Social and Behavioral Sciences

Lee Presents at CTSI Research Day

Stephanie A. Lee, SBS doctoral candidate, had the opportunity to present a research poster on Tuesday, June 19 at the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Training and Pilot Award Research Day. Lee is earning a co-concentration in clinical and translational sciences. The poster was titled “Dietary Fasting to Combat Chronic Pain and Pain-Related Symptoms of Autoimmunity: A Scoping Review." The review found that most medically supervised fasting regimens in humans improved subjective pain and pain-related disease symptoms as well as biomarkers of inflammation immediately following the intervention. Three chronic pain conditions and four autoimmune disorders were identified in a total of 13 reviewed studies. Co-authors included Drs. Stephen Anton, Mark Hart, and Kimberly Sibille. 


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Two SLHS Faculty Members Receive Tenure and Promotion

The Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences is pleased to announce that two faculty members were reviewed for tenure and promotion this year and both were successful in their requests.

Melissa J. W. Hall, AuD, CCC-A/SLP (left), was promoted to clinical associate professor. Hall has worked at UF since 2011. She specializes in electrophysiology audiological assessments and the evaluation of hearing in infants, children, and adults. She also coordinates the cochlear implant team at UF Health and has served as a clinic preceptor for numerous students in the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree program.

Karen Hegland, PhD, CCC-SLP (right), was promoted to associate professor with tenure. Hegland joined the SLHS faculty in 2012. Her research interests focus on mechanisms of normal and disordered airway protection, including sensorimotor aspects of swallowing and coughing. Her research currently examines these issues in several populations, including healthy adults, individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and individuals who have had a stroke.



Department of Biostatistics Hosts IISA 2018 Conference

The Department of Biostatistics hosted the International Indian Statistical Association’s annual meeting. This four-day conference was held May 17 through May 20 at the HPNP building. The conference attracted 300 participants from around the world to discuss and foster the cutting-edge developments of statistical theory, methods, and tools for making accurate inference from complex to noisy data. Conference guests were encouraged to participate in and attend a variety of activities including 201 invited session talks, eight special invited talks, three plenary talks, and a bahadur lecture. For students, the conference provided numerous opportunities such as the student paper competition and contributed poster competition. The conference was hailed as very successful. IISA 2019 is scheduled to take place in Mumbai, India.

PhD Student Wins Student Paper Award

PhD student Kai Yang in the Department of Biostatistics was awarded the Best Student Paper Award in Applied Statistics at the IISA 2018 Conference. Eligibility to participate in the student paper competition was limited to those who are enrolled in an MS/PhD (or equivalent) program in statistics or related fields at the time of the conference. 

During a conference session, Yang presented his work in front of a panel of judges as well as fellow conference attendees. The competition winners were selected based on the quality and content of their presentations. An award subcommittee selected by the IISA Executive Committee determined the winners. Winners were announced and recognized at the conference banquet on Friday, May 18 at the University of Florida’s Straughn Center. Winners received certificates and cash awards. The department congratulates Yang.


Clinical and Health Psychology

McKnight Brain Research Foundation Awards Multi-Site Intervention Grant to Investigators

Dr. Dawn Bowers and her colleagues, Dr. Adam Woods (University of Florida) and Dr. Gene Alexander (University of Arizona), will be piloting a novel, low cost intervention for improving cognition (memory, executive function) in healthy older adults experiencing normal age-related changes. The intervention involves transcranial and intranasal delivery of low-level light (near infrared) over an eight-week period. This is a blinded sham-controlled RCT targeting cognitive, mood, and neuroimaging outcomes (MRS Spectroscopy, resting state fMRI). Participants will be run across both sites. The presumed mechanism of change underlying photobiomodulation, based on animal studies, is improved mitochondrial function via ATP and increased blood flow. This study will be the first to examine mechanism of change in humans.

CHP Doctoral Student Awarded University Women's Club Scholarship

Sara Voorhees has been selected as one of five recipients of the University Women's Club (UWC) Graduate Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to students completing their first year of graduate study and is based on scholastic excellence, character, and leadership. Voorhees was selected based on the recommendation of her mentor, Dr. David Fedele, and her record of accomplishments to date. Voorhees intends to apply the funds to support her research at UF along with upcoming professional travel opportunities.


Dean's Office

PHHP Faculty Members Awarded Tenure and Promotion

The following College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members were awarded tenure and/or promotion from the University of Florida for the 2017-2018 cycle. Congratulations to these individuals on the well-deserved recognition of their significant academic accomplishments.

(left to right)

• Dr. Krista Vandenborne - awarded the title of Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy

• Dr. Karen Hegland - promoted to Associate Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with tenure

• Dr. Melissa Hall - promoted to Clinical Associate Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

PHHP Faculty Members Awarded University Preeminence Term Professorships

On June 15, Dean Michael Perri recognized the recipients of the 2018 Preeminence Term Professorships at the college's faculty-staff meeting. Congratulations to these individuals who have been recognized by the university for their outstanding scholarly achievements.

