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Ben Miller named AAAS fellow

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Two University of Rochester faculty members have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Todd Krauss, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, and Benjamin Miller, Dean's Professor of Dermatology, are among 443 members of the association being recognized this year for their "efforts toward advancing scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished."

Benjamin Miller is focused on two areas of research: how various molecules recognize RNA sequences; and how the optical properties of nanomaterials might aid in the development of new biosensors for biological investigations and clinical screenings.

In the realm of RNA recognition, Miller and the members of his lab have applied techniques of molecular design and a novel method of small-molecule evolution called Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry, which allows researchers to rapidly "prototype" RNA binding molecules. The Miller lab uses these methods to develop new RNA-targeted drugs to treat diseases such as Myotonic Dystrophy and HIV. In investigating the optical properties of nanomaterials, Miller hopes to pave the way toward compact, inexpensive biosensors that could replace current floor-standing clinical diagnostic systems with a cell phone-sized device.

"I'm honored to join the ranks of AAAS fellows and view it as recognition of the quality of work my research group members have done over the years," he says.

Miller joined the Rochester faculty in 1996 and has joint appointments in biomedical engineering, biochemistry and biophysics, and optics, as well as in the chemistry and materials science graduate programs. He received the Future of Health Technology Award in 2010 and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award in 2001.

Brown elected to lead national dermatology society

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Marc Brown, M.D.

Marc D. Brown, M.D., professor of Dermatology and Oncology, was elected president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ADSD) at the organization's annual meeting in October. Brown is director of the department's Division of Mohs Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology.

An active ASDS member since residency, Brown previously served on its Board of Directors and on numerous work groups, and has chaired its Audit Committee and Educational Exchange Work Group.

"I'm passionate about making sure that ADSD members can continue to provide appropriate quality care for their patients by working with policy makers and insurance payers at the local, state, and national levels," Brown said. "I also believe educating the public through the media is imperative to continue the message of the safe and effective surgical treatments that dermatologic surgeons provide."

ASDS is the second largest professional medical specialty society for dermatology in North America.

Here’s What’s Causing Acne on Every Part of Your Face

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Acne is acne is acne, right? Well, sort of. It turns out that where your face acne is popping up may be especially important to treating it, because that's one of your biggest clues as to what's really causing it.

Regardless of where it shows up, acne is the result of pores getting clogged with an excess of oil, dirt, and dead skin. That clog becomes a comedone (more commonly known as blackheads and whiteheads). If bacteria gets into the mix, the comedone can become inflamed and become a papule (a reddish pimple) or a pustule (papules that are filled with pus and look "poppable"). And then there are the most severe forms of acne, nodular and cystic pimples, which form below the surface of the skin and are more likely to leave scars.

But there are also plenty of environmental, behavioral, and internal factors that can make you more prone to breakouts in specific regions of your face. Here, we'll take a closer look at the major areas where face acne shows up—and what might be causing it.

Forehead acne is common in basically anyone with oily skin, Mara C. Weinstein Velez, M.D., dermatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, tells SELF. But your hairstyle can also exacerbate the issue. In particular, Dr. Weinstein says she's seen patients who feel self-conscious about their skin in this area and get bangs to cover it up. But that only makes matters worse, since bangs will trap dirt, oil, and hair products in the area.

Read More: Here’s What’s Causing Acne on Every Part of Your Face

Diagnostic Gaps: Skin Comes In Many Shades And So Do Rashes

Monday, November 4, 2019

When Ellen Buchanan Weiss' son was about a year old, he broke out in a rash — little bumps that appeared to be hives. So Buchanan Weiss did what a lot of new parents do: She turned to the Internet to find images that matched the rash she was seeing on her little boy.

"I'm trying to figure out — would I be paranoid if I went to the doctor at this point? Is that a reasonable thing to do? So I started googling it," says Buchanan Weiss, who lives with her family in Raleigh, N.C.

But her son has brown skin, and as she scrolled through the photos that came up, she couldn't find any images of rashes that matched her child's — there were none on people of color. Even when she looked at the usually reliable webpages of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, or the Mayo Clinic's, she faced the same problem.

