Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Hong Receives Award

On October 30, HSRMP PhD student Young-Rock Hong was honored with a Poster Presentation Award at the UF Health Cancer Center (UFHCC) Research Day 2018 for his research entitled, “Financial Burden of Cancer Care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Analysis of MEPS-Experiences with Cancer Survivorship Survey 2011 and 2016." Hong and his co-authors examined the nationally representative cancer survivorship experience survey for 2011 and 2016 to assess the changes in financial burden related to cancer care between pre- and post-ACA implementation. The researchers discovered that the ACA implementation was associated with increased insurance coverage and reduced the uninsured among cancer survivors. However, no significant change in financial burden was assessed, both subjectively and objectively. The impact of the ACA on healthcare burden was offset or minimized by increasing premium payments among cancer survivors. In the five years of the ACA, the financial burden associated with cancer remained unchanged and considerable in the U.S.


Occupational Therapy

OT Leads Interprofessional Department of Education Training Grant

Nationally, there is a need for highly qualified occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children with disabilities who have high-intensity needs such as children with significant autism and multiple disabilities. INSPIRE, Interdisciplinary Related Services Personnel Preparation for Early Childhood, is an interdepartmental project offered by the Departments of OT, PT, and SLHS through a $1.24M grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Led by project director, Dr. Christine Myers from OT, with co-directors, Lori-Ann Ferraro (SLHS) and Dr. Claudia Senesac (PT), INSPIRE will provide enhanced training in early intervention and early childhood for nine OT, PT, and SLHS professional students each year for the next five years. Scholars will receive tuition stipends to cover one full year of their programs, while participating in specialized coursework, fieldwork, and simulation activities focused on interprofessional teaming and use of coaching strategies.

(pictured from left: Lori-Ann Ferraro, Dr. Christine Myers, and Dr. Claudia Senesac)

OT Well Represented at FOTA Annual Conference

The Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) annual meeting was held in October. Forty-two faculty members and students from the Department of Occupational Therapy took advantage of this opportunity to present their scientific work via workshops, short courses, and poster presentations. Additionally, Dr. Linda Struckmeyer received FOTA’s Award of Recognition for her commitment to the profession through excellence in teaching, scholarship, service, and leadership. Occupational therapy student Sarah Hays and mentor Dr. Linda Struckmeyer were recognized with the Most Visually-Engaging Poster for their presentation entitled “Effects of Visual Cues on the Safety and Participation of Persons with Dementia.” Dr. Sandra Winter and occupational therapy students Rachel Chrisien, Cailyx Jackson, Claudia Luna, Dana Mack, and Courtney Wiggins received the Soul of Occupational Therapy award for their poster presentation, “Autism and Disaster Preparedness: Promoting Preparedness and Accessibility in Shelters.”

(pictured: OT faculty and students at the 2018 FOTA Conference)


Physical Therapy

UF DPT Students Attend APTA National Student Conclave

In mid-October, three DPT students attended the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) National Student Conclave in Providence, Rhode Island. There, Kyle Walker, Maria Hierholzer, and Hannah Belles were able to attend breakout sessions and network with other PT students, PT and PTA professionals, and APTA leaders.

The department is especially proud of Hierholzer for running for Vice President of the APTA National Student Assembly. Through her hard work and dedication to the PT profession, the department hopes she inspires more DPT students to get involved in professional organizations.

(pictured from left: Kyle Walker, Maria Hierholzer, and Hannah Belles)

DPT Newsletter

This month the Department of Physical Therapy released its first biannual newsletter, The Gator PT. The stories featured in the newsletter vary from faculty, student, and research updates, to how one of the community outreach programs is progressing after 10 years.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, this edition features first-year DPT students Ashlea Adams and Paul Auth and second-year DPT student Tommy Coffey who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The department thanks all of the current students and alumni who have made sacrifices for our freedom.

The Gator PT will be published at the end of each fall and spring semester. PT is excited to share all of the great things happening within the department.


Public Health

PHHP Wins First Prize Booth Award

The Public Health and Health Professions booth won a first prize award at the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo in San Diego, CA. The booth was judged on curb appeal, creativity, overall ambiance, innovation, and interactive features. This is the second time PHHP has won a booth award at APHA; in 2017 the college took home a third place award.

