Research Affairs

Major research projects are in the works as faculty and staff celebrate ongoing discovery at UF COMJ.

By: Tina Bottini

As we approach the hot summer months, the research agenda at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville is taking shape. The Research Advisory Council has been meeting monthly to identify areas of strength, discuss research opportunities for imminent growth, build infrastructural support and analyze research space. This group’s subsequent recommendations to the dean will assist in the strategic planning initiatives taking place over the summer.

The search committee for the senior associate dean for research position has been reviewing numerous applications. Several candidates will be invited to visit our campus. We will keep you updated as we move through the process. We may have some of the candidates provide lectures, which will be open to the research community.

The Jacksonville campus partnered with Marco Pahor, M.D., and his team from the UF Institute on Aging in Gainesville to submit an application to the National Institutes of Health to develop a dedicated research facility on aging on the Jacksonville campus. The Jacksonville Aging Studies Center, or JAX-ASCENT, application addresses health disparities, primarily among racial minorities and older adults of low socioeconomic status. Underserved minorities have been significantly underrepresented in clinical research, including aging research. JAX-ASCENT aims to fully use the established aging resources at UF in Gainesville and will capitalize on the interest and ongoing activities of the researchers in Jacksonville. Community partners also will be included.

The application received a very good impact score. However, it did not receive funding. Teams from both campuses have been meeting to reevaluate the application and address weaknesses in the summary statement. We are planning to resubmit in October. In the meantime, we are assessing potential research space for the center, with proximity to many of our faculty to promote consistent utilization by Jacksonville researchers interested in clinical research on aging.

An interprofessional simulation grant application was submitted to the NIH. It’s a resubmission of a study with primary goals to enhance teamwork skills of interprofessional students, integrate pharmacy students into simulated acute care environments, and promote positive attitudes of teamwork using simulated scenarios based on medication-administration events. The College of Pharmacy in Jacksonville is taking the lead on this project, with strong collaboration with the colleges of Nursing and Medicine. This application is unique, as few studies have looked at interprofessional training that integrates pharmacy students into the simulated acute health care environment. It is viewed as a way to prevent medical errors by strengthening team-based skills.

May and June are busy months for federally sponsored grant submissions for UF COMJ. In addition to the aforementioned, we submitted an application to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for telemedicine to improve HIV care; an application to the NIH for a church-based program to address obesity; and a community engagement application to the NIH using participatory research approaches with community-based primary care to prevent and control obesity among adolescent patients.

We are also preparing a large application for the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration to study crash risks associated with drug and alcohol use. We are teaming with Gainesville and other academic intuitions and community partners on these applications.

Celebration of Research

We had a successful Celebration of Research event last month. The day featured a wide array of compelling poster and platform presentations from residents, fellows and faculty. The keynote speaker was H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., M.P.H., of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. He delved into data that suggests there is a problem with cancer overdiagnosis in the United States and abroad.

Leighton James, M.D., a professor of medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension, won the 2017 Robert C. Nuss Researcher/Scholar Award. His research has focused largely on intermediary metabolism, diabetes and kidney disease.

Overall, the day turned out well and we look forward to an even better event next year.