2019 MSRP Projects

6-10-2019 through 8-16-2019


Use “Search” box below to find project by department, faculty, type, key word, etc.

Faculty mentor department

OBGYN

Project Title

A survey of patient and provider perceptions regarding oral health in pregnancy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Kay Roussos-Ross

Email

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Research Project Description

Despite associated pregnancy complications, oral health in pregnancy is not emphasized and minimized by providers and patients. This project will survey postpartum patients to determine patient knowledge and understanding of oral health in pregnancy and to determine barriers to oral health. A separate survey of obstetricians in the state of Florida will be conducted to again determine barriers to dental care in pregnancy.
This study will be performed in conjunction with the ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) District XII committee for the healthcare of underserved women.

Faculty mentor department

Pediatric Emergency Department

Project Title

ACE (acute childhood events) and PACE – does it correlate in the Pediatric ED

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Cristina Zeretzke-Bien

Email

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Research Project Description

Children who experience toxic stress have an increased risk of developing many medical conditions in adulthood including cardiovascular disease, cancers, depression and asthma. Childhood toxic stress is currently being measured as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are defined as experiences with neglect, abuse, and household challenges experienced before the age of 18 years old. Exposure to ACEs increase the risk of developing asthma; however, we would like to determine if there is a relationship between the severity of the asthma exacerbation and exposure to ACEs. For this project we plan to retrospectively review the data already collected from our outpatient clinics and compare this to their documented Pediatric Asthma Severity Score (PASS) in the pediatric emergency department. This is a standardized asthma score used to guide management of an asthma exacerbation. Medical students will be able to assist with data collection and analysis and if interested help prepare the manuscript for publication.

Faculty mentor department

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Project Title

Adipose-derived stem cells in Rescue of Ischemic Organs and Tissues

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Keith March MD PHD

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: Many terrible acute and chronic medical illnesses occur due to insufficient blood flow or vascular dysfunction, ranging from heart attack, brain attack (stroke), kidney disease, and erectile dysfunction, to senile dementia and even some forms of arthritis! Interruption of blood flow also seriously impairs access to and outcomes of transplantation.
Hypotheses: Adipose Stem Cells secrete substances that act promptly to rescue and repair organs undergoing ischemia and inflammation, using highly efficient "molecular delivery" mechanisms.
Methods: We will use techniques of cell culture with adipose stem cells and various target cell types to understand and harness the effects of exosome-packaged factors for cellular rescue and repair.
Role of medical student: conduct and interpret leading-edge experiments commensurate with their interest and experience.
Funding: NIH, VA, AHA, internal.
Relevant publications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/keith.march.1/bibliography/45030344/public/?
sort=date&direction=descending

Faculty mentor department

Division of General Internal Medicine. Department of Medicine

Project Title

Advance Directive Completion Rates and an Intervention to Address Health Literacy in a Clinic Population

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Melanie Hagen

Email

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Research Project Description

Our ability to communicate with patients is profoundly impacted by their health literacy. Limited health literacy is commonplace and associated with poor health outcomes including frequent readmissions and high mortality. Advance directives are an important tool in respecting patient autonomy in health care interventions. Advance directives can also reduce health care costs by avoiding unwanted, unnecessary care at the end of life. This aligns with an initiative underway at UF Health to improve the delivery of advance directives to our patients in the hospital as well as the outpatient clinics.
The aim of this current study is to enhance completion rates of advance directives by taking into consideration a patient’s health literacy level. Specifically, we are assessing the impact of an ambulatory intervention on the completion rate of advance directives for patients with adequate and limited health literacy. Our hypothesis is that both groups will benefit from the intervention, but patients with limited health literacy will show a greater improvement in the advance directives completion rate. We have completed enrolling patients and need to analyze the data to assess our hypothesis.

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine--Jacksonville

Project Title

Advocacy for Emergency Medicine Specialty Development

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Elizabeth DeVos

Email

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Research Project Description

The International Federation for Emergency Medicine is an organization that promotes access to, and leads the development of, the highest quality of emergency medical care for all people worldwide. Its missions are to advance the growth of high quality emergency medical care through education and standards and to lead the collaboration and networking necessary to establish universal equality in service and care to promote the creation and growth of the specialty of emergency medicine in every country. The IFEM Specialty Implementation Committee (SIC) aids in achieving these goals but supporting countries and national specialty organizations in their development of specialists and the frameworks to allow emergency medicine systems. The SIC is working to develop toolkits and workshops for advocacy in the development of Emergency Medicine worldwide. A medical student engaged in this project is likely to assist in literature review, interviews of key stakeholders, resource and training material development, as well as manuscript preparation in collaboration with the team of global leaders in the specialty. Additional future projects may be developed from interaction with the IFEM SIC. More information about IFEM and the SIC may be found at www.ifem.cc. Students completing this MSRP will have opportunities to present posters at global health and emergency medicine meetings at regional, national or international levels as well as developing a publishable manuscript.

Faculty mentor department

Dermatology;

Project Title

Allergen-specific immunotherapy in subjects with atopic dermatitis and allergic asthma

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Anna De Benedetto

Email

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Research Project Description

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common chronic inflammatory skin disease. Importantly, AD is often the first manifestation for the so-called atopic march (i.e. asthma, food allergy, and allergic rhinitis). About 80% of subjects with AD have a high IgE level. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is routinely used for the management of allergic conditions, such as seasonal allergies and asthma as it can potentially be a disease modifying treatment option. Although recently benefits have also been found on those with atopic dermatitis, its use remains controversial.

Aims of this study include characterization of the population receiving this monoclonal antibody in the University of Florida for the treatment of AD or allergic asthma. A retrospective chart review will be performed to investigate the effect of immunomodulatory therapy in subjects with allergic asthma or atopic dermatitis over the past 3 years.

We will look at the effect of several variables (e.g. sex, body mass index, initial total IgE or skin test results, allergic comorbidities and AD or asthma severity) and their relations with clinical outcomes. We will also investigate the effect a biologic medication dupilumab (targeting key Th2 cytokine IL4 and IL13) on immunotherapy. While dupilumab was is FAD approved for moderate to severe AD and moderate to severe asthma with eosinophilic type or oral corticosteroid dependent asthma. It is our goal to investigate if dupilumab has an effect on in vivo or in vitro sensitization on atopic subjects receiving dupilumab for either atopic condition.

For this project the medical student will be involved in obtaining the necessary IRB approval for the study, perform chart review and data collection in the REDcap system, data analysis and draft of a manuscript. The student will also have the opportunity to closely work with the mentors to write a review article summarizing current knowledge and gaps in the impact of immunomodulatory therapy in fields of allergy and dermatology.

Zhu R, Yang L; 2017
Boyle RJ, et al.; 2016.

Co Mentor: Mario Rodenas, MD
Assistant Professor, Allergy & Clinical Immunology
mario.rodenas@medicine.ufl.edu

Faculty mentor department

Medicine

Project Title

An assessment of impact of meta-analysis on clinical decisions

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Michael Bubb

Email

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Research Project Description

Meta-analysis is a frequently employed tool for evidence-based medicine in spite of its numerous limitations. An observational review of published meta-analyses shows that they seldom result in a conclusion that refutes that of the best study included in the analysis. This study will systematically evaluate the frequency for which meta-analysis make a significant contribution to the medical literature. This study will investigate the frequency in which meta-analysis substantially alters or leads to a change in paradigm. We will review consecutive meta-analyses published in high-impact journals using a predefined screening tool. The student who participates in this project will perform an extensive literature review of significant clinical questions and will improve skills in evaluation of medical literature. The student will be expected to work with the PI to prepare a manuscript for publication.

Faculty mentor department

Pediatrics

Project Title

An Exploratory Study of Expectant Mothers’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs about Infant Vaccination

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Carolyn Carter

Email

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Research Project Description

The “pregnancy childhood vaccination education gap” has been defined as a notable lack of communication about childhood vaccines between healthcare providers and patients while the baby is in utero, and leaves new mothers ill-equipped to make a truly informed decision. While 84% of OBGYN’s in the United States reported that providing information about routine childhood immunizations during standard prenatal care is important, only 47% believed that they could actually influence mothers’ childhood vaccination decisions.
In the absence of comprehensive patient-provider communication, expectant mothers seek health information, peer affirmation and support, on social networking sites (SNS), and have been found to use social media with increased intensity and frequency at the transition to parenthood. YouTube is the No. 1 video sharing site in the world and the second most popular SNS with 1.5 billion active users. A basic YouTube search with the question “Should I vaccinate my child?” pulls information seekers into a plethora of user-generated videos filled with conflicting information that skews heavily to the anti-vaccination viewpoint. For instance, YouTube videos on infant immunizations depict highly distressed infants, and the majority include negative messaging about pain and adverse events, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Anti-vaccination videos have been found to receive more likes and shares, and only 30 percent of all vaccination YouTube videos were produced by health professionals.
The purpose of this project is twofold 1) design an effective pro-Hepatitis B vaccination video intervention strategy derived from qualitative research with expectant mothers in North Central Florida 2) propose a potential dissemination strategy to incorporate this video into standard prenatal care. Specifically, this project will answer the following research questions:
RQ 1: What video message design strategy would best persuade expectant mothers of the need to vaccinate their infants with Hepatitis B?
RQ2: What would be the most effective dissemination strategy during standard prenatal care?

Note: This interdisciplinary project is funded, in part, by the Rita Allen Foundation, and our team currently includes Amanda Bradshaw, Ph.D. student in health communication in the College of Journalism and Communications, Dr. Debbie Treise, Senior Associate Graduate Dean in the College of Journalism and Communications, and Dr. Carolyn G.Carter, general pediatrician at UF Health.

Note: We will be completing phase 1 of the project this summer through focus groups with 60 expectant mothers. Depending on time restraints, we may also be able to complete phase 2, which will include interviews with 10-12 providers to discuss the dissemination plan aspect of the project. Final deliverables will include pro-vaccination video design story boards, which will later be produced into videos and tested for effectiveness quantitatively.

Faculty mentor department

Pediatrics

Project Title

Antibiotic Stewardship in the Newborn Nursery

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Kendall Steadmon

Email

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Research Project Description

Using an early onset sepsis calculator created by Kaiser Permanente, the newborn nursery has now decreased antibiotic use dramatically for infants born to group B strep unknown mother, mothers with chorioamnionitis, prolonged rupture of membranes, or fever.

The changes have been implemented but the impact has not been studied. The role of the medical student would be to chart review the patients that were treated based on the calculator guidelines and then study the impact, both long term and financial.

There will be no funding available or necessary travel.

Faculty mentor department

CHFM

Project Title

Arts-in-medicine at Grace Marketplace

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Grant Harrell

Email

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Research Project Description

The mobile outreach clinic (MOC) provides healthcare to the homeless population at Grace Marketplace on Fridays of every week. In order to facilitate a more hospitable and soothing healthcare environment during MOC hours of operation we would like to incorporate the arts into the waiting area around MOC. Our aim is to provide music, dance and other artistic offerings mainly for adults that encourage a peaceful and healing environment during clinic hours. Options are available to pilot projects at other MOC sites in addition to Grace as well.

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine - Jax

Project Title

Assessing Education in Local/Global Health Equity

Faculty Mentor's Name

Elizabeth DeVos

Email

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Research Project Description

UF has a rich history of ongoing medical-student led spring break service learning trips utilizing multidisciplinary teams to participate in primary care clinics for underserved areas abroad. In more recent years, the Office of Global Health Education Programs has broadened global health education to include a seminar series in local/global health equity and structured global health electives. To better evaluate all of these programs, we seek to develop structured post-travel and end-of-course reflection and measurement of learning outcomes. The MSRP student will assist in the review of current literature and best practices to contribute to the development of pilot assessment tools, which may include guided reflection, small group discussion and casework or potentially simulation or other methods. This project is well suited for a student interested in global health or medical education. MSRP student will have opportunity to submit output for presentation at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health annual conference or other appropriate global health/medical education outlets. Students wishing to continue work on this project will likely have the opportunity to participate in pre- and post-course evaluations and potential manuscript preparation. Funding is limited to MSRP program funding.

Faculty mentor department

Physiology and Functional Genomics

Project Title

Assessing neuroinflammation using in vivo bioluminescence/fluorescence imaging

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Andrew Liu

Email

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Research Project Description

Sleep is still the best medicine, as sleep homeostasis is critical for normal physiology and behavior. In mammals, sleep homeostasis is regulated by the hypothalamus: the master circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and the sleep homeostat whose precise location is unknown. Circadian disruption has been associated with various sleep, metabolic and neuropsychiatric disorders. The proposed project aims to perform in vivo bioluminescence/fluorescence imaging to confirm that traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes activation of neuroinflammation. For this project, we will leverage the new 5kB-RE-Luc-tdTomato inflammation reporter mice (unpublished) and the state-of-the-art in vivo imaging facility on campus. We will image luciferase (with luciferin) and fluorescence reporter activities in live mice before and after TBI. We expect to confirm the activation of microglia (immune cells in the brain) and determine whether TBI causes inflammation in the SCN and hypothalamus. Successful completion of the project will provide the foundation for future studies of circadian integration with neuroinflammation and the effect of neuroinflammation on sleep homeostasis. The long-term goal of this research is to establish the pathophysiological role of neuroinflammation in regulating the circadian and sleep systems. This research has broad implications in neurological diseases where inflammation plays a central role.

Faculty mentor department

Physiology and Functional Genomics

Project Title

Assessing sleep quality using the piezoelectric sleep system

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Andrew Liu

Email

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Research Project Description

Sleep is still the best medicine, as sleep homeostasis is critical for normal physiology and behavior. In mammals, sleep homeostasis is regulated by the hypothalamus: the master circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and the sleep homeostat whose precise location is unknown. Circadian disruption has been associated with various sleep, metabolic and neuropsychiatric disorders. The proposed project aims to determine whether and how disruption of the SCN clock in mice, via conditional knockout of the core clock gene Bmal1, alters the sleep/wake states and sleep quality. We will use the novel piezoelectric sleep system to assess sleep. This system detects pressure variations and has been validated with EEG/EMG recordings. The unique features of the system (highly sensitive, non-surgical, non-invasive, cost effective) permit continuous real-time monitoring of sleep/wake states and enable assessment of sleep quantity and quality. Successful completion of the project will provide the foundation for future studies of circadian integration with neuroinflammation and the effect of neuroinflammation on sleep homeostasis. The long-term goal of this research is to establish the pathophysiological role of neuroinflammation in regulating the circadian and sleep systems. This research has broad implications in neurological diseases where inflammation plays a central role.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Assessing willingness of patients in acute pain to accept alternatives therapeutics to opioids

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Henry Young II

Email

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Research Project Description

Exploration of pain treatments that are less addictive than opioids is a research priority of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Several non-pharmacological agents and procedures have been shown to be effective in the treatment of these conditions. Pain is the most commonly treated symptom in the emergency department and opioids are often prescribed from the emergency department to treat pain. Individuals presenting to the emergency department have been found to be at greater risk to abuse or misuse opioids than those who do not seek medical treatment in the emergency department. Unfortunately, there has been little research on the willingness of ED patients at high risk of opioid abuse to accept these agents. In this study we will assess the willingness of ED patients to receive ALTO. The role of the medical student will be to assist with data collection, analysis and presenting the data at a regional or national conference. The medical student will also have the opportunity to participate in drafting a manuscript from the results of the data.

