end of an era

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The end of May marked the end of an era as Chuck Luetje, our beloved chair, retired. He will be greatly missed. The official announcement:

“Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know that after many years of distinguished leadership, Charles W. Luetje, Ph.D., is retiring as chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Dr. Luetje, who joined the Miller School faculty in 1991, served as vice chair of the department from 2004 to 2008. He was named interim chair in 2008, and department chair in 2010.

The department has been particularly strong in the areas of cellular communication and signal transduction, neuroscience and cardiovascular science. Dr. Luetje and his colleagues have collaborated across the University, including with the Center for Computational Science and the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, in areas such as pharmacogenomics and drug design.

Dr. Luetje’s research interests lie within the general area of receptor structure and function, with a particular emphasis on ligand recognition. The central focus of his lab’s research program is currently the olfactory receptors of disease vector mosquitoes, targeting these receptors as a means to prevent mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and zika.

After completing a doctoral degree in pharmacology at the University of Washington, Dr. Luetje went on to do postdoctoral work in neuroscience at the renowned Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and then at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. We are grateful for his leadership of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology’s strong research and educational missions.

And we are also grateful that Kerry L. Burnstein, Ph.D., professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology and associate director for education and training at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, has agreed to serve as the interim department chair.

Dr. Burnstein is a nationally recognized expert in the area of steroid hormone action and mechanisms of intracellular cross talk between steroid receptors (particularly androgen receptors and their variants) and other critical signaling pathways in prostate cancer. Through investigation of this molecular interplay, research from her laboratory has identified novel and actionable targets in castration-resistant prostate cancer, a therapeutically underserved and fatal disease.

Dr. Burnstein has been continuously funded through extramural sources since she started her career at UM in 1991. She has also been instrumental in obtaining key institutional grants to expand educational programs within UM, and has served as the graduate program director for both pharmacology and cancer biology. Dr. Burnstein has mentored many graduate and post-doctoral trainees who have gone on to high-level academic, government and industry positions. She has an extensive service record on NIH study sections and on editorial boards, as well as holding key national academic society leadership positions.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Luetje for his important leadership of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, and in supporting Dr. Burnstein in her new leadership role.

Sincerely,

Edward Abraham, M.D.

Executive Vice President for Health Affairs

CEO, UHealth

Dean and Chief Academic Officer

Miller School of Medicine”

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