UF Health Strategic Plan 2.0

Forward Together, the five-year UF Health Strategic Plan published on May 20, 2010, has been extremely useful — in galvanizing the Health Science Center and hospital systems as an integrated academic health center and in implementing key strategic themes to which we have recurrently referred, both in day-to-day operations and on these pages. Anticipating the need for the “2.0” version of our strategic plan for the next five years, I convened the UF Health Strategic Planning Advisory Committee a few months ago to begin the planning process.

We are working toward completion of the new five-year plan by May 2015. With the planning process well underway, the time has come to present preliminary ideas from this planning effort to the UF Health community and to seek your input. In this newsletter, an outline of the research plan will be presented; in subsequent newsletters, other components of the plan will be presented, again asking for your thoughts and advice.

As with Forward Together, the UF Health Strategic Planning Advisory Committee for the next strategic plan consists of myself, the HSC college deans, each research institute and center director, and hospital leadership from both UF Health Shands Hospital and UF Health Jacksonville. I have been coordinating the overall effort, with Dr. Tom Pearson leading the research and education components. The Advisory Committee is staffed by Janet Adams (deputy to the SVPHA), and Laura Huntley, M.B.A., (HSC vice president for administration).

In developing the initial outline of the research strategic plan, Dr. Pearson has been meeting with the associate deans for research from each HSC college as well as the directors of the research institutes and centers on our campus. This research subcommittee sought input on cross-cutting topics from a variety of faculty members, who convened writing groups to prepare a series of white papers on those topics. In addition, we have sought the advice of our most active investigators in a series of small group meetings and also held a “regulatory workshop” that brought together research-intensive faculty, who are dependent on our regulatory infrastructure, with the senior UF staff responsible for this infrastructure.  All told, more than 150 faculty members and senior research staff have been involved in the effort thus far. Last week, on Oct. 28, the Strategic Planning Advisory Group met to hear the results to date and to suggest refinements.


The strategic planning process for research is being conducted in the context of a number of positive developments:

  • We have created a collaborative scientific environment at UF and UF Health and have gathered momentum in funding and in contributions to the literature.
  • Funds will become increasingly available from the Affordable Care Act for “learning health systems” to study comparative effectiveness and implementation science.
  • Additional resources are being made available from state-supported preeminence initiatives.
  • The president-elect of UF has a distinguished academic career and will continue UF’s focus on research preeminence.
  • Over the past several years, new leaders with a strong research orientation have been appointed at the HSC college, center and department level.
  •  We have developed a financially strong clinical enterprise that can support research in an ongoing manner.

That said, it must also be recognized that the planning process is being conducted in the context of a challenging external environment:

  • Budgets from traditional federal sources of research funding have been flat or declining.
  • There has been reduced funding from industry for basic research.
  • Many industry-supported clinical trials are being conducted abroad.
  • There are critical workforce shortages in some research disciplines and poor prospects in others.

In light of these considerations, our goal is to choose key research themes — and to implement strategies for success — that will take advantage of the positives and mitigate the negatives.

Needs Assessment

At the first meeting of the Strategic Planning Advisory Group, it was recognized that, in choosing these key themes, the planning process would be aided by a needs assessment in specified areas. As noted above, writing groups were assembled to prepare “white papers” on each topic, as shown below (chair of writing group in parentheses):

  • Space (Steve Sugrue, Ph.D., College of Medicine)
  • Infrastructure (Ammon Peck, Ph.D., College of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Global health (Linda Cottler, Ph.D., colleges of PHHP and Medicine)
  • Research training (Jennifer Elder, R.N., Ph.D., College of Nursing)
  • Metrics (Bob Burne, Ph.D., College of Dentistry)
  • Cross-campus research (Alan Berger, M.D., College of Medicine – Jacksonville)
  • IFAS - UF Health collaboration (Nick Place, Ph.D., IFAS)
  • Public-private partnerships (Bill Millard, Ph.D., College of Pharmacy)

Drafts of these white papers, including a listing of authors, can be found here.  These drafts represent the views of members of the writing groups. As these ideas are refined with input from all stakeholders, key recommendations from the white papers will be incorporated into the final strategic plan.

Key Research Themes

The following ideas build on the overall university-wide thrust for UF preeminence, a highly successful CTSI as a research backbone that cuts across all themes, and on the substantial progress we have already made in specific areas.

  • Leveraging Preeminence Initiatives: This applies both to the UF preeminence and cancer preeminence programs. Given the extraordinary implications of these state-supported initiatives, buttressed by additional university and hospital support for the UF and cancer programs, respectively, this theme is at the top of the list.
  • Enhancing UF Health Research Infrastructure: As we add scientific faculty to our research enterprise, our already strapped research infrastructure will have to expand in size, scope, sophistication and responsiveness.
  • Support Existing Faculty: The availability of substantial funds to recruit new investigators to UF is rare and exciting opportunity. To achieve institutional preeminence for UF and UF Health, however, existing faculty — many of whom are already preeminent or on a path toward preeminence — must also be supported. The idea is to work with UF, as well as carve out UF Health resources, to provide bridge grants, pilot funding and other tools that advance the research of existing faculty.
  • Train Research Leaders of the Future: To achieve preeminence as a research university and Health Science Center, we must have excellent programs in research-based graduate education. While we have a number of superb programs, there are many areas of opportunity. This is a key area for improvement over the next five years.
  • UF Health as a Learning Health System: A fundamental part of our promise is to learn from the care we provide and thus contribute new knowledge that can help our community and our country meet the health challenges of today and tomorrow. This concept of a “continuously learning health system” includes our patients as research participants and partners in our promise to improve health. So far, we have launched Consent2Share, the CTSI Biorepository and the Integrated Data Repository; building on this foundation has the potential to become transformative over the next five years.
  • OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium: The state’s designation of the University of Florida as a preeminent university carries with it the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to provide leadership in the organization of educational and research programs that engage stakeholders from around our state. This CTSI is already partnering with FSU and University of Miami on research programs under the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium, the OneFlorida Cancer Control Alliance funded by the state, and UF Health-led statewide research initiatives in diabetes research, brain research, Alzheimer’s disease, and surgical care outcomes and quality, among others. The OneFlorida strategy will encourage and support additional projects that move the state forward as a leader in biomedical research and population health.  

For each of these themes, the plan is to create a “logic model” that defines 5 year outcomes, 1-3 year outcomes, the activities needed to achieve these outcomes, and the resources needed to support those activities.

In subsequent editions of OTSP, I will summarize progress in other aspects of the strategic plan, such as patient care and education. Meanwhile, in writing this edition of OTSP, my hope is that you will consider reading through some of the white papers that may be of interest to you, consider the key themes listed above and reflect on the overall strategic planning process. Please submit any suggestions you might have (as well as any thoughts about a name for our “2.0” Strategic Plan!) to http://webservices.ufhealth.org/strategic-planning-feedback/.

Forward Together,

David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF
President, UF Health