May 27, 2024

The University of Miami’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety bestowed its Lab of the Year award on IHL.

The lab’s superior risk assessments and fidelity to safety models were recognized by the university’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety with the Lab of the Year award.

Each year, the many research labs within the University are evaluated for their observance of state and federal safety regulations. Biosafety managers ensure the labs follow protocols and prevent potentially serious hazards. IHL’s award stemmed from these crucial reviews.

“I am beyond words to describe how proud I am of our lab for this recognition,” said Phillip Ruiz, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of IHL and a professor in the Miller School’s DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery. “This latest award only adds to our notable achievements made possible by our collaborative teamwork and leaders. Congratulations to all members for this award and for all they do for our patients. The secret sauce that separates us from other labs is our ability to keep up the good work and never stay satisfied or become complacent. Let’s always stay that way.”

IHL focuses on understanding how organ transplantation can save lives and the need for a strong, coordinated clinical transplant program to provide this service. The lab provides state-of-the-art testing for all transplant-related needs, including histocompatibility, immune-monitoring and anatomic pathology.

These tests ensure optimal preparation and outcomes for patients undergoing solid organ or bone marrow transplantation.

“Our goal is to remain at the forefront of medical and clinical services and education,” said Hugo Kaneku, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery. “We achieve this by providing reliable, complete and scientifically sound clinical results and reports promptly and expanding high-quality research collaborations.”

Additionally, IHL has a rich history of basic and clinical immunology research related to immune tolerance, evaluation of the molecular mechanisms involved in graft rejection and characterization of graft injury mechanisms. Many of the lab’s personnel are leaders in experimental and clinical transplant pathology for all types of solid organ allografts.

For IHL, safety is always at the forefront.

The team is exposed to daily biohazard risks associated with the many clinical tests being performed from different sources and patient populations. The lab members commonly encounter blood, urine, biopsies, buccal swabs, nasopharyngeal swabs and bronchial lavage.

Other safety concerns are affiliated with reagents and chemicals used in the different areas. To protect employees, special personal protective equipment, reagent segregation storage and safety cabinets are used when working with risky chemicals.

“IHL’s main concern is our team’s safety, and for this, we keep vigilant with the university and all state and federal regulatory agencies,” said Casiana Fernandez-Bango, CHS, CMQO, executive director for laboratory operations. “Any safety update from these regulatory agencies is a priority for us. As part of our daily routine, we practice continuous safety monitoring in our facilities, operations and personnel. We trust this is what makes us better and stand out.”

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