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Year in photos
The miracle child
TrUE STORE( BEHN(A/
II2~~~~~rII ~ ~II" I~I~B~l~~~~1'~13 ;~ 11
Education: Teaching tai chi
Patient Care: Clinic manager retires
Patient Care: Kidney cousins
Research: Science at 16
^' Research: Aiding weight loss
Five Questions: Autism
Cover Story: Behind the science
Year in Photos: Behind the lens
SJacksonville: The miracle child
SProfile: Max Polyak
Digging FOR NEW digs
I r nJ of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine joined
Jdm nistrators, faculty, alumni and students on the UF
LJmpis Nov. 21 to celebrate a red-letter day in the life of
the college: a groundbreaking ceremony for its new $58 million
small animal hospital. The new Veterinary Research and
Education Center, which will include the new small animal
hospital, will consist of 98,000 square feet of working and office
space and is expected to be completed in late 2010. Caty Love, a
veterinary student and the sophomore class president, said her
class would be the first to experience some part of their clinical
education in the new building. "A more impressive hospital
makes for more and better veterinarians, and that is the
ultimate goal," Love said. Pictured from left are UF Provost Joe
Glover; college Dean Glen Hoffsis; hospital manager Sheri
Holloway; UF Vice President for Research and Graduate
Studies Win Phillips; state Sen. Steve Oelrich; sophomore
veterinary student Love; UF's Senior Vice President for
Agricultural Affairs Jimmy Cheek; UF's Senior Vice President
For Health Affairs Doug Barrett; former UF College of '
Veterinary Medicine Dean Joe DiPietro; and small animal :
clinical sciences department Chair Colin Burrows... .
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MERRY WITH A MISSION
This December, send holiday cheer to friends and
family and benefit hospitalized children at the same
time. The Shands Arts in Medicine Program is selling
holiday cards made by kids at Shands at UF. All
proceeds will go directlyto bringing art, music and
dance to pediatric patients all year long. The cards will
be on sale until Christmas and cost$10.63for 10 cards.
For more information and to purchase holiday cards,
call the Shands Arts in Medicine Program at 265-0151
orvisit Room 1217 nearthe Shands cafeteria.
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the cltest news nrd HSC events I 3
Visiting professor teaches tai chi at lunch
By Tracy Brown Wright
ith hands outstretched, they stepped forward. Left leg.
Then right leg, each movement as fluid and graceful
as a tiger stalking prey.
It was lunch time, and the five women had
gathered on a patch of grass behind the Health
Professions/Nursing/Pharmacy Complex for
what has become a Tuesday ritual since June.
That's when College of Nursing visiting
professor and tai chi master Rhayun Song
began teaching an eight-week tai chi class there.
"People expressed an interest in learning tai
chi, but it's not easy for them to go somewhere,"
said Song, a Korean professor whose year as a
UF visiting professor ends in December. "It's
not even easy for them to take one hour to
exercise. They're always so busy."
So Song established an eight-week course at
the most convenient time and in the most
convenient place she could find at lunch
behind the building. The course, which drew
about 15 participants, was so popular that
Song and five or six regular attendees kept the
Under the guidance of Song, the class learned
about the art of tai chi, which helps people
reduce stress and improve balance and
flexibility through gentle movements.
Song has been working with tai chi and
researching the medical benefits of the exercise
since 2000. Her recent research includes a
12-week study with elderly women suffering
from arthritis. The women experienced less
pain and better balance after doing tai chi for
She came to UF after talking with UF
College of Nursing professor Beverly Roberts,
who also studies the health effects of tai chi.
Roberts, who was on Song's dissertation
committee at Case Western Reserve University,
asked Song visit UF to work on a study with
her. Here, Song is working with Roberts and
studying the effects of tai chi on different
But once here, she discovered that UF faculty
and staff members would benefit from her
alternative method of exercise, too.
Tai chi has a low impact on joints because it
involves bending at the knees and moving the
body in various formations, Song said.
"It doesn't give you the first part of pain, like
when you're jogging you always have to endure
some muscle pain, first," Song said. "It's not
going to hurt your joints or muscles, but it
makes you stand on one leg longer than walking.