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine - Jax

Project Title

Assessment of Pre-Departure Interprofessional Training for Global Health Experiences Student:

Faculty Mentor's Name

Elizabeth DeVos

Email

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Research Project Description

To meet the goals of exposing students to personal, professional and cultural standards required by all health professionals working in global health settings, UF hosts an annual interprofessional pre-departure training workshop. Current training consists of panel presentations by faculty, small group case studies, and facilitated, large group discussions with faculty members from the six colleges. Students are provided with knowledge and skills on safety measures, appropriate behaviors, interprofessional collaboration, and professional limitations, which prepare them for success in their various international travels. Training focuses on the interprofessional aspects of global health work, and aims to foster student understanding and appreciation of interprofessional work.
Hypothesis and rationale: This project aims to review best practices for pre-departure training for medical students to identify any gaps in the current curriculum.
Specific Aims: Review current educational literature for best practices for pre-travel education for medical students. Make suggestions for curricular and activity changes based on relevant resources. Contribute to development of assessment tools and educational activities for interprofessional predeparture training.
Methods: Literature review, search of online resources such as AMSA, EDX, CUGH materials and review of other UF colleges’ materials.
Outputs:
1)Annotated review of currently available materials such as AMSA, EDX Practitioner’s Guide to GlobalHealth, etc. and summary of identified best practices in the literature
2)Document suggesting any gaps in current pre-departure program and recommendations for UF post-travel debrief program to be instituted in the future
3)Poster or manuscript preparation
4)Research questions for future related MSRP projects
Role of Medical Student: The medical student will work independently to execute a thorough review of resources identified by faculty and then search for additional appropriate resources. The student will be expected to work through the recommended online courses to provide a review of the content and time required for completion and also to identify any gaps in the current UF program. Student will then compile best practice information to guide development of post-travel reflections for UF students and make suggestions for format of the activity based on what he or she has learned. Student will work with faculty to develop appropriate checklists for pre- travel and to present findings in poster or manuscript form. Based on this work, student will identify areas which will need future investigation that may present opportunities for future global health MSRPs.
References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990028/
The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health parts 1-3
https://www.edx.org/course/practitioners-guide-global-health-part-1-bux-globalhealthx-1
AMSA Global Health Committee:
http://www.amsa.org/advocacy/action-committees/global-health/ethics/\
Johns Hopkins cases
http://ethicsandglobalhealth.org/
*See Shawn for Kavita Patel’s previous literature search and then expand for other relevant resources

Faculty mentor department

Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Project Title

Bioelectricity in Cancer

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. Xin Tang

Email

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Research Project Description

Our lab has a project to explore how bioelectrical signal affects the exciting molecular responses in cancer cells. We integrate electrophysiology, mechanical engineering, nanofabrication, fluorescence optical imaging, and computational modeling. We apply our findings and insights to invent new technologies for treating, diagnosing and preventing human diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and brain disorders.

If you have interest or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact Prof. Xin Tang (xin.tang@ufl.edu). Prof. Tang’s office address is Room 330, MAE-B building, 633 GALE LEMERAND DR GAINESVILLE, FL 32611.

Faculty mentor department

Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation

Project Title

Biomechanical and Patient-Related Injury Risk Factors for Running Overuse Injuries

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Heather Vincent

Email

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Research Project Description

The UF Running Medicine Clinic and UF Sports Performance Center are among the few centers in the country that actively performs comprehensive research and clinical care on running injuries. Ongoing projects involve determination of biomechanical, psychological, patient-related, shoewear and lifestyle factors that impact injury rates and type. The evidence is used to shape activity recommendations, therapy plans and improve longevity of running exercise. The project involves 3D biomechanical analyses, history taking, data analysis and injury review. Among several hypotheses, our biomechanical hypotheses are: 1) Aberrant lower extremity segment rotations contribute to pelvic stress fractures; 2) Thick soled shoe wear contributes to different injuries among runners of different body size; 3) Chronic Achilles pain is related to foot crossover and long strides and heel drop after foot strike. Our psychology-related hypothesis is that chronically-injured runners who are rehabilitating and returning to running will demonstrate parallel improvements in psychological outlook with progressively increased running distance during recovery.

Students will participate in all aspects of the project, including data collection, motion analysis, statistics, data interpretation and critical thinking about mechanism of injury. Students will be provided the opportunities for abstract presentation and spearheading a publication from the results.

Laboratory papers: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28367686 (Biomechanical, metabolic responses of masters runners at different speeds); https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26146194 (Kinematic, cardiopulmonary, and metabolic responses of overweight runners); https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29629967 (abdominal bracing and running)

Faculty mentor department

Cardiology

Project Title

Can a Focus on Lifestyle and Nutrition in a Cardiology Clinic Improve Cardiovascular Outcomes

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Monica Aggarwal

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: Heart disease remains the number one cause of mortality in men and women. While medications and interventions have improved outcomes, the incidence of heart disease remains high. An emphasis on lifestyle changes that can reduce disease is essential.
Two Research Questions:
1. Is a prevention cardiology clinic model that focuses on lifestyle change and nutrition effective at improving cardiovascular outcomes
2. Can dietary changes in the hospital environment Effect Long Term Change?
for Question 1, the medical student will have the chance to be involved in a retrospective analysis of multiple clinic models to assess improvements in outcome, data collection, paper writing
for question 2, that would require in hospital working with patients on discussing nutrition and educating patients. there will be data collection, entry, synthesis and paper writing

Faculty mentor department

Department of Pediatrics/Pediatric Gastroenterology/Hepatology/Nutrition

Project Title

CaSR: linking nutrition to gut health

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Sam Cheng

Email

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Research Project Description

Different from other epithelia, the intestinal epithelium has the complex task of providing a barrier impeding the entry of toxins, food antigens and microbes, while at the same time allowing for the transfer of nutrients, electrolytes, water, and microbial metabolites. These molecules/organisms are transported either transcellularly, crossing the apical and basolateral membranes of enterocytes, or paracellularly, passing through the space between enterocytes. Accordingly, the intestinal epithelium can affect energy metabolism, fluid balance, as well as immune response and tolerance. To help accomplish these complex tasks, the intestinal epithelium has evolved many sensing receptor mechanisms. Yet, their roles and functions are only now beginning to be elucidated. This lab explores one such sensing receptor mechanism, carried out by the extracellular calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR). In addition to its established function as a nutrient sensor, coordinating food digestion, nutrient absorption, and regulating energy metabolism, we are investigating the emerging role of CaSR in the control of intestinal fluid homeostasis, cell metabolism and immune balance. An additional role in the modulation of the enteric nerve activity and gut motility is also being actively explored. Thus, candidate students will have the opportunity to address such basic questions as how the nutrient sensor acts to maintain gut homeostasis and whether disruption of this action leads to disease. With this new knowledge, the students will also have the opportunity to participate in designing novel therapies for infectious diarrheal diseases or improving known treatments such as enteral nutrition, a primary therapy widely used to induce Crohn’s disease remission. Besides routine molecular cellular genetic and immunopathological techniques, students will have the opportunity to learn state of art cell-imaging and classical physiological and electrophysiological techniques including Ussing chamber/short-circuit current recording. It is our expectation that at the end of rotation student candidates write a manuscript, as previous STUDENT ROTATORS (see below) did, for publication. The project is funded by NIH and UF funds.

JOHNATHAN FRAEBEL, Regino Gonzalez-Peralta, Maryann Maximos, Genie L Beasley, Christopher Douglas Jolley and Sam X Cheng (2018). Extracellular calcium dictates onset, severity and recovery of diarrhea in a child with immune-mediated enteropathy. Front Pediatr 2018 Jan 29;6:7. doi: 10.3389/fped.2018.00007. eCollection 2018.

Tang L, Jiang L, MCINTYRE M, Petrova E & Cheng SX. Calcimimetic acts on enteric neuronal CaSR to reverse cholera toxin-induced intestinal electrolyte secretion. Sci Rep 2018 May 18;8(1):7851. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26171-4.

HARRELL JE, Cheng SX (2018). Inability to reduce morbidity of diarrhea by ORS: Can we design a better therapy? Pediatr Res 2018 Mar;83(3):559-563. doi: 10.1038/pr.2017.295. Epub 2018 Jan 3.

Sun X, Tang L, WINESETT S, Chang W, Cheng SX (2018). Calcimimetic R568 inhibits tetrodotoxin-sensitive colonic electrolyte secretion and reduces c-fos expression in myenteric neurons. Life Sci 2018 Feb 1;194:49-58. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2017.12.019. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

Tang L, Cheng CY, Sun X, PEDICONE AJ, Mohamadzadeth M and Cheng SX. 2016. The Extracellular Calcium-Sensing Receptor in the Intestine: Evidence for Regulation of Colonic Absorption, Secretion, Motility, and Immunity. Front. Physiol. 7:245. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00245

Faculty mentor department

Department of Neurosurgery

Project Title

Cerebral Aneurysms

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Brian Hoh

Email

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Research Project Description

Dr. Hoh’s laboratory performs research investigating: 1) the biologic mechanisms for aneurysm formation and rupture using a mouse model of intracranial aneurysms; 2) the mechanisms by which hemodynamic stress at bifurcations cause inflammation that leads to aneurysm formation using in vitro cell culture flow models; 3) the development of biologic and tissue-engineered therapies for the treatment of aneurysms using a murine carotid aneurysm model; and 4) the identification of cytokines and factors responsible for aneurysm formation and rupture using human cerebral aneurysm tissue.
For a video of our research lab: https://youtu.be/tcm0tVlz2aM

Faculty mentor department

UF Department of Aging and Geriatric Research & VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center

Project Title

Cerebral networks of locomotor learning in older adults

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. David Clark

Email

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Research Project Description

This study investigates the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) delivered to the frontal lobe of the brain to enhance practice-related performance and retention on an obstacle walking task. Changes in walking performance are evaluated using 3-dimensional biomechanical assessment, and changes in brain network activity are assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This work is funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service. The medical student will assist in data collection, data analysis, and lab meetings.

Faculty mentor department

Anatomy and Cell Biology

Project Title

Characterizing genes critical for ovarian cancer progression

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Shuang Huang

Email

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Research Project Description

Through the analyses of TCGA databases, we have identified several genes in which their expression increases along the disease progression. This project is to characterize the role of these genes in various features of ovary tumorigenecity using both in vitro and in vivo experimental models.

Faculty mentor department

Surgery

Project Title

Chronic stress and anemia recovery following major trauma

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Alicia Mohr

Email

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Research Project Description

Injury-associated persistent anemia is a persistent anemia seen in the absence of acute blood loss and is one manifestation of bone marrow end organ dysfunction that occurs following severe trauma and prolonged critical illness. We have recent data showing that norepinephrine is a key regulator of erythroid progenitor cell growth and mobilization following trauma, although the exact mechanisms involved have yet to be elucidated. Based on our published observations, the overarching hypothesis is that chronic stress and prolonged adrenergic stimulation following injury and hemorrhagic shock are directly responsible for the persistence of injury-associated anemia with impaired differentiation and maturation of erythroid cells, and reduction of chronic stress can improve anemia and alter recovery. This research is supported by the NIH-NIGMS. The medical student will determine if chronic stress creates a persistent inflammatory milieu that impairs recovery from injury-associated anemia. The medical student will begin an understanding of reviewing scientific literature and learn basic science laboratory techniques, including cell culture, qRT-PCR, ELISA and western blot. He/she will develop insight on how basic science research can be applied in the clinical arena. The medical student will also perform statistics and report the results from the experiments.

Loftus TJ, Mira JC, Kannan KB, Plazas JM, Delitto D, Stortz JA, Hagen JE, Parvataneni HK, Sadasivan KK, Brakenridge SC, Moore FA, Moldawer LL, Efron PA, Mohr AM. (2018). The post-injury inflammatory state and the bone marrow response to anemia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 198, 629-638. PMID: 29768025

Millar JK, Kannan KB, Loftus TJ, Alamo IG, Plazas J, Efron PA, Mohr AM. (2017). Persistent injury-associated anemia: The role of the bone marrow microenvironment. J Surg Res 214, 240-246. PMID:28624051

Faculty mentor department

Surgery (Pediatric Surgery)

Project Title

Clinical outcomes in pediatric surgery in low-resource settings

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Robin Petroze

Email

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Research Project Description

As efforts to support pediatric health globally have made improvements in early childhood deaths due to infectious and diarrheal disease, the impact of noncommunicable disease, including surgical disease, becomes more important. This project entails partnering with a pediatric surgeon in a low-resource setting to support their research interests, most likely through retrospective chart review. The goal is to evaluate surgical outcomes and surgical risk in the pediatric population in low-resource settings. The student will be paired with a local student.

Faculty mentor department

Surgery (Pediatric Surgery)

Project Title

Clinical Pathways for Improved Patient Outcomes

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Robin Petroze

Email

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Research Project Description

This project will use evidence-based medicine to help develop clinical pathways in pediatric surgery to improve the efficiency and patient experience as well as to optimize clinical outcomes. Using outcomes data within the department, the student will help to identify common pediatric surgical problems in which we aim to improve our diagnostic and treatment efficiency in a multidisciplinary approach. An example would be appendicitis in which we aim to decrease the number of nonvisualized appendix on ultrasound by a) improving selection criteria for imaging based on evidence-based guidelines, b) standardizing reporting, c) providing algorithms and clinical pathways for care. The student will be involved in pathway development and/or implementation and evaluation.

Faculty mentor department

Epidemiology

Project Title

Community Engagement with HealthStreet

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Linda Cottler

Email

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Research Project Description

Less than 2% of the population participates in health research. Women, older adults, members of racial/ethnic minority groups and rural populations are often underrepresented in research, leading to findings that don’t account for everyone. HealthStreet, of which I am founding Director, was created to include many populations to make research findings a reflection of our diverse community and be applicable to the greatest amount of people. As a national model for community engagement and translational research, HealthStreet is used for Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA), hot-spotting analyses, offer preliminary data for grants and cohort identification.
Students will participate in community engagement activities that range from outreach efforts to assisting with Our Community, Our Health (OCOH). OCOH is a town hall meeting which facilitates two-way communication between the community and researchers. This is a platform for sharing ideas about health-research priorities, and communicating research findings to the community. Funding for this project is provided through UF NIH CTSA, the College of Medicine, College of Public Health & Health Professions, Florida Blue Foundation, Florida Department of Health, and NIDA.

Ruktanonchai CW, Pindolia DK, Striley CW, Odedina FT, Cottler LB. Utilizing spatial statistics to identify cancer hot spots: a surveillance strategy to inform community-engaged outreach efforts. Int J Health Geogr. 2014 Oct 10;13:39.

Webb FJ, Khubchandani J, Striley CW, Cottler LB. Correction to: Black-White Differences in Willingness to Participate and Perceptions About Health Research: Results from the Population-Based HealthStreet Study. J Immigr Minor Health. 2018 May 9.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Medicine/Division of Cardiology

Project Title

Comparing Knowledge of Pregnancy Complications and Long Term Cardiovascular Risk Between Specialties

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Ki Park

Email

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Research Project Description

Adverse pregnancy outcomes such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes have been increasingly recognized as risk factor for long term adverse cardiovascular events in women. However, these pregnancy history elements are often under-recognized by both women and providers. The awareness of this association however is critical in improving screening for CV risk factors in young women. The screening for these conditions spans many disciplines including cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology and primary care. However, the relative awareness amongst these different specialties and how they compare to each other is unknown. The aim of this project would be to develop an online questionnaire to distribute to various specialties, distribute via email and collect the data for analysis. Medical student would be involved in development of the questionnaire and analysis of results with aim towards presenting the data at a local or regional conference and publish the results.

