Project Title: Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Psychiatric Disease.

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Dr. Damon Lamb
Phone: (352) 294-5960

Research Project Description:

I have several exciting, ongoing projects which may be of interest to motivated and well-prepared students. A background in computational methods (Matlab in particular) is particularly important in order to successfully complete a project in the timeframe, although a solid chemistry and physics foundation will also be quite helpful.

Using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, we can measure many important metabolites including N-Acetyl Aspartate/N-Acetyl Aspartate Glutamate, Creatine/Phosphocreatine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Lactate, and with more advanced techniques, Glutathione and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). The latter two are most commonly accessible via J-difference editing, which takes advantage of the quantum physics of the molecules. Glutamate and GABA are important neurotransmitters.

Using blood-oxygen-level-dependent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, we can measure regional activity in the brain during various tasks or at rest/doing no specific task.

Students will be expected to do a literature review; participate in running scans; organize, process, quality-assure, and evaluate data; attend relevant on-campus meetings; create and present the Medical Student Celebration of Research Poster Day poster; write a report or, if sufficient progress is made, contribute to writing and submitting a paper.

Across the various projects, we are looking at relationships between these measurements and functional relationships between brain networks or behavioral measures.

IRB/other required training and paperwork must be completed prior to the start of the research.

Particularly motivated and interested students may develop and execute a stand-alone project, although development of said project must occur before the official research period.

Entry Date: October 9, 2019

Project Title: Improving Physician Well-Being in Florida

Faculty Mentor’s Name: Dr. Lisa Merlo
Phone: 352-294-4932

Research Project Description:

There are two options for research involvement:
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.

As Director of Research for the Professionals Resource Network, Inc. (Florida’s impaired practitioners monitoring program), Dr. Merlo conducts studies related to healthcare professionals with potentially-impairing conditions (e.g., substance use disorders, psychological or behavioral disorders). The medical student on this project will assist with collection and/or analysis of data, and preparation of presentations and manuscripts.

Entry Date: October 17, 2019

Project Title:Reducing inpatient suicide by improved observation

Faculty Mentor’s Name:Dr. Jacqueline Hobbs

Research Project Description:

Suicide is a leading cause of death. Hospitalized patients at increased risk of suicide must be observed to prevent injury and death. However, many institutions across the country have varying protocols for direct observation. Even within our own institution, there is significant variation in the understanding of what constitutes “one-to-one” observation from unit to unit and from one staff member to another. Better standardization and training are needed to improve patient safety. This project will involve literature review and available survey data analysis to develop a training video that can be utilized by ours as well as other institutions to train staff (nurses, mental health technicians, etc.) on the importance of and a standardized means of directly observing patients with high suicide risk. The student will be involved in all aspects of the project depending on interests and skills. The student will also participate in patient safety and quality improvement activities such as the UF Health Behavioral Health Work Group, Shands Psychiatric Hospital Continuous Quality Improvement meetings, Root Cause Analyses, and case conferences. Additionally, the student will work with a multidisciplinary group of faculty, residents, and staff. Expected project outcomes: final training video (approximately 10 minutes in length) with pre/post-tests, abstract/poster presentation, and log/summary of quality improvement/patient safety activities attended. Continued work towards a peer-reviewed publication are highly encouraged.

Entry Date: November 19, 2019