All for Florida

All for Florida

Universities team up on projects to help state

By Czerne M. Reid

UF and the Florida State University College of Medicine have received $600,000 from the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida to strengthen research, education and service efforts in public health and to boost economic growth.

The award, under the 2010 New Florida Initiative Scholar’s Clustering Grant Program, aims to foster collaborations among state institutions in the areas of health, science and engineering. It is part of a broader program to engage the state university system in the creation of high-skill, high-wage, knowledge-based employment opportunities.

The project is just one of seven to receive New Florida funds at UF, which received $2.5 million in all.

The funds will support the UF-FSU Community Research Collaborative Program, a research effort that combines UF’s expertise in clinical and translational science research with FSU’s strength in community-based medical education.

“Working together, the universities will create new opportunities and advances not only for physicians, scientists and students, but most importantly, for the citizens of Florida, as we explore patient-oriented research into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases,” said David Nelson, M.D., director of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and co-principal investigator of the project.

The project will establish a statewide network of facilities affiliated with the two universities that will connect local communities with teams of clinical scientists, physicians and physicians-in-training, creating new opportunities to conduct clinical and public health research.

Initial efforts will involve the assessment and monitoring of mild traumatic brain injury and of health risk behaviors among youngsters in Florida.

The project will give physicians and medical students access to state-of-the-art instruments that will allow surveillance, detection and follow-up of mild traumatic brain injury cases among youth who take part in organized sports.

It will also involve collaborating with pediatricians and family practice physicians to evaluate practices already in use for assessing and monitoring health risk factors such as diet, exercise and obesity in children and adolescents, and seeing how information technology can aid the process.

“This is a huge opportunity to expand our ability to engage physicians and patients across the state in clinical research, with the goal of improving health,” said Michael Conlon, Ph.D., chief operating officer of the UF CTSI. “We’re going to be able to do community-based research across the state because of this partnership.”

The other projects

UF received seven grants in collaboration with other Florida institutions to quickly establish projects that can produce results in a short time. The other projects include:

Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D., of the colleges of Medicine and Liberal Arts and Sciences; Folake Odedina, Ph.D., of the colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy; and colleagues from FAMU and Bethune-Cookman will address disease prevention and other health-care issues in rural and urban environments. The Community Health Workers Training and Research Institute will be featured in the next POST.

• IFAS researchers and colleagues from FAU and FSU will establish a task force to study and model climate change.

• UF information technology experts and colleagues from FSU and USF will expand broadband and enhance supercomputing capabilities across the state.

• College of Engineering researchers will facilitate biomedical engineering research and education efforts in the state with colleagues from UCF and USF.

• College of Engineering researchers and USF colleagues will develop “smart sensors” for environmental monitoring.

• J. Glenn Morris, M.D., director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute and collaborator Guenther Hochhaus, Ph.D., of the College of Pharmacy, will seek ways to optimize detection, prevention and treatment of vector-borne diseases with colleagues from USF.

In addition, UF received “Scholars Boost” awards to help with recruiting noted researchers in health and science and in chemistry, and to construct a veterinary research facility.