July-August 2014

Letter from the Chair and Director

Our department and institute are moving forward at a rapid pace these days, and all of our hard work is beginning to show dividends. Last year we garnered almost $19 million in funding. However, since July 1, our department has been awarded more than $50 million in new awards. We should be proud of that accomplishment—not only because it reflects our dedication but also because of what it will allow us to do.

For instance, the James and Esther King grant creates the OneFlorida Cancer Control Alliance, under the umbrella of the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium in partnership with Florida State University and the University of Miami.  The OneFlorida Cancer Control Alliance is designed to create a research infrastructure throughout the state to conduct pragmatic or “real world” studies to test and implement interventions focused on reducing people’s risk for cancer.  Examples of such studies include tobacco cessation, promoting cancer screening programs, and health promotion interventions for those who have had cancer.

With these new funds, we will be hiring new people, learning new concepts, and moving forward in our mission to improve the nation’s health. I look forward to all the new possibilities on the horizon with OneFlorida and our other projects, and I am so appreciative to the teams that make them possible


Upcoming Events

CTSI Seminar and Open House: Sept. 23, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Visiting Professor Lecture, Jay Berry from Harvard Medical School: Sept. 25, 1:30-2:30 p.m. in CTRB 2161
ICHP Poster Abstracts Due: Sept. 29
Annual ICHP Research Event: Nov. 4, 4-6 p.m. [RSVP here.]
Biomedical Informatics Faculty Candidate Seminar, Jiang Bian: Nov. 12, 2:30-3:30 p.m. in CTRB 2161
Department and Institute Holiday Party: Dec. 12 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the President's House

Below you'll find several updates on our research endeavors from July and August, divided into five pillars: Improving Health Care, Advancing Health Research, Analyzing Policy, Impacting Communities, and Helping the Most Vulnerable. These sections encapsulate the work that we do, demonstrating how our efforts are moving forward on multiple fronts.

You'll also find updates on new faculty and staff as well as news from up the hill and our educational programs. The newsletter ends with one of our valued partners explaining how our work helps them accomplish their mission. This month, we'll hear from David Nelson of the CTSI.

Improving Health Care

As a department, we conduct research to improve health care across the entire lifespan of patients. Here are a few highlights that demonstrate our impact on heatlh care from July and August.

Mentee Receives NIMH Fellowship

Mentee Receives NIMH Fellowship

Martin Wegman, M.D./Ph.D. student and Institute for Child Health Policy fellow, has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIH F30) from the National Institute of Mental Health …

See the section on Helping the Most Vulnerable for a video Martin made for the department before he set off for his year-long research project in Malayasia.

Project Update: WIN

Each newsletter, we will rotate through some of our major projects in order to give the entire department a glimpse into the progress we are making in clinics and communities across the country. This month, we're hearing about the Wellness Incentive and Navigation (WIN) pragmatic clinical trial, including insights from Ebony Kimario, a health navigator with WIN and Molina Health Care in Texas. In its second year, WIN is focused on retaining participants in the research study.

WIN aims to improve the health of adults on Medicaid with both physical and mental conditions and decrease unnecessary health care use through a three-year, real-world research study. In particular, health navigators seek to address the gap between these adults’ goals and their actions by increasing understanding of their role in their health care and equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to take on that role—a technique referred to as motivational interviewing. Health navigators use motivational interviewing to help guide these adults’ use of a flexible wellness account, which allows them to purchase health-related items such as a gym membership or tennis shoes.

“In this project, they pick their goals, they pick their resources, and they pick how they are going to spend their money, and I really think that’s what’s going to change the game,” said Ebony Kimario, a health navigator with WIN and Molina Health Care in Texas. “It’s not some professional coming in and saying this is how you should live your life. It’s a professional coming in and saying, ‘What do you think?’ and they aren’t used to that.”

The trial, which is one of 10 funded by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, seeks to determine whether the combined intervention of health navigators and patient-directed flexible wellness accounts is more effective than the usual care received through a Medicaid Managed Care Plan. A fundamental part of this intervention is a commitment to patient autonomy and patient-centered care.

“The most rewarding thing about my job is how excited my participants are to share their accomplishments with me,” said Kimario. “For them to make progress and then to include us in their progress is very rewarding.”

Advancing Health Research

Our work pushes boundaries, creating new ways of conducting research and implementing findings in heatlh care systems and communities. Here are two news briefs from the second half of the summer that demonstrate our commitment to advancing the field.