Faculty mentor department

OG/GYN
REI Division

Project Title

Comparison and Efficacy of Ovarian Tissue Freezing Methods

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Alice Rhoton-Vlasak

Email

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Research Project Description

Despite the development of increasingly promising ovarian cryopreservation procedures, ovarian tissue cryopreservation has not been accepted as a clinically-established treatment by either the American Society of Clinical Oncology or the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (Practice Committee). However, with over 70 live births reported worldwide following successful ovarian tissue protocols and live birthrates of 30-70% (Silber), the time has come to accept this innovative technique as a clinically-validated treatment rather than an experimental procedure. Moreover, by providing a more immediate and efficient method of preserving fertility (Kim), and by simultaneously preventing early-onset menopause in young women, ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation may prove more effective than both embryonic and oocyte cryopreservation- the current standard treatments for fertility preservation. The following paper will review current oncological and gynecological literature to ascertain the evidence supporting these assertions- and to determine the extent to which ovarian tissue cryopreservation can be implemented in female cancer patients in need of gonadotoxic treatments. It will attempt to determine the best method of freezing, efficacy compared to other FP methods, and potential future uses of this technology.

Faculty mentor department

Congenital Heart Center and Department of Anesthesia

Project Title

Cost burden imposed by recurring lab studies in a busy pediatric congenital cardiac critical care unit

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Kevin Sullivan

Email

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Research Project Description

The use of electronic medical systems to order laboratory studies on a scheduled recurring basis is an automated convenience but its use is discouraged by the Society of Critical Care Medicine as it results in numerous unintended adverse consequences. Included among these are vascular access catheter infection, unnecessary charges and cost, and interventions for clinically irrelevant lab findings that may cause harm or breed further unnecessary lab investigations.
In this two month quality project, medical students will examine the EMR to determine the burden of scheduled recurring labs, assess their clinical importance, measure the cost and charge to patients and third-party payers, and make recommendations to reduce unnecessary lab charges in the Congenital Heart Center ICU.

Faculty mentor department

Neurology

Project Title

Create a database and case series of myotonic dystrophy type 1 and type 2 patients

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Miguel Chuquilin

Email

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Research Project Description

Myotonic dystrophy is the most common muscular dystrophy in adults. Although the name suggests only a muscular involvement, myotonic dystrophy is a systemic disease, affecting different body functions. There are 2 types of myotonic dystrophy: type 1 (most common) and type 2. The goal of this project is to compare different characteristics/variables of patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1 and 2 seen in our institution for the last few years. The student(s) will help on creating a database of patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1 and type 2 that includes different variables, including clinical and history findings, test results, electromyography results, genetic testing, sleep study results, etc. from a list of patients already available. The student then can be involved in the write up of a case series comparing both types of myotonic dystrophy in our institution and also other studies that can be mined from the database.

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Project Title

Current Updates on the Surgical Approach to Hysterectomy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Nash Moawad

Email

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Research Project Description

Hysterectomy is the only definitive treatment option for abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), fibroids, and some patients with pelvic pain. Traditionally, most hysterectomies were performed via laparotomy. With advances in surgical training, technology and a preponderance of evidence, the surgical approach to hysterectomy has been shifting to minimally-invasive surgical options, such as vaginal, laparoscopic and robot-assisted hysterectomy, with decreased overall rates of morbidity, mortality, blood loss, hospital stay, postoperative pain, and faster resumption of regular activities. We aim to study the rates of the different approaches to hysterectomy using the BOLD database. This database is used by surgeons who qualified as participants in the Center Of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Surgery (COEMIG) in the US and internationally. The study also aims to explore any differences in the surgical approach to hysterectomy between the BOLD database, and the NSQIP database of the American College of Surgeons.

Faculty mentor department

Biomedical Engineering

Project Title

Design and Application of Custom Waveforms to Restore and Control Satiety

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Matthew Schiefer

Email

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Research Project Description

In a broad sense, this study seeks to address how we can tailor electrical nerve stimulation parameters to target a specific disorder. The particular disorder of interest for this study is obesity. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) has the potential to serve as a fully reversible, less-invasive surgical option to reduce excess body weight (EBW). The neural targets during this study will be the left vagal nerve and left greater splanchnic nerves. Both nerves transmit information to the brain about stomach volume. The vagal nerves form the parasympathetic branch of autonomic stomach innervation. The splanchnic nerves form the sympathetic branch of autonomic stomach innervation. Stimulation in either location, or both simultaneously, may one day be successful at restoring a sensation of satiety (fullness), which could be used to combat obesity in individuals for whom diet, exercise and medication do not work.

Two types of experiments will occur. In a series of acute experiments, small recording electrodes will be placed in these nerves under a surgical microscope, the stomach will be distended, and the neural activity will be recorded and analyzed as a function of the distension. The effect of diet type and diet duration will be assessed.

In a series of long-term experiments, small stimulating electrodes will be placed around these nerves and stimulus will be delivered to one or both nerves. The effects of FES on reduction in EBW will be determined. The effect of the stimulus waveform, which will be varied across 3 patterns, will be assessed.

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Project Title

Determining the Optimal Mode of Delivery in Patients with Hepatitis C: A Systematic Review

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Patrick Duff

Email

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Research Project Description

The student will conduct a rigorous systematic review of the literature concerning mode of delivery in pregnant patients with hepatitis C infection. The primary objective is to determine if cesarean delivery before the onset of labor is protective against perinatal transmission of hepatitis C infection in all infected women or perhaps only in a subset of women with very high viral loads.

Faculty mentor department

Pediatric Critical Care

Project Title

Developing a novel panel of minimally invasive blood-based biomarker test for the diagnosis and management of

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Jennifer Munoz Pareja

Email

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Research Project Description

Injury is the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States1. As recently as February 9, 2018, the CDC reports that head injuries affect 1 in 14 children. Furthermore, 475,000 ER visits occur annually by children aged 0-14 years of age in the USA secondary to TBI2. Currently there is an unmet medical need for a rapid, simple biofluid-based diagnostic test for the management of moderate to severe TBI patients in the intensive care unit. Due to the multicomponent pathobiology in brain injury, it would be ideal to have a panel of neuroinjury biomarkers that closely match with the various pathological processes.There is emerging data from many recent studies from multiple research teams showing that biofluid-based TBI biomarker tests have the potential to assess the extent of TBI severity and determine a patient prognosis even at times when correlation with other neurological measures (neuroimaging) may not always be informative such as for mild TBI. Our lab has pioneered biomarker research in the USA with Dr. Kevin Wang being part of the research team that patented the first blood test to evaluate mild TBI in adults, 4 approved by the FDA in February 14, 2018. At this time, we have the infrastructure and expertise to take the lead on this novel idea. We are aiming to develop a temporal profile of changes in biomarkers that will encompass all major protein
biomarkers linked to different pathophysiologic processes in moderate to severe pediatric TBI; this panel could guide timing of treatment and potentially serve as a prognosticator in pediatric TBI patients.

Faculty mentor department

Anatomy and Cell Biology

Project Title

Development of Experimental Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Dorina Avram

Email

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Research Project Description

This is a collaborative project between the laboratories of Dr. Dorina Avram, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Dr. Benjamin Keselowsky, Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating, immune-mediated neurological disease that typically affects young adults, with higher frequency in women. In this disease immune cells target and destroy myelin in the central nervous system (CNS) causing demyelination and thus neurological alterations. There is no known cure for MS and many of the current treatments are not specific and suppress the function of the entire immune system. There is a great interest in development of novel, more specific and more effective therapies for MS. We developed a new therapy, which shows high efficiency in the treatment of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE), the mouse model for MS, in a semitherapeutic setup. The treatment is based on delivery of specific myelin antigens and tolerogenic factors encapsulated in the FDA-approved polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) microparticles (MPs) for controlled intracellular delivery through phagocytosable MPs, as well as for controlled delivery to surface receptors through non-phagocytosable MPs, thus constituting a dual MP system (dMP). The treatment is specific, being dependent on the specific myelin antigens, as MPs loaded with an irrelevant peptide did not block the disease. We hypothesize that the therapeutic success translated in blocking of EAE by the dMP treatment reprograms immune populations. We will establish the mechanisms by which the dMP treatment blocks EAE. Additionally, we propose to test the dMP treatment in advanced stages of EAE and further optimize the regimen of treatment. The studies are of the highest significance, given its specificity and the fact that the therapeutic options for MS are limited and many of them lack the needed specificity.

Faculty mentor department

Anatomy and Cell Biology

Project Title

Development of novel therapeutics targeting protein acetylation for cancer therapy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. Daiqing Liao Ph.D.

Email

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Research Project Description

Protein lysine acetyltransferases (KATs) catalyze the acetyl attachment to lysine side chains of protein substrates that include histones and many other cellular proteins. Deacetylases (HDACs) catalyze the reverse reaction to remove the attached acetyl group. Acetylation of protein substrates impacts their stability and functions in a variety of cellular pathways such as gene transcription, intracellular trafficking and metabolisms. Both KATs and HDACs are implicated in human diseases and represent rational therapeutic targets. The research in the Liao laboratory focuses on understanding cell-biological functions of these enzymes in virology, epigenetics and cancer biology, as well as on discovery, characterization, and optimization of novel small-molecule inhibitors of these enzymes for cancer therapy. In collaboration with the high-throughput screen facilities at Scripps Florida at Jupiter and the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona, we aim at identifying novel lead KAT and HDAC inhibitors. We use in vitro biochemical as well as cell-based assays to validate their activities. We also collaborate with medicinal chemists to optimize the lead compounds to improve the target potency and specificity as well as drug-like properties of the lead compounds. We use mouse tumor models to determine in vivo anticancer efficacy of the small-molecule inhibitors. Ultimately, our optimized KAT and HDAC inhibitors may lead to novel therapy for treating cancer patients and other human diseases.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Diagnostic yield of non-invasive imaging in patients following non-traumatic sudden cardiac arrest

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Charles Hwang

Email

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Research Project Description

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Patients presenting with ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia are considered to have sudden cardiac arrest from cardiac etiology. Current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines recommend urgent coronary angiography in patients suspected of having acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Non-invasive cross-sectional imaging is frequently performed after OHCA; the AHA, however, does not provide any guidance on the role of non-invasive imaging in the diagnosis of OHCA. Previous studies, including a systematic review, have attempted to evaluate the role of diagnostic imaging in diagnosing causes of OHCA; however, its diagnostic utility remains poorly characterized. We intend to perform a retrospective observational study assessing the down-stream effects of ED diagnostic CT/MRI imaging after return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) from OHCA.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Medicine

Project Title

Diversity in Palliative Care

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Sheri Kittelson

Email

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Research Project Description

Diversity in Palliative Care. Our team would like to create a Diversity policy/statement as well as educational curriculum. The plans are to participate in the BRIM Bias Reduction in Internal Medicine study for faculty. In addition, we have a interdisciplinary team of staff including advance practice providers, nursing/PA, social work, psychology, ethics. We want to implement a LGBTQ training video to raise awareness as well as give a lecture on cultural diversity in practice. We hope to survey staff before and after to check baseline attitudes and understand and than survey them after implementation of the above elements to see if there's a difference and check for a gap analysis to adjust the program going forward. This can potentially be expanded across all departments.

Faculty mentor department

Pathology, Pediatrics

Project Title

Downstream effects of using a respiratory PCR panel in a pediatric clinic

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Stacy Beal MD

Email

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Research Project Description

Introduction
In 2016, the FDA approved the FilmArray Respiratory Panel EZ (Biofire Diagnostics, Salt Lake City, Utah), a CLIA-waived respiratory pathogen PCR assay which tests for 14 of the most common pathogens causing respiratory infections, including 11 viruses and 3 bacteria1. It can be performed by most clinic staff including nurses and medical assistants as long as the clinic has a Certificate of Waiver2, which is held by many pediatric clinics. We aimed to determine if use of the EZ in an outpatient pediatric clinic led to fewer telephone calls, follow up appointments, my chart messages, emergency department visits, and hospital admissions. In addition, we also aimed to determine if the EZ led to lower use of radiologic and laboratory tests following EZ testing.

Methods
This quality improvement study occurred at University of Florida (UF) Health outpatient pediatric clinics. Approximately 500 patients presenting to either of two clinics (“Clinic A” or “Clinic B”) with respiratory symptoms from January 31, 2018 – January 31, 2019 were included. Two FilmArray 2.0 modules were installed in Clinic A and samples were collected from patients and run in real-time. Results were released in the electronic health record and communicated with the patient’s caregiver. At Clinic B, samples collected for influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) antigen tests were poured from the reagent buffer into universal transport media (Puritan UniTranz-RT Transport System) and frozen immediately. They were then transported on ice to the affiliated academic medical center where one FilmArray 2.0 module was installed in a research laboratory. Results of these tests from Clinic B patients were not released to patients or clinicians. Additional variables such as patient characteristics, organisms identified, and treatment are currently being analyzed in preparation for a manuscript submission.
The student will gather the following variables from Epic:
EZ and antigen test results
Within a specific time period (to be determined) of the initial visit and regarding the initial complaint, how many times did the patient/parent:
o Call the clinic with regards to clinical symptoms
 Does NOT include things like parent calling for a school excuse letter
 Does NOT include the initial phone call from clinic to parent to report the results (or the parent calling back after a missed call)
 Does NOT include the clinic calling the parent to inform them about prescription availability
o Return to clinic
o Message the provider through the EMR
o Go to Pediatrics After Hours
o Go to Emergency Department
o Get admitted to a hospital
o Have a chest x-ray
 On initial or repeat visit
o Have a blood test
 On initial or repeat visit
o Have urine testing
 On initial or repeat visit
o Have additional POCT (EZ or Ag) testing on repeat visit

Student involvement
• This is the 2nd part of a quality improvement study. The 1st part is currently being prepared for a manuscript. So, the list of patients is already available. You can get ahead start if you want!
• You will be responsible for creation of a RedCap data collection database (Dr. Beal will show you if you do not know how. It is very user-friendly and easy to learn).
• You will look up about 500 patients in Epic and record the above variables.
• You and Dr. Beal and co-authors will do data analysis in Excel. You will learn how to use pivot tables and other Excel features. These are very powerful tools and great skills to learn!
• The student will present status updates every 2 weeks. These can be virtual meetings if the student is not in Gainesville.
• By the end of the summer, the student will have enough data to generate a poster or platform presentation at a national meeting and work towards manuscript submission. You must agree to sticking to a tight schedule!
o The student MUST use EndNote or similar bibliography software. You can learn to use them fairly quickly. These are extremely important to use when preparing a manuscript and learning to use one during this summer will be a very useful skill to have in the future.
• The student will have opportunities to work with Pediatricians and Pathologists. The team will gladly have you come to clinic/lab for your interest (unrelated to the research project) during the summer.

See the full description here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RPGm3Eg6R_Pdd52clz0-rRhu2s9TyxmC/view?usp=sharing

Faculty mentor department

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine

Project Title

Drug Development for Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Christopher Cogle

Email

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Research Project Description

Students will perform laboratory experiments that define why acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells depending on a particular RNA splicing factor, in contrast to normal hematopoietic cell which don't depend on a particular RNA splicing factor. The students will design a minigene reporter assay that will be used to screen for novel compounds that inhibit this particular RNA splicing factor and thereby kill the leukemia cells. Compounds that show high potency for inhibiting the splicing factor and killing leukemia cells will be lead candidates for drug development. Long-term, lead candidates will be developed into drugs to treat patients with acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

Faculty mentor department

Pediatrics
Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies

Project Title

Early childhood adversity, health outcomes, and health disparities

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Melissa Bright

Email

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Research Project Description

The Bright Lab conducts research on early child development with an emphasis on early adversity (child maltreatment, family violence), health outcomes for these children, and disparities in health outcomes. We have several projects underway including but not limited to a) examination of the differential success of the influenza vaccine based on maltreatment history, b) understanding the pathway from school report cards to physical abuse, and c) identifying disparities in birth outcomes based on maternal race/ethnicity and prenatal psychosocial risk.

MSRP students jump into a project aligned with their interest and typically engage in the following types of activities:
Literature review
Institutional Review Board (IRB) application prep
Medical record reviews
Database creation
Data entry
Manuscript preparation, editing, submission

All students are provided an opportunity to present at at least 2 local conferences. Many students have been invited to contribute to authorship for a scientific manuscript.

