UF researcher earns fellowship for women leaders in health care

Photo of Stephanie Staras, Ph.D.
Stephanie Staras, Ph.D.

Stephanie Staras, Ph.D., has been selected for the 2024 class of fellows of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program at Drexel University College of Medicine. ELAM chooses women with high leadership potential and provides one year of coaching and training to prepare them for senior academic leadership roles. Fellowships begin in June 2023 and end in April 2024.

Staras is a University of Florida associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics, director of the department’s Division of Health Outcomes and Implementation Science, director of the Precision Public Health program in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and associate director of the UF Institute for Child Health Policy. In addition to a Ph.D. in epidemiology, she holds a master’s degree in public health. Both degrees are from Emory University. In 2018, she completed the National Cancer Institute (NCI) program for Mentored Training in Dissemination and Implementation Research in Cancer.

As a researcher, Staras has a 15-year continually funded research program focused on increasing HPV vaccination rates among Florida’s adolescents. She has served as principal investigator on nine implementation research grants, including a 5-year, $2.9 million grant from the NCI in 2019 to evaluate simple interventions to boost HPV vaccine rates in 11- and 12-year-olds in Florida. In 2022, she received another 5-year, $4 million NCI grant to improve human papillomavirus vaccination rates among 11- and 12-year old boys and girls in rural Florida by providing communication strategies for clinicians, clear information for parents, and transportation, health insurance navigation and vaccine access through UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute mobile clinics. Despite being available to girls since 2006, HPV vaccines have particularly low rates of adoption in Florida and rural areas nationwide.

ELAM anticipates that its fellows will assume executive leadership roles within the next five years. To complete the program, fellows must produce an Institutional Action Project that analyzes a major priority or deficit within their institution. Successful fellows join an influential network of more than 1200 alumni, including more than 15 from the University of Florida.

UF alumni from the ELAM program include Collen Koch, the dean of the College of Medicine, and Elizabeth Shenkman, the chair of the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics. Shenkman wrote a letter of recommendation for the program and called Staras “an outstanding scientist, teacher and leader.”

The ELAM program began in 1995 and has boosted the careers of hundreds of female center directors, deans, and chief executives. It has expanded over the years from recruiting from medical and dental schools to include pharmacy and public health. It recently established an affiliated Executive Leadership in Health Care program that prepares women for leadership of hospitals and health care systems.

The ELAM fellowship builds skills in finance, organization and interpersonal relations. It may fill gaps that medical school or doctoral programs did not address.

Two colleagues from UF College of Medicine have also been selected this year as fellows, with Marie Crandall, M.D., UF College of Medicine, Jacksonville, entering ELAM, and Michele Lossius, M.D., entering the Executive Leadership in Health Care program.