Prins Elected as Delta Omega Member at Large

Cindy Prins, PhD, MPH, was elected as a Member at Large of the Executive Committee of the national Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society during the Delta Omega Annual Meeting in San Diego in November. Prins was inducted as a member of the PHHP Beta Upsilon chapter of Delta Omega in 2011. She has served in several roles on the chapter executive committee and is currently the Executive Secretary of Beta Upsilon.


Rehabilitation Science

RSD Student Wins Award at 2018 NEALS Meeting

RSD student Elaheh Sajjadi received the best basic science award for her poster titled, “Adenosine 2A Receptor Expression with Phrenic Motor Neuron Death” at the 17th Annual Northeast Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Consortium (NEALS) Meeting.

Sajjadi, co-supervised by Drs. Gordon Mitchell and Barbara Smith, presented her abstract about the contribution of adenosine 2A receptors in motor neuron death, which is the hallmark of certain diseases, such as ALS. She used an experimental model of phrenic motor neuron death (CtB conjugated saporin) and found that adenosine 2A receptors are upregulated in the spared phrenic motor neurons. This is important since adenosine 2A receptor upregulation may accelerate motor neuron death in ALS and those suffering from the disease may benefit from drugs that inhibit adenosine 2A receptors.

(pictured from left: Elaheh Sajjadi with Dr. Gordon Mitchell at the 2018 NEALS Meeting)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

SBS MPH Students Participate in Research Symposium

On October 31, Taylor Witkowski, Samari Blair, Shubhekchya (Sue) Malla, and Maria Gutierrez presented their research at the 2nd Annual Diversity Graduate Research Symposium at the Reitz Union. Their research focused on the perceptions of medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy using social media data mining. The students worked under Dr. Mark Hart and SBS PhD Candidate Nichole Stetten. The Diversity Graduate Research Symposium is hosted by the Black Graduate Student Organization and the College of Medicine Diversity Committee to emphasize the importance of diversity in research across multiple disciplines.

(pictured from left: Taylor Witkowski, Samari Blair, Shubhekchya (Sue) Malla, and Maria Gutierrez)

SBS Makes an Impact at APHA Annual Meeting 

Over 10 representatives from the Social and Behavioral Sciences program attended the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expo in San Diego, California in November. SBS students, faculty, and alumni presented their research with posters and oral presentations including topics on gun violence, medical marijuana usage, violence in Tajikistan, sex trafficking, and how race impacts cancer patients’ preference of integrative health. The SBS program is extremely proud of their faculty, students, and alumni and the research they presented at this conference.

(pictured from top left: Chris Blanco, Kelsea LeBeau, Maria Bolanos, Nicole Cruz, and Dr. Liz Wood)



Annual Faculty Retreat

The Department of Biostatistics met on Friday, October 26 for their annual faculty retreat. Attended by all faculty and select staff members, the retreat allowed for discussion and strategic planning on items such as faculty development, course offerings, graduate programs, etc. Facilitated by Dr. Peihua Qiu, all attendees were encouraged to contribute to the conversation in an open dialogue format. Dr. Qiu gave a brief history of the department, highlighting many accomplishments during his past five years as founding chair and encouraging continued growth and new ideas. Several action items were generated from the day‘s discussions. These action items will take priority over the next few months and will help to improve many aspects of the department.

Biostatistics Congratulates Graduates

The Department of Biostatistics would like to congratulate their two PhD graduates for the Fall 2018 semester.

Qianyun Li began the PhD program in August 2014 after receiving a BS in Statistics from the University of Science and Technology in China. Li successfully defended her dissertation titled “Pathological imaging analysis and drug sensitivity prediction” on October 29 under the direction of her mentor Dr. Faming Liang.

Xinlei Mi began the PhD program in August 2014 after receiving a MS in Biostatistics from the University of Florida. Mi successfully defended his dissertation titled “Deep learning-based approaches for high-dimensional clinical and genetic data” on November 5 under the direction of his mentor Dr. Fei Zou. Mi has received a job as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University beginning in January.

(pictured from left: Qianyun Li and Xinlei Mi)


Clinical and Health Psychology

Kirsch Receives Award

CHP doctoral student, Janae Kirsch, MS, (mentored by Dr. Deidre Pereira) has won the 2018 UF Health Cancer Center Predoctoral Award for her dissertation entitled “Circadian Rhythms in Gynecologic Cancer: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Intervention.”

The award will support Kirsch’s dissertation examining circadian rhythm rest-activity cycles and inflammation in women diagnosed with gynecologic cancer. The study will also examine intervention effects of a six-week cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and pain (CBTi.p.) intervention.