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Project Title

Effects of Bovine Lactoferring on Inhibition of Garderella Vaginalis: A New Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. Gregory Schultz

Email

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Research Project Description

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) affects more than 21 million women in the US alone each year. BV is characterized by a shift in the microbiome of the lower vaginal tract from a high concentration of lactobacillus species (primarily Lactobacillus acidophilus) to a high concentration of Gardnerella vaginalis (GV) and the formation of a GV biofilm that is highly tolerant to typical antibiotic treatments including metronidazole and tobramycin, which leads to a recurrence rate of approximately 70%. Previous research has indicated that GV utilizes human lactoferrin (hLF) that is present in normal vaginal secretions as its primary source of iron, which is required for GV growth. However, the GV lactoferrin receptor protein does not recognize bovine lactoferrin (bLF), and initial lab studies indicate that bLF can inhibit growth of GV, and initial clinical studies suggest bLF in vaginal pessaries reduced levels of GV and helped restore normal vaginal microflora. The role of the medical student will be to perform additional lab test to assess the effects of bLF on inhibiting planktonic GV growth and biofilm formation on pig vagina explants and disrupting established GV biofilms on pig vagina explants.

Faculty mentor department

Dept. of Medicine (Div. of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes) Box 100226

Project Title

Elucidating the Biochemical Phenotype of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Peter Stacpoole

Email

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Research Project Description

GBM is the commonest and most devastating primary brain cancer in adults. The median survival after diagnosis without treatment is 3 months; current standard of care extends life about 1 yr. Thus, from a practical standpoint the diagnosis of GBM is a death sentence and little advancement in definitive treatment has evolved over the past several years. We are taking a novel therapeutic approach, based on evidence that GBM metabolism is primarily glycolytic, but that converting tumors to a more oxidative state will lead to selective apoptosis without harming non-cancer cells. To better define the underlying biochemical mechanisms of GBMs, we are investigating the expression of several key enzymes of mitochondrial energy metabolism in GBM samples obtained from the UF Brain Tumor Bank. Students will learn basic principles of tumor cell metabolism and learn and apply laboratory techniques, such as Western immunoblotting to quantify expression of mitochondrial proteins involved in cellular bioenergetics. These studies are a prelude to a Phase II trial of the investigational drug, dichloroacetate (DCA) in treating GBM patients who have failed conventional therapy.

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Emergency Contraception Access in US Emergency Departments

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Marie-Carmelle Elie

Email

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Research Project Description

Emergency contraception accessibility was deemed a human right by the World Health
Organization in the Tehran Proclamation of 1968. However, accessibility in the emergency department
remains imperfect, and unintended pregnancy rates in the US remain high. Emergency departments are
disproportionately used as a medical access point by populations of women at increased risk for
unintended pregnancy, including women of lower socioeconomic status and those who have been
sexually assaulted. This study will conduct a telephone-based ‘secret shopper’ study of hospitals
throughout the United States. We will report the likelihood of a female member of the public obtaining
information regarding access to emergency contraception, and what (if anything) would be required to
qualify for a prescription. Accessibility rates will be compared based on categories of hospital size,
geographic region, rurality, academic affiliation, and religious affiliation.
The role of the medical student will be to contact emergency departments posing as a member of
the public and, following a provided flowchart script, inquire about the availability of emergency
contraception options and sexual assault resources. Students will be provided the opportunity to
contribute to authorship for a scientific manuscript.

Faculty mentor department

Nephrology

Project Title

epidemiology and outcomes of calcium phosphate stone formers

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Rupam Ruchi

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: incidence of kidney stones is increasing. Calcium containing stones are the most common kind, still not much is known about calcium phosphate stones

Objectives: to investigate the epidemiology and clinical outcomes of patients with calcium phosphate stones, as compared to those with calcium oxalate stones

Methods: retrospective analysis of stone database, including patients with pure calcium oxalate stones and varying degrees of calcium phosphate stones, from 2010-2017

Role of medical student: we have an approved IRB for this project. Medical student will help with data collection and analysis

Funding: none
Relevant publications:
1. Nasser A Dhayat, David Lüthi, Lisa Schneider, Cedric Mattmann, Bruno Vogt, Daniel G Fuster; Distinct phenotype of kidney stone formers with renal phosphate leak, Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, Volume 34, Issue 1, 1 January 2019, Pages 129–137
2. Marcelino Rivera, Chris Jaeger, Daniel Yelfimov, and Amy E. Krambeck(2017). Risk of chronic kidney disease in brushite stone formers compared with idiopathic calcium oxalate stone formers, Urology, Volume 99 , 23 – 26
3. Daudon M, Bouzidi H, Bazin D. Composition and morphology of phosphate stones and their relation with etiology. Urol Res. 2010; 38(6):459–67.
4. Parks, J. H., Coe, F. L., Evan, A. P., & Worcester, E. M. (2008). Urine pH in renal calcium stone formers who do and do not increase stone phosphate content with time. Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation: official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association, 24(1), 130-6.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Aging and Geriatric Research

Project Title

Estrogen, Glutathione Transferase Detoxification, and Hearing Loss

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. Shinichi Someya

Email

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Research Project Description

Background:
Numerous studies have reported sex differences in human auditory function. Clinical and animal model studies indicate a critical window for estrogen replacement therapy such that estrogen has a neuroprotective effect if the treatment is initiated at the time of menopause, but the beneficial effects of estrogen are lost with advanced age. Accordingly, the Women’s Health Initiative in Memory Study indicates that estrogen has no benefit when the treatment is initiated in women 65 years and older. However, the molecular mechanisms for closing of the critical window for the therapeutic effects of estrogen on brain and auditory functions are largely unknown.

Hypothesis:
We hypothesized that estrogen protects hearing by enhancing glutathione transferase (GST) detoxification in the auditory system of females and that closing of the critical window for the therapeutic effects of estrogen on hearing is due to decreased GST detoxification function.

Specific Aims:
1A. Investigate whether long-term estrogen deprivation affects hearing (auditory brainstem response thresholds, wave amplitudes and latencies) and GST detoxification and in the inner ears and brainstem of mice. 1B. Identify estrogen-responsive genes involved in detoxification and glutathione metabolism in the inner ears and brainstem of mice treated with 17b-estradiol by RNA sequencing analysis. 1C. Investigate whether deficiency of the GSR (glutathione reductase) or GSTP (glutathione transferase pi) gene affects hearing and estrogen responsiveness in the inner ears and brainstem of young and middle age female mice.

Faculty mentor department

Division of General Internal Medicine
College of Medicine

Project Title

Evaluating a new patient-centered interprofessional hypertension clinic

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Melanie Hagen

Email

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Research Project Description

Studies in the literature conclude that up to 2/3 of patients with hypertension are not adequately treated.
Our clinic reports indicate that we are below target for blood pressure control. In a traditional practice model physicians and other providers instruct the patient to take medication or change their behaviors. Because hypertension is asymptomatic patients are not always motivated to work to lower their blood pressure through lifestyle changes or by taking medication. We have designed an inter-professional hypertension clinic using pharmacists, physicians and a nurse health coach to help lower patient's blood pressure. We want to measure our effectiveness and to measure patient satisfaction We would also like to evaluate the feasibility of introducing ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.

Faculty mentor department

Medicine, Cardiology

Project Title

Evaluation of Adherence to Choosing Wisely Recommendations for Pre-operative Patients

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. David Winchester

Email

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Research Project Description

Research Project Description: The Choosing Wisely program collects lists from medical specialty societies of examples of low value care. The lists are widely published with the hopes that they will be used to stimulate discussions between patients and physicians about improving the value of health care. While the lists are recognized as examples of low value care, some have little published data to know the prevalence of the practices and whether they have changed over time. Project will consist of reviewing charts for patients who underwent cataract surgery at UF to determine the rate of preoperative testing and any observations about change over time. Students will assist in data gathering and entry with the expectation of presenting aspects of the research and participating in publishing a manuscript on the results.

Selected Readings:
1. http://www.choosingwisely.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ACC-Choosing-Wisely-List.pdf
2. Chen et al. Preoperative Medical Testing in Medicare Patients Undergoing Cataract Surgery NEJM 2015;372:1530-8
3. Wolk et al. 2013 Multimodality Appropriate Use Criteria for the Detection and Risk Assessment of Stable Ischemic Heart Disease

Faculty mentor department

Medicine

Project Title

Evaluation of baseline quality improvement and patient safety in interns

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Julia Close

Email

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Research Project Description

Study includes collection and interpretation of data related to baseline quality improvement and patient safety knowledge in interns at the University of Florida. Data will be used towards needs assessment in development of the QI/PS curriculum for housestaff. Additional opportunities for scholarship in graduate medical education available.

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics and Gynecology (Division of Gynecologic Oncology)

Project Title

Evaluation of gynecological oncologic outcomes in the elderly and super-elderly population

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Joel Cardenas MD

Email

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Research Project Description

In 2018, there were an estimated 110,070 women diagnosed with a gynecological malignancy, and an estimated 32,120 deaths (Siegel 2018). The treatment of gynecological malignancies typically involves surgical or medical intervention, or both. Increasing age has long been associated with an increasing chance of diagnosis of malignancy. Patients with an advanced chronological age often have additional medical comorbidities that complicate medical and/or surgical intervention.

While many studies have shown that age is often associated with a poor prognosis, a large cohort study has failed to demonstrate age alone to be an independent prognostic factor (Jorgensen 2012). The aim of our study is to evaluate and compare the gynecological oncologic outcomes of elderly (70–80 years of age) and super-elderly (>80 years of age) patients receiving surgical intervention at UF Health.

Medical students can expect to be involved with the data review and collection efforts of this retrospective chart review study. This project is not funded by any agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

References:

Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2018. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;68:7-30.

Jorgensen TL, Teiblum S, Paludan M, et al. Significance of age and comorbidity on treatment modality, treatment adherence, and prognosis in elderly ovarian cancer patients. Gynecol Oncol. 2012;127:367-374.

Faculty mentor department

Center for Pain Management, Department of Anesthesia at University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, FL

Project Title

Evaluation of Health Disparities in Chronic Pain

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Monika Patel

Email

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Research Project Description

At our UF Jacksonville campus, I care for a unique aging patient population with health disparities due to low socioeconomic factors, low educations, and poor coping skills. I am pursuing an initiative to identify health disparities specifically influencing our aging chronic pain patients. Key to understanding our patient health disparities is developing a Patient Registry that allows a better assessment of pain, function, psychosocial factors contributing to pain. This registry will allow research of our unique often-underrepresented chronic pain patients locally, while adding to collaborative projects nationally. The role of the medical student will be assisting with IRB proposal for retrospective analysis of specific health disparities in our pain clinic. Also, medical students can assist in patient evaluation and data collection for the Patient Registry at the Center for Pain Management.

Faculty mentor department

Medicine-Cardiovascular Medicine (by Courtesy), Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Primary)

Project Title

Fighting Fibrosis with the Regenerative African Spiny Mouse

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. Chelsey Simmons

Email

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Research Project Description

Fibrosis accompanies many acute and chronic diseases and is the cause of >40% of deaths in the US. Fibrotic processes often increase the effective stiffness of tissue, creating an interesting overlap of mechanical and biological changes. The African Spiny Mouse (Acomys) can regenerate normal matrix after injury, with minimal scar tissue after many types of trauma, including full-thickness cuts, burns, myocardial infarction, spinal cord injury, and muscle necrosis. Unfortunately, what enables this adult mouse’s with this remarkable ability to regenerate normal matrix is currently poorly understood. (See Seifert et al. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11499, Stewart et al. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2018.10.005)

I was recently awarded the NIH R35 MIRA for Early Stage Investigators to engineer systems to understand fibrosis. My broad goal is to build model systems of mammalian regeneration, to identify mechanisms of cell contractility, and to target downstream effectors that control fibroproliferative cell function. In Summer 2019, we will need support for the Acomys–Mus chimera portion of our project, and the MSRP student will likely be responsible for characterizing innate immune cells in Acomys, Mus, and chimeric animals.

Faculty mentor department

Psychiatry

Project Title

Florida Recovery Center Addiction Medicine Clinical Research Lab

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Lisa Merlo

Email

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Research Project Description

This project focuses on collection and analysis of longitudinal clinical data from patients admitted to UF Health Florida Recovery Center substance use disorder treatment program. The medical student will participate in many aspects of the lab including patient assessment, data entry, and assessment scoring. The student will assist with collection and organization of patient information that is utilized by the clinical treatment team and entered into the electronic health record. The student will be expected to complete an independent project utilizing existing data under the supervision of Dr. Merlo, and will be encouraged to submit the project for presentation at a conference and/or publication in a medical journal.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Pediatrics

Project Title

Genetics of Muscular Dystrophy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Peter Kang

Email

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Research Project Description

A number of causative genes have been linked to various forms of muscular dystrophy, yet many such patients remain without a genetic diagnosis. Some families have limited access to genetic testing, but others harbor mutations in novel genes. Our laboratory’s core project involves gene discovery for muscular dystrophy. Genetic analyses will be supplemented by studies of human tissue and relevant disease models. The laboratory has extended the examination of one novel gene, MEGF10, into a separate independent project. A medical student could participate in either project, or potentially a new one if it is compatible with the overall goals of the laboratory.

1. Reddy HM, Hamed SA, Lek M, Mitsuhashi S, Estrella E, Jones MD, Mahoney LJ, Duncan AR, Cho KA, MacArthur DG, Kunkel LM, Kang PB. A homozygous nonsense mutation in SGCA is a common cause of LGMD in Assiut, Egypt. Muscle & Nerve 2016;54:690-695.

2. Reddy HM, Cho KA, Lek M, Estrella E, Valkanas E, Jones MD, Mitsuhashi S, Darras BT, Amato AA, Lidov HGW, Brownstein CA, Margulies DM, Yu TW, Salih MA, Kunkel LM, MacArthur DG, Kang PB. The sensitivity of exome sequencing in identifying causative mutations for LGMD in the United States. Journal of Human Genetics 2017;62:243-252.

3. Saha M, Mitsuhashi S, Reddy HM, Jones MD, Bruels C, Cho KA, Pacak CA, Draper I, Kang PB. Consequences of MEGF10 deficiency on myoblast function and Notch1 interactions. Human Molecular Genetics 2017;26:2984-3000.

4. Saha M, Reddy HM, Salih MA, Estrella E, Jones MD, Mitsuhashi S, Cho KA, Suzuki-Hatano S, Rizzo SA, Hamad MH, Mukhtar MM, Hamed AA, Elseed MA, Lek M, Valkanas E, MacArthur DG, Kunkel LM, Pacak CA, Draper I, Kang PB. The impact of PYROXD1 deficiency on cellular respiration and correlations with genetic analyses of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy in Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Physiological Genomics 2018;epub August 31.

Faculty mentor department

UF Pediatrics, Pensacola, Florida

Project Title

Geographic Distribution of Opioid Overdoses

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. James Burns MD MPH

Email

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Research Project Description

Purposes for the project:
1. Map the 911 EMS calls for opioid overdoses by zip codes in Florida
including Counts and Rates
2. Determine if there are statistically significant clusters of overdoses with Poisson analysis using SaTScan

Will use ArcMap to produce the heat maps: will join data files (opioid overdoses, population, demographics) to the zip code base map. Produce maps with the intensity of color corresponding to frequency/count of 911 calls.