(With that) it can give you balance, help muscle
strength and help bone muscle density."
Family medicine residency clinic manager retiring after 34 years
By April Frawley Birdwell
The building that housed UF's family
medicine residency clinic when it
first opened in 1974 was torn down
years ago. Sitting in her office where
pictures of grandchildren are tacked on
cabinets, Diane Hazen recalls the shock of
leaving that squat, four-exam-room clinic
in 1976 for the clinic's current space on
the corner of Southwest Fourth Avenue
and Southwest Sixth Street.
"We were like, 'Wow, look at all the space we have. We'll
never be able to use all this space,"' says Hazen, manager for
Family Medicine at Fourth Avenue, UF's family medicine
residency clinic. "We have outgrown it. We do not have 1 inch
of space now."
Hazen can recall every baby step of the clinic's 34-year life
because she has worked there since it opened, first as a clinical
supervisor and X-ray technician and then as clinic manager for
the past 10 years. She has known every family medicine resident
to train at UF and remembers when the clinic's current medical
director, Karen Hall, M.D., did her residency there. She has
known some of the clinic's patients since they were babies, and
has seen the clinic add services such as sports medicine,
psychology and pharmacy.
But her reign as clinic manager and de facto historian ends
this month. After 34 years at the clinic, Hazen is retiring.
"I love this place," she says, her hands clasped in her lap. "I
love the people here. It makes me sad. It will be very hard to
leave. Through the years we have all been through a lot. We do
feel like we're family. We have watched each other's kids grow
up. I think those are the things that set us apart as a clinic."
Hazen, who moved to Gainesville with her family when she
was 18, trained to become an X-ray and EKG technician after
working as a secretary in a clinic. It was while working as a
technician that she met UF cardiologist Russell Green, M.D.
When Green was appointed director of the new family
medicine residency clinic, he asked Hazen if she'd like to join
him there, she says. They started out with four residents, each
year adding a few more. Now, there are 24 residents in the three-
year program, she says.
"I am biased, but I do think family medicine residents are the
best," she says with a smile. "They are the most down-to-earth,
Hazen's job changed in 1999 when the clinic joined UF's
faculty group practice, a change that overhauled the way the
Diane Hazen, left, is retiring after spending 34
clinic, Family Medicine at Fourth Avenue.
years at UF's family medicine residency
clinic had operated for its first two decades. During the transition,
Hazen was selected to manage the clinic.
"My job in that transition was 100 percent easier because
Diane was there to carry that load," Hall said. "From the exterior
nothing really changed in terms of our mission, how we delivered
care, and that's a credit to her. We increased efficiency remarkably.
We were looking at numbers from 10 years ago, and we see 75
percent more patients than we did back then.
"Diane handles all the clinic management. She takes that on
her shoulders. That's the gift I have been given in Diane ... She
has left big shoes to fill."
There have been a few not-so-welcome changes during
Hazen's years at the clinic, too. Fewer medical students are
choosing family medicine now. Hazen suspects increasing
demands such as the amount of time family medicine doctors
now spend on paperwork instead of with patients are playing a
role in this change.
Regardless, the clinic continues to meet high patient-care
standards, receiving top honors from UF's faculty group practice
for patient satisfaction, a distinction that makes Hazen proud.
Although she is retiring and moving to Wakulla County, where
she will be closer to her grandchildren, Hazen says she plans to
visit the clinic often. She's really interested to find out how
electronic medical records will work at the clinic. The transition
to EMRs is scheduled to occur next year.
"I told them you won't really be rid of me because my family
lives here," Hazen says. "I will come back a lot." 1
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the cltest news nrd HSC events I 5
UF vets use interventional therapy to treat liver disorder in dogs
By Sarah Carey
I A /hen Delilah, a 6-month-old Labrador retriever, came to the UF
V V Veterinary Medical Center in July, she was smaller than normal for
her breed, and her liver had almost completely stopped working.
"From the beginning, we noticed that she was very sick," said Delilah's owner, Robin Fish. "She'd snap back for a
while but never played like the other puppies, and she was very listless. Soon after their second shots, she became
extremely ill, with severe fevers."
