HOP Faculty Mentor Student Scholars

Faculty in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy (HOP) provide mentoring and research experiences for students within the department and across the University of Florida campus, including undergraduates, post-baccalaureate students, graduate students and medical students. Here’s a roundup of some of our students’ recent research endeavors:

2017 ICHP Research Day Award Winners

ICHP’s annual Research Day promotes education within ICHP and facilitates collaboration and mentoring with researchers throughout UF. This year, student award winners for best presentation received a $500 stipend to be used for professional development, such as payment of conference fees. The 2017 ICHP Research Day student winners were:

  • Alexandra Lee, a Ph.D. student in UF’s Department of Health Outcomes & Policy, presented “Taq1a Genetic Variation is Associated with Obesity Outcomes in a Multi-racial Cohort of Children.” Lee’s faculty mentors/collaborators were ICHP researchers Dominick Lemas, Ph.D., and Michelle Cardel, Ph.D., R.D.
  • Jarrett Brunny, MPH, a doctoral candidate in UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions, presented “Child Suicide Prevention Policy in Florida: Strategies for Evaluation.”
  • Jeffrey Ferrell, a medical student in the Department of Pediatrics, presented “Evaluating the Role of Family Support in the Care of Transgender Youth.” His faculty mentors included Janet Silverstein, M.D., chief of endocrinology in the Department of Pediatrics and ICHP researchers Amanda Hicks, Ph.D., assistant professor in HOP, and Lindsay Thompson, M.D., M.S., associate professor of pediatrics and health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida and assistant director of clinical research at ICHP.

Save the date: Next year’s ICHP Annual Research Day takes place on April 5, 2018 and features keynote speaker Peter Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

2017 Medical Student Research Program

The Medical Student Research Program (MSRP) allows first-year medical students to conduct a 10-week research project while receiving academic course credit during the summer.  Participating students also receive a scholarship of approximately $2,000 to help with expenses.

This year, Justin Kim, a rising second year medical student and Shannan Rich, a master’s student in the Department of Epidemiology, worked with Chris Delcher, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy on a research project on HIV/AIDS for the Haiti Ministry of Health. In addition to his research on Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), Delcher is working with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help the Haitian government evaluate and fine-tune their prevention and treatment programs through the analysis of a robust HIV/AIDS surveillance system, called the Haitian Active Longitudinal Tracking of HIV (SALVH – French acronym).

During the summer, Rich accompanied Delcher to Haiti to attend a workshop hosted by the NASTAD held in the capital city of Port-Au-Prince. Representatives from the U.S./Haiti CDC and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) also attended the workshop.

Kim, Rich and Delcher assisted the Haitian Ministry of Health in examining HIV care for high-risk populations in Haiti. In an effort to reduce severe HIV disease and prevent further transmission, the team helped track HIV-positive populations along a care continuum to determine whether they have been referred to an HIV clinic for care, prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART), and continued to receive care after starting ART.

Unlike many other low- and middle-income countries – and in spite of inherent resource constraints – Haiti has scaled-up its surveillance of HIV to receive routine reports of patient-level data from multiple electronic medical record systems, Delcher said. What’s more, in keeping with the UNAIDS’ global 90-90-90 goal, Haiti is working to ensure that 90 percent of all HIV-infected individuals are diagnosed, 90 percent of those diagnosed are prescribed and retained on ART, and 90 percent of those on ART achieve suppression of the virus before 2020.

Delcher, Rich, and Kim provided technical assistance on the use of online data dashboards specifically designed for monitoring population health in Haiti.

Kim was invited to present his research on pediatric HIV in Haiti during a poster presentation at the Fourth Annual Medical Student Research Forum in Orlando, Florida on September 2.

Click here to learn more about Delcher’s work with the Haitian government to track the country’s HIV-positive populations and ensure they receive treatment.

McNair Scholar

Jacqlyn Yourell, a fourth-year psychology major at UF who was inducted into the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program in 2017, is also working with Dr. Cardel on a research project that investigates the association between subjective social status and percentage of body fat in Hispanic adolescents.

The McNair program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, prepares undergraduate students for pursuit of a doctoral degree by providing financial support, mentoring and research experiences needed to build a successful academic career. The program is named in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an African-American engineer, scientist and astronaut who died in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Yourell plans to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. Her research interests include biopsychosocial approaches toward the prevention and treatment of obesity, and how weight influences mental health and vice versa.

University Scholars

Will Coburn, an undergraduate student in the 2017-2018 University Scholars program, is working with HOP Assistant Professor Michelle Cardel, Ph.D., R.D., on a research project that investigates how adverse childhood experiences affect eating behavior in Hispanic teens. The study is among the first to objectively measure the nutrient intake of the study participants, compared to other studies, which primarily rely on self-reported surveys to answer questions about food intake. Students in the UF-sponsored scholarship program receive a $1,750 stipend and work one-on-one with a faculty mentor throughout the year to complete a research project and present their findings at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring. Cardel’s research focuses on understanding factors that contribute to the development of obesity and implementing effective treatment programs for childhood obesity in underserved populations.

Two undergraduates from the 2016-2017 University Scholars program, Kylie Schmitt and Keval Patel, will continue working with HOP faculty again this year.

Schmitt, a third-year nutritional sciences major, is working with Dr. Cardel to evaluate the stability of subjective social status over time and investigate the effects of experimentally manipulated social status and subjective social status on eating behaviors in Hispanic teens.

Patel, a third-year biology major, is working with Dominick Lemas, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy, on a research project that investigates the effect of intestinal inflammation on pediatric obesity. Lemas’ research focuses on understanding the fetal origins of pediatric obesity with a specific interest in the functional implications of gut microflora and the critical host-microbe interactions that regulate maternal-infant metabolism.