Home  /  News  /  Medical Education  /  Urology

New Scholar Program Focuses on Supporting Medical Students Underrepresented in the Field of Urology

Parris Diaz is excited to be conducting male urology research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “I have a great opportunity to participate in clinical research and develop my skills working with top faculty in the Department of Urology,” said Diaz. “It will help me develop my career in urology with a focus on male sexual health care and research.”

MARS Program Award
Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, MARS mentor; Parris Diaz, receipient of the 2021 MARS award; and Dr. Lisa Abbie Paz, board member of the Ricardo Puente Family Foundation which funds the MARS award.

Diaz is the first recipient of the Miami Andrology Research Scholar (MARS) award. The award provides a year of scholarship funding for women and underrepresented minority students to conduct research at the University of Miami Department of Urology. A first-generation college student, Diaz will spend the 2021-22 academic year conducting urology research at the Miller School of Medicine before returning to the Charles R. Drew UCLA Medical Education Program to complete his medical degree.

For the past four years, the Department of Urology has benefited from a philanthropic gift that allows medical students like Diaz to explore careers in science or other health interests, said Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D., associate professor of urology, and a specialist in the treatment of disorders of male infertility and sexual dysfunction.

“The MARS program will support one medical student, per year, from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in urologic research, to conduct mentored research. We will provide networking opportunities that will enable them to become successful urology residents and better serve the diverse patient community.” said Dr. Ramasamy, who is also director of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at UHealth – University of Miami Health System. “Currently, fewer than 5% of urologists are women, and Blacks and Hispanics are significantly underrepresented in this field.”

Funding for the MARS award comes from the Ricardo Puente Family Foundation, which supports medical research and education in South Florida, according to board member Lisa Abbie Paz, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and adjunct UM faculty member.

“As a marriage and clinical sex therapist in private practice, there is a natural connection with Dr. Ramasamy’s clinical and research work,” said Paz. “We have a great collaboration, bringing together our experiences with the physical and psychological aspects of male sexuality. This award underscores the importance of inclusion in medical education to better serve patients from a wide range of backgrounds.”

For Diaz, one of the most important benefits of the MARS award is the ability to study timely issues in men’s health under the mentorship of Dr. Ramasamy. “I have already learned so much from Dr. Ramasamy and look forward to serving as a mentor for other MARS students in the future” Diaz said.

Tags: Department of Urology, Dr. Lisa Paz, Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, urology