The Year in Review: Celebrating Our Achievements in 2014 Part 1

Marking the final year of the Forward Together strategic plan, 2014 was a tremendous year of continued growth and progress for UF Health. In this “year-in-review” issue of OTSP, we highlight achievements in each of the colleges. Next week, we’ll do the same for our centers and institutes, as well as our hospitals.

College of Dentistry

Boyd Robinson, D.D.S., M.Ed.  Interim Dean, College of DentistryInterim Dean: Boyd Robinson, D.D.S., M.Ed.

2014 was a busy and successful year for the College of Dentistry in all aspects of its teaching, research and service missions.

With an interim dean at the helm, the college was tasked with preparing for an accreditation site visit for the DMD program and for most of the specialty programs, originally scheduled for February 2015. A group of committees worked for over a year on the self-study, an exercise that yielded valuable insights into areas of strength, opportunities and challenges. Then, at the request of the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the site visit was moved to fall 2015. The additional preparation time will allow further strengthening of the self-study report, outcome measures and assessments that are part of the overall process.

Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H. Dean, College of Dentistry (beginning Feb 16, 2015)The college also continued an ongoing refinement of the strategic plan as it prepares to welcome our permanent dean, Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H., who was selected in September 2014 and begins her appointment in February 2015. Dr. Garcia's career spans 34 years in public health, clinical practice, research, teaching and administration at the local, state and national levels. In her previous position as deputy director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or NIDCR, she shared responsibility for the oversight and management of programs and functions within the institute, which included a staff of more than 400 scientists and administrators dedicated to research, training, science policy, health education, communications and financial management.

The College of Dentistry is also pleased to be involved in the preeminence initiative of the University of Florida, specifically in the areas of mucosal immunology and metabolomics. A new faculty member, Jose Lemos, Ph.D., joins the college in August 2015 to help foster the growth of metabolomics research at UF, which was recently designated as one of six federally-funded centers focused on identifying and understanding the molecules that contribute to metabolism, allowing researchers to better understand disease, genetic mutations, and the influence of environmental factors on growth and development. Dr. Lemos, who comes to UF from the University of Rochester, has an international reputation in the field of molecular genetics. His research focuses on characterization of the stress responses by streptococci and enterococci. He did his postdoctoral training in the college’s Department of Oral Biology in 2002, and the college is pleased to welcome him and his wife, Jacqueline Abranches, back to Gainesville.

In addition to teaching future dentists and dental specialists, and continuing to advance knowledge of oral health through a robust research enterprise, the College of Dentistry provides oral health care. During the last fiscal year, the college provided 132,361 patient visits in college-owned dental centers in Gainesville, Hialeah, Naples and St. Petersburg. The clinical enterprise generates 27 percent of the college’s annual revenue which, during the last fiscal year, totaled over $65 million.

College of Medicine

Dean: Michael L. Good, M.D.

Impressive people, including faculty, residents, students and staff, worked synergistically in teams during 2014 to fill the year with many impressive accomplishments, perhaps the best year in the college’s 58-year history.

Michael L. Good, M.D. Dean, College of MedicineClinical quality at UF Health was again awarded four-star recognition from the University Healthcare Consortium, with our patient safety score being 9th best in nation, and 23rd best with respect to patient centeredness. Patients locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally continue to drive past and even fly over other health care systems to receive their care from UF COM clinical faculty, resulting in continuing clinical growth of the faculty practice. By the numbers, UF COM clinical faculty provided over 670,000 outpatient office visits, admitted more than 48,000 patients to UF Health Shands Hospital, performed more than 31,000 major surgical procedures, and treated over 104,000 patients in our emergency rooms.

For the fifth year in a row, UF COM research faculty set yet another record for research funding from the National Institutes of Health, and our national NIH ranking improved even further to 43rd. The college is an active participant in UF’s campus-wide Preeminence Initiative, as well as UF Health’s Cancer Preeminence Initiative, with 8 new, highly accomplished scientists already here or on their way to UF, and several dozen additional recruitments in progress.