Delilah was diagnosed with a congenital
intrahepatic portosystemic liver shunt, a
life-threatening condition in which blood
bypasses the liver, leading to organ failure.
S Because surgery to treat these cases is difficult
Sof t yand often not an option, as it was with
Delilah, UF veterinarians used a technique
called interventional therapy to redirect blood
flow through its normal channels.
Today, Delilah is one of two canine
patients successfully treated at UF for this
condition through the use of interventional
therapy, which uses diagnostic imaging to
guide minimally invasive procedures. In fact,
Fish was so excited by Delilah's outcome at
t UF that she mentioned it to another couple
Sm she met at a social function whose dog Bear
The p suffered from the same condition.
.- That dog soon became UF's second success
chocolate Labrador retriever who was treated at UF through story for this particular type of treatment.
of interventional therapy, is shown at home in his yard in Although interventional therapy has been
in with his companion, Sammi. Bear received the treatment after used for years in human medicine, its use in
ner met the owner of another dog, Delilah (not pictured), veterinary medicine is in its infancy, with
r Labrador retriever who was treated with interventional therapy. only one formal training program in
existence at the University of Pennsylvania.
University of Pennsylvania veterinary
specialist Chick Weiss trained UF cardiologists in these techniques three years ago, and Delilah's case gave the team
its first opportunity to use these new skills.
UF's VMC implemented a team approach in which several specialty services are involved in the planning and
execution of many interventional therapies.
"This approach has only improved the care of our patients and our ability to offer cutting-edge treatment," said
Herb Maisenbacher, a UF veterinary cardiologist. "It's a realm with a lot of promise and very few limitations. There
are many organ system diseases that can be treated by these procedures."
The procedure involves placing a wide-bore catheter in the jugular vein, using real-time X-rays to locate the shunt,
and then using tubes and coils to correct the flow of blood.
Interventional therapies generally include shorter hospital stays and reduced mortality rates, but most importantly,
these techniques offer treatments for conditions that have no treatment or where surgery is too risky. But the
procedures can cost thousands of dollars.
"The metal stent alone costs $1,500," Maisenbacher said. "The good thing is we can take a dog that is very sick and
turn it into a healthy dog."
Veterinary radiologist Shannon Holmes said that interventional radiology also is used at UF to treat conditions such
as vascular anomalies and urethral obstructions and to deliver chemotherapy.
As for Delilah, Fish said she is "doing beautifully."
"I told the doctors at UF, I didn't know what to do for them or how to thank them, so I just sent them another liver shunt
dog so they could save another life," Fish said. "I was blessed enough to be able to give them another dog to help." Q
By Sarah Carey
he grapevine is alive and well as
She Tampa-area owners of two
S- ung chocolate Labrador
retrievers can attest. The dogs both are
doing well after recently receiving
unique interventional therapy at UF's
Veterinary Medical Center to correct a
life-threatening liver condition.
Robin Fish and Shiloh Schrantz met
at a mutual friend's birthday party in
July and began chatting. Turns out,
both women owned puppies that were
extremely ill from the same medical
condition, an intrahepatic
portosystemic liver shunt, which
basically means that the dogs' blood
wasn't being filtered by the liver.
"We were at a jazz and blues club
where there was live music and it was
hard to hear because of all the noise,"
said Schrantz, whose dog is named
Bear. "All of a sudden my husband
said, 'Listen to these people; their
puppy has issues like ours.'
"So I went over and said, 'I don't
mean to be snooping, but it sounds
like your dog might have exactly the
same problem that ours has,'"
Fish explained that her dog Delilah
was awaiting a procedure at UF known
as interventional therapy to treat the
"We were so surprised to hear all
the good things they said, so we called
the university and one thing led to
another," Schrantz said.
Bear now weighs 83 pounds and is
"doing great," Schrantz said.
16 1 http: news.health.utl.edu
UF surgeon removes living
donor kidney through navel
Story byJennifer Brindise Photos by Sarah Kiewel
i h more than 74,000 Americans awaiting a kidney transplant,
J. hn Grove of Ohio recently gave his cousin a most generous
gift: his kidney.
