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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UMiami: Dr. Hansel Tookes Named as One of the 2020 Herald Influencers

Dr. Hansel Tookes, an alumnus of the Master of Science in Public Health program at the University of Miami Department of Public Health Sciences, was one of two University of Miami leaders to be selected to the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Bradenton Herald 2020 Florida Influencers series. Dr. Tookes and a group of statewide leaders from a variety of perspectives and industries will assess major challenges in the state of Florida, as well as find solutions for these challenges.

Since he was a public health and medical student, Dr.  Tookes, who is now an assistant professor in the Miller School’s Department of Infectious Diseases, determinedly advocated for syringe services programs (SSP) to reduce the rate of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other infectious diseases.

He founded the IDEA (Infectious Disease Elimination Act) Exchange, an SSP that provides resources for people who inject drugs to prevent and reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases, which opened its doors on Dec. 1, 2016. At the IDEA Exchange, people can exchange their used needles for clean ones, as well as get tested for HIV and Hepatitis C.

In 2019, the state legislature passed a bill to expand the program statewide with approval by county commissions. To operate the SSPs, Florida counties can now initiate contracts with their local hospital, health clinics, or medical schools.

Mr. Rudy Fernandez, the vice president for public affairs and communications and chief to the president at the University of Miami, was also named to the series. Mr. Fernandez served as a special assistant to the president in the George W. Bush White House before joining the University in 2007.

Read more about Dr. Tookes and Mr. Fernandez here.

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