In addition to the conduct of health outcomes research in hospital, primary-care and community practice settings, VandeWeerd’s research includes work as a principal investigator in the development of a home-based sensor system that uses passive sensing — or pressure, contact and motion sensors — to monitor the health and wellness of community-residing seniors.
Additionally, in conjunction with industry partners, VandeWeerd leads a clinical trial exploring the use of BNA (functional EEG) technology as a tool to support early identification of cognitive and mental health impairments in men and women aged 55 and older. Most recently, she has collaborated with UF faculty to set up a COVID-19 field-testing site at The Villages®, which successfully tested more than 4,000 older adults for COVID-19; the process and results were published online by New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst.
“Dr. VandeWeerd’s experience will open up possibilities to answer research questions with the collaboration of residents in a unique and important community as we bring a UF presence to The Villages®,” said Duane A. Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the CTSI and assistant vice president for research with UF. “We look forward to many years of continued work in partnership with the people of The Villages®.”
Over the course of a decade working with The Villages®, VandeWeerd has developed a deep understanding of the community and its needs, which serves as a strong foundation for the research partnership, said Elliot Sussman, M.D., M.B.A., chair of The Villages Health.
“We are extremely excited about the expanded opportunities for community and clinical trials research that will stem from The Villages®’ partnership with the University of Florida,” Sussman said. “The Villages® represents a very unique opportunity to conduct aging research and we are confident that the work done here will not only benefit the Villagers who live in our community, but it will lead to improvements in scientific understanding and clinical practice that benefit seniors living across Florida and the nation.”
VandeWeerd’s teaching portfolio includes teaching courses on grant writing, applied research, social determinants of health and analytics to graduate students, and her work in The Villages® provides research and learning opportunities for students from a range of interdisciplinary backgrounds at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels.
VandeWeerd has served as a member of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Value Driven Health Care, and she has provided service to her profession as a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health Community Influences on Behavior Section and to the Specialized Centers on Research Excellence program. Additionally, VandeWeerd provides service to her profession through work as an active reviewer for multiple journals, including The American Journal of Public Health.