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2019 in Review: Reflecting on Our Achievements

The faculty, staff and students here at UF Health celebrated many accomplishments in 2019. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and grateful for your dedication to go above and beyond. Over the past year we continued to achieve our most important goal, helping to improve the care of our patients and continuing our important missions of research, teaching and community outreach. We can look back on 2019 with great satisfaction while at the same time challenging ourselves to build on those successes for an even greater 2020. We’re setting some ambitious goals for the future and together we will go far. Read on for highlights from each of our health colleges and our hospital systems.

Isabel GarciaUF College of Dentistry

A. Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H. Dean, UF College of Dentistry

During 2019 we launched a new 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, recruited 19 faculty to positions in seven departments, appointed one endowed professorship, and retained Top 5 status in National Institutes of Health research funding among all dental schools. The college achieved its goal of $3.7 million of fundraising for Fiscal Year 2019, ending the year with $3.72 million. We continued to advance oral health of people in Florida through educational innovations, patient care and discovery.


  • New interdisciplinary collaborations were launched, including a Florida Blue-funded project with the College of Nursing providing point-of-care service, referrals between our dental practices and Archer Family Health Care, and management of medically complex patients.
  • We began intensive efforts to assure a seamless transition to the Integrated National Board Dental Exam, or I-NBDE, which will profoundly affect the DMD curriculum. In 2022, the new I-NBDE will test basic and clinical sciences in a single exam rather than the existing two-part test.
  • Since 2014, underrepresented minority students have comprised, on average, over one-quarter of all enrolled D.M.D. students, the majority representing Hispanic backgrounds.


  • UFCD was ranked Top 5 in NIH funding among 51 U.S. dental schools (No. 4 among publics) with $11.2 million (Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, 2018); we checked in at No. 5 for the second straight year, tying for our highest ranking ever.
  • Our NIH-funded Oral Biology Training Program, now in its 28th consecutive year, supported 14 trainees and is the largest NIH institutional pre- and postdoctoral training award at UF. The Oral Biology Program ranks in the Top 3 compared with similar programs in the U.S. in total grants, total funding and percent of faculty publications (Academic Analytics).
  • Total research funding for UFCD (grants and contracts) totaled $15.4 million for FY19.

Patient Care

  • We opened a new comprehensive UF Health Dentistry – Wildlight dental center, part of a new UF Health ambulatory center in Yulee, providing state-of-the-art technology general and specialty dental care.
  • During 2018-2019 we completed more than 139,000 patient visits, providing compassionate, top-quality care to people from every one of Florida’s 67 counties.
  • Our patients continued to rate the quality of dental care very high, with about two-thirds (69 percent) of our patients rating the overall quality of dental care they received “excellent” and 24 percent rating it “very good.”

Joseph A. TyndallUF College of Medicine

Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D., M.P.H. Interim Dean, UF College of Medicine

The year ahead promises to be unprecedented for the UF College of Medicine, as we enter 2020 expanding the reach of UF Health and our physician practices to strengthen and improve the availability of high-quality, compassionate and affordable health care to more communities across the region. Additionally, our research and education enterprises carry great momentum into the new year due to significant achievements and exciting growth in 2019.

Patient Care

  • The College of Medicine contributes significantly to the UF Health Shands Hospital rankings in adult and pediatric services. In the 2019 U.S. News & World Report rankings, UF Health Shands Hospital was nationally ranked in seven specialties, and UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital was ranked in five.
  • As part of UF Health, we will expand our efforts to provide advanced health care and wellness services to communities south of Gainesville in Ocala/Marion County and The Villages®, to the east in Volusia County and to the north. Our goal is to create a national model for healthier communities that promotes healthier living throughout the region.


  • The College of Medicine experienced its ninth consecutive year of NIH funding increases, with $124 million in federal funding and $184 million in total extramural funding.
  • The College of Medicine participated in the successful renewal of the CTSA, a $29 million award.
  • The Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health was established with a donation from the Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation, which was matched by UF.
  • UF Health was the first institution in the U.S. to administer a gene therapy to treat children with spinal muscular atrophy after it received FDA approval in May. This is the culmination of work and discovery that began at the College of Medicine in the 1980s by Dr. Ken Berns and Dr. Nicholas Muzyczka, who pioneered the use of adeno-associated viruses as a delivery method for therapies.

In June, a 4-month-old UF Health patient with spinal muscular atrophy was the first in the country to be treated with a newly approved gene therapy.

In June, a 4-month-old UF Health patient with spinal muscular atrophy was the first in the country to be treated with a newly approved gene therapy.


The UF College of Medicine welcomed the 177 members of the class of 2023 on July 31.

The UF College of Medicine welcomed the 177 members of the class of 2023 on July 31.