The strength of our medical education curriculum is demonstrated in many ways, but most importantly, by the quality of residency programs our graduating medical students enter: two thirds placed in residencies at top 50 institutions, and a third at top 25 institutions. Placement is similarly impressive for our graduate students, physician assistant students, and departing resident physicians and fellows. During 2014, we watched the construction of the new George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building proceed rapidly; we excitedly await its opening later this coming summer. Total college faculty grew by 30 new positions and now totals almost 1200. Because of significant advances in all mission areas, additional faculty recruitment will continue in the new year. We also continue to add and enhance faculty professional development programs and opportunities, both intramural and extramural. 

2014 was a much improved year for college finances, with a rare (but razor thin) 0.7% positive margin at year’s end. Through the efforts of many, the college’s endowment has grown to $350M, providing important and much needed endowed professorships, research funds, and other support to our faculty.

Impressive people in the UF College of Medicine finished 2014 strong and now head into 2015 with ever increasing momentum toward our destination as a prominent national leader in patient care, research and education.

College of Medicine-Jacksonville

Daniel R. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.N.P.A. Dean, College of Medicine-JacksonvilleDean: Daniel R. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.

2014 truly was a pivotal year for the University of Florida in Jacksonville and, as 2015 begins, it is timely to measure the recent past even as we look to the future. The past year was marked by many challenges but we surpassed our targets in nearly every sphere even as we embrace an exciting future that is the subject of active strategic planning. A wide range of educational experiences of outstanding quality became even better. Patients had greater access to our superbly talented faculty. Research grew substantially. Community engagement was much enhanced both in clinical service as well as public awareness of regional under-investment to help support UF in our mission that is truly essential to the region. But without a doubt, most exciting is the rise of a spectacular new UF Health North Campus (Phase One) that opens in a month.

EDUCATION
Too few know that the College of Medicine–Jacksonville in major respects is the third-largest site for medical education in Florida. The education of some 30 percent of UF medical students in their clinical years is based here in addition to 360 residents and fellows in 44 training programs. Medical education in Jacksonville offers a unique venue for close and growing interactions with colleagues in UF Nursing and Pharmacy. The campus was among the first in the nation to undergo a Clinical Learning Environment Review (CLER) by ACGME. UF Health Jacksonville and COMJ leadership, along with about 150 residents, faculty and hospital staff were involved in this ground-breaking site visit.

RESEARCH
UF Jacksonville had another strong year in research overall and particularly as a key venue for broader population-based and community engagement studies. Total sponsored awards rose sharply, notably up for federally funded grants and contracts. The Center for Health Equity and Quality Research (CHEQR) became the statewide coordinating center for the Florida Public Health Practice-Based Research Network, a major public health research initiative. Significant new funding was also awarded to address major health disparities, reducing obesity, treating breast cancer, managing HIV patients, and improving palliative care. Collaborations with colleagues across UF expanded substantially as Jacksonville faculty joined researchers from Gainesville to help win UF’s first Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute award, are closely involved in the renewal of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Award, and as active participants in the newly formed UF Diabetes Institute. There is a related effort to expand research partnerships with faculty in the Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health & Health Professions.

CLINICAL SERVICES
The UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville is an already sprawling clinical enterprise that is also growing. Our array of primary care practices and specialty services includes 25 primary care centers, 27 specialty satellites, and 15 on-campus clinics. Ambulatory visits exceeded 600,000 for the fiscal year, 63 percent at satellites and 37 percent on the main campus. The call center receives more than 1.2 million per year. UF Health primary care is actively expanding with a focus on the north as two new clinics opened in Georgia at Folkston and St. Mary’s as well as expansion of other practices near the new campus with several more practices acquired elsewhere in the region to build the system overall. A new Occupational Medicine program was launched and other novel projects have begun with the city and VA.  Operations ended the year ahead of an aggressive budget. The hospital was recognized as one of the best hospitals in Florida by US News & World Report, performing particularly highly in nine areas: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, pulmonology and urology (this, despite caring for a large patient population who are among the most sick, impoverished, and beset by severe social difficulties). 

STRATEGIC PLANNING 
Faculty and hospital leaders identified three focal points for the future UF Health Jacksonville: (1) dramatic expansion in the north, (2) ceaseless efforts to optimize our main 8th Street campus, and (3) strengthening UF Health in this market, especially with unique new services. UF Health has begun to more effectively share its story with civic leaders. Broad discussions are underway to identify new means to sustain our mission that embraces but is not inherently responsible for the care of all, or even most, indigent patients in the region. Perceptions have begun to shift as the new UF Health brand helps underscore that we, the premier academic health center in Jacksonville, are indispensable to the well-being of the entire area but cannot defy fiscal gravity bearing such a huge burden of unfunded services.