Import the geographic data to SaTScan and determine clusters

Faculty mentor department

Department of Emergency Medicine
Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Project Title

Gout Retrospective Review

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. John M Kiel

Email

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Research Project Description

The purpose of this study is to review cases of monoarticular joint pain presenting to UF Shands Jacksonville ED from 2016 to 2018. Specifically, we are looking to evaluate a large cohort of patients and identify cases of gout. We are also interested in septic arthritis. We want to review the diagnostic workup and management. The medical student will help with (a) data entry of a large cohort of patients, (b) authorship of a paper (possibly more than one) and (c) potentially with the prospective ultrasound-based study that we hope to begin in Summer 2019. My goal is to launch prospective study using ultrasound to aid in the diagnosis of gout with the residents and faculty sometime in July or August. Ultrasound has been used by rheumatologists for 20 years with gout, however there are virtually no publications evaluating the role of POCUS with gout in the Emergency Department. This project would be ideal for a medical student interested in musculoskeletal disease, ultrasound and/or emergency medicine.

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine

Project Title

High Sensitivity Troponin Implementation Analysis

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Brandon Allen

Email

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Research Project Description

Chest pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek medical attention, especially in the emergency department. Concern about chest pain is reasonable because heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the United States. When evaluating someone with chest pain, doctors often rely on a blood test called troponin. While this test has improved our ability to diagnose heart attacks, sometimes it detects tiny amounts of heart muscle damage that are not from a heart attack, this is referred to as a “false positive” test.

Manufacturers of the troponin test have continued to improve its sensitivity, and the next generation of troponin test will be more than 10-fold more sensitive. This advancement will nearly eliminate the possibility of missing a heart attack, however doctors are concerned about a parallel increase in “false positive” tests that will strain our available resources: increasing demand for tests, physician consultations, and hospital admissions.

To evaluate the impact of this change, we propose a two-pronged investigation. Aim 1 will be to conduct focus group interviews with people who order the troponin test, gauging their opinions about how it has changed practice. Aim 2 will be to directly measure the impact of the change on demand for cardiovascular services. Documenting these findings will be important for UF to continue adapting to the change, and also to share our findings with the health care community so others can plan ahead for smooth transitions.

Specific Aim 1: Conduct a qualitative study of implementation barriers and facilitators from the perspective of clinicians who frequently use high-sensitivity cardiac troponin (hs-cTn) in regular practice.

Specific Aim 2: Evaluate the rates of hospital admission, MI diagnosis, cardiology consultation, and both noninvasive and invasive CV testing before and after implementation of hs-cTn.

Faculty mentor department

Neurology

Project Title

Hospitalization Preceding Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis and Response to Cholinesterase Inhibitors: A Chart Review

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Melissa Armstrong

Email

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Research Project Description

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease where patients typically have both cognitive symptoms and parkinsonism. It is frequently commonly cited as the second-most common dementia after Alzheimer’s disease (AD), though it is under-recognized. Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term including both dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson disease dementia (PDD). Symptoms of LBD are often reported after a patient is hospitalized for surgery or other indications, but the frequency with which this occurs is not described. Additionally, a subset of patients with LBD have a dramatic benefit from cholinesterase inhibitor medications (ChEIs), but the frequency with which this dramatic benefit is seen is not well-researched. Better understanding of both these issues in LBD would inform better counseling for patients and families. This retrospective chart review aims to understand the frequency of these scenarios in a single academic medical center.

Faculty mentor department

Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Project Title

How mechanics and biology interplay in tumor

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. Xin Tang

Email

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Research Project Description

Our lab has a project to explore how mechanical force generated inside tumor triggers exciting molecular responses in cancer cells, leading to metastasis. We integrate electro-physiology, mechanical engineering, nanofabrication, fluorescence optical imaging, and computational modeling. We apply our findings and insights to invent new technologies for treating, diagnosing and preventing human diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and brain disorders.

If you have interest or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact Prof. Xin Tang (xin.tang@ufl.edu). Prof. Tang’s office address is Room 330, MAE-B building, 633 GALE LEMERAND DR GAINESVILLE, FL 32611.

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Project Title

Hyperimmune Globulin for Treatment of Congenital CMV Infection: A Systematic Review

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Patrick Duff

Email

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Research Project Description

The student will conduct a systematic review of the obstetric literature to determine if administration of hyperimmune globulin to the pregnant woman is effective in treating congenital CMV infection and ultimately preventing serious injuries such as neurologic impairment, visual changes, auditory changes, hepatitis, and thrombocytopenia.

Faculty mentor department

Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

Project Title

Idenfification of a potential new checkpoint in regulatory T cells for cancer therapy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Weizhou Zhang

Email

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Research Project Description

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a population of T cells that exert a suppressive effect on a variety of immune cells and non-immune cells. The suppressive effects of Tregs are detrimental to anti-tumor immunity. Recent investigations into cancer-associated Tregs have identified common expression patterns for tumor-infiltration, however the functional heterogeneity in tumor-infiltrating (TI) Treg is largely unknown. We performed single-cell sequencing on immune cells derived from renal clear cell carcinoma (ccRCC) patients, isolating 160 peripheral-blood (PB) Tregs and 574 TI Tregs. We identified distinct transcriptional TI Treg cell fates, with a suppressive subset expressing CD177. We demonstrate CD177+ TI Tregs have preferential suppressive effects in vivo and ex vivo. Gene signatures derived the CD177+ Treg subset had superior ability to predict survival in ccRCC and seven other cancer types.
CD177 is known to express on neutrophils until we found it on Tregs. Our hypothesis is that CD177 is a new suppressive molecule on Tregs to inhibit effector CD8 T cells. We have a few potential targets that CD177 may interact with. This project will validate the interacting proteins of CD177 and determine if they are essential for suppressing CD8 T cell function in cancer.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, UF

Project Title

Identification of genes critical for proliferation of T cell lymphomas

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Rene Opavsky

Email

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Research Project Description

T cell lymphomas (TCLs) are a subgroup of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas that accounts for 10% of all lymphomas in North America. Due to the poor characterization of molecular landscape, as well as limited availability of cell lines and mouse models, TCLs belong to the least well understood hematologic malignancies.
To identify genes essential for survival of TCL, we performed genome-wide knockout screen in human cell line in vitro and identified a number of potentially lethal tumor genes. Here we hypothesize that a unique subset of non pan-lethal genes is critical for survival of T cell lymphoma cells in vitro.
To test this hypothesis, student will perform focused screening of 10 lethal candidates to identify target genes with potential clinical relevance. Cells will be transduced with retroviruses carrying constructs encoding shRNA against selected genes. Effects of knock down of individual genes will be determined by monitoring of cell growth. Student will learn to isolate plasmid DNA, prepare retroviruses, transduce targeted cells. perform proliferation assays, isolate RNA, generate cDNA and perform Real time RT-PCR.
Research is supported by Department of Anatomy and Cell biology and Cancer Center Start-up funds and by NIH/NCI 1R01CA188561-01A1 (Opavsky).
Preliminary data are not published but Haney et al, PLoS Genetics. 2016 Sep 30;12(9):e1006334 and Hlady et al., JCI 2012 Jan 3;122(1):163-77 show some methods relevant to this research proposal

Faculty mentor department

Department of Radiology, Gainesville VA

Project Title

Imaging Evaluation of Regional Brain Glucose Metabolism Changes Associated with Oncologic Therapy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. William McFarland

Email

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Research Project Description

Cognitive impairments are known to occur with various chemotherapeutic regimens, but to our knowledge there has not been a dedicated study to evaluate region-specific cerebral metabolic changes associated with various oncologic therapies. The proposed retrospective project would involve using imaging applications to evaluate regional changes in brain glucose metabolism in patients already undergoing whole body PET imaging for staging and/or post-treatment follow-up of malignancy. Training on how to use the software would be provided at the project outset. The student would review all PET/CT cases performed daily, as well as a database of pre-existing studies, using this software to evaluate for these changes. Data would be collected in spreadsheet format, recording significant regional hypometabolism, patient's primary cancer and other relevant clinical history, treatment regimen, whether study is staging or treatment follow-up, etc., and statistical analysis would then be performed.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Impact of delayed administration of CroFab in snake envenomations

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Henry YOUNG II

Email

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Research Project Description

There are approx. 8000 reported venomous snakebites in the US each year with over 2000 cases treated with antivenom. The purpose of this study to gather information about snake (specifically crotalid) envenomations in North Central Florida and South Georgia. As a large tertiary referral center, Shands UF sees a large quantity patients each year with crotalid envenomations. Often, patient presentation is delayed to our Emergency Department due to long transport times or presentation to an outside hospital prior to transfer to Shands for definitive care. Previous data shows that gaining initial control of the local effects of envenomation leads to a decrease in the snakebite severity score. Prior to transfer, a patient may receive no antivenom or an insufficient dose of antivenom. This theoretically places these patients at increased risk for worse clinical outcomes.

With this study, we assess the impact geographic location has on time to antivenom administration, and how this relates to clinically and economically relevant patient specific outcomes. We hypothesize that delays in administration of CroFab lead to worse outcomes, increased ICU LOS, and increased hospital LOS. Additionally, we hypothesize that aggressive initial control of local symptoms may be associated with increased total number of antivenom vials used, but decreased overall treatment costs through due to lower morbidity, mortality, and ICU/total hospital LOS. The role of the medical student would be to assist with the collection of data, analysis of data, and preparation of poster presentation at regional and/or national conference.

Faculty mentor department

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Project Title

Implementation Research to Improve Tobacco Use Treatment in Cancer Patients

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Ramzi Salloum

Email

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Research Project Description

Tobacco use among cancer survivors reduces the effectiveness of cancer treatments, increases the risk for additional primary cancers, and increases mortality. Implementation of tobacco treatment for cancer patients is challenging, but may be improved substantially with clinically-efficient solutions to accurately identify tobacco users, and connect them with evidence-based treatment. Our objective is to improve patient access and utilization of tobacco use treatment for patients of the UF Health Cancer Center (UFHCC). Further, UFHCC has a largely rural catchment area with a high burden of tobacco-related disease and mortality. We will address this research-to-practice gap using a mixed-methods approach to assess the relevant contextual factors at UFHCC and evaluate the feasibility of implementing a multi-level intervention to increase tobacco treatment utilization and improve health outcomes. We will conduct a feasibility trial to test three implementation strategies: (1) staff training and current best practices; (2) provider audit and feedback; and 3) dedicated technology-based behavioral therapy to promote improved access and utilization of tobacco use treatment. The ultimate goal of the research is to provide new knowledge to facilitate the widespread adoption, implementation, and dissemination and sustained utilization of evidence-based tobacco use treatments in cancer care settings.

Medical students will work on all aspects of the study by assisting in facilitating implementation in clinical settings, assisting with focus groups and training activities, contributing to qualitative and quantitative analysis of study results, and dissemination of study findings at scientific meetings and in peer-reviewed publications.

RELEVANT PUBLICATIONS
• Salloum RG, Shenkman EA, Louviere JJ, Chambers DA. Application of discrete choice experiments to enhance stakeholder engagement as a strategy for advancing implementation: a systematic review. Implement Sci. 2017 Nov 23;12(1):140.

• Salloum RG, Getz KR, Tan ASL, Carter-Harris L, Young-Wolff KC, George TJ, Shenkman EA. Use of electronic cigarettes among cancer survivors in the United States. Am J Prev Med. 2016.

Faculty mentor department

Psychiatry

Project Title

Improving the Culture of Wellness at UFCOM

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Lisa Merlo

Email

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Research Project Description

As Director of Wellness for UFCOM, Dr. Merlo is involved in a number of projects designed to assess and/or improve the culture of wellness at UFCOM. Projects target wellness among faculty, house staff, and students. The medical student on this project will assist with development of wellness-related initiatives, collection and analysis of data, and preparation of presentations and manuscripts.

Faculty mentor department

Psychiatry

Project Title

Improving the Culture of Wellness at UFCOM

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Lisa Merlo

Email

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Research Project Description

As Director of Wellness for UFCOM, Dr. Merlo is involved in a number of projects designed to assess and/or improve the culture of wellness at UFCOM. Projects target wellness among faculty, house staff, and students. The medical student on this project will assist with development of wellness-related initiatives, collection and analysis of data, and preparation of presentations and manuscripts.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine

Project Title

Improving the Survivial of Pediatric Cancer Patients in a Developing Country

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Michael Lauzardo

Email

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Research Project Description

Each year, an estimated 160,000 children around the world are diagnosed with cancer. More than 70 percent of those children do not have access to effective cancer treatment. As a result, as many as 95 percent of children with cancer in developing countries will die. That means that most children with cancer will die needlessly while the cure is in hand for those children fortunate enough to live in countries where modern treatments are available. Over the past 30 years, the treatment of children's cancer has improved dramatically in rich countries like the United States and many pediatric cancers are now considered curable. But this is not the case for 80 percent of the world's children who live in poverty stricken countries where cancer is often a death sentence. The Keira Grace Foundation focuses on taking proven cancer treatment to developing nations where the most impact can be made, changing the trajectory of survival rates by more than 400 percent. Modern cancer treatment should be accessible to all children, regardless of where they live. Working in collaboration with the Keira Grace Foundation, this rotation allows students the opportunity to learn first-hand what it takes to transfer world class cures for cancer to a developing country, in this case the Dominican Republic, and will assist in reviewing charts and data to better assess the impacts of these programs on the survival of children with cancer. Medical students can expect to be involved with the data review and collection efforts of this retrospective chart review study. This project is funded partially by The Keira Grace Foundation. FLUENCY IN SPANISH IS REQUIRED.

Faculty mentor department

Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine

Project Title

Influence of Cancer Genetics on Immune microenvironment and Immunotherapy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Weizhou Zhang

Email

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Research Project Description

Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) represents an aggressive subtype with poor median survival. There is no FDA-approved targeted therapy other than classic chemotherapy. One of the hallmarks of BLBC is its genomic instability. Our project aims to identify pathways critical for epi/genetics in BLBC and determine if alteration cancer epi/genetics represent viable approaches for BLBC therapy. We discovered that MSH2 and MSH6 (mismatch repair proteins, referred to as MSH2/6 hereafter) are highly elevated in BLBC and associated with shorter survival in BLBC. Based on our preliminary data and literature, we hypothesis that MSH2/6-inhibition in BLBC leads to both genetic and epigenetic alterations that potentially have multiple influences on BLBC: 1) kill cancer cells via accumulative genetic damage; 2) based on data from literature, there should be a presumable increase mutation load providing neoantigen to boost immune recognition, T cell activation and expression of T cell exhaustion markers such as PD-1, TIGIT, and/or TIM-3 (purple, inferred based on literature from lynch syndrome cancers and our preliminary data); 3) sensitizes the BLBC cancers to subsequent immunotherapy ). The short research project will involve in the epigenetic mechanism for MSH2/6-mediated DNA methylation, which suppresses the expression of immune checkpoints such as PD-L1, PVR, TIM3. We will use cell culture, animal models and bioinformatics to determine if DNA repair pathway will influence immune checkpoint regulations and the mechanism behind it. References (PMID: 30573992; 29800567).

Faculty mentor department

Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Project Title

Informed Development of an Acceptance-Based Therapy Curriculum for Adolescents with Overweight/Obesity

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Michelle Cardel

Email

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Research Project Description

In the U.S., overweight/obesity (OW/OB) affects 14 million adolescents. Behavioral weight loss interventions to date have led to limited weight loss and weight regain is common. Limited success in adolescent weight loss interventions has been attributed primarily to adolescents’ lack of self-regulation skills, which are essential for adhering to diet and physical activity goals. Given that pervasive biological and environmental cues during weight loss promote overeating and sedentary behavior, there is a critical need for development of effective weight loss interventions in adolescents addressing self-regulation skills. An innovative behavioral treatment, acceptance-based therapy (ABT), focuses on self-regulation skills and increasing tolerance of negative or uncomfortable emotions, and demonstrates strong evidence of effectiveness in adults [1]. ABT has also been successful in treating adolescents with chronic pain, high-risk sexual behavior, anorexia, and depression. Using participant feedback via focus/writing groups and scientific expertise, a curriculum and manual will be developed for an ABT intervention tailored for adolescents with OW/OB. The role of the medical student on this project will be to construct the curriculum, manual, and additional materials for the intervention using the adult ABT curriculum and manuals as a guide and implementing participant feedback from the focus/writing groups into the development of each component. This project is sponsored through a K01 award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. We are open to students presenting posters and writing first- and/or co-author publications.