  • The M.D./Ph.D. program was enhanced in 2019 by integrating it within the CTSI.
  • The College of Medicine remains the top-ranked medical school in Florida by U.S. News & World Report and No. 20 of all public medical schools in the country.
  • The School of Physician Assistant Studies was ranked No. 21 out of 238 accredited programs in the country.
  • The College of Medicine formed a taskforce to create the foundation for developing an LCME-accredited regional campus in Jacksonville.
  • The College of Medicine was awarded a five-year renewal of the Medical Student Research Training Grant.
  • We successfully transferred the medical physics master’s and Ph.D. graduate programs from the College of Engineering to the College of Medicine.
  • We received Board of Governor approval of new independent M.S. and Ph.D. programs in anatomical sciences.
  • We created new M.S. programs in forensic medicine, pharmacology & therapeutics, molecular cell biology and neuroscience.
  • We collaborated with the Florida Council of Medical School Deans to develop a state opioid curriculum and education “toolbox” for medical students.


  • In 2019, we recruited and hired 533 new faculty, staff, residents and fellows.
  • Dr. Jamie Conti was named chair of the department of medicine.
  • Dr. Desmond Schatz transitioned to lead the department of pediatrics and serve as physician-in-chief at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.
  • The College of Medicine developed a regional physician network strategy, working with UF HR and the UF Provost’s Office to grant the TEAMS-based category of employment to non-faculty clinical physicians.
  • Five new senior associate and associate deans were appointed, including Dr. Parker Gibbs as senior associate dean for clinical affairs, Dr. Mark Segal as senior associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development, Dr. Ellen Zimmermann as associate dean for faculty development, Julia Close as associate dean for graduate medical education, and Dr. Bruce Mast as associate dean of regional programs.

Leon L. Haley Jr.UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville

Leon L. Haley Jr., M.D., MHSA, FACEP, C.P.E. Vice President for Health Affairs, UF Dean, College of Medicine – Jacksonville CEO, UF Health Jacksonville

The University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville and its faculty, staff, trainees and students saw much growth, positive transition and recognition in 2019. The advancements had a positive impact on UF Health Jacksonville and University of Florida Jacksonville Physicians. The achievements from the past year have set us up for great success as we begin 2020. Following are highlights from FY2018-19:


  • We began the process of establishing a regional medical school for full-time third- and fourth-year medical students.
  • We developed and opened the Center for Healthy Minds and Practice, or CHaMP, a wellness center that provides free and confidential mental health counseling, crisis intervention and wellness promotion services to all residents, faculty and staff.
  • We gained initial accreditation of three new training programs: combined hematology and oncology fellowship, ophthalmology residency and urology residency.
  • We developed an information technology fellowship for clinicians involving participants from Jacksonville and Gainesville.


  • We successfully recruited Alexander Parker, Ph.D., as senior associate dean for research.
  • We began restructuring the on-campus research ecosystem, including the development of a research web portal, which allows for more efficient allocation of resources and better metric tracking.
  • We created the Center for Data Solutions and the Center for Research Training, two main cogs of the revamped research ecosystem.
  • We partnered with Gainesville to merge IRB-03 and IRB-01 into a single “One UF” institutional review board for more efficient review of clinical studies.

Patient Care

  • We improved rates of 30-day readmissions.
  • We reduced the number of hospital-acquired conditions.
  • We improved national and regional rankings in Vizient and U.S. News & World Report.
  • We enhanced team collaborations within the hospital and across the practice plan, resulting in better patient care and safety outcomes.

Faculty Affairs

  • We welcomed new department chairs for radiology, urology and ophthalmology.
  • We appointed existing faculty members to the following college leadership positions: associate dean for equity and inclusion, assistant dean for faculty affairs and medical director of community health.

College Goals

  • Further establish the enterprise as a regional leader in the health sciences.
  • Solidify plans for the development of a regional medical school.
  • Increase the amount of research funding received, particularly from the National Institutes of Health.
  • Help UF Health Jacksonville continue to improve its rankings in Vizient, U.S. News & World Report and Leapfrog.
  • Help UF Health Jacksonville continue to improve in quality and patient-safety metrics, including mortality, infections and other hospital-acquired conditions.
  • Help UF Health Jacksonville and University of Florida Jacksonville Physicians achieve greater financial stability.