"It became immediately clear to me," she says, "that the vast majority of even common skin conditions are on white skin. You have to scroll down like 80 pictures to find a single one on brown skin."

Dr. Lynn McKinley-Grant, a dermatology professor at Howard University and president of the Skin of Color Society, says that's not just a problem with websites aimed at patients.

"Often in medical schools," she says, "they have limited pictures of diseases in skin of people of color." That means health professionals trained with these resources aren't seeing the full picture, McKinley-Grant says. The diversity gap is embedded in medical training, and that should concern us all.

Medical school classes rely on a lot of pattern recognition — especially when it comes to dermatology, explains Dr. Art Papier, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York. "You see picture after picture, to encode them into your brain," he says.

"You take these residents — they look at thousands of cases. And you're training them to see the skin, classify what they see."

In 2006, Papier and his colleague, Dr. Tobechi Ebede, published an analysis of major textbooks and other educational and training resources in dermatology and found photographs of darker skin to be sparse. Until recently, Papier says, "examples in people of color were limited to diseases that were more common in people of color."

Read More: Diagnostic Gaps: Skin Comes In Many Shades And So Do Rashes

Generous lead gift establishes dermatology professorship

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Group photo

Top row: President Sarah Mangelsdorf, Dr. Alice Pentland; Bottom row: Dr. Mark Taubman, Carol Goldsmith, Dr. Lowell Goldsmith)

A lead gift from Dr. Lowell A. Goldsmith '02M (MPH) and his wife, Carol, establishes the endowed Carol A. and Lowell A. Goldsmith Professorship in Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The gift will provide permanent support to faculty in the department.

In honor of the Goldsmiths' generosity, on August 3rd, the department hosted the Lowell and Carol Goldsmith Symposium, which featured nationally recognized scholars, alumni, and University of Rochester Medical Center faculty. President Sarah Mangelsdorf also presented the Goldsmiths with University medallions in commemoration of their professorship gift.

"Dr. Goldsmith has made such a mark on this department, the Medical Center, and the field of dermatology overall," says Dr. Alice Pentland, the James H. Sterner Chair in Dermatology. "This gift is testimony to that unwavering commitment, and the Goldsmiths' willingness to 'pay it forward' to make the department even better in the future. We are incredibly grateful for their support."

"Throughout my 21 year career at Rochester, I saw the effect that endowed professorships had on people, programs, and the entire University," says Dr. Goldsmith. "Carol and I hope that this gift will serve as a catalyst for others, to establish funds that will forever keep the University at the forefront of research, education, and patient care," says Dr. Goldsmith.

Dr. Goldsmith joined the URMC faculty in 1981 as the first James H. Sterner Chair in Dermatology. He became the founding chair of the dermatology department, which was officially established in 1987. In 1996, Dr. Goldsmith was appointed dean of URMC's School of Medicine and Dentistry and, in 2000, he became dean emeritus.

Dr. Goldsmith's research interests span the genetics and biochemistry of skin disease and developing new drugs for the treatment of genetic skin disorders. He is a recognized leader in his field, and has served as president of the Association of Professors in Dermatology, which hosts the Lowell Goldsmith Lectureship annually. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Dermatology and director of the American Board of Dermatology.

Dr. Goldsmith received his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and his medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine (Brooklyn). He has served on faculty at Duke University, Harvard University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1999, he cofounded Virtual DX with Arthur Papier, a former dermatology resident at the University. Virtual DX is a Rochester, NY-based digital imaging company and a recognized leader in medical knowledge management.

The Goldsmiths have two adult daughters and enjoy traveling the world. Dr. Goldsmith is also an accomplished metalsmith who crafts silver art objects.

Read More: Generous lead gift establishes dermatology professorship

Dr. Lowell Goldsmith: A Life of Service

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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Dr. Lowell A. Goldsmith ’02M (MPH)

Lowell A. Goldsmith '02M (MPH) grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of three children. His father was a dentist whose office was in the front room of the family home. From an early age, Dr. Goldsmith was exposed to patient care. He saw his father treating people, developing x-rays, and doing all it takes to be a skilled, compassionate physician. Dr. Goldsmith was captivated by the science of medical care.

