Occupational Therapy

OT Leads a Project on Training Teen Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving is a critical traffic safety issue among teen drivers in the U.S., contributing each year to over 15,000 serious injuries and 1,000 fatalities. While research to date has explored the effects of distracted driving, limited programs exist in Florida toward improving teen driving and reducing the number of distracted driving related crashes. Under the leadership of Dr. Sherrilene Classen and Dr. Sandra Winter, and in collaboration with the University of Florida T-2 center, the Department of Occupational Therapy has received a Florida Department of Transportation grant to develop a computer based-training (CBT) program for teens. For phase I (2017-2018) of this project, an integrative literature review was conducted that informed the development of the CBT course curriculum. For phase II (2018-2019), the UF team and collaborators will work to test and further refine the CBT for teens, promote the CBT to Florida counties with high teen crash rates, and analyze teen distracted driving attitudes before and after completing the CBT.

OT Partners with Florida Find-A-Ride

Transportation fosters community participation and access to critical resources (e.g., health care, shopping), but transportation access may be limited. In addition, older adults may face health declines leading to driving cessation. To address the need for affordable and accessible transportation, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Safety Office awarded the Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation at the University of Florida a $174,000 grant. The grant provides an alternative transportation database and an interactive mapping website for identifying transportation solutions for aging road users. The principal investigator, Dr. Sherrilene Classen, will work with Dr. Sandra Winter and Mr. Jason Rogers as well as representatives of the UF Department of Urban and Regional Planning and FDOT on this project. The department’s collaborative efforts, which began in 2004, promote FDOT's Find-A-Ride page on SafeMobilityFL.com, part of a coordinated outreach effort of Florida’s Safe Mobility for Life Coalition.


Physical Therapy

PT Welcomes New Faculty

This semester the Department of Physical Therapy welcomed Federico Pozzi, PT, MA, PhD, as an assistant professor. His research focuses on the biomechanical and functional outcomes of patients with musculoskeletal disorders of the upper and lower extremities. His funding includes a Career Development Award of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. Additionally, he is a phase one research scholar of the K12 Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program. The department is lucky to have Pozzi as part of the team.

DPT Student Involved in FPTA Annual Conference

Maria Hierholzer, a third-year DPT student and Florida Physical Therapy Association Student Special Interest Group chair, attended the FPTA Annual Conference at the end of September in Orlando. At the conference, Hierholzer was appointed chief representative of the student assembly and presented two amendments involving student membership fee allocation which passed unanimously. The department is proud of Hierholzer for all of her hard work and dedication. 


Rehabilitation Science

RSD Faculty Receives NIH Funding

Congratulations to RSD faculty, Drs. David Clark and Todd Manini, as well as Rachael Seidler and colleagues, who have recently been awarded a five-year NIH award for $5.4M. The study, “Mind in Motion: Multimodal imaging of brain activity to investigate walking and mobility decline in older adults,” is a collaboration between the UF Departments of Aging and Geriatric Research, Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Biostatistics, as well as the VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center. 

Additionally, Clark has received notice of intent to fund his four-year VA Merit award for $1.1M. The study, “Cerebral networks of locomotor learning and retention in older adults,” is a collaboration between the VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center and UF Departments of Aging and Geriatric Research, Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Clinical and Health Psychology, and Biostatistics. 

(pictured: Dr. David Clark)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

SBS Doctoral Candidate Publishes in Southern Medical Journal

Lindsey King, SBS doctoral candidate, published a manuscript in the Southern Medical Journal titled, “Effects of maternal carbohydrate and fat intake on fetal telomere length.” The article investigated the association between maternal carbohydrate and fat intake during pregnancy and fetal telomere length using umbilical cord blood collected at delivery. Telomeres, caps on the ends of chromosomes, can be used as biomarkers of cellular aging and disease development, with several diseases being associated with shortened telomere length. High fat consumption was significantly negatively associated with fetal telomere length. The study findings could enhance understanding of the role of maternal diet during pregnancy on fetal programming. Other authors are Dr. Hamisu Salihu, Dr. Korede Adegoke, Rana Daas, Dr. Arnut Paothong, Dr. Anupam Pradhan, Dr. Muktar Aliyu, and Dr. Valerie Whiteman. Read more.