UF HEALTH NORTH
This big, beautiful building – situated on a terrific 70 acre campus near the airport and River City Marketplace – features a large emergency department, state-of-the-art imaging and laboratory facilities, as well as centers for ambulatory surgery, catheterization and GI, and ophthalmology. The first in America midwifery led birthing center based in an academic department of obstetrics is already garnering huge interest. In all 120,000 square feet for hospital-based services and 80,000 square feet for prime office space, half of which is taken up by UF clinicians. Also, since the State of Florida approved the Certificate of Need for a 92-bed hospital, Phase II of UF Health North is now in motion and set to open in 2017!

UF Health North

For the UF College of Medicine and UF Health in Jacksonville, 2015 will be an even more pivotal year and a key inflection point as we reach to our future with a spectacular new north facility, enhanced operations on 8th Street, and growth in services. It is a privilege for us to be here now as a part of a great UF team striving for unstoppable momentum. Each and every day I am amazed at how extraordinary work of UF faculty continues to sustain our key missions of patient care, education, research and service.

 
College of Nursing

Anna M. McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN Dean, College of NursingDean: Anna M. McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.

The College of Nursing experienced a great deal of positive growth and change in 2014. Faculty, staff, and key stakeholders have identified the strategic direction, goals, and actions in our vision to “be a model of excellence, recognized nationally and internationally for innovative education, dynamic program of research and creative approaches to practice.”

Leadership/Organizational Structure: 
In 2014, the college’s faculty prepared to restructure from three to two departments to enhance administrative flexibility and efficiency as well as increase communication and collaboration among faculty across all missions and specialties. Beginning in January 2015, the College established two new departments: the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science and the Department of Family, Community, and Health Systems Science.

Also in 2014, we had several new administrators join our College. Dr. Debra Lyon joined us last January as our Executive Associate Dean; Dr. Linda Haddad became our new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in July; and Dr. Versie Johnson-Mallard was selected as the new Chair of the Department of Family, Community and Health Systems Science and began in January 2015.

Education: 
In our educational mission, Dr. Bryan Weber was appointed director of our undergraduate program, Dr. Susan Schaffer was appointed director of our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and Dr. Jennifer Elder continues as the director of our PhD program. As part of our ongoing and strengthened collaboration with UF Health, the College began several educational initiatives.  During Fall 2014, we established a new form of clinical education—our Academic Partnership Unit in collaboration with UF Health Shands.  The APU concept is being piloted on two dedicated units in UF Health Shands hospital where UF baccalaureate students complete clinical experiences and unit nurses serve as clinical instructors to students. We have also developed our new online RN to BSN program for UF Health Shands nurses and welcomed our first cohort of students in Spring 2015.

Enrollment in our PhD program has increased, and we are working to streamline our DNP curriculum in order to ensure we are meeting today’s health care needs while maximizing the experiences for our advanced practice students.

Research: 
In our research mission, our NIH funding increased by 64% from 2013.  We have now filled our four endowed chairs and professorships. Dr. Debra Lyon, a noted NIH-funded researcher and scientist who studies symptom management in women with breast cancer, was named the Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Endowed Chair. Dr. Jeannie Cimiotti, a researcher who studies health care quality and nursing workforce issues, was named the Dorothy M. Smith Endowed Chair. Dr. Gail Keenan, a leader in nursing informatics, was named the Annabel Davis Jenks Endowed Professor and is part of the Biomedical Informatics preeminence initiative. Finally this month we welcomed Dr. Diana Wilkie, an internationally recognized cancer pain researcher who is a member of the Institute of Medicine, as our new Prairieview Trust-Earl and Margo Powers Endowed Professor. Hired as part of the UF Health Cancer preeminence initiative, Dr. Wilkie will be leading the efforts to establish a Center of Excellence in Palliative Care Research housed within the College of Nursing. These esteemed faculty members will play a key role in leadership in our research mission.   With our new and existing faculty members in place, we are building a critical mass of research in priority areas for UF. 

