Physical Therapy

Senesac Receives UF International Educator of the Year Award

Claudia Senesac, clinical associate professor in the department of physical therapy, has been named the University of Florida International Center "International Educator of the Year." Three campus-wide awards are made annually in recognition of the outstanding contributions of faculty and staff to the internationalization of the University of Florida. Senesac received the award for the College of Public Health and Health Professions for her inspiring and exemplary work in Nicaragua. Senesac has long contributed to the stated mission of the Nicaragua project, which is to improve the quality of physical therapy care in Nicaragua by providing in-depth, hands-on instructional courses for professors and local clinicians to ultimately raise the standards of practice throughout the country. Read more about Dr. Senesac and the Nicaragua project

Race for Rehab Mustache Dash

The Race for Rehab Mustache Dash is an annual 5K fundraiser hosted by the department of physical therapy to fund department community outreach programs including:

GAiTOR Challenge – a 6-week program that promotes a healthy lifestyle including weekly walks on the track at Fred Cone Park and education about various aspects of health.
Community Health – offers balance screenings and a balance class for the seniors in the community, as well as helping at various health fairs such as athlete screenings for the Special Olympics, the Gator Health Fest, and Wellness Walks at Santa Fe College.
Children on the Go – partners with Balance 180, a local gym that enables children with special needs to participate in adaptive gymnastics.
Equal Access Clinic – a student-run clinic where physical therapy and occupational therapy students treat patients from the community free of charge. It is also where students work with pro bono patients.

This year’s Race for Rehab Mustache Dash had 100 participants and raised approximately $2,000!

Special Olympics

Students from the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program traveled to Orlando earlier this month to work with the Special Olympics. DPT second-year student Christopher Dela Cruz enthusiastically reports, "It was an amazing event working with athletes of all ages and conditions. The athletes had such a great competitive spirit and had so much joy and happiness competing and participating in the screenings. We screened flexibility, strength, balance, and aerobic conditioning for over 200 athletes. We worked with other physical therapy students and PTA students from all over Florida. Using the results of the screenings we were able to provide exercises and stretches to address their impairments. I think we learned a lot from these athletes not just practicing our skills but also from their positive and joyful outlook on life."


Rehabilitation Science

Brooks Annual Research Day

A number of faculty from the department of physical therapy presented at the Brooks Rehabilitation Seventh Annual Research Day on November 2. The event was held at the Brooks Rehabilitation Clinical Research Center in Jacksonville. Numerous rehabilitation science doctoral program students served as representatives of the department of physical therapy while the physical therapy (PT)/rehabilitation science doctoral (RSD) faculty members as well as many RSD alumni presented posters and gave project updates regarding the PHHP-Brooks collaboration. The research day theme was “Research and Practice: An Essential Collaboration.”

Fuller and Mitchell serve as Experimental Neurology Guest Editors

Rehabilitation science program chair David Fuller and professor Gordon Mitchell were recently invited to serve as guest editors for a special issue of Experimental Neurology. The special issue focuses on an important topic in rehabilitation – neuroplasticity – and examines neuroplasticity in the respiratory system. Respiratory failure is the major cause of death in clinical disorders associated with neurodegeneration and/or paralysis. Understanding and optimizing cellular, synaptic, and network mechanisms of respiratory neuroplasticity that preserve breathing despite mounting injury or disease is vital. Since respiratory neuroplasticity can be induced for therapeutic benefit, it also has profound implications for neurorehabilitation in disorders ranging from spinal cord injury to ALS to sleep apnea.

The cover of the special issue of Experimental Neurology illustrates data collected by rehabilitation science doctoral alumnus Jay Nair and illustrates the beauty and complexity of the phrenic motor nucleus and its innervation.  

The full issue will be released in January 2017; the editorial abstract can be read here.


Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Dr. Susan Nittrouer Delivers Keynote Address at 2016 FEDHH Conference

Susan Nittrouer, professor and chair of the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, gave the keynote address to the Florida Educators for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 2016 Conference (FEDHH), relating historical precedents to current practices, and encouraging these teachers to consider how populations and teaching strategies are likely to change in the future. The FEDHH conference, held in Daytona Beach, focuses on professional development and collaboration of individuals who work with young children and students who have a hearing loss.

The Children's Hearing Center at UF Opens

The UF Health Speech & Audiology Center – Shands Hospital is thrilled to announce the opening of the Children’s Hearing Center at UF, a specialty clinic that will provide Listening and Spoken Language intervention to children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. The opening of the new clinic coincides with the arrival of two new team members, Dr. Kimberlee Crass (left) and Ms. Laura Mundorf (right). The Children’s Hearing center will provide specialized, family-centered intervention that will empower caregivers to be their child’s first teacher in the development of auditory, speech, and literacy skills. Listening and Spoken Language intervention will benefit all children with hearing loss, no matter the child’s type or degree. New and better hearing technology for children has created a large demand for specialty speech and language services in North Central Florida and the center is proud to serve this growing community.

