of COVID-19, and systemic and overt racism, to boldly continue our journey toward enduring pre-eminence, while promoting health equity and creating hope for humanity.
Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A.
DEAN & CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER
University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine