Top UM Neurologist Honored with Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity

Ralph L. Sacco, M.D., M.S., professor and Chair of Neurology and the Olemberg Family Chair in Neurological Disorders, was one of this year’s recipients of the University of Miami’s coveted 2015 Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity.

UM Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc presented the awards at a ceremony Friday on the Coral Gables campus.
“Today we recognize and celebrate the scholarly promise and achievement of our faculty,” LeBlanc said. The award recognizes demonstrated excellence in research by either a single unique achievement or several years of scholarly productivity.

“I am very grateful to the Provost and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for being selected for this award and supported to continue our research,” said Sacco, a world-renowned expert on strokes and stroke prevention. “I accept it on behalf of the entire team of investigators and trainees in Miami and New York who have helped make contributions to our understanding of the causes, consequences, and treatments for stroke. I am also privileged to continue to collaborate with so many great people.”

As Sacco was traveling and unable to attend the ceremony, Tatjana Rundek, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and Vice Chair for Clinical Translational Research, accepted the award on his behalf. Rundek has been working with Sacco for almost 20 years.

Described by Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt as “one of the giants of the University of Miami in terms of the quality of his scholarship and the impact of his work,” Sacco’s groundbreaking work on the incidence of stroke and the identification of risk factors in multiethnic regions has advanced prevention and stroke care in diverse populations.

As a principal investigator, Sacco has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health since 1993, with nearly $40 million in research funding awarded over that period. He has published 476 peer-reviewed scientific articles in high-impact journals, along with several hundred abstracts in supplements to major journals. Sacco has served on multiple committees, study sections, and task forces for the NIH, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Institute of Medicine. He has been an invited participant in a number of high-level meetings at the United Nations and, in 2010-11, had the distinction of being the first neurologist to serve as president of the American Heart Association. He is currently the President-elect of the American Academy of Neurology.

Kenneth Voss, Ph.D., professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Martin Grosell, Ph.D., Maytag Professor and Chair of the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, were also honored with the award.

Grosell, participating in NOAA’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) on the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and a group of other scientists discovered that the overall swimming performance of juvenile mahi-mahi exposed to crude from the spill decreased by 37 percent. His team’s groundbreaking findings, published in Environmental Science and Technology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that even a relatively brief, low-level exposure to oil of the kind released by the spill harms the swimming capabilities of mahi-mahi and likely other large pelagic fish during their early life stages.

Voss has an international reputation in the field of environmental optics established through his leadership in developing new instrumentation for measuring different aspects of the light field in the ocean and atmosphere. Most recently, his research has focused on the design, development, and deployment of automated, optical observation buoys.

The ceremony also honored the recipients of the 2015 Provost’s Research Awards. Classified into three categories based on discipline—the Max Orovitz Research Awards in the Arts and Humanities, the James W. McLamore Research Awards in Business and the Social Sciences, and the Research Awards in the Natural Sciences and Engineering—the Provost’s Research Awards provide salary support and direct research costs to faculty.