Practice: 
Progress in our clinical mission has included a stronger partnership with UF Health and new clinical faculty appointments. As part of UF Health, the College of Nursing is more closely integrated with the health system’s clinical mission in order to strengthen the link between education and practice. We welcomed Dr. Laurie Duckworth who serves a joint appointment as a Director of Clinical Research at UF Health Shands Nursing.

Archer Family Health Care (AFHC) remains one of the premiere nurse–managed clinics in the country. A new HRSA grant allows AFHC to fund nurse-led interprofessional practice to improve outcomes, increase patient satisfaction and decrease costs. The project includes mental health services, the addition of pharmacy services and a nursing case manager. The team will provide patient care and monitor outcomes related to management of three common chronic diseases. Both undergraduate and graduate students in 3 academic health science center colleges will also participate in the project.  

Our undergraduate students and community health nursing faculty continue to have a direct impact on health promotion in our local areas—providing more than 17,000 hours of service in fiscal year 2014. Community health faculty members and students provide health screenings and education and serve as a vital link between the primary care setting and families in the community. 

College of Pharmacy

Julie A. Johnson, Pharm.D. Dean, College of PharmacyDean: Julie A. Johnson, Pharm.D.

Education: 
Pharm.D. Education.  In 2014 the College of Pharmacy faculty adopted a substantially revised curriculum for their professional, Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program. This new curriculum will launch this coming fall for all entering Pharm.D. students at the college’s Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando campuses, and will utilize enhanced classrooms, study areas and skills laboratories. Designed in a block, organ system-based format, courses with a common theme are taken over a shorter time period than the traditional semester. Faculty members working across departments and disciplines are developing teaching partnerships to deliver courses in an interdisciplinary format. In tandem with the educational program, students also will receive co-curricular experiences to develop self-awareness, leadership and professionalism. W. Thomas Smith, Pharm.D., J.D., a clinical associate professor, named the first director of the co-curriculum, has begun working with other faculty to develop this innovative instructional program that may serve as a national model.

Online/Distance Education.  The College of Pharmacy has a 15-year history of successfully developing and supporting online graduate and professional programs that expand the educational reach of the college to students worldwide. These programs generate around $11 million annually that support the college’s mission. Ian Tebbett, Ph.D., an associate dean for entrepreneurial programs and IT in the College of Pharmacy, in 2014 established the UF Health Distance Education Support Services to offer a host of support services for online programs. The unit also works with investigators on grant proposals requiring an outreach component. From recruitment to commencement, services developed for the college’s online programs are available to any UF Health college wishing to start or grow a successful entrepreneurial online educational program.

Acting as a program incubator, the growing service center is supporting 12 online programs from the colleges of pharmacy, medicine and veterinary medicine and is meeting with other colleges and institutes. Graphic, instructional and website designers and video production teams, provide proven approaches to assist other units in creating and maintaining successful and sustainable programs. Working with UF admissions and graduate school staff, a student support team processes more than 1,800 online enrollments each semester. Additionally, the service team offers assistance with marketing, course development and extended technical support for students, many of whom are working professionals or reside in different time zones outside of our local work hours. To see the online programs being supported and learn more about the service, visit http://distance.ufhealth.org.

Notable student honors:

  • Juan Hincapie Castillo, Pharm.D., a graduate student in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy was selected in 2014 by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education as a 2015 Graduate Student Fellow. He is the first student from UF to receive the fellowship.
  • Amy Kiskaddon, a third-year student pharmacist in 2014 and past president of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists Gainesville Chapter received the APhA-ASP 2014 National Leadership Award. More than 100 UF students, who attended the association’s annual meeting, brought home five more awards for professionalism, outreach in diabetes, cardiovascular health and medication abuse education for youth, and for political advocacy for the profession.

Research: Two of the college’s new faculty in pharmacotherapy and translational research were successful last year in attracting federal support of their research programs. Larisa Cavallari, Pharm.D., an associate professor, whose research centers on cardiovascular pharmacogenomics, received a $2.33 million award from the Food and Drug Administration. Under this study, she is leading a team of UF Health researchers from the colleges of pharmacy and medicine in investigating the effectiveness of a generic heart drug. Dean Julie Johnson is a co-principal investigator.