1. Forman, E.M., et al., Acceptance-based versus standard behavioral treatment for obesity: Results from the mind your health randomized controlled trial. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2016. 24(10): p. 2050-6.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition

Project Title

Investigations in inflammatory bowel disease

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Ellen Zimmermann

Email

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Research Project Description

Our lab studies Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two chronic diseases of the intestine that affect all ages but particularly young adults. Our research focus is on mechanisms of tissue inflammation that lead to tissue fibrosis with particular interest in genes that contribute to specific disease phenotypes. We use cell culture and animal models to study inflammatory mechanisms and effects of therapy on inflammatory mediators. We also perform clinically oriented studies on MRI imaging of the intestine and on aspects of the disease including natural history, patient quality of life, and response to therapy. Our lab is collaborative and collegial and there are many opportunities for students to participate. Interested students should contact Dr. Zimmermann to discuss developing a project specifically for that student. A few of our current projects include:
1) Exploration of novel anti-fibrotic agents to reduce or reverse fibrostenosis.
2) Reductionist approach to studying the effects of medical cannabis as it relates to inflammatory bowel disease.
3) Novel drug targeting using phospholipid bound pro-drugs to limit non-specific absorption and target sites of disease.
Relevant publications:
1. Markovic M., et al., Prospects and Challenges of Phospholipid-Based Prodrugs. Pharmaceutics. 2018 Nov 1;10(4). pii: E210.
2. Flint A., et al., Effective communication of cross-sectional imaging findings in Crohn's disease: comparing conventional EMR reporting to a published scoring system. Abdom Radiol (NY). 2018 Jul;43(7):1798-1806.

Faculty mentor department

Psychiatry

Project Title

Is It Good to be an Athlete? Understanding Collegiate Athlete Mental Health

Faculty Mentor's Name

Andres Pumariega MD

Email

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Research Project Description

We propose to examine the state of mental health in collegiate student athletes by evaluating data from the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) consortium – a large and contemporary sample of US collegiate student athletes and military cadets, both analyzing the baseline and 6 month follow-up database and comparing to the Healthy Minds national collegiate student database. We will be examining prevalence rates of mental health problems in both groups';SES/ racial/ethnic, and gender difference; prevalence of suicidality in both groups, and impact of concussions in the athlete group. Hypotheses include lower rates of mental health problems amongst athletes, but significant concussion-related effects on mental health. Medical student would assist in organization and analysis of data and publication. This is a non-funded project but the omnibus study is funded by the Dept of Defense, with UF and its Athletics Department being a participant site in this multi-site study. Co-investigators at UF include Jay Clugston, MD, Family Medicine and UF Athletics, , Marcia Morris MD, Psychiatry and UF Student Health Care Center Psychiatry, and myself.

Faculty mentor department

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Project Title

Leveraging PET/CT imaging studies to demonstrate a cardiosplenic axis in heart failure patients

Faculty Mentor's Name

Ruxandra Sava

Email

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Research Project Description

Approximately 6 million American adults have heart failure, with equal proportions having reduced or preserved ejection fraction1. Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is the major cause of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction(HFrEF)2,3, and improved survival after AMI during the past decade4 has inherently increased the population of patients with HFrEF. The causes underlying progression, or lack thereof, to HFrEF, are poorly understood5-7. Preclinical studies in mice provide evidence for a key role of adaptive immunity and the cardiosplenic axis in cardiac remodeling after myocardial ischemia. Ismahil et al. showed that after permanent coronary ligation, mice develop HFrEF with marked cardiac infiltration by immune cells. Splenic histological changes suggested increased antigen presentation, spleen removal was associated with improvements in cardiac function, and transplantation of splenocytes from HFrEF mice to healthy mice induced heart failure8. After murine AMI, the systemic rise in circulating macrophages was shown to originate from increased monocytopoiesis in the bone marrow, followed by splenic, and to a lesser extent by hepatic seeding with progenitor cells9. In patients, increased metabolic activity of the bone marrow has been noted after AMI10. Initial evidence for a human cardiosplenic axis has been provided by a 18F-FDG PET/CT study, which demonstrated that splenic and bone marrow inflammation was associated with vascular inflammation, and that splenic inflammation predicted the incidence of vascular events in patients free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at the moment of the imaging study10.
Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) demonstrates a predilection for patients that are older, obese, and who have glucose intolerance or diabetes11. Although the association with elevated levels of C reactive protein, a hepatic marker of systemic inflammation, is well known, the mechanisms through which such factors converge upon the heart to generate a HFpEF phenotype are obscure. The cardiac fibrosis noted in HFpEF may result from immune-dysregulation, as serum from HFpEF patients was shown to convert monocytes to a pro-fibrotic, M2 phenotype12. Considering the role of the spleen as a monocyte reservoir, increased splenic metabolic activity may precede development of HFpEF.
Based on the preclinical and clinical data presented above, we hypothesize that immune dysregulation underlies HFrEF and HFpEF progression in patients, with the spleen playing an important role as major site of antigen presentation, as well as immune cell storage and expansion. To test this hypothesis, we propose to conduct a retrospective study including subjects with prior MI, or obese patients with diabetes or glucose intolerance, or with HF, and control subjects free of CVD, that have undergone 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging prior to HF diagnosis at the VA from 2000 onwards. Our primary endpoint is to determine the association between HF and bone marrow, splenic, and hepatic inflammation. Our secondary endpoints will test the association between bone marrow, splenic and hepatic inflammation with vascular inflammation; whether the magnitude of inflammation in any of the target organs is associated with HF progression over time; and whether inflammation evidenced in patients with a history of AMI or obesity and diabetes or glucose intolerance is associated with a greater risk of developing HF.
We are looking for an enthusiastic medical student that can assist with data collection for this project. This should provide an interesting experience in a clinical research project in the emerging field of inflammation in cardiovascular disease.

Faculty mentor department

Internal Medicine, Integrative Medicine

Project Title

Lifestyle medicine based group visits for weight management: A primary care model

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Marika Alois

Email

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Research Project Description

Obesity is a chronic disease that continues to escalate in prevalence at alarming levels internationally.To address this epidemic, practices such as weight management play an essential role. In this project, we wish to use lifestyle-based group visits as an innovative intervention to address this epidemic. We plan to incorporate (1) Group visits (2) Telemedicine (3) Internal medicine residents (4) Faculty and specialist in the field of weight management and obesity. Despite wide interest in reducing obesity, improving patient quality of life, and decreasing morbidity as related to obesity, there is no current multidisciplinary clinic model at UF.

List of tasks and activities for the student include:
1. Establish an understanding of lifestyle-based group visits (LBGV) to address chronic disease management though the internal medicine department
2. Develop an operational model weight management intervention for UF Health via LGBV
3. Develop cost analyses for facilitation of LGBV intervention
4. Develop needs assessment for LBGV weight management
5. Perform a literature review on current best practices for group visits
6. Design and implement group visit curriculum
7. Help to collect, analyze and present data
8. Aid in preparation of abstract and manuscript

Faculty mentor department

Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Project Title

Making Data Smarter for Investigating Body Composition and Cancer Outcomes

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Amanda Hicks

Email

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Research Project Description

In breast cancer patients, obesity measured by body mass index is associated with increased risk of mortality.
However, the association between obesity and breast cancer outcomes is complicated by body composition.
More detailed data on adiposity can be assessed from CT images, including visceral adipose tissue and
subcutaneous adipose tissue. However, the relation between these measures and outcomes is less clear. To
use information about adipose tissues types effectively, researchers forage for information from CT images,
medical notes, and structured electronic health record data, requiring extensive time and effort to curate and
integrate data from heterogeneous sources.

We are working to improve capacity for collecting and reusing body composition data from heterogeneous data sources to support cancer research with the following aims and making this knowledge computable for smart data systems.

We are recruiting interested students in assisting with the information needs assessments for research about body composition and its impact on cancer outcomes. This will involve a literature review and learning how to create a standards-based model to make information about body composition sharable and computable. Students will be encouraged to present their work in poster sessions and to co-author papers.

Faculty mentor department

Department: Pediatric Neurosurgery – Jacksonville

Project Title

Management and Outcomes of Cerebral Vasculopathy in Children with Sickle Cell Disease: a Retrospective Registry

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Philipp Aldana

Email

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Research Project Description

Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) are at significant risk for stroke despite best medical management. Cerebral revascularization surgery (CRS) is effective in other diseases in the prevention of stroke due to cerebral vasculopathy, such as Moyamoya syndrome (MMS) – one of the types of vasculopathy seen in SCD. While preliminary studies have shown that these interventions can possibly reduce the risk of stroke in pediatric SCD, they have been mainly single center case series with small sample sizes. The patients identified to be at high risk for stroke have been managed via existing protocols to diagnose them with cerebral vasculopathy and referred for neurosurgical evaluation when appropriate. Following neurosurgical evaluation, surgical intervention may be recommended to the appropriate patient. These interventions can include CRS procedures as well as obliteration of cerebral aneurysms. However, the role of CRS in this patient population is not clearly defined. Thus, this study aims to compare the stroke outcomes in pediatric patients with SCD and MMS following best medical management alone to those additionally undergoing CRS.

As a multi-center, retrospective cohort study, the objective is to determine the role of CRS in this patient population by examining the surgical indications, techniques, outcomes and adverse events of the procedure. Patient characteristics and stroke occurrence will be compared between those who underwent CRS and those who underwent conservative treatment. Medical students would have the opportunity to analyze data and assist with data accuracy of research data between institutions.

Faculty mentor department

Urology

Project Title

Management of Hydronephrosis Following Urinary Diversion

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Paul Crispen

Email

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Research Project Description

The study will evaluate the management of hydronephrosis following urinary diversion with an emphasis on surgical outcomes. The primary role of the student research will be data collection via review of patients’ s electronic medical records on EPIC. Authorship on abstracts and publications resulting from the research is anticipated within the next year.

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Markers of Sepsis Associated ENcephalopathy

Faculty Mentor's Name

Marie-Carmelle Elie

Phone

352255911

Email

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Research Project Description

Sepsis associated encephalopathy (SAE) is a poorly understood acute cerebral dysfunction that frequently appears in the setting of sepsis induced systemic inflammation. SAE may appear early in the course of sepsis, and is often underestimated as an independent factor of mortality, yet the pathophysiology of SAE remains unknown, and there is a lack of specific investigations available to clinicians. Studies have evaluated biomarkers as potential prognostic tools, however limited evidence currently exists.
The objective of this study is to propose a plausible mechanistic pathway for the acute onset of altered mentation using biologic biomarkers, imaging, and electroencephalography.
We will conduct a prospective observational study enrolling sepsis subjects collecting samples and imaging in order to measure biomarkers, and define pathologic patterns most consistent with sepsis related encephalopathy.

Faculty mentor department

Neurosurgery

Project Title

Mechanisms of cerebral aneurysm growth, rupture, and healing

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Brian Hoh

Email

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Research Project Description

Cerebral aneurysms occur in up to 5% of the population and when they rupture cause 50% mortality and dependence. Current treatment consists of surgical clipping or endovascular coiling or stenting. However, there are risks with either procedure, and risk of recurrence particularly with endovascular treatment. My lab is studying the mechanisms for cerebral aneurysm growth and rupture in a mouse cerebral aneurysm model, and mechanisms for aneurysm healing using a mouse carotid aneurysm coiling model. Medical students will participate in animal surgery, immunohistochemistry, cytokine array experiments, and ELISAs. Funding for the project is provided by the NIH and Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 promotes inflammatory vascular repair of murine carotid aneurysms via a macrophage inflammatory protein-1α and macrophage inflammatory protein-2-dependent pathway.
Hoh BL, Hosaka K, Downes DP, Nowicki KW, Fernandez CE, Batich CD, Scott EW.
Circulation. 2011 Nov 15;124(20):2243-52. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.036061. Epub 2011 Oct 17.
PMID: 22007074

Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1-Interleukin-6-Osteopontin Pathway of Intra-Aneurysmal Tissue Healing.
Hosaka K, Rojas K, Fazal HZ, Schneider MB, Shores J, Federico V, McCord M, Lin L, Hoh B.
Stroke. 2017 Apr;48(4):1052-1060. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.015590. Epub 2017 Mar 14.
PMID: 28292871

Estrogen Deficiency Promotes Cerebral Aneurysm Rupture by Upregulation of Th17 Cells and Interleukin-17A Which Downregulates E-Cadherin.
Hoh BL, Rojas K, Lin L, Fazal HZ, Hourani S, Nowicki KW, Schneider MB, Hosaka K.
J Am Heart Assoc. 2018 Apr 13;7(8). pii: e008863. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.118.008863.
PMID: 29654199

Novel high-throughput in vitro model for identifying hemodynamic-induced inflammatory mediators of cerebral aneurysm formation.
Nowicki KW, Hosaka K, He Y, McFetridge PS, Scott EW, Hoh BL.
Hypertension. 2014 Dec;64(6):1306-13. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03775. Epub 2014 Sep 15.
PMID:25225207

Faculty mentor department

Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida

Project Title

Medical non-adherence in pediatric renal transplant recipients

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Kiran Upadhyay

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: Medical non-adherence in the field of transplantation is a serious challenge. Consistent clinic visits and medication adherence are important to prevent allograft rejection and failure. Furthermore, non-adherence can result in higher lifetime costs. Highest incidence of medication non-adherence has been reported among adolescent renal transplant recipients, as high as 70%. Medical non-adherence among pediatric/adolescent renal transplant recipients in North Central Florida has not previously been studied.
Specific Aims: The specific aims of the study are to improve standards for determining non-adherence, examine non-adherence in this under-researched patient group (pediatric renal transplant recipients), and identifying strong risk factors for non-adherence. All these eventually help us develop family-centered interventions for improving adherence.
Methods: This will be an observational, cross-sectional study of about 100 pediatric (less than 18 years old) renal transplant recipients on standard maintenance immunosuppressive agents, who had received a graft at least 6 months prior to the study. Basic sociodemographic and clinical data will be recorded and prior clinic visit attendance will be analyzed. Patients/caregivers will complete the validated BAASIS (Basel Assessment of Adherence to Immunosuppressive Medications Scale) questionnaires in the weekly renal transplant clinic at UF Health Shands Medical Plaza.
Role of Medical Student: Medical student is responsible for obtaining informed consent (from parents/caregivers) and/or assent from the child along with administering and ensuring completion of the BAASIS questionnaires. Data will be analyzed and presented as a poster presentation at the Medical Student Celebration of Research Poster Day.
Funding: No funding will be required.
Relevant publications:
1. Dew M, Dabbs AD, Myaskovsky L, et al. Meta-analysis of medical regimen adherence outcomes in pediatric solid organ transplantation. Transplantation. 2009; 88: 736–746.
2. Shellmer DA, Dabbs AD, Dew M. Medical adherence in pediatric organ transplantation: what are the next steps? Curr Opin Organ Transplant. 2011; 16 (5): 509–514.

Faculty mentor department

Surgery

Project Title

Medical student use of the online surgical clerkship curriculum

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Janice Taylor

Email

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Research Project Description

Online learning materials are used widely by medical students to develop their knowledge base. The third-year surgery clerkship at UF has a robust online curriculum that complements the 8-week small group and clinical experience. The content of the online curriculum is reviewed and updated at least annually by the clerkship director, with input from student feedback and the department’s executive education committee. Previous studies have analyzed material that medical students use to study, and have found that what they often use is not what is developed by their school. The purpose of this project will be to analyze use of the online curriculum platform (Canvas) at UF, and seek associations with use to objective measures. The student will perform statistical analysis on de-identified data that they organize from Canvas. The project results will be submitted to a national surgery education meeting.