(top to bottom, left to right)

• Dr. Babette Brumback - Professor of Biostatistics

• Dr. Russell Bauer - Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. Ronald Cohen - Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. Deidre Pereira - Associate Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. Catherine Price - Associate Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. Adam Woods - Assistant Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology

• Dr. David Fuller - Professor of Physical Therapy


Environmental and Global Health

EGH Goes Global: UF in Haiti Study Abroad

This summer, eight students from various disciplines had the unique opportunity to participate in the first undergraduate study abroad program in Haiti with the Department of Environmental and Global Health.

Students were joined by Dr. Liz Wood, Dr. Anthony Maurelli, and Dr. Joe Bisesi during this four-week program as part of an on-going research project surrounding water insecurity in Haitian communities.

The goal of the program was to help students learn public health skills and knowledge through interdisciplinary practice in a setting where global health challenges persist. Throughout the program, students were able to practice research methods in the laboratory and in the field alongside Haitian researchers who acted as survey enumerators.

The students were able to engage with local community members during ethnographic interviews and collect and process water samples from varied community wells and surface water sources for contaminant analysis.

(pictured: Caitlyn Parente, a rising UF sophomore majoring in biochemistry, conducts an interview with a Haitian local about water practices in the community)

Emerging Virus Uncovered by EGH Researchers

In 2016, during a Zika outbreak in Venezuela, a young girl arrived at a hospital showing signs of a fever, rash, and joint pains. The patient’s plasma was sent to Colombia where serology tests for the detection of antibodies to Dengue and Zika viruses were performed; the results were negative suggesting that the patient was not suffering from Dengue or Zika fevers.

Just before the onset of her illness, the girl traveled to a region where veterinarians reported cases of neurologic disease in horses thought to be infected with Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), which is genetically similar to Madariaga virus (MADV). The disease caused by EEEV and MADV in horses presents with the same signs and the outcome can be fatal.

Upon further testing, Gabriela Blohm, a postdoctoral associate, alongside Dr. John Lednicky at EGH, identified MADV in the child’s blood. The patient recovered completely.

Drs. Blohm and Lednicky are the first to directly identify MADV in a human and their work reveals that humans can be infected without developing encephalitis or succumbing to the infection. Further research is necessary to determine the development of this virus and how an outbreak may be prevented. Read more

(pictured: Dr. Gabriela Blohm preparing to work in the lab)



Dr. Cottler Elected to Association for Clinical and Translational Science Board of Directors

Linda Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE, Associate Dean for Research and Planning for the College of Public Health and Health Professions and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology has recently been elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS). This association has four main purposes in the scientific community: research, education, advocacy, and mentoring. ACTS was specifically created to address the needs identified through the creation of the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program (CTSA). As such, the Association’s mission is to advance research and education in clinical and translational science to improve human health. With this appointment, Dr. Cottler will be serving a three-year term. The department congratulates Dr. Cottler.

University of Florida Researchers Receive NIAID Grant to Track HIV Transmission in Clusters in Real Time

Recently the use of molecular epidemiology methods for identifying and tracking epidemic transmission clusters has increased. These methods, however, are unable to identify the clusters and their dynamics in real time. With the help of a grant supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Mattia Prosperi, MEng, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, and Marco Salemi, PhD, professor of pathology, will apply a new tool modeling Florida’s HIV transmission clusters over time. Florida leads the nation in new HIV cases. Prosperi and Salemi are partnering with the Florida Department of Health to identify and predict infection and transmission trends within Florida and neighboring states using their new tool, HIV-DYNAMITE. The hope is to develop strategies to use the tool in practice and utilize results in precision public health.


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

HSRMP PhD Students Nominated as Finalists for Best Student Posters

HSRMP PhD students Raj Desai, MS (left), and Ryan Suk, MS (right), were both recently nominated as student poster finalists. Desai presented his findings at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics Outcome Research Global Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, while Suk attended the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Both conferences only selected the top 10% of posters for consideration.

Desai and Suk were lead authors on their respective presentations. Desai’s poster was titled, “Effect of medication non-adherence on healthcare resource utilization in patients with Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS): A retrospective cohort study.” Suk’s poster was titled, “Second primary HPV-associated cancers after index HPV-associated cancers.” Desai is mentored by Dr. Nicole Marlow and Suk is mentored by Drs. Kalyani Sonawane and Ashish Deshmukh.