Jatinder Lamba, Ph.D., an associate professor, is focusing her research on therapeutic outcomes of acute myeloid leukemia, the second most common form of childhood leukemia, which has the worst prognosis of all major childhood cancers. She received a $1.57 million National Institutes of Health - National Cancer Institute award for her study that utilizes her novel statistical method in in forecasting therapeutic outcomes in AML and allows more tailored, risk-stratified treatment approaches.

Faculty: The college was successful in recruiting 18 new faculty in 2014, creating 12 new lines and filling six existing lines, improving its student-to-faculty ratio. Included were three research faculty who were recruited with the help of the UF preeminence funding initiative: Jatinder Lamba, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, whose research focuses on pharmacogenomics and therapeutic outcomes for cancer patients; Jane Aldridge, Ph.D., a professor of medicinal chemistry whose research focuses on opioid peptides; and Jay McLaughlin, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacodynamics, whose research focuses on pain management and neurology.

 Faculty national honors in 2014:

  •  Rhonda Cooper-Dehoff, Pharm.D., was named Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Class of 2014.
  • Dean Julie A. Johnson, Pharm.D., was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. She also received an American College of Clinical Pharmacology Honorary Fellowship Award.
  • Lawrence J. Lesko, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology in the UF College of Pharmacy at Lake Nona, received the Distinction in Biomarkers Research Award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
  •  Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., was named one of two UFF 2014 Preeminence Term Professors.
  • Steven Smith, Pharm.D., a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy and medicine, was selected as the 2014-16 Institute of Medicine Anniversary Fellow in Pharmacy.
  • Kristin Weitzel, Pharm.D., a clinical associate professor in pharmacotherapy and translational research and associate director of the Personalized Medicine Program, received the 2014 American Pharmacist Association, Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management Distinguished Achievement Award in Service.

College of Public Health and Health Professions 

Michael G. Perri, Ph.D. Dean, College of Public Health and Health ProfessionsDean: Michael G. Perri, Ph.D.

 Accreditation:  During the past year, the college underwent a site visit for reaccreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health. The site visit report indicated that PHHP “fully met” all 29 criteria for accreditation, with no deficiencies noted and no recommendations for changes made. Moreover, the site visitors indicated that during the interval since the prior site visit the college showed significant increases or notable improvements on virtually all metrics assessed by the accrediting body.

Preeminence:  The college hired four outstanding faculty members under the UF preeminence initiative. The new hires include:

  • Cynthia Johnson, Ph.D., a psychologist with expertise in the treatment of autism and related disorders.
  •  Faming Liang, Ph.D., a biostatistician who has made major contributions to theory and methods for the analysis of “big data.”
  • Gordon Mitchell, Ph.D., a cell biologist renowned for his research on neuroplasticity and respiratory motor control.
  • Mattia Prosperi, Ph.D., a computer scientist with expertise in health informatics and the modeling of large datasets.

Teaching:  In 2014, PHHP launched an online certificate program in Psychiatric Epidemiology, and in partnership with the College of Dentistry, added a joint DMD/MPH program. The college also succeeded in expanding its portfolio of federally funded training grants from five to eight, including the following programs that were added or renewed:

  •  Three NIH - T32s: “Physical, Cognitive and Mental Health in Social Context” (Michael Marsiske, Ph.D., Director); “Interdisciplinary Training in Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Plasticity” (Krista Vandenborne, Ph.D., Director); and “Substance Abuse Training Center in Public Health” (Linda Cottler, Ph.D., Director).
  • NIH - D43 (Fogarty International Training Programs): “US-Indo Training Program in Behavioral Health across the Lifespan” (Linda Cottler, Ph.D., Director)
  •  NIH - K12: “Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program” (Krista Vandenborne, Ph.D., Director)
  •  HRSA: “Rural South Public Health Training Center” (Mark Hart, Ed.D., Director)
  •  NSF: “Comprehensive support for STEM students with learning disabilities” (William Mann, Ph.D., and Consuelo Kreider, Ph.D., Directors)
  • US Department of Education: “Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training” (William Mann, Ph.D., Director)

Research:  PHHP continued to make important contributions to understanding, treating and preventing a broad array of health and public health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cholera, chronic pain, environmental toxins, HIV/AIDS, insomnia, malaria, muscular dystrophy, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted infections, smoking, stroke, substance abuse, and zoonotic diseases.