This competitive award, presented at the UFHCC Research Day, is given annually and is intended to recognize and support outstanding predoctoral candidates who are conducting innovative cancer research.

CHP Faculty Awarded ABPP Board Certification

Dr. Deidre Pereira, associate professor, and Dr. Lisa King, clinical assistant professor, have achieved the award of ABPP specialty board certification in Clinical Health Psychology from the American Board of Clinical Psychology. This board certification attests to their excellence in meeting the advanced education, training, and professional standing established by the specialty, as well as examination by peers in the specialty attesting to the demonstration of practice in the specialty. Dr. Pereira and Dr. King will be honored at the American Board of Professional Psychology Convocation during the American Psychological Association Convention.

(pictured from left: Dr. Deidre Pereira and Dr. Lisa King)


Dean's Office

PHHP Picnic

Faculty, staff, families, and friends from throughout the college attended a festive family picnic held on Homecoming Friday, November 2. The Cypress Lodge at Lake Wauburg was decorated with burlap and red and white stripped décor to set the tone for the BBQ lunch and yard game activities that took place. 4 Rivers Catering provided a tasty menu of pulled pork, grilled chicken sandwiches, and make your own cheeseburger plates topped off with cookies for dessert. FUN was the theme of the day as kids and adults alike played with oversized games like Yahtzee, Connect 4, and Jenga. Along with these games, attendees were able to enjoy all the activities Lake Wauburg had to offer like swimming, canoes, footballs, frisbees, kayaks, sailboats, volleyballs and more.

More Options for Nursing Mothers at UF Health

Nursing mothers now have two new places to conveniently and privately pump breast milk or breastfeed at the health science center. In early November, UF installed two additional modular “lactation pods,” made by Mamava™: one in the HPNP Complex (on the second floor) and one in the Communicore Building (near the second-floor elevators). The HPNP Complex pod is also accessible for people with disabilities.

This follows the success of the first Mamava™ lactation pod, introduced last fall in the public hallway near the first-floor outpatient pharmacy. Pods require the user to use the free Mamava mobile app, which shows where pods are located and is used to unlock the pod door when it’s unoccupied. Each well-lit unit is spacious and comfortable, with two molded plastic benches, a shelf, an electrical outlet and a USB port.



International Student Accolades

Master of Science student Jia Qi and Master of Public Health student Alan Alonso were recently awarded the University of Florida International Center (UFIC) Certificate of Excellence. This certificate honors the top international students whose immigration records are sponsored by UFIC.

Epidemiology doctoral student Ayodeji “Deji” Otufowora recently was awarded the Scarborough-Maud Fraser Graduate Scholarship, a highly prestigious award given through UFIC. Recipients are based on contributions to the university and Gainesville community; and how the student’s international background impacts their contributions.

Doctoral students Akemi Wijaybahu and Deji Otufowora received grants from Assembly for Action UF. This program bridges the gap between student involvement and non-profit needs in Gainesville. Otufowora’s project titled “Ensuring Access to Medical and Social Services for the Homeless,” will be partnered with HealthStreet. Wijaybahu’s project titled “Utilizing Gardening to Stimulate Mental Well-Being of the Homeless” will be partnered with GRACE Grows and GRACE Marketplace.

The department congratulates these students on their outstanding achievements.

(pictured from left: Jia Qi, Alan Alanso, Akemi Wijayabahu, and Ayodeji “Deji” Otufowora)

Cook and Cohen Receive New Research Grant

Professor of Epidemiology Robert Cook, MD, MPH, and Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology and Director and Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Clinical Translational Research in Cognitive Aging and Memory Ronald Cohen, PhD, ABPP, are MPIs on a new Research Project (R01) grant titled “Role of Gut Microbial Dysbiosis and Aging on HIV-associated neurocognitive and brain dysfunction.” Lead PI for this project is Shirish Barve, PhD, from University of Louisville. This project will use HIV+ and healthy aging populations from ongoing NIH-sponsored longitudinal studies at both universities to assess changes in the gut microbiome in older persons living with HIV-1 infection, determine impact of HIV-1 and age associated gut changes, and investigate the impact of these changes in the gut, with neuroinflammation, and brain functions and abnormalities related to age and HIV status. The department is excited to see where this takes HIV research and both universities.

(pictured from left: Drs. Robert Cook and Ronald Cohen)


Due to the coming holidays, the next issue will be published on January 23, 2019.

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