Occupational Therapy

OT Welcomes Zheng Wang and Sandra Winter

Dr. Zheng Wang joined the department as an assistant professor this May. Wang received a bachelor’s in medical science from Capital Medical University (China) in 2005, a master’s in sport psychology from the Capital Institute of Physical Education (China) in 2008, and a PhD in kinesiology from Pennsylvania State University in 2013. Her current research interest focuses on identifying neurobiological and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying sensorimotor issues in children with neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, Phelan McDermid Syndrome, and Fragile X) and adults who are at risk in developing atypical neurodegeneration (e.g., Fragile X associated tremor and ataxia syndrome). Wang’s research employs system neuroscience approaches including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural neuroimaging, kinetic, and kinematic movement analyses to identify biobehavioral markers for neurodevelopmental disabilities to facilitate early diagnosis, predict disease risk, and monitor disease progression.

Dr. Sandra Winter joined the department as a research assistant scientist. She received a PhD in rehabilitation science from the University of Florida in 2009. Winter also serves as the associate director of the UF Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation (I-MAP), and is a health science specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (CINDRR) – North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. Winter studies driver screening and simulator-based driving interventions and coordinates a FDOT project to catalog and promote alternative transportation for aging road users. Her research interests include qualitative research, health promotion and wellness, community mobility, and caregiving. Her clinical expertise includes work with older adults addressing driving safety, dementia, and caregiving; and pediatric work with children who have multiple disabilities and sensory processing disorders. She mentors undergraduate and graduate students at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions.

The department warmly welcomes Dr. Wang and Dr. Winter.


Physical Therapy

Vandenborne’s MRI Methods Used to Track Progression of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Earlier this year at the American Academy of Neurology 70th Annual Meeting, it was announced that a new drug showed a remarkable impact on the progression of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in four to seven-year-old boys. Using this new drug in the MoveDMD clinical trial, researchers were able to track the progression of DMD through the MRI methods Krista Vandenborne, PT, PhD, has developed through the years.

In the May 21 edition of On the Same Page, UF Health President David Guzick, PhD, MD, retraces the steps Vandenborne took to get where she is now. You can read more about her 20-year journey here: https://ufhealth.org/news/2018/potential-breakthrough-treatment-duchenne-muscular-dystrophy

(pictured: Dr. Krista Vandenborne, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy)

DPT Students Receive Kuhns and McWells Scholarships

Noella Puwol, a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, was the recipient of the Kuhns Scholarship, in which $1,500 is presented to a student who demonstrates outstanding performance in their first full-time clinical internship. Thanks to Rolf and Anne Kuhns’ generous support through the years to the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the Department of Physical Therapy, students like Puwol can receive the recognition that encourages them to become forward-thinking clinical learners.

Alexandra Colon, also a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, received the McWells Scholarship and was featured in the Summer 2018 edition of the PHHP News. Many thanks to Ben Wells and Becky McQuain-Wells, both 2009 DPT graduates, who created the scholarship to give back to the program that shaped their careers.

(top photo, left to right: Bill McGehee, PT, PhD, professor and director of Physical Therapy Education, Judi Schack-Dugré, PT, MBA, DPT, clinical assistant professor and assistant director of Clinical Education, Noella Puwol, second-year DPT student, and Kevin McPherson, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, FAAOMPT, clinical lecturer and assistant director of Clinical Education)

(bottom photo: Alexandra Colon, second-year DPT student)


Rehabilitation Science

RSD Students Receive PODS I and II Awards

At the beginning of June, Abby Wilson and Katie Butera, both Rehabilitation Science PhD students, received the Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) I and II awards, funded by the Foundation for Physical Therapy. PODS scholarships are competitive awards intended to support physical therapists during their development of research careers pursuing scientifically based and clinically relevant research that demonstrates the clinical effectiveness and functional outcomes of physical therapy practice.

Wilson was awarded a PODS I scholarship for her project titled, “A Mechanistic Approach to Management of Patients with Musculoskeletal Pain.”  The $7,500 award supports the coursework phase of her doctoral studies prior to PhD candidacy.

Butera was selected to receive a $15,000 PODS II scholarship for her project titled, “Pain as a Nervous System Disease.” Butera previously received a 2016 PODS I award and a 2017 PODS II award.

(left to right: Katie Butera and Abby Wilson at the 13th Annual Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium)

RSD Faculty Receives Funding to Improve Breathing and Walking Function

The Department of Defense recently awarded Emily Fox, DPT, PhD, NCS, a $2.4 million clinical trial award to study the effects of Acute Intermittent Hypoxia (AIH) and respiratory strength training on breathing function in people with chronic spinal cord injury. Fox and Gordon Mitchell, PhD, professor of physical therapy and neuroscience, are co-principal investigators on this four-year project which is expected to begin later this year.

Fox, in collaboration with Dave Clark, ScD, in the UF Institute of Aging and the VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, also received funding for three pilot projects with a combined funding of approximately $300,000. They aim to test the use of non-invasive stimulation to improve neural activation in the spinal cord and improve walking rehabilitation and mobility outcomes. Their study of people with spinal cord injury is in collaboration with Brooks Rehabilitation.

(pictured: Dr. Emily Fox, research assistant professor for the RSD program and clinical research scientist at Brooks Rehabilitation)