Thompson Named Associate Director of Clinical Research for ICHP

In an effort to spur interdisciplinary research across the University of Florida’s College of Medicine, Lindsay Thompson, M.S., M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, has been selected as the first assistant director of clinical research for the Institute for Child Health Policy.  READ MORE »

Muller Receives Two Prestigious Grants to Create Statistical Educational Materials

Muller Receives Two Prestigious Grants to Create Statistical Educational Materials

In a single week, Keith E. Muller, Ph.D., and his co-investigator Deborah H. Glueck, Ph.D., received two grants from the National Institutes of Health. READ MORE »

Analyzing Policy

Much of our research examines how effective new policies are in improving health care, communities, and vulnerable populations' lives. Here is one example of our policy research.

New Medicaid policy increases the rate of children receiving vital oral health care in Texas and Florida

New Medicaid Policy Increases the Rate of Children Receiving Vital Oral Health Care in Texas and Florida


Impacting Communities

In addition to our work in clinics and health care systems, many of our researchers engage directly with schools, parents, and members of communities in an effort to discover new information about trends in health and to prevent problems before they even start. The story below describes our researcher's prevention science efforts with the Cherokee Nation.

Researchers to Explore How Gender Impacts Alcohol Use Among Native American Young Women

Researchers to Explore How Gender Impacts Alcohol Use Among Native American Young Women

A Department of Health Outcomes and Policy research team, led by Kelli Komro, Ph.D., received a $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health to explore patterns, risk factors, and consequences of alcohol use among female Native American teenagers… READ MORE »

Helping the Most Vulernable

Much of our research is dedicated to assisting the most vulnerable popualations, including children, adults with multiple conditions, and populations on Medicaid or with historic health disparities, such as Native Americans. One of our ICHP research fellows, Martin Wegman, is taking this commitment to Malaysia.

ICHP Fellow Heads to Malaysia to Conduct Research on Helping Recently Released Inmates with AIDS, Drug Addiction and Tuberculosis

Click the icon to the left to watch a video from Martin Wegman, one of Dr. Shenkman's mentees and an M.D./Ph.D. student. He has conducted research with WIN, and this past summer, he spent time at Yale University before he embarked on a year-long research endeavor in Malaysia on a international clinical research fellowship through our department. You can read more about his project in Malaysia in a recent POST article here.

Up the Hill

Stanfield Tapped for UF Integrated Research Support Tool Workgroup

Kim Stanfield, one of the department’s accountants, was recommended to serve on a university-wide workgroup that aims to completely revamp the data management systems at UF, allowing more informed business decisions and streamlined reporting processes. The workgroup’s ultimate goal is to outline processes that most efficiently and compliantly route proposals and related documents, collect information, present information to stakeholders who must provide approval, and allow for tracking and reporting.  Kim provides vital insight regarding grants, awards, and other processes from a departmental perspective. “I feel I have learned about the process from beginning to end,” Kim said. “And I’m making a lot of very useful business contacts, which is not only beneficial to me but to the department as well.”


The academic year has started, so it is time to welcome a new cohort of students to the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy.

In addition to serving as a research coordinator on the Texas project, Sarah Chavez began her doctoral studies this fall after completing the 2014 Board of Education (BOE) Summer Fellowship program through the UF Graduate School's Office of Graduate Minority Programs. Upon graduation, Sarah hopes to be a researcher in health outcomes and quality for the elderly. In her free time, Sarah enjoys outdoor pursuits, cooking, and traveling. She also teaches Zumba.

Nicole Kassner, who currently works for the orthopedic medical device industry as a regulatory and engineering consultant, is a new graduate certificate student. She holds a patent and is a co-author of seven articles, including one on problems with squeaking in total hip replacements. Kassner hopes to transition her career into examining health outcomes for the types of orthopedic implants she helps to design. Most of Kassner’s free time is spent doing activities with her two children and her husband. She also enjoys Pilates, photography, and baking. 

Ken Marx, who helped to create UF’s Department of Emergency Medicine and currently serves as its associate director, will begin earning a graduate certificate in health outcomes and policy to further his interests in planning, designing, and assessing new programs and services as well as mentoring and teaching others. Marx enjoys bike riding, exercising, driving fast cars, and relaxing at home with his wife and hounds in his limited free time.

Aditi Patel, an M.D./Ph.D. student who has conducted research on the WIN Navigation project, will begin her doctoral studies with the department this fall. Patel served on the Board of Health for Monmouth County, New Jersey, working on Lyme disease prevention techniques and helping to provide mental health services to the elderly. Patel hopes to become a geriatrics clinician-researcher. Outside of work and school, she spends her mornings training for long-distance races and her evenings relaxing with friends. 