Anna McDanielUF College of Nursing

Anna McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN Dean and the Linda Harman Aiken Professor

This year promises to be a significant year of advancement for the nursing profession. The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honor of the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. At the UF College of Nursing, we are taking the opportunity to reflect on our growth and examine new paths for strengthening our programs of teaching, research and patient care. Here are a few accomplishments from last year:

Administration and Operations

  • The college hired 14 new faculty members through the Faculty 500 initiative.
  • Jane Carrington, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, was selected for the Dorothy Smith Endowed Chair position. Effective Jan. 15, Dr. Carrington will also be the co-director of the Florida Blue Center for Health Care Quality.
  • Secured $2.9 million in private support, bringing the college 77% toward its goal of $22 million for the Go Greater Capital Campaign.


  • B.S.N. graduates received a pass rate of 98% on the second quarter National Council Licensure Exam.
  • The Doctor of Nursing Practice program celebrated 10 years of graduating advanced practice nurses. In addition, the program was, once again, ranked No. 1 in the state and tied for No. 24 in the U.S. (No. 16 among public universities).
  • The college will begin renovations this year on the existing Iona M. Pettengill Nursing Resource Center. The new Innovation and Learning Lab will house simulation bays, a debriefing room, procedure areas, a skills lab and a design studio.

Research and Practice

  • College research funding increased 56.9% last year. Researchers were awarded competitive grants for their research that include falls prevention, palliative care clinical decision support and cancer.
  • The college’s nurse-managed practice, Archer Family Health Care, and the UF College of Dentistry collaborated on a project that has provided point-of-care service, a two-directional referral source and communication between both nursing and dentistry sites to improve health care for vulnerable populations.

Looking Ahead

As the world celebrates The Year of the Nurse, the UF College of Nursing is joining in the celebration and recognizing the many achievements of our Gator Nursing faculty, students and alumni. We take pride in providing tomorrow’s nursing leaders who will care for our loved ones, conduct innovative research that drives discovery and educate the next generation to Care, Lead and Inspire.

Julie JohnsonUF College of Pharmacy

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D. Dean and Distinguished Professor

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy closed the final year of the decade on a strong note by moving into the Top 5 pharmacy colleges in the nation for research funding and celebrating the first graduating class to matriculate through the new Pharm.D. curriculum.

AACP Research Rankings

  • The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy ranked UF No. 4 in total funding ($23.7 million) and NIH funding ($16.5 million), and No. 5 in total federal funding ($19.3 million).
  • The rise in the rankings is the result of a culture of excellence among faculty in the college and recruitment in recent years of some of the nation’s top pharmacy researchers, who have added to an outstanding base of productive faculty.
  • Since 2013, full-time faculty in the college has increased from 72 to more than 120, with new faculty filling clinical and research roles.

Guangrong Zheng, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicinal chemistry, and Daohong Zhou, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacodynamics and the Henry E. Innes Professor of Cancer Research, collaborate on anti-aging research. The pair received a $2.5 million NIH grant to study selective elimination of senescent cells in 2019.

Guangrong Zheng, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicinal chemistry, and Daohong Zhou, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacodynamics and the Henry E. Innes Professor of Cancer Research, collaborate on anti-aging research. The pair received a $2.5 million NIH grant to study selective elimination of senescent cells in 2019.

Class of 2019

  • In May, the college celebrated the first graduating class to matriculate through four years of the new Pharm.D. curriculum.
  • The innovative curriculum prepares pharmacists to be health care leaders, while embracing new ideas for teaching and empowering graduates to be lifelong learners.
  • The final Working Professional Pharm.D., or WPPD, class also graduated in May. Established in 1994, UF’s WPPD program was the largest program of its type in the United States, wherein individuals with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy could advance their career by receiving a Pharm.D.

Student Achievements

  • For the fourth consecutive year, UF ranked No. 1 in the nation for placing graduates into pharmacy residency programs.
  • In 2019, 135 graduates matched with residencies in 22 states and Washington, D.C. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists matches thousands of student pharmacists across the country with hospitals and community pharmacies.
  • Third-year Pharm.D. student Joseph Washington became national president-elect of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, or SNPhA. Washington has strived to address the pharmaceutical needs of underrepresented populations in SNPhA’s Gainesville chapter, and in his new leadership role, he will have the opportunity to make a national impact.

In 2019, 135 graduates matched with residencies in 22 states and Washington, D.C., helping the UF College of Pharmacy maintain its No. 1 ranking for pharmacy residency matches.

In 2019, 135 graduates matched with residencies in 22 states and Washington, D.C., helping the UF College of Pharmacy maintain its No. 1 ranking for pharmacy residency matches.

