Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Julio Barredo Receives Prestigious Micah Batchelor Award

11.28.2007

Julio Barredo, M.D., Toppel Family Professor and Director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics, received the 2007 Micah Batchelor Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Research last night during an award ceremony and dinner at the Miller School.

The late George E. Batchelor, a renowned aviation entrepreneur and philanthropist, established the Micah Batchelor Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Research in memory of his grandson, Micah. The award, one of the largest of its kind in the country, was established in 2004 with a $5 million endowment; it provides at least $300,000 to the winning scientist.

An intimate dinner in a tented area outside the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute provided the perfect backdrop for feting Dr. Barredo, whose proposal to research the genetic characteristics of leukemic cells to develop better therapies for treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia took the prize over nine other worthy applications.

“The work that we are going to do thanks to this award will hopefully allow us to move some of the discoveries in the laboratory into the clinic and really make a difference in the lives of the children who currently cannot be cured,” said Dr. Barredo, after thanking his team and his family for their support. “We’ve chosen to work with drugs that are close to final development. The hope is that when we’re done with the work that we’ve proposed to do, these drugs are going to be ready for prime time in pediatrics and we’ll be able to start clinical trials with those children who are not as fortunate and who are still relapsing and dying of leukemia.”

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common cancer of childhood and the most common cause of cancer-related death for children under the age of 19. Despite great strides made in the field over the past 30 years, a significant number of children do not respond positively to the therapies currently available.

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala and Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., extended a warm welcome to members of the Batchelor family and Batchelor Foundation trustees who attended the event, and President Shalala recognized the Toppel family’s pivotal role in the recruitment of Dr. Barredo through the creation of the Toppel endowed chair, calling it a “sterling example of the kind of commitment it takes to recruit a world-class scientist clinician.”

The addition of Dr. Barredo, who joined the Miller School pediatrics team in 2006, fits into a larger picture for the future of the department, said Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. “Over the past four years the Department of Pediatrics has made many advances and we’ve had a road map that we believe will take the department and its programs to new heights,” he said. “Part of this road map includes the recruitment and appointment of Dr. Barredo as the Toppel Family Professor and Director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.”

Faculty with full appointments in the Department of Pediatrics at the Miller School, who conduct medical research that will improve children’s health and work in the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute, are eligible to compete for this award. Proposals are judged in three areas: the quality of the scientific proposal, the importance of the research to the health of children, and the contribution of the individual researcher to the health of children.

The review board assembled to select this year’s winner was the largest group in the award’s history, boasting 32 prominent physicians and researchers who are nationally and internationally known in pediatrics. Three of the esteemed reviewers – Stacy Fisher, M.D., Robert “Budge” McKey, M.D., and Bill Yeh, M.D., Ph.D. – were present for the ceremony.

“Awards like the Micah Batchelor award are essential for the advancement of pediatric medicine because they specifically target work that is being done to improve health care for children,” said Dr. Barredo. “The hope and the beauty of working with children is that when you are successful, you’ve affected a life for many, many years. I think that Mr. Batchelor recognized that and very wisely created this award. His vision and motivation behind the support is felt every day.”

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