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Noise Exposure May Hurt More than Thresholds

The consequences of noise exposure are all too familiar to Elizabeth Purdy, a third-year student in the Doctorate of Audiology program. That’s because in addition to being a student, Purdy is a veteran and was herself exposed to high levels of noise during her enlistment. Now she is exploring the nature of the auditory deficits that can arise from noise exposure, as well as from blast exposure. However, she is not only looking at potential damage to the peripheral auditory system. She is more importantly using behavioral measures of spectral and temporal processing to assess whether damage higher in the auditory system might explain some of the problems individuals face after exposure to high levels of noise.

Busy Fall Semester for the Hearoes of Hearing

Hearoes for Hearing is the University of Florida’s National Student Speech-Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) philanthropic organization.

So far this year Hearoes has:

1) Volunteered at hearing screenings in Alachua County public schools and charter schools. They volunteered at 10 public schools in September, and will be volunteering at seven charter schools in October. The 60 student volunteers contributed approximately 240 hours of service.

2) Hosted their very first benefit concert on September 30. Over 150 people attended the show at the High Dive and the event raised $2,041 for the UF Health Cochlear Implant Program.

3) Finally, the Hearoes are wrapping up the month of October with a Hearing Awareness Week to educate the community on the importance of hearing health and protecting their hearing through a series of fun events. Read more

(left to right: Caitlin Montgomery, Kathryn McAllister, Naomi Kelly, Kat Fiorentino, Nicole Andes, and Katherine Perez)



Susan Conway Retires After 35 years With the University of Florida

During the past 35 years, Susan Conway has made significant contributions to not only the university, but also the Department of Biostatistics as an integral member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Statistics and Data Center. As a research coordinator, she served as the central contact person for data collection on COG’s studies of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, sarcomas and brain tumors. Conway was given a Meritorious Service Award as well as a University Medallion in recognition of her career. She has represented both COG and UF in outstanding fashion. Conway has had a long and distinguished career of professional accomplishments, displaying a loyalty to the Department of Biostatistics not often seen in a university setting.

NIH R01 Grant Transferred to UF

The Department of Biostatistics is pleased that Dr. Zhigang Li brought an NIH R01 grant with him from Dartmouth College. The primary goals of the project are: 1) to develop statistical models to analyze microbiome as a complex mediator, 2) to apply these models in real studies to advance the understanding of pathogenesis mediated by human microbiome in children and help translate the findings into medical practice. Emerging evidence suggests that human microbiome, composed of collective genomes of as many as 100 trillion microorganisms, could be mediating disease-leading causal pathways initiated by environmental toxicants or other factors such as drug usage.


Clinical and Health Psychology

Woods Lab Receives a U01 Grant

The Woods Lab in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology and Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory in the McKnight Brain Institute received a new National Institute on Aging U01 grant to study the impact of cognitive training on functional abilities in patients with mild cognitive impairment. This study is a multisite pilot clinical trials between the University of South Florida (PI: Jerri Edwards), University of Florida (site PI: Adam J. Woods), and University of California, San Francisco (site PI: Joel Kramer). Drs. Adam Woods, Glenn Smith, Sam Wu, and Steve DeKosky will represent the University of Florida in this project, where UF will oversee cross-site multimodal neuroimaging, data management across sites, and participant recruitment and intervention in the Gainesville area.

Characterizing the Effects of Family History of Alcoholism on Alcohol Analgesia

CHP assistant professor, Jeff Boisseneault, PhD, and co-investigators, Mike Robinson, PhD (CHP), Sara Jo Nixon, PhD (Psychiatry), and Song Lai, PhD (Radiation Oncology) have received $2.5M from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to conduct a study on alcoholism and pain relief.