Faculty in Presidential Roles

Four UF College of Pharmacy faculty held presidential roles leading national and international organizations in 2019:

  • Chris McCurdy, Ph.D., served as past-president of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
  • Almut Winterstein, R.Ph., Ph.D., became president of the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Michelle Farland, Pharm.D., began a presidential term leading the Team-Based Learning Collaborative
  • David DeRemer, Pharm.D., was appointed president-elect of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association

Michael G. PerriUF College of Public Health and Health Professions

Michael G. Perri, Ph.D. Dean and Robert G. Frank Endowed Professor

The College of Public Health and Health Professions had an excellent year in all spheres of its mission. In 2019, the college increased its educational portfolio with an array of important, high-quality offerings; grew the research enterprise in both quality and quantity; and expanded the reach of programs locally, nationally and globally. A few highlights:


  • The college was awarded two new federally funded training grants, bringing the total to eight. These training programs provide specialized curriculum, experiences and mentoring for graduate students and postdoctoral associates in areas ranging from breathing research and therapeutics to movement disorders and neurorestoration and treating young children with disabilities.
  • The inaugural class of 46 students in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy completed their first year in the program. UF is the first Florida public institution to offer the degree.


  • College researchers received more than $32 million in research grants and contracts, an increase of more than 16% over the prior year. The college is now ranked 9th in NIH funding among accredited schools of public health at public universities.
  • A dozen college investigators received grants in the amount of $1 million or more. Faculty members are also publishing their findings in high-impact journals, including The Lancet, JAMA Network Open, Journal of the American Heart Association, The Lancet/Oncology, Nature Reviews/Disease Primers, Journal of Clinical Oncology and JAMA Oncology.
  • The Ebola vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, was approved for licensing by the European Medicines Agency. Ira Longini, Ph.D., and Natalie Dean, Ph.D., faculty members in the UF department of biostatistics, played an integral role in the design and analysis of trials testing the effectiveness of the vaccine, which is anticipated to save many lives. National Geographic included the development of rVSV-ZEBOV among their 20 most important scientific advances of the last decade.


  • The college introduced Promoting Happy, Healthy People, a comprehensive collegewide, incentive-based wellness program for students, faculty and staff led by Tara Sabo-Attwood, Ph.D., chair of the department of environmental and global health.
  • Master of Public Health students and Melrose Volunteer Fire Department volunteers Kayvon Yazdanbakhsh and Kelly Likos launched a community resource paramedicine program in partnership with the Melrose Volunteer Fire Department and UF HealthStreet. The program trains off-duty firefighters as certified community health workers.

We look forward to a productive and impactful 2020.

Dana M. ZimmelUF College of Veterinary Medicine

Dana N. Zimmel, D.V.M. Interim Dean


  • Following the retirement of Dr. Jim Lloyd in May, Dr. Tom Vickroy was named acting dean, and served in this capacity until the conclusion of a national search in December. At that time, Dr. Dana Zimmel was named interim dean of the college. A longtime college administrator, Dr. Zimmel has led the UF Veterinary Hospitals to unprecedented growth, serving as associate dean for clinical services since 2015. We look forward to the future under her leadership.
  • Additional administrative updates include continued service of Dr. David Pascual as interim associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies and the appointment of Alfredo Perez as the college’s new executive director.

Key Achievements

  • Among the achievements we are proudest of in 2019 are the college’s advancement to Top 10 ranking (#9) by U.S. News & World Report. In doing so, we made the single greatest rise in rankings among veterinary colleges nationwide, rising five spots.
  • Other accomplishments include an increase of 7% in NIH funding over the previous FY.
  • We opened a new $6 million Primary Care and Dentistry Clinic, which is expected to further grow our clinical caseload — already among the Top 5 among all North American veterinary hospitals.


  • $16.8 million in research awards came to the college through competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


UF veterinarians helped develop and were the first to use synthetic canine cadavers in student surgery labs in 2016. This program was one of many that has helped to raise the college’s profile nationally in recent years.

UF veterinarians helped develop and were the first to use synthetic canine cadavers in student surgery labs in 2016. This program was one of many that has helped to raise the college’s profile nationally in recent years.

  • At the end of FY19, 459 D.V.M. students were enrolled in our program, along with 62 graduate students pursuing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees and 222 M.S./distance education students.
  • We also initiated a process to review and revise our professional veterinary medical curriculum to adapt the framework suggested by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Patient Care

  • A total of 41,811 animals were treated through the UF Veterinary Hospitals in FY19, with another 6,578 treated in Ocala at UF Pet Emergency Treatment Services. Including field visits, a total of 84,201 animals received treatment through our services.
  • To assess patient care quality under the UF Health Strategic Plan, we implemented a plan in 2017 to improve the quality of patient care in our veterinary hospitals. We completed and achieved initial Strategic Goals (FY17-FY19) and are currently developing a Strategic Plan for FY20-FY25.

Looking Forward

  • We will continue to build on our existing strengths and signature programs to promote national awareness of our accomplishments across all of our core missions.

About the author

David R. Nelson
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Florida; President UF Health

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