1) Taylor JA, Shaw CM, Tan SA, Falcone JL. Are the kids alright? Review books and the Internet as the most common resources for the general surgery clerkship. Am J Surg. 2018;215:191-195.
2) Jayakumar N, Brunckhorst O, Dasgupta P, Khan M, Ahmed K. e-Learning in surgery education: A systematic review. J Surg Educ. 2015:72:1145-1157.

Faculty mentor department

Anesthesiology

Project Title

Model Development And Mechanistic Studies Of Post Traumatic Epilepsy Associated With Repetitive Blast Exposure

Faculty Mentor's Name

J. Travis Parsons PhD

Email

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Research Project Description

Symptomatic epilepsy is epilepsy with a known cause that precipitates the chronic epilepsy period, typically characterized by two or more unprovoked spontaneous recurring seizures (SRS). Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) is a type of symptomatic epilepsy resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the civilian population, PTE accounts for 5% of all epilepsy and over 20% of symptomatic epilepsy. In the military population, it was shown between World War I through Middle East conflicts in the 1980s that 34-50% of soldiers with penetrating head injury developed PTE within 5-15 years. However, very little is known about the incidence of PTE associated with blast-induced TBI, especially repetitive exposure. Thus, with increased frequency of TBI from exposure to blast due to improvised explosive devices in current global conflicts and increased survivability associated with better body armor, it is important to start closing this knowledge gap. Hypothesis: PTE is associated with exposure to repetitive blast. Utilizing an Advanced Blast Laboratory Simulator, rodents will be exposed to mild to moderate blast overpressure daily for 3-5 days. Since the development of epilepsy in conjunction with TBI can take months to years, we will use a test for seizure susceptibility that predicts the development of epileptogenesis. The pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) test for seizure susceptibility will be employed at several time points following exposure to repetitive blast. The role of the medical student will be to assist in the repetitive blast and PTZ seizure susceptibility experiments. This study will be funded by the Department of Anesthesiology.

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Project Title

Myomectomy Approach and Risk of Transfusion

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Nash S. Moawad

Email

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Research Project Description

Myomectomy is the most common fertility-sparing surgical procedure for symptomatic women desiring future fertility. The procedure can be performed laparoscopically, robotically, hysteroscopically or via laparotomy. Intra-operative bleeding is a known complication of myomectomy but the rate varies based on the surgical approach, the number, size and location of fibroids, and the surgical expertise of the surgeon. This study aims to use the BOLD database mandated for participants in the Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG) to identify the rates and risk factors of requiring a transfusion at the time of myomectomy. The study also aims to explore any differences in the rates of transfusion between the BOLD database, and the NSQIP database of the American College of Surgeons.

Faculty mentor department

Biomedical Engineering

Project Title

Neural Prostheses

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Kevin Otto

Email

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Research Project Description

The NPRLab (http://nprlab.org/) develops and evaluates neuroprostheses that are chronically implanted in the body. We have ongoing projects investigating both central and peripheral nervous system interfaces for: brain-machine interfaces, sensory repair and augmentation, autonomic regulation, and enhanced cognition. In this project the student will participate in any number of various projects that may entail: surgical placement of devices, in vivo data collection of electrophysiology, behavior, and electrochemistry, or histological evaluation of device-tissue interfaces.

Faculty mentor department

Pediatrics. This is a research project devoted to the

Project Title

Novel Therapeutic Approaches to Neurological Manifestations of Lysosomal Diseases

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Gustavo Maegawa

Email

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Research Project Description

For the past years, my research laboratory has devoted to develop therapeutic strategies for lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs), inborn organelle diseases caused by mutation in genes encoding mostly enzymes that are essential for lysosomes to function as units of compartmental recycling and degradation. From a clinical standpoint, patients suffering from LSDs present involvement of multiple organs and systems, predominantly the central nervous system. Krabbe disease, also known as globoid-cell leukodystrophy, is a LSD caused by the deficiency of galactosylceramidase resulting in accumulation of galactosylceramide and psychosine, which is extremely cytotoxicto myelin-forming cells. Based on the above, there is interest in developing inhibitors of acid ceramidase to prevent psychosine accumulation. There is also interest in developing inhibitors of the enzyme that attaches galactose to ceramide (UGT8) analogous to what Genzyme has done for Gaucher disease. Such inhibitors may be useful for the treatment of GLD. The first step in this effort to develop new inhibitors is to develop new assays for these two enzymes that are appropriate for conducting high throughput screening of large compound collections (nearly 1 million compounds). Compounds discovered in this screen can be used in drug-development efforts to generate agents that are good enough to take into clinical trials for Krabbe disease. In the proposed studies we will develop high throughput assays of acid ceramidase and UGT8 that are appropriate for large-scale, high throughput screening of inhibitor leads. Aim 1: Prepare human UGT8 and develop a high throughput optical (fluorescence) assay for its enzymatic activity. Aim 2: Prepare human acid ceramidase and develop a high throughput optical (fluorescence) assay for its enzymatic activity. Aim 3: Test both assays in a screen of ~1,200 commercially available compounds. The outcome will be the identification of potential small molecule therapies to GLD, which can be used as model to treat neurological disorders affecting the myelin.

Faculty mentor department

CHFM- Community Health and Family Medicine

Project Title

Nutrition counseling in primary care

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Danielle Nelson

Email

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Research Project Description

Nutrition counseling is provided to far fewer patients than could benefit from this intervention, despite physician acknowledgement of the role of diet in health maintenance and disease prevention and that patients desire that their physicians counsel them about nutrition. Studies investigating this disparity reveal that physician barriers to providing nutrition counseling are multiple and varied, suggesting that a multifaceted approach may be needed to bridge the gap between physician belief in the health promoting impact of nutrition and actual delivery of nutrition counseling.
In the primary phase of this project, healthcare team members and patients were surveyed to explore barriers to nutrition counseling, barriers to healthy eating choices, and perceptions surrounding nutrition counseling. A nutrition counseling resource guide containing patient education handouts, patient resources, and provider resources was developed and distributed within the UF Community Health and Family Medicine department.
This follow-up project seeks to explore 1.) the utility and efficacy of the nutrition counseling resource guide, and/or 2.) the relationships between provider barriers to nutrition counseling, patient barriers to healthy eating choices, and perceptions of both patients and providers surrounding nutrition counseling.

Faculty mentor department

Epidemiology

Project Title

Opioid Research

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Linda B. Cottler

Email

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Research Project Description

Dr. Cottler is also PI of several grants focused on use, misuse, and dependence on opioids. Her work is back translational, from humans to rodent models, focused on polysubstance use from cocaine to marijuana, alcohol and opioids. Students would interview participants about their history of polysubstance use.
Funding of this project is provided through NIDA.

Liu Y, Williamson V, Setlow B, Cottler LB, Knackstedt LA.The importance of considering polysubstance use: lessons from cocaine research. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Sep 1;192:16-28.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – Division of Gynecologic Oncology

Project Title

Outcomes associated with robotic radical hysterectomy versus open approach in early-stage cervical cancer at multi-institutional cancer centers

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Joel Cardenas

Email

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Research Project Description

Options for early cervical cancer treatment include an open and a minimally invasive surgical approach. The minimally invasive approach has inherent benefits while showing no difference in survival. However, at the 2018 Society of Gynecologic Oncology Meeting, a retrospective study and prospective trial were both presented with results that conflict with previous systematic and retrospective reviews.

The main objective of this study is to assess the oncologic outcomes of open versus robotic surgery for treating early-stage cervical cancer at UF Health. We will review data and determine survival rates for patients who have undergone radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer (stages 1A1–1B1). Secondary objectives include identifying: 1) patterns of recurrence; 2) the morbidity and mortality associated with each type of procedure; 3) length of hospital stay; and 4) readmission rate.

Medical students can expect to be involved with the chart review, data collection, data analysis, presentation, and publication efforts pertinent to this IRB-approved retrospective chart review study. This project is not funded by any agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

For all inquiries, please contact Bernie Amaro, Research Assistant, at bamaro@ufl.edu.

Faculty mentor department

Community Health and Family Medicine

Project Title

Outpatient Referral Rates in Family Medicine: A Comparison of Residents, Residency Faculty, and Clinical Faculty

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Peter Carek

Email

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Research Project Description

Referral rates and patterns by family physicians for ancillary testing and to specialists have significant impact on numerous aspects of medical care, including the quality and cost of care provided. The appropriate use of referrals decreases diagnostic uncertainty and assists with the institution of appropriate treatment. Alternatively, the inappropriate use of referrals can be costly and inefficient as additional and unnecessary tests, procedures, and treatments may be ordered. In general, patients who are referred to specialists tend to incur greater health care spending compared to those who remain within primary care, even after adjusting for health status.
Additionally, the referral pattern of family physicians can be used to guide medical educational activities and curriculum. For instance, a high rate of referrals to dermatology from a clinic associated with a residency program may indicate the needs for additional didactic and clinic instruction in the area of skin care.
Substantial variation in primary care physician referral rates is present. The variation in referral rates is mainly associated with factors related to the patient (presenting problem, patient expectations, degree of morbidity), provider characteristics (such as type of training, years of experience, experience in treating the condition affecting patient, and certainty of diagnosis). Other physician factors include practice style, technical orientation of care, fear of malpractice suits, and practice environment. Specialist characteristics (such as perceived clinical skill, prior interactions, availability, and “returning” the patient to the referring physician) also influence the variation in referral rates. Finally, the community in which the provider practices helps to determine decisions to refer.
At present, the referral rate from a family medicine practice has not been extensively studied. The specific aim of this project is to examine the referral rate and pattern of a family medicine practice associated with a department of family medicine at a large academic institution and compare rates based upon specific practice characteristics.

Faculty mentor department

Neurology, Division of Neurocritical Care

Project Title

Pain control in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage

Faculty Mentor's Name

Katharina Busl

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: Headache management is a major challenge in subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) patients. Over 90% of SAH survivors are plagued by severe headaches, frequently beyond the hospital stay. Data on optimal management are lacking. Opioids remain the mainstay of acute therapy; however, sedation, and high potential for tachyphylaxis and addiction are major therapeutic limitations. Our long-term goal is to improve headache management while reducing opioid prescription in SAH.
Hypothesis: Current pain control is reliant on variable but overall high doses of opiates with inadequate pain control.
Methods: retrospective chart review, descriptive analysis: characterize current patterns of pain control during hospital stay for patients with SAH (Hunt and Hess Grade 1-3), its effectiveness, and their discharge regimen for pain control
Role for medical student: chart review, data organization, participation in manuscript preparation

Faculty mentor department

Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Palliative Care in Emergency Medicine

Faculty Mentor's Name

Marie-Carmelle Elie

Email

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Research Project Description

Palliative care represents a spectrum of resources and a care paradigm that has been traditionally reserved to the outpatient or inpatient environment. Recent studies have demonstrated a significant benefit to patients when palliative care was delivered early in emergency departments. Primary Palliative Care Education, Training, and Technical Support for Emergency Medicine (PRIM-ER) is a dissemination project funded by the NIH which will be implemented in 33 Emergency Departments (EDs) including the University of Florida. Over 200 providers will participate in a palliative care education course. This study aims to assess the practice and attitudes of providers before and up to 30 days following the education intervention.
The medical student will be responsible for the development (jointly with PI), enrollment and dissemination of surveys to all providers.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics

Project Title

Patient decision aid about e-cigarettes

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Ramzi George Salloum

Email

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Research Project Description

This project will test the feasibility of integrating a prototype decision aid within the primary care setting. The prototype decision aid’s structure, format, and content have been developed based around suggestions and opinions of physicians. This project will be to test the feasibility and efficacy of the decision aid by addressing the following specific aims:

1) Explore potential facilitators and barriers for integration of a self-administered, iPad-delivered decision aid on electronic cigarette use for use with patients who are smokers who are not interested in quitting smoking or who are using or contemplating use of e-cigarettes.

2) Assess patient acceptability regarding the use of the prototype decision aid, including ease of use, strength and quantity of content, and appropriateness of format as well as the quality of their encounter with the physician.

Faculty mentor department

Surgery - Division of Pediatric Surgery

Project Title

Pediatric Surgery Outcomes Research

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Saleem Islam

Email

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Research Project Description

Outcomes based research in Pediatric Surgery encompasses the clinical breadth in our field. The purpose of these projects are to take the MSRP student thru the entire process of clinical research from the clinical question or unsolved problem, to the construction of the project, collection of data, analysis, and then presentation and publication.

The PI will be responsible for the IRB creation as well as intense one on one mentorship of the student. The student's responsibility is to proceed with all steps of the research project and participate in the analysis and abstract as well as manuscript creation.

There are a number of research projects available to discuss and start working on. Email to start the process!

Faculty mentor department

Department of Medicine

Project Title

Perceived Access and Quality Care in Patients with Sarcoidois

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Divya Patel

Email

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Research Project Description

Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown cause, characterized by the histological hallmark of non-caseating granulomatous inflammation in multiple organs. Sarcoidosis is thought to develop in genetically predisposed individuals when exposed to as yet unidentified antigen(s). Morbidity and death from sarcoidosis are increasing and are the consequence of variable and unpredictable disease manifestations and course, together with the toxicities of drugs used for its treatment. Sarcoidosis is both most common and most severe in African Americans and, geographically, has its highest concentration in the southern Atlantic states. Sarcoidosis is not a rare disease, affecting some 50-140:100,000 individuals in the US but systematic research and training in sarcoidosis remains very limited, in large part because it has not historically been prioritized. Because of this, patients may have difficulty obtaining good quality of care. This study aims to determine what are patients' perceptions about the access to good quality care. It is a electron survey based study and is in collaboration with the Foundation for Sarcoidosis (FSR). the role of the medical student will include helping to obtain IRB approval, learn about survey design, learn to use UF Qulatrics, communicate with FSR, help to write the manuscript. My aim is to present this project at the ATS conference and publish in Respiratory Medicine.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Emergency Medicine

Project Title

Performance of Point-of-Care Ultrasound in the Emergency Department: Quality Assessment and Novel Applications

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Andrew Shannon

Email

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Research Project Description

Student collaborators will assist in extracting information from clinical charts for use in quality assessment reports and for comparative research. Goals of the project will include identifying areas of under-utilization of POCUS findings in clinical care, characterizing local experience of POCUS and comparing test characteristics derived w/ values existing in the literature, and analyzing pilot data generated in novel POCUS applications to assess for feasibility of large-sample research of new clinical algorithms.

Faculty mentor department

Medicine (Div. of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes) Box 100226

Project Title

Phase III Trial of Dichloroacetate (DCA) in Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) Deficiency

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Peter Stacpoole

Email

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Research Project Description

We are leading a federally-funded, multicenter, randomized controlled trial of the investigational drug DCA in young children with loss-of-function mutations in the mitochondrial PDC, causing cellular energy failure. PDC deficiency is the commonest cause of congenital lactic acidosis and leads to progressive neurological and neuromuscular degeneration. currently, there are no FDA-approved therapies for this devastating disease. DCA is the prototype of a unique class of PDC activators. Students will learn about the scientific and regulatory aspects of designing and implementing a phase III trial that, if successful, could result in the first FDA-approved treatment for PDC deficiency.Students will also learn and apply gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques for analyses of biological specimens obtained during the trial.

