HOP Faculty Member Participates in National Summit on Early Childhood Development and Learning


Matthew Gurka, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy and associate director of the Institute for Child Health Policy, served on the committee that organized the University of Florida’s inaugural Early Childhood National Summit held in Orlando earlier this year. The summit, convened by UF’s Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and other colleges, centers and institutes across the UF campus,  brought together more than 100 scholars, policy makers, advocates, philanthropists and practitioners from around the country to create actionable ideas and steps to further early childhood development and learning.  Gurka holds a joint faculty appointment with the Anita Zucker Center.

UF President Kent Fuchs delivered the opening remarks at the meeting.  Jacqueline Jones, president of the Foundation for Child Development and former first deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education, delivered the keynote address. Also in attendance were UF Provost Joseph Glover and the deans of UF’s Colleges of Education, Law, Medicine, and Public Health and Health Professions.

“The first five years of a child’s life are critical for their emotional, social and physical development,” Gurka said. “The only way we can solve the problems afflicting young children today is to bridge the gap between fields and work together.” Gurka is a biostatistician with extensive collaborative and independent research experience in pediatrics. He currently serves as the lead researcher of a collaborative study funded by the National Institutes of Health investigating the predictive power of a metabolic syndrome severity calculator to identify which patients with the metabolic syndrome face a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. To read more, click here.

Other members on the Early Childhood National Summit planning committee included Patricia Snyder, Ph.D., director of the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies;  Maureen Conroy, Ph.D., co-director of the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies; Nancy Dowd, J.D., professor and David H. Levin Chair of family law in the Levin College of Law; Cynthia Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical health and psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions; and Scott Rivkees, M.D., Nemours Eminent Scholar, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

To read more about UF’s Early Childhood National Summit and the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, click here.