UF Audiology Volunteers at Special Olympics

The Florida Special Olympics Fall Classic met in November at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The volunteers at the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes stations made sure all of the participants had the chance to improve their health and fitness. UF audiology program director Dr. Scott Griffiths and six AuD students helped to staff Healthy Hearing, providing the audiological exams to assess the prevalence of possible hearing loss among Special Olympics athletes and to identify specific athletes who need further audiologic or medical care. In two days, they were able to work with almost 300 athletes screening for hearing loss, cleaning and repairing hearing aids, removing excess earwax, and making referrals to practitioners in the athletes’ local areas for follow-up care. Said one student, “It was a wonderful learning experience; but it was the interactions with the athletes that truly made this event memorable. The athletes’ friendliness and joyful energy were infectious.”



Aspen Institution Italia Award

Dr. Ira Longini, professor in the department of biostatistics, along with a team of Italian and American researchers, is an Aspen Institute Italia Award recipient. This award recognizes a significant research contribution in the field of natural, theoretical, or applied sciences produced jointly by scientists from Italy and the U.S. 

The team was recognized for creating a computational model of the spread of the Ebola virus during the Liberian epidemic in 2014-15, based on the concentration and movement of individuals, including those not infected with the virus. Their findings, published in January 2015 in the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal, also highlighted the importance of various interventions employed by health authorities to combat the epidemic, such as the opening of dedicated health centers for patients with Ebola. Read more


Clinical and Health Psychology

Graduate Student Wins Dissertation Award

Elizabeth Kacel, MS, a CHP doctoral student, has received a $10,000 Cancer Biology Dissertation Award from the UF Health Cancer Center. The award will support Kacel’s dissertation project on yoga as a novel intervention program to manage fear of cancer recurrence among women with gynecologic cancer. The project integrates Kacel’s extensive experience as a certified yoga instructor and research coordinator. Additionally, the study will contribute to existing literature regarding the growing use of yoga and other integrative medicine approaches for improving quality of life throughout the cancer care continuum. The long-range goal of the project is to clarify future directions for research regarding the biobehavioral relationships between psychological distress, neuroendocrine dysregulation, and cancer clinical outcomes.

Cancer Biology Dissertation Awards are intended to recognize and support outstanding predoctoral candidates who are conducting innovative cancer research. The award allots a total of $10,000 to the recipient for a one-year period.


Dean's Office

Fun Times at the PHHP Family Picnic

The PHHP family picnic was a fun day for all attendees! On November 11, approximately 65 faculty, staff, family, and friends convened at Cypress Lodge, located in UF’s own natural area, Lake Wauburg. Attendees enjoyed a beautiful day and great food. It was a great start to a long, leisurely weekend.

Many attendees headed to the water for peddle boating, kayaking, and canoeing. Others enjoyed kicking a soccer ball, playing corn hole, or just enjoying conversation out on the patio. Regardless of their preferred activity, a good time was had by all.

The college looks forward to even more fun next year and hopes to see you there!


Environmental and Global Health

Dr. Sarah McKune Joins Department

Sarah McKune, MPH, PhD, recently joined the department of environmental and global health as an assistant professor. She also holds a joint appointment with the Center for African Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where she works directly with the master's in sustainable development program. Dr. McKune has a background in global health and development, largely focused on Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research focuses on human-environment interactions, specifically in the context of climate change, and operates at the interface of academic research and global development practice. Much of her research has focused on livelihood adaptation and resilience among livestock holders in the West African Sahel, with particular attention to the nutrition and food security impacts of various interventions. Dr. McKune is part of a larger UF-based team awarded the USAID Feed the Future Lab for Livestock Systems, which aims to increase the incomes, livelihoods, nutrition, and health of smallholder farmers in six targeted countries. Dr. McKune’s role on this and other ongoing projects in the Sahel is to increase understanding of interventions that improve food security and nutritional outcomes of women and children.



Cottler Receives Honorary Doctoral Degree from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University

Dr. Linda B. Cottler, chair of the department of epidemiology, was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in public health from Thailand’s leading research university, Chulalongkorn University. Cottler was recognized for her contributions and achievements in public health at a ceremony held on October 20 at Chulalongkorn’s campus in Bangkok. Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided.

Cottler’s collaboration with Chulalongkorn University dates back to 2005, and in 2013, the College of Public Health and Health Professions established a partnership with the College of Public Health Sciences at Chulalongkorn to include an exchange of faculty members and students for study, teaching, and research. Students from both institutions have participated in the exchange, and Chitlada Areesantichai, PhD, an assistant dean at Chulalongkorn’s College of Public Health Sciences, spent six months at UF, conducting research with Cottler’s team and learning about HealthStreet’s operations, leading to a proposal for HealthStreet Bangkok, in the works for 2017.