Faculty mentor department

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Medicine

Project Title

Precision Oncology by CRISPR Screening

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Christopher Cogle

Email

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Research Project Description

Students will use a CRISPR-Cas9 system to define gene and gene combinations that drive leukemia cell survival and proliferation. The student will then design drug or drug combination that mimics the gene deletions, and then test those drugs on the leukemia cells. If the drug or drug combination is effective at killing leukemia cells, then patients with leukemia will receive the drugs in a clinical trial setting.

Faculty mentor department

Cardiology

Project Title

Predictors of Heart Failure Readmission

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Anita Wokhlu

Email

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Research Project Description

I am a noninvasive cardiologist working principally at the VA Hospital as well as UF Shands. I am working with my co-PI, Dr. Xiang Zhong (whose expertise in on machine learning to cull electronic health records) to identify predictors of short-term congestive heart failure (CHF) readmission. This is a very important project because heart failure readmission is a major expense to institutions and measure by which quality of care is measured; it also related to mortality in this disease process. Our goal is to develop a predictive model and to compare it to other predictive models that are out there. This project is good for a student that wants to get some exposure to the field of cardiology and to have a clinical mentor in this field. The project will be self-paced; you will be trained and then it will mostly require extensive chart review and data entry. You will get exposure to some issues in quality of care and cardiology. You will get exposure to looking at echocardiographic data. You will get exposure to the issue of CHF. You will have opportunity to participate in our planning meetings if you like. You will have an opportunity to continue on the project past the summer on a volunteer basis. The anticipated funding would be through MSRP. No additional funding is anticipated. The current state of the project is that the IRB has been approved. You will have an opportunity to get involved sooner, and are encouraged to allocate at least 6 hours for paperwork and training completion. No publications have been obtained as this is a pilot project that originated in 2019. If you have questions, please email me at anita.wokhlu@medicine.ufl.edu or anita.wokhlu@va.gov. I recommend this project for an individual that prefers chart review, rather than bench work. I would be happy to look into opportunities to shadow me periodically in the clinic, but this will require additional paperwork.

Faculty mentor department

Community Health and Family Medicine

Project Title

Prescriptions, multiple pharmacies, and electronic medical record usability.

Faculty Mentor's Name

Ku-Lang Chang MD

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: For many reasons, patients are going to different pharmacies for their prescriptions.
Hypothesis: 1) Greater than 50% of patients get their medications from more than two pharmacies. 2) Routing prescriptions for the same patient to multiple pharmacies increases clinicians' clinical burden.
Role of the medical student: Design the study. IRB application. Epic data mining. Survey electronic medical records (EMR) companies regarding their prescribing workflow. Discuss implication, quality, safety, and EMR usability.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgery
University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville

Project Title

Psychosocial aspects of burnout and attrition among general surgery trainees

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Marie Crandall

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: Physician burnout and resident attrition are key concerns in modern healthcare. Previous research has demonstrated gender disparities in rates of attrition both in surgical training and also in attrition from academic medicine. Our goal is to examine specific gender-related psychosocial and sociodemographic factors that might be associated with burnout symptoms and might predict attrition from surgical residency.
Hypothesis: We hypothesize that having a supportive partner would be predictive of resilience and decrease the risk of burnout and attrition. We further hypothesize that "supportive" partners are gender specific, and that part of the reason women surgeons suffer higher burnout and attrition rates may be associated with traditional gender role affinity that persists despite choice of profession, and how that affects partner selection.
Methods: We will perform a multi-center, web-based survey of surgical residents, through the Research Committee of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Validated burnout and gender role agreement surveys will be coupled with demographic screening questions and our experimental questions about mate choice.
Role of Medical Student: The medical student will assist in survey creation, IRB application, survey dissemination, and data analysis. We expect that this will take all of the summer, but the student will be invited to contribute to research presentations and publications.
Funding: This project is unfunded.
Additional Notes: We are collaborating with investigators from the Department of Surgery at East Carolina University.

Faculty mentor department

Department: Pediatric Neurosurgery – Jacksonville

Project Title

Quality Analysis of the Management of Intraventricular Hemorrhage in Preterm Infants

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Alexandra Beier

Email

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Research Project Description

Germinal matrix intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) plagues premature infants with a high number of patients requiring surgical intervention for their hydrocephalus. Due to the lifelong management of hydrocephalus, research has focused on preventing intraventricular hemorrhage and how to intervene neurosurgically to reduce ventriculoperitoneal shunting. On evaluation of previous retrospective data at the University of Florida Jacksonville-Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, it was clear that there was a variety in practices and in order to implement change, standardization needed to occur. Therefore a quality improvement project was initiated to standardize the neurosurgical management of IVH.

This study is a quality improvement analysis with the objective of standardizing the hydrocephalus treatment pathway in extremely premature infants with IVH, and implementing a protocol to identify patients and guide future treatment decisions. Medical students would have the opportunity to collect and analyze data, and potentially assist with manuscript development.

Faculty mentor department

Psychiatry

Project Title

Quality Improvement and Patient Safety for the Practicing Psychiatrist: Keeping It Relevant, Efficient, and Fun (REF)

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Jacqueline Hobbs

Email

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Research Project Description

The purpose of this project is to develop training videos and other resources to assist practicing psychiatrists to learn about quality improvement, patient safety, and risk management.

Faculty mentor department

Radiation Oncology

Project Title

Quantifying pulmonary vascular changes in lung disease

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. WALTER O'DELL

Email

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Research Project Description

We have a long-standing project to segment, extract, model and characterize changes in vascular tree morphology over time in patients receiving chest radiation for cancer, using repeated chest CT scans. For more on this project please visit: http://odell.radonc.med.ufl.edu/MIACALab/proj2.php
We have interest from the UF adult pulmonology team of Drs. Ali Ataya, Hassan Alnuaimat, and Jorge Lascano to apply these same techniques to their patients, particularly patients with chronic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH). With COPD we can measure both vascular and airway changes. You research task would be to quickly learn how to apply our software to these patients, work with the pulmonologists to identify the most appropriate patients for an initial evaluation, gather the requisite imaging and outcomes data, and perform that analysis.

Faculty mentor department

Surgery

Project Title

Racial, Socioeconomic, and Gender Disparities among Patients with Upper Extremity Penetrating Vascular Injuries

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Marie Crandall

Email

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Research Project Description

Background: Health disparities are known to exist with nearly every traumatic mechanism and outcome. For example, victims of gunshot wounds are nearly always male, usually young, and people of color are disproportionately represented. Additionally, outcomes for the uninsured and persons of color are worse, even when controlling for injury severity.
Upper extremity penetrating vascular injuries are relatively uncommon, but can lead to significant morbidity and occasional death. Our goal is to determine the incidence, demographics, and outcomes of upper extremity penetrating vascular injuries (UEPVI), and determine if any disparities exist by race, gender, or insurance status.

Hypothesis: We believe men, people of color, and the uninsured will be overrepresented in our sample.

Methods: Using the TraumaOne database, we will compare UEPVI demographics and outcomes with national data from the National Trauma Data Bank and determine local risk factors and outcomes for our patients. We will also utilize geographic information systems mapping to assess any clustering or neighborhood-level risk factors.

Role of medical student: Abstract data that is unavailable from the TraumaOne database, perform bivariate and multivariate statistics under supervision of the faculty mentor, craft an abstract and manuscript based on the data.

Funding: No external funding.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21984027

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22321482

Recommended: Previous experience with statistical software, i.e. SAS, STATA, or R.

Faculty mentor department

Otolaryngology

Project Title

Remodeling host immunity in head and neck cancer using RNA nanoparticels

Faculty Mentor's Name

Natalie Silver

Email

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Research Project Description

Introduction: Immunotherapy is promising for patients with treatment-refractory head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). However, >80% do not respond to checkpoint inhibitors, suggesting that the highly immunosuppressive immune microenvironment of HNSCC may play a role in treatment resistance. Our group has developed a novel treatment platform utilizing clinically translatable RNA-nanoparticles (NPs) to remodel the systemic and intratumoral HNSCC microenvironment in favor of an activated immunologic milieu.
Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine the feasibility, safety and immunologic activity of systemic/intratumoral administration of RNA NPs for HNSCC.
Materials and methods: RNA-NPs were prepared by complexing negatively charged mRNA with nanoliposomes. These complexes were injected into naïve and B16 or MOC1/MOC2 (murine oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma cell lines) tumor bearing C57Bl/6 mice. In vitro transfection experiments were performed in human HNSCC cell lines.
Results: Human HNSCC cell lines were efficiently transfected with RNA NPs in vitro. MOC1/MOC2 tumors were efficiently transfected with RNA NPs in vivo. RNA-NPs activate dendritic cells (DCs) in the peripheral and intratumoral microenviroment of naïve and B16 tumor bearing mice, and mediate anti-tumor efficacy in a preclinical in vivo murine model for HNSCC. RNA-NPs mediate their effects through interferon-alpha released from plasmacytoid DCs. We have successfully scaled up production of RNA-NPs for translation into human clinical trials and demonstrated safety of RNA-NPs in acute/chronic murine toxicity studies based on CBCs, electrolytes, organ function tests, and end-organ H&E histology.
Conclusions: RNA-NPs safely reprogram the peripheral and intratumoral immune microenvironments unlocking anti-tumor activity. We have successfully generated RNA-NPs providing a renewable resource that can be made readily available for all HNSCC patients. FDA-IND enabling studies are currently underway in preparation for first-in-human trials for checkpoint refractory HNSCC.

Role of medical student: Assist with basic and translational projects. Student will be involved in animal (mouse) experiments and flow cytometry, PCR assays.

Funding: KL2 award

Faculty mentor department

1395 Center Drive, D11-50, Pathology, Immunology, and Lab Medicine

Project Title

Role of neuronal pentraxin 2 in type 1 diabetes

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Martha Campbell-Thompson

Email

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Research Project Description

Neuronal pentraxin 2 is a novel protein recently found to be highly expressed in human beta-cells. Its function is unknown but from studies in people, NPTX2 has a role in synaptic plasticity and remodeling. The student will work with a multi-disciplinary team using a Nptx2-knockout mouse model and human primary beta-cells and isolated islets to determine binding partners of this protein in islets and down-stream signaling events. Multiple techniques will be used that include immunolocalization, microscopy, cell culture, RNA and protein isolation and analysis, and flow cytometry. Applicants with an interest in neurosciences are especially encouraged.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Anesthesia
Congenital Heart Center

Project Title

Safety of Pediatric Anesthesia Scheduling Assignments

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Kevin Sullivan

Email

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Research Project Description

Modern anesthesia services in academic medical centers are often provided in a model of concurrent care wherein an anesthesia faculty member supervises residents, nurse anesthetists, or anesthesia assistants. The methods employed for assigning multiple operating rooms of pediatric and or adult patients may directly impact the safety of the care provided and is a concern for practicing anesthesiologists.
In this hypothesis generating quality assurance program the medical student will work with the pediatric anesthesia faculty to determine risk factors and interventions that minimize risk and maximize safety for pediatric anesthesia services.

Faculty mentor department

Medicine

Project Title

Sex and gender differences in pain modulation

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Roland Staud

Phone

294-8200

Email

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Research Project Description

Many experimental studies have shown that women are more pain sensitive than me, including sensitivity to heat, pressure, cold etc. Some of these studies have also demonstrated that men can modulate pain better, i.e. decrease their pain experience under certain circumstances. Such findings seem to support a genetic difference in pain sensitivity between sexes. We, however, have provided evidence that such differences in pain sensitivity are environmental, i.e. gender role based.
In this project we will examine the role of gender in pain modulation of healthy individuals.Participants of both sexes will undergo a cold pressor test to see how much they can modulate their experimental pain. At the same time we will evaluate the role that gender plays in modulating the pain experience. The student will test approximately 10 - 30 individuals who will also undergo detailed evaluation of their pain sensitivity. Funding for this study is available and IRB submission is in progress

Faculty mentor department

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Project Title

Slow Freezing vs. Vitrification for Human Ovary Cryopreservation

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Gregory Christman MD

Email

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Research Project Description

This project has already secured IRB Approval. The goal of this project is to compare vitrification vs. slow freezing on human ovarian slices as to the relative ability of both methods to preserve ovarian slices in cancer patients for future transplantation to preserve their fertility. The project will involve securing ovaries removed in the OR for standard clinical indications and transporting them to the assisted reproductive technology lab. Samples will be prepared and frozen using the two different techniques and tissue sections will be sampled from the very same ovary to serve as an internal control. Samples will be studied before freezing for their ability to secrete estradiol in vitro and we will compare this value to the two frozen/thawed samples. Thawed frozen samples will be assessed for histology, apoptosis, steroid production ability and number of viable oocytes. This information will highlight the pros and cons of both methods as a valuable addition to this literature and serve as a framework for the development of a novel translational clinical program to add to the cancer program here at the University of Florida. This project is eligible for one student and will involve time in the clinics, OR, hospital and research laboratory. Students will be encouraged to participate in the preparation of data for abstract presentation and eventual publication.

Faculty mentor department

Department: Pediatric Neurosurgery – Jacksonville

Project Title

Socio-Economic Patient Benefits of a Pediatric Neurosurgery Telemedicine Clinic

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. Philipp Aldana

Email

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Research Project Description

The growth and evolution of telehealth are opening new avenues for efficient, effective, and affordable pediatric healthcare services in the United States and around the world. This study aims to address the socio-economic benefits to the patients of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Telemedicine Clinic(PNTMC) as well as the economic benefits to the healthcare facility. The PNTMC is a telehealth service located in Waycross, Georgia where patients receive their telemedicine care. The University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville is where the neurosurgeons provide the telehealth service and is based at Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

This retrospective study is designed to compare telemedicine services with clinic consultations, under the assumption the patient would have traveled to our clinic base if telemedicine was not used. The study will measure outcomes of potential savings to the patients and the healthcare facility. Medical students would have the opportunity to collect and analyze data and potentially assist with manuscript development.

Faculty mentor department

Neuroscience

Project Title

Sowing the seeds of Alzheime’s Disease in newborn mice

Faculty Mentor's Name

Prof. David Borchelt

Email

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Research Project Description

The project involves studying the efficacy of drugs that induce the expression of protein chaperones. We have collected tissues from mice dosed with several drug candidates to induce brain expression of protein chaperones. The project involves extracting RNA from these tissues and preparing the samples for analysis in the ICBR gene expression core. Subsequently, the investigator will learn how to analyze the data to determine efficacy in inducing chaperone expression. The drug candidates to be tested could be useful to mitigate protein misfolding that occurs in neurodegenerative disease.

Faculty mentor department

Department of Aging and Geriatric Research
& VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center

Project Title

Spinal electrical stimulation to enhance walking ability in elderly adults

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. David Clark

Email

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Research Project Description

The objective of this study is to establish the feasibility, preliminary efficacy, and variance of response for using transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) and textured shoe insoles to excite spinal locomotor circuits and enhance practice-related performance and retention on an obstacle walking task. Enhanced practice and retention effects will support future efforts to translate this approach into a longer term rehabilitation intervention.
This work is funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service.
The medical student will assist in data collection, data analysis, and lab meetings.

Faculty mentor department

UF Department of Aging and Geriatric Research & VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center

Project Title

Spinal electrical stimulation to enhance walking ability in elderly adults

Faculty Mentor's Name

Dr. David Clark

Email

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Research Project Description

The objective of this study is to establish the feasibility, preliminary efficacy, and variance of response for using transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) and textured shoe insoles to excite spinal locomotor circuits and enhance practice-related performance and retention on an obstacle walking task. Enhanced practice and retention effects will support future efforts to translate this approach into a longer term rehabilitation intervention.
This work is funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service.
The medical student will assist in data collection, data analysis, and lab meetings.

Faculty mentor department

Pediatrics

Project Title

Strategies for overcoming language barriers in type 1 diabetes education

Faculty Mentor's Name

Angelina Bernier Bernier

Email

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