Because he was a self-proclaimed "math nerd," Dr. Goldsmith went to an engineering-focused high school in New York City. "That got engineering out of my system," he says, with a lilt in his voice. "It was around that time that I discovered that medicine had both humanistic and scientific elements. This captivated me, and would ultimately serve a lifelong professional calling."

Drawn to dermatology

Dr. Goldsmith earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and his medical degree at SUNY Downstate College in Medicine (Brooklyn), both in the New York City area. "When I was applying for internships after medical school, Rochester was #1 on my list," he says. "I had heard about it and knew of its great reputation from my medical school days." With a wish to pursue an internship here, Dr. Goldsmith and his father drove to Rochester for an interview. But, he says, "The school didn't accept me!" Thus began a search for his next step.

"I knew I wanted to get back to Rochester someday," Dr. Goldsmith adds. When he was applying for his residency in dermatology, Rochester didn't have a program, so there was no reason to have the school on his list. Then, when he finished his residency and training at Harvard, he began looking for a full-time faculty position. But still, Rochester didn't have a dermatology program.

Dr. Goldsmith was on faculty at Duke when he learned that Rochester was getting ready to launch a dermatology program. "I thought, 'at long last,'" he recalls. "By that time, I'd looked at other dermatology programs around the country but Rochester still had a lot of appeal to me." Dr. Goldsmith did come, and he started the program here. "It was a blank slate, and something I could build. That was very exciting to me."

Dr. Goldsmith became drawn to dermatology by way of genetics in college. "Through my interest in and study of genetics, I had learned about the vast number of genetic conditions that affected the skin, hair, and nails, and decided that's where I wanted to focus—that I could have a role unravelling some of the mysteries and medical questions involved with them." And so he did.

Read More: Dr. Lowell Goldsmith: A Life of Service

Towers of styrofoam turn from trash to recycling

Monday, September 30, 2019

Group photo

Styrofoam is one of the most popular plastics. It is easy and cheap to manufacture. Styrofoam is one of the most commonly used ways to keep items cool in the medical field. It is also something that cannot be recycled in a recycling bin.

One group at the University of Rochester Medical Center is hoping to do their part in getting rid of the mountains of Styrofoam.

"We'll get a shipment of a tube about this size," said Francesca Agobe, referring to a small tube around the size of a pinky finger. "That will be the only thing in something super big."

Agobe is a grad student at URMC and found that getting rid of them properly is not as easy as it seems. "I was trying to clean out my lab and I asked where can I recycle the Styrofoam, and I was told I just have to throw it in the trash," said Agobe.

While many Styrofoam boxes are recyclable plastic, curbside recycling will not take them because of the type of plastic. The only way to properly recycle them is to visit the Eco Park in Monroe County if you are a resident there.

Agobe was tired to see so much head into the landfill, or worse, in the environment. A major problem with Styrofoam is its ability to easily break apart into small beads, called micro-beads. So small that they become completely invisible to the naked eye.

Post-doctoral Associate Greg Madejski is studying impacts of microplastics that end up in our bodies. He says that it is everywhere, for example all drinking water.

"The smaller it is, the more likely it is that it will stay inside you and cause long term damage," said Madejski.

Some of his work focuses on filtering out microbeads that are a few microns in size. A clear glass of water can produce many microplastics. Enough was enough, and a team at the University posted in the hallway collecting clean Styrofoam boxes.

The group brought them to a private company that was willing to accept the Styrofoam and recycle it.

Read More: Towers of styrofoam turn from trash to recycling

DeLouise Lab Organizes Styrofoam Recycling Event

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Monday, September 30 | 10:00 am-12:00 pm | Sarah Flaum Atrium, URMC

Does your lab have stacks of styrofoam taking up space? Recycle it! To combat the harmful effects of microplastic particles on human health and the global environment, the University of Rochester Medical Center invites you to bring unwanted styrofoam for recycling. The recycling drive will accept all kinds of styrofoam, but please remove any tape, stickers, or labels before dropping it off. There will be a raffle for Finger Lakes Coffee Roaster gift bags. For information about this event, please contact Francesca Agobe.

URMC researchers focus on potential health impact of microplastics in drinking water

Tuesday, September 17, 2019