Newest Fogarty Fellows Arrive from India

This month the department of epidemiology welcomed three new fellows who arrived from India for six months of training at UF. They join two current fellows, bringing the total participating in the Fogarty International Center funded Indo-US Training Program on Non-Communicable Diseases to 18.

Two of the trainees, Dr. Prabhleen Singh Jaggi (center) and Ms. Yazum Bhutia (left) are from Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, in the Northeast region of India and Dr. Venkateshasetty Kannappasetty (right) is from NIMHANS, Bangalore. Dr. Jaggi is a psychiatrist interested in post-natal depression, and his mentors will be Dr. Deepthi Varma and Dr. Jacqueline Hobbs. Ms. Bhutia is a tutor of biochemistry with specific interest in addictions, who will be working with Dr. Linda Cottler. Dr. Kannappasetty has a background in psychiatric social work with a research interest in families of persons with alcohol dependence syndrome, and his mentor will be Dr. Krishna Vaddiparti.

Epidemiology Announces Four Graduates This Semester

Epidemiology is proud to announce that three PhD students successfully defended their dissertations and one MSE student passed his thesis to graduate in fall 2016. Dr. Abenaa Acheampong Jones (top right) passed her final dissertation on September 28 titled, “Sex, Drugs, and Violence: A Longitudinal Analysis of the SAVA Syndemic among Women Involved in the Criminal Justice System.” She has taken a postdoctoral position with Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Shahab Bozorgmehri (bottom left) defended his dissertation titled “Renal Dysfunction After Surgery for Urologic Cancer and Other Diseases” on November 3 and will stay at UF in the department of nephrology as a postdoctoral associate. Dr. Amal Wanigatunga (top left) will continue his research in aging at Johns Hopkins University in December, after defending his dissertation titled “The Influence of Structured, Long-term Exercise on Objectively Measured Daily Activity in Older Adults” with success on November 10. Marko Predic (bottom right) will receive his master's of science in epidemiology at graduation after he passes his thesis defense, “Evaluation of Patient Risk Factors for Carbapenam-resistant Enterobacteriaceae Infection.” Congratulations!


Health Services Research, Management and Policy

Two New Faculty Present Posters at UF Health Cancer Center’s Research Day

Dr. Ashish Deshmukh (left), assistant professor, and Dr. Kalyani Sonawane (right), clinical assistant professor in the department of health services research, management and policy, presented posters at the 2016 Cancer Center Research Day on Friday, November 4. Dr. Deshmukh’s poster was titled, “Adjuvant HPV Vaccination for Anal Cancer Prevention in Men Who Have Sex With Men: Sooner than Later.” Dr. Sonawane’s poster was titled, “Quality of Dietary Intake and Cancer-specific Mortality Among Patients Diagnosed with Cancer.” Both are in their first year as faculty at UF and the department congratulates them on taking advantage of this great opportunity to showcase their research!

HSRMP Hosts the Gator Healthcare Forum

On Friday, November 18, the department of health services research, management and policy hosted the Gator Healthcare Forum at the UF Hilton. The day included two plenary speakers, Dr. Gene Rich of Mathematica Policy Research and Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health. Other activities included skill-building workshops, a poster session of original research, and oral presentations of original research. The conference was well attended by 130 students, faculty, and administrators from five universities and more than six healthcare organizations. The department thanks all who attended and looks forward to next year’s conference!


Occupational Therapy

Winning Student Poster at the Florida Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference

The department of occupational therapy was well represented at the Florida Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference held November 4 and 5 in Orlando. Congratulations to Zachary Pindar, Zari Whittaker, Michael Schwab, and Emily Szafranski (left to right) for their poster titled, “Reducing Health Disparities by Increasing Awareness of the Services of the Occupational Therapy Equal Access Clinic,” which won as the poster for Best Exemplifying the Soul of Occupational Therapy. The faculty, in addition to teaching five Short Courses, has mentored doctoral, master's, undergraduate honors, and undergraduate pre-OT students in preparation for their presentations of a Short Course, two professional posters, and 12 student posters. Congratulations to all the occupational therapy students for such a successful conference!


Public Health

MPH Students Start Collaborative Blog

Students from the master’s of public health program have founded a collaborative blog called the Future Voices of Public Health. The mission of Future Voices of Public Health is to inform and inspire public health students in their venture to become competent public health professionals by providing new knowledge, insight, and an opportunity for their voices to be heard. This is a platform where students can combine their classroom knowledge with the practical application of effectively communicating information to other professionals as well as the general public. Articles are available at http://www.mph.ufl.edu/futurevoicesofpublichealth. Any PHHP undergraduate or graduate students interested in becoming involved with the blog can contact futurevoicesph@gmail.com.