  • During 2014, PHHP continued to grow its research enterprise and compete successfully for extramural support. Total grant funding increased from $23.1 to $23.8 million, and awards from NIH rose from $9.7 to 10.6 million, moving PHHP into 19th place in NIH funding among the 50 accredited schools of public health.
  • Meenakshi Devidas, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Biostatistics, was named group statistician of the national Children’s Oncology Group and principal investigator of the NCI grant supporting the program with a budget of $39 million over five years.
  •  Faculty from the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology (Dawn Bowers, Ph.D., Michael Marsiske, Ph.D., and London Butterfield, Ph.D.) established UF Health Vitality Mind, a novel town-gown effort at The Village retirement community focused on identifying optimal combinations of activities (exercise, mindfulness, cognitive training) for improving mood, motivation, cognition, and active living in older adults. 
  • Cuc Tran, a doctoral student in Environmental and Global Health, was the lead author for a study published in the journal PLOS ONE showing that immunizing school-aged children from flu can also protect other segments of the population.
  • Epidemiology Ph.D. student Margo Klar has received nearly half a million dollars in funding through the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations program to conduct testing of a ceramic umbilical cord cutting device she created for use in low-resource countries.

Service:  PHHP has continued its commitment to provide health services and health promotion activities to individuals and communities.

  • The college’s Rural South Public Health Training Center, led by Mark Hart, Ed.D., designed the HIV/AIDS Avatar Project, a health education program designed to provide relevant and factual information for patients, and serve as a tool for public health workers.
  • HealthStreet expanded its operation by adding a site in Jacksonville and providing services to rural communities as well. HealthStreet has established contacts with more than 11,500 individuals (80% minority group status) and has enrolled more than 1,000 community members in UF research studies.
  • A PHHP occupational therapy alumna, Lindsey Dhans, and a team of current OT students have established the Occupational Therapy Equal Access Clinic, providing no-cost services to uninsured and underinsured patients in Gainesville. 
  • The college established “PHHP Diversity Day,” a daylong series of presentations and workshops devoted to issues of diversity, cultural competence, and health equity. Donna Hubbard McCree, Ph.D., the Associate Director for Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, served as the keynote speaker for the inaugural event in March.

College of Veterinary Medicine

James Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D. Dean, College of Veterinary MedicineDean: James W. Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D.

 Administration: Under the leadership of the college’s new dean, Dr. Jim Lloyd, the College of Veterinary Medicine has been actively engaged in strategic planning, with an emphasis on identifying initiatives that will propel the college to preeminent status across all areas of its mission – teaching, research and clinical service. In addition, numerous crosscutting goals have been identified and great strides have already been made in all areas. The college’s timeline for reaching significant, measurable progress is 24 months from when planning began in the fall of 2013. Many new faculty hires were made in 2014, with positions filled in key areas and active searches underway in others. Ongoing communication with a wide group of stakeholders, both internal and external, has been a crucial aspect of the college’s planning as it seeks to better meet the needs of its many constituents.  Key factors influencing the college’s timeframe are an upcoming accreditation site visit in fall of 2015; an ever-changing market for veterinarians and veterinary medical services; and a challenging but increasingly important research environment. Following the retirement of Dr. John Harvey in September, Dr. Tom Vickroy, a longtime college faculty member was named executive associate dean.

Research:  For the past year, the College of Veterinary Medicine has focused heavily on implementing the basic tenets of its newly created strategic plan, including major changes to its overall research program currently undergoing thorough review at all levels.  This has included establishing a new philosophical basis for the graduate studies program, discussion of a newly designed academic program for the Ph.D. degree, increasing financial support for both our M.S. and Ph.D. programs, enhancing internal funding to graduate faculty via competitive grant competitions, providing greater administrative support for faculty submitting grants for external funding, and expanding available research space.  This past year, the college expanded its graduate program, admitting 18 new students, nine pursuing M.S. degrees and nine pursuing doctorate degrees.  As part of this expansion, the college added a new Resident-M.S. program in ophthalmology, joining Resident-M.S. programs in surgery and radiology.  In addition, we have established new certificate programs in both shelter medicine and veterinary forensic toxicology, and have expanded our on-line animal courses that have been immediate international successes.  In this vein, the UF College of Veterinary Medicine was recognized for establishing the very first veterinary forensic pathology fellowship program in the U.S. sponsored by the ASPCA. 