On Oct. 28 at Shands at UF, Grove's kidney was transplanted into
Barbara Doran of Ocala. While living donor kidneys are usually taken
laparoscopically, the procedure used in this case was even less invasive.
For the first time at Shands at UF, a UF transplant surgeon, Joseph
Magliocca, M.D., removed a kidney via the navel. The method uses only
one to two port openings (small incisions created during laparoscopic
surgery) and a navel incision, eliminating the need for two additional
port incisions and a lower abdominal cut typically used in the standard
"Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the barriers to live kidney donation
that some people may perceive," said Magliocca, an assistant professor of
surgery. "This procedure makes the final result more cosmetically
appealing and may motivate some patients to donate. With the number of
patients on the kidney transplant waiting list growing far more rapidly
than the number of deceased donors, every live kidney donor can make
an impact on the lives of many people."
Magliocca added that while this is still a major operation and the
technique may not be appropriate for all patients, it could encourage some
potential donors to move forward and donate a kidney to a loved one.
To see more images of this surgery and hear more about Barbara
Doran and John Grove's story, visit www.news.health.ufl.edu to view a
photo slideshow. For more information about being a live kidney donor
UF surgeons removed patient John Grove's kidney through his navel Oct.
28, a method less invasive than even laparoscopic surgery. Grove donated
his kidney to his cousin Barbara Doran.
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the Ictest news cnd HSC events I 7
High school student's research could lead to better tumor treatment
Muna Oli, 16, is conducting research in UF neuroscientist Brent
Reynolds' lab. Her research pairs nanotechnology with cancer cells
and could help pave a way to better tumor treatments.
By April Frawley Birdwell
he bulky white lab coat is at least two
sizes too big, but Muna Oli pulls it on
anyway, rolling up the sleeves until she
can see her hands again. After slipping on
blue gloves, she opens the lab's fridge, where
the cells she is studying are stored in tiny
Opening a bottle, her nose wrinkles slightly. The cells are
contaminated, but it's OK, she says. She has more, and it won't affect her
project. Since June, Oli has been studying what happens when gold
nanorods are injected into tumor cells and then shot with an infrared
laser. On the basis of the research literature she has read, she thinks the
method may be able to kill tumor cells without damaging surrounding
"It will almost explode in a way, but it explodes at a much lower
temperature than radiation," said Oli, who splits time between labs at
the College of Medicine and College of Engineering. "Hypothetically,
you could use gold nanorods, put them in a tumor, shoot it with a laser,
and it heats up just enough to explode the nanorod, but it doesn't
damage surrounding tissue. It's much less invasive."
But the research has to be done first. That's why Oli spends most
days working in the lab, although she doesn't have as much time as other
researchers. After all, Oli, 16, can't get to the lab until her school day is
over at Eastside High School.
Oli, a sophomore at Eastside, grew up around labs. Her father is UF
ecologist Madan Oli, and her mother is a microbiologist. Oli's own
career in science started with the sixth-grade science fair, when she
performed "a simple experiment" to test the toxicity of metals in items
found in most houses, such as speakers and CDs.
"A lot of them were toxic," she said. "You put them in the landfill and
then the acidic rain leaches them out and it finds its way into the water
systems and stuff."
Afterward, she began approaching UF scientists for advice and
permission to work in their labs, starting with Gabriel Bitton, whose test
she had used for her first science fair project. By 16, Oli has already
logged in dozens of hours working in the labs of some of UF's most
esteemed scientists, including neuroscientist Brent Reynolds, Ph.D.,
who directs UF Adult Stem Cell Engineering and Therapeutic Core. For
her current project, she spends half her time working with cells in
Reynolds' lab and the other half making gold nanorods in engineering
professor Kevin Powers' lab.
"I kind of half-jokingly tell people, when I tell them about the about
the project, that she is the smartest person in my lab," Reynolds said.
"She's one of those kids who just gets it. I didn't come looking for her.
She came looking for me. She came with a project. With very little
modification, it has been designed and carried out exclusively by her."
Oli began studying nanotechnology as part of her project for