Professor in Inaugural CTSI Master Mentor Program

Professor in First CTSI Master Mentor Program

Mildred Maldonado-Molina, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, recently joined the CTSI Mentor Academy as part of the first class of investigators. READ MORE »

New Faculty

Melissa Bright

Melissa Bright, Ph.D., has transitioned to a new role in the department as an assistant research scientist. Bright now manages the Florida KidCare evaluation and is building a diverse research agenda around the effects of adverse childhood events, toxic stress, and possible methods for helping these vulnerable children. In her free time, Bright spends times with her two adopted dogs and volunteers for Guardian Ad Litem, a branch of the Florida child welfare system that partners children involved in neglect and abuse court proceedings with advocates.

“Melissa’s expertise regarding adverse events in childhood definitely makes her a more informed volunteer than the majority of our volunteers,” said Jeff Lawrence of the Guardian Ad Litem program. “Many of the children we are appointed to have already suffered some type of childhood trauma. Often these children do not get the services that they desperately need because they ‘become lost in the system.’ As an advocate, Melissa can help ensure that a child’s needs aren’t overlooked.”

Chris Delcher

Chris Delcher, Ph.D., is a new adjunct research assistant professor.  Chris' research focuses on the surveillance of prescription drug-related outcomes, policies for reducing prescription drug abuse, and identifying populations at-risk of adverse outcomes associated with prescription drugs.  He also has international experience developing surveillance systems in Haiti and Central America and was a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador. Chris has two boys, 7 and 4, who like Star Wars and invented the name "Luke 'SAS'walker" to describe his job.  

Watch Delcher's recent appearance on WCJB-TV20 here and read about his dissertation defense here.

William Hogan

As UF seeks to become a top 10 public institution, new faculty are being hired to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. William Hogan, M.S., M.D., arrived in June as the new director of biomedical informatics, which aims to help process the increasing amount of data from health records, etc., into health care solutions. Hogan will begin recruiting two additional faculty members in biomedical informatics this year, in addition to beginning an academic program in biomedical informatics. In his free time, Hogan enjoys reading fantasy books with his children and is anticipating the fall release of the final books in the Heroes of Olympus and How To Train Your Dragon series.  He is also delving into Winston Churchill’s six-book series on World War II. Read more about Hogan here

Heather Morris

Heather Morris, Ph.D., joins the faculty as an assistant research scientist from Virginia Commonwealth University and now works on the Children’s Medical Service Network Evaluation Program. Morris’ research interests center around the care of pediatric patients with chronic illnesses as well as doctor-patient communication with the management of Type 2 diabetes and cancer screening in adult populations. Morris enjoys spending time with her husband, Andrew, and 4-month-old daughter, Jessica, and participating in recreational activities.

Ashby Walker

Ashby Walker, Ph.D., joins the faculty as a research assistant professor from Mars Hill University in North Carolina and now coordinates the Florida Healthy Kids Evaluation Program. Walker’s research interests surround childhood experiences with diabetes, and she has published with UF researchers Hank Rohrs and Desmond Schtaz, who was recently elected president of the American Diabetes Association. In her free time, Walker enjoys teaching, spending time with her 11-year-old daughter, Bay, and being outdoors in any capacity.

Post-Doc and Affiliate News

First NIH-funded Post-Doc to Join Department

First NIH-funded Post-Doc to Join Department

Brady Garrett, Ph.D, a counseling psychologist intern with Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health in Tahlequah, Okla., has received the first NIH-funded post-doctoral position with the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy  READ MORE »

ICHP Affiliate Named an All Star in Florida Trend Magazine

ICHP affiliate faculty member Chris Gibson, Ph.D., in the department of sociology and criminology & law, was listed among 30 young professionals under the age of 40 with substantial career achievements in the May issue of Florida Trend magazine. READ MORE »

New Staff

Alice Parish

Statistical Research Coordinator

CTRB, 2236-5 and 1329 Building, 5060-B

Carrie Pons

Senior Clerk

1329 Building, 5130

Lillian Vargas

Research Coordinator for Keith Muller

CTRB 2236-2

Valued Partners

Each newsletter will feature a segment about how the work of our department impacts other organizations, both at UF and beyond. In this edition, we will hear from David R. Nelson, M.D., an assistant vice president for research and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“The department’s faculty and staff contribute significant expertise and resources that help the CTSI and many others more readily apply scientific evidence to advance medical practice, improve patient outcomes and inform health policy. We especially value your entrepreneurial spirit and deep knowledge of our state’s health issues. I look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead as we continue and expand our collaborations, from strengthening implementation science and biomedical informatics at UF Health to creating the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium.”


If you have an accomplishment you would like to share, an idea for a future newsletter, or would like to provide feedback on this newsletter, please contact Elizabeth Hillaker Downs, director of communications for ICHP and HOP. You can click here to fill out a feedback form. Our next newsletter will include news from September and October.