February 2020 Distinctions



Shawn Larson, M.D., an associate professor of pediatric surgery, has been appointed co-chair of the Pediatric Trauma Society’s program committee for 2020. In 2021, he will lead the committee as the chair. The PTS is a multidisciplinary organization that includes trauma surgeons, surgical subspecialists, nursing staff, critical care physicians, emergency department physicians, EMS/first responders, rehabilitation specialists and researchers dedicated to improving outcomes for injured children.


Staja “Star” Booker, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor in the department of biobehavioral nursing science, received the Springer Publishing Company Geriatric/Gerontological Nursing Award for a Distinguished Single Research Manuscript at The Gerontological Society of America Scientific Meeting in November. She is also the recipient of the 2019-2021 NIH Loan Repayment Award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Stacia Hays, APRN, D.N.P., CPNP, CCTC, director of the D.N.P. program and a clinical assistant professor in the department of family, community and health systems science, has received the Florida Nurses Association Advocacy Icon Award. The award honors her work at the local, state and national levels in defending patient safety, promoting consumer awareness and advocating for patients and the profession of nursing to impact patient health and outcomes.

Debra Kelly, Ph.D., R.N., O.C.N., C.N.E., an assistant professor in biobehavioral nursing science, has been selected by the American Academy of Nursing for the 2019 class of Academy fellows. The class includes 231 highly distinguished nurse leaders from around the world. Kelly is recognized by the National League for Nursing as a certified nursing instructor.

Debra Lyon, Ph.D., R.N., FNP-BC, FNAP, FAAN, executive associate dean and the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Endowed Chair, has been named the incoming editor of the Oncology Nursing Society’s Oncology Nursing Forum. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and serves as the co-chair of its genetic nursing and health care expert panel.

Ellen Terry, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of biobehavioral nursing science, has earned a second consecutive Career Enhancement Award from the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of UF. The award allows junior faculty and trainees to extend their research capabilities under their current extramural funding by providing supplemental funding up to $10,000.


Somnath Datta, Ph.D., a professor in the department of biostatistics, is co-author on an article that received the 2019 Best Theoretical Paper award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Statistical Advisory Group. The publication appeared in the journal Statistics in Medicine in 2018.


By Bill Levesque

Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., the director of the UF Diabetes Institute, has been awarded the 2019 Jacobæus Prize, one of the top international honors in the field of endocrinology and metabolism, for his contributions to groundbreaking Type 1 diabetes research.

Atkinson, a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s departments of pathology and pediatrics, received the award in Helsinki, Finland from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, a Danish group supporting medical research and treatment.

The prize is accompanied by an award of about $183,000 for “research or development work” at Atkinson’s discretion and a personal award of about $36,000.
“Mark Atkinson is internationally recognized for his research in which he has questioned the dogmas of diabetes research,” the foundation said in announcing the prize.

Novo Nordisk highlighted Atkinson’s founding 13 years ago of nPOD, the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes. JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, has called nPOD the world’s largest biobank of pancreatic tissue for diabetes research. Atkinson is nPOD’s executive director.

The tissue bank, housed at UF Health, has been transformational in the study of Type 1 diabetes, and its pancreatic tissue has been used in 248 studies by researchers in 21 countries.

“Mark Atkinson is an eminent scientist and one of the most cited authors in the field of Type 1 diabetes,” said Mikael Knip, a professor at the University of Helsinki who is the lead organizer of the Jacobæus Symposium 2019. “He is an extremely well-deserved recipient of the Jacobæus Prize because of his open-minded and seminal research on Type 1 diabetes.”