Self-medication of pain with alcohol is a common, yet risky, behavior. Evidence suggests family history of alcoholism may affect the degree to which alcohol use relieves pain, but the independent contributions of expectation and conditioning have not been previously studied. Interactive effects of sex and family history are also currently unclear. This project addresses this gap in knowledge and will inform further research and clinical/translational efforts for reducing risk associated with these behaviors.

(pictured: Jeff Boisseneault, PhD)


Environmental and Global Health

EGH Celebrates International Day of the Girl

October 11 was the International Day of the Girl, a day that aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of human rights. The women in the Department of Environmental and Global Health, Elizabeth Wood, Sarah McKune, Tara Sabo-Attwood, and Jocelyn Widmer reflect on the theme for 2018, a Skilled GirlForce, in a blog post. Each woman shared narratives that amplify lessons in leadership and empowerment that oftentimes buttress the impact of their work and discuss movement in gender equity even in the most everyday actions. Read more

(left to right: Sarah McKune, Elizabeth Wood,Tara Sabo-Attwood, and Jocelyn Widmer)

EGH Faculty Recognized for Community Engagement Science

The UF Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities (HGHC) team was awarded the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which recognizes institutions that redesign learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become more involved in their communities.

HGHC worked to address human health effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast communities throughout Alabama and Florida. Dr. Andy Kane, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health, was one of three principal investigators on the team. His work focused on determining the safety of seafood after the spill through measurements of contaminants. Through extensive laboratory tests and surveying, he demonstrated that the seafood was considered safe, a relief to families and commercial fishers throughout coastal communities. Read more

(left to right: Brian Mayer, Univ AZ; Andy Kane, Univ FL; Joe Taylor, Franklin’s Promise Coalition)



PhD Graduate Receives Laurence G. Branch Doctoral Student Award

Summer 2018 graduate of the PhD in Epidemiology program, Sadaf Milani, PhD, MPH, CPH, recently received an award from the American Public Health Association (APHA) Aging & Public Health Section for one of her dissertation manuscripts. The Laurence G. Branch Doctoral Student Research Award is an award which honors outstanding students for exceptional research during their training. Students must have completed a research project in areas of gerontology, aging and chronic illness and disability in adults, long-term care, or geriatrics. Milani will be recognized for her achievement during the APHA’s Aging and Public Health Section Awards Ceremony in November.

(left to right: Dr. Sadaf Milani and her mentor, Dr. Catherine Striley)

Cottler and Knackstedt Receive New R21 Award

Linda Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE, Dean’s Professor and Chair in the Department of Epidemiology and Lori Knackstedt, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, are MPIs on a new exploratory/developmental research grant award (R21/R33) funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The grant entitled “Identifying Patterns of Human Polysubstance Use to Guide Development of Rodent Models,” will observe patterns of alcohol and marijuana use in human cocaine users to construct rodent models of cocaine polysubstance use to assess changes in a region of the hypothalamus. Polysubstance use and cocaine use in particular are two important topics for NIDA. The department is happy to see this grant funded at UF.

(left to right: Dr. Lori Knackstedt and Dr. Linda Cottler)


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

HSRMP Faculty Publish in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

The report, “Trends in Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the U.S., 1999–2014,” was published in September 2018. HSRMP faculty members, Dr. Madsen Beau De Rochars, Dr. Ara Jo, and Dr. Arch Mainous, performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to trend the prevalence of individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Read more

(left to right: Dr. Madsen Beau De Rochars, Dr. Ara Jo, and Dr. Arch Mainous)

Turner Publishes in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy

Dr. Kea Turner, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, was the lead author of the paper, “The role of network ties to support implementation of a community pharmacy enhanced services network,” which was published in September 2018. Dr. Turner and her colleagues conducted a qualitative study evaluating implementation of the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN), a medication management program for Medicaid beneficiaries that integrates pharmacists into patient-centered medical homes through a value-based payment model. The research team conducted 40 interviews with community pharmacists who were responsible for CPESN implementation. Researchers found that gaining buy-in from healthcare providers prior to implementation and building partnerships with local public health and case management agencies helped pharmacies with implementation. Read more