Critical to our research program has been the college’s active engagement in the hiring of new research faculty, both basic and clinical scientists who bring new research programs and fresh perspectives to our college and its students.  The college has also been deeply immersed in the University’s Preeminence Initiative, leading the One Health program and being heavily involved in both the mucosal immunology and cancer programs. These programs provided the resources for the College to recruit Dr. Chris Vulpe from the University of California at Berkeley where he was a professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology, and Dr. Roy Curtiss from Arizona State University where he was a professor of genomics, evolution and bioinformatics, but also well-known for vaccine development for both animal and human diseases. Dr. Curtiss is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and brings to UF several additional faculty members that will be joining various colleges across campus.  We view this as an opportunity to expand future research collaborations between the College of Veterinary Medicine and other colleges, an area that has seen significant gains this year including partnerships with the College of Medicine in dermatology, cardiology and oncology, with Public Health & Health Professions in global health and toxicology, and with IFAS in animal sciences and aquatic animal health. 

Education: As of October 2014, 440 students were enrolled in the college’s D.V.M. program and 57 students were pursuing graduate degrees. In addition, the college currently offers advanced clinical training to 49 residents, 14 interns and two fellows each year through the UF Veterinary Hospitals. As part of the college’s strategic plan, construction of a new Clinical Skills Teaching Laboratory commenced in December. This eagerly anticipated, state-of-the-art facility will allow the college to provide a variety of clinical learning opportunities to veterinary students when they enter the D.V.M. program as freshmen. Students will be able to amass broader technical skills to become better prepared and more confident in their abilities as they enter clinics. Curriculum review and revision is well underway, with freshman students already participating in the new Clinical Skills initiative and in patient care. In addition, the college began participating in the Interdisciplinary Family Health Program (IFHP), joining other UF Health colleges in this worthwhile partnership between the University and the Gainesville community. The first-year leadership experience program was also restructured in 2014 to provide incoming veterinary medical students with a variety of creative activities aimed at fostering awareness of their individual talents and strengths. The redesigned program emphasizes the availability of UF resources as well as the importance of collegiality, support and respect for one another and for faculty.

Patient Care:  The UF Veterinary Hospitals identified several overall goals to pursue as part of the strategic planning process, and has made significant progress in many of those. These goals include enhancing the hospital’s reputation in specialty services, improving its operational model, maximizing student learning opportunities and investing in people. As part of a continued investment in clinical facilities and equipment, the college opened a new Equine Sports Performance Complex in June and also upgraded or replaced existing diagnostic equipment (MRI and CT, respectively). The college has added technical support to expand the clinical trials program and is actively pursuing accreditation of its diagnostic laboratories through the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. New points of contact have been made with referring veterinarians. One is a new outreach program, through which UF veterinary medical faculty members provide local veterinary medical associations throughout the state with continuing education over dinner. Additional efforts have been made to improve specific communication with referring veterinarians regarding in-hospital patients, via fax, email and monthly case reports. A new radiology portal to allow veterinarians to view images of patients they refer is currently being developed. 

Operationally the UFVH has improved clinical efficiency and customer services in the pharmacy and additional staff have been hired to help leverage doctor time and enhance the patient’s experience.  The college’s goal of enhancing communication skills for students, faculty and staff received a boost with the hiring of professionally trained counselor, Dr. Ron Del Moro in 2014. Dr. Del Moro has expertise in this area and is currently working with faculty on a program through which client interactions will be recorded to enhance communications skills. Innovative clinical teaching models are being pursued through various means, including faculty work with Dr. Linda Behar-Horenstein to refine and improve teaching skills and practices and a clinical skills clerkship now in place in the hospital. This new clerkship provides specific learning objectives for students working in the hospital and eliminates the problem of students working as technicians without focused learning goals. The overall hospital caseload continues to grow.

And, finally, we are pleased to report that we had our best year ever in fundraising to support the college’s missions of education, research and service.

2014 was indeed an extraordinary year. It is humbling and awe-inspiring to consider the extraordinary achievements of the colleges that comprise the University of Florida Health Science Center.  Here’s to continued success in 2015!

Forward Together,

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

 

 

 

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