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Public Health Leader Named New Dean of the University of Miami Graduate School

The University of Miami has appointed UM alumnus Guillermo “Willy” Prado, now the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences and the director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health at the Miller School of Medicine, as the new dean of the Graduate School, effective February 1.Willy

“Dr. Prado is well positioned to raise the Graduate School at UM to a new level of excellence, thanks to his passion as a researcher and educator,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc.

As dean of the Graduate School, Prado will work in partnership with the deans of the schools and colleges to support and develop strategies for attracting the next generation of scientists and researchers to graduate education at the University of Miami.

He will specifically manage the process of external program reviews and new program proposals, oversee the selection process for University of Miami graduate fellowships, chair the Graduate Council meetings, and meet regularly with graduate program directors, among other duties.

“This appointment is particularly meaningful to me because the University of Miami has been my academic home for 15 years, inclusive of my graduate training,” said Prado, who earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology and public health in 2005 and his Master of Science in statistics in 2000. “My plan is to work collaboratively with University leadership, graduate program directors, and the rest of the University community to continue to increase the quality of graduate education for our students.”

Prado joined the UM faculty in 2007. In the areas of research, he has served as principal investigator of approximately $10 million of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. He also has served in the roles of mentor and co-investigator of approximately $60 million of NIH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding, including a leadership role on two NIH-funded center grants.

His research has appeared in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, including The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, and American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

During his tenure, Prado has led the development of the Ph.D. program in Prevention Science and Community Health, as well as redesigned the epidemiology doctoral program. Having taught more than 10 graduate courses in prevention science, epidemiology, and biostatistics at UM, Prado has mentored many junior faculty, post-doctoral students, and graduate students.

As chief of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health since 2013, Prado has overseen a research program endowment of $375,000. Before that, he led the Ph.D. in Epidemiology Doctoral Program and served as acting chief of the Division of Epidemiology.

John L. Bixby, vice provost for research and professor of pharmacology and neurological surgery, chaired the search committee for the Graduate School dean and describes Prado as the “best of the best.” Noting that Prado will play a key role in UM’s progress in education and research, Bixby said, “Even among a number of highly impressive applicants who interacted with the Search Committee, Willy’s personality, accomplishments, and insight stood out. I am personally delighted that he will be our next dean.”

“Willy is an extraordinarily bright, dedicated public health researcher whose enthusiasm for his work is infectious,” said José Szapocznik, chairman of the Department of Public Health Sciences, who recruited Prado to the faculty after he completed his doctoral degree. “His work in prevention science has made him a superstar at UM and in the national scientific community.”

Prado replaces M. Brian Blake, who was named provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Drexel University last spring. In the interim, Angel Kaifer, professor of chemistry and senior associate dean for research and graduate education in the UM College of Arts and Sciences, served as dean.

 

Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention for Women (MBRP-W)

NIH recently funded a 4 year project improve treatment outcomes in racially/ethnically diverse low-income women with SUDs by targeting stress, residential dropout, and relapse. We have fully adapted, developed, and pilot tested a novel Mindfulness-Based Intervention (MBI), Moment-by-Moment in Women’s Recovery: Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention for Women (MBRP-W), that supports the needs of women in residential treatment. This MBI integrates relapse prevention, addresses literacy level, and is relevant to issues surrounding treatment- and relapse-related stressors of disadvantaged women. The research team is made up of University of Southern California faculty from School of Social Work (Amaro, psychologist and public health, and Lei Duan Statistician), Dept of Preventive Medicine (David Black, psychologist and public health), University of Miami School of Medicine (Guillermo Prado, epidemiologist/biostatistician) and clinicians from Prototypes Women’s Residential SUD treatment in Pomona, CA.

Primarily the study will test the efficacy of Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention for women in increasing treatment retention and in reducing post-treatment relapse. We will also investigate stress related mechanisms of change. In addition, in a pilot study we will investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the intervention effects using brain imaging (FMRI).  Identifying the efficacy of the intervention and assessing if it is useful in increasing treatment retention and reducing relapse would be an important accomplishment as both treatment retention and relapse are major challenges in the field of addiction treatment. Additionally, the brain imaging sub-study will help us to identify if, and how, the intervention impacts brain function related to managing stress, which is a major causal factor in relapse.

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keepin' it REAL Mexico

NIH recently funded an international research team composed of Dr. Flavio F. Marsiglia, ASU, PI, Dr. Maria Elena Medina Mora, Insituto Naciona Psychiatrico de Mexio, DF, Co-PI, Dr. Stephen Kulis, ASU, Co-PI, Dr. Stephanie Ayers, ASU, Co-PI, Dr. Bertha Nuño Gutiérrez, Guadalajara, Site Director, Dr. María Dolores Corona Lozano, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Site Director, Dr. Miguel Ángel Mendoza Meléndez, Ciudad de México, DF, Site Director.
The keepin’ it REAL Mexico study is designed to address sharp increases in substance use rates among youth in Mexico, their connection to changing gender norms and rising violence, and the lack of culturally grounded, empirically tested, and efficacious school-based drug prevention programs in Mexico.  The study is funded by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institute of Health (NIH) for five years (1R01DA088657-01A1).  Southwest Interdiciplinary Research Center (SIRC) at Arizona State University, Center for International Translational Intervention Research (CITIR) at Arizona State University, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Instituto Milton H. Erickson de Guadalajara, Instituto para la Prevención de las Adicciones en la Ciudad de México (IAPA), and Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz.  This study will adapt, implement and test the keepin' it REAL (kiR) prevention program in middle schools in Mexico's three largest cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The bi-national research team will investigate and incorporate into the curriculum gender-specific experiences with drug offers and appropriate drug resistance strategies in the Mexican context that may impact the youths' risk of substance use and their responsiveness to prevention programs. It will also explore how youths' perpetration, victimization and witnessing of violence may moderate the efficacy of kiR in Mexico. Prevention science will be advanced by understanding how culturally influenced gender role norms affect substance use offers, attitudes and behaviors, as well as the success of universal prevention programs. In addition, the study will add to knowledge on how to execute collaborative, cross-national, translational prevention intervention research.  The study will create knowledge relevant to efficacious prevention approaches for Mexican-heritage youth on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Prevention science will be advanced by understanding how culturally influenced gender role norms affect substance use offers, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as the success of universal prevention programs. In addition, the study will add to knowledge on how to execute collaborative, cross-national, translational prevention intervention research.

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Left to right: Dr. Miguel Angel Mendoza Melendez, Maria Dolores Corona, Dr. Maria Marcela Dieck Assad,(Head of the Secretariat of Social and Human Development of San Pedro, Nuevo Leon), Dr. Maria Elena Medina Mora, Dr. Flavio F. Marsiglia, Dr. Bertha Nuño, and Dr. Stephen S. Kulis.


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NHSN Steering Committee member, José Szapocznik, Ph.D., is the Miller School's top NIH-funded principal investigator.

With $8.42 million in NIH awards, Dr. Szapocznik, professor and Chair of Epidemiology and Public Health at University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, was the highest NIH-funded researcher on campus.

NHSN Steering Member Margarita Alegria, Ph.D. serves as guest editor for HSR

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NCI Journal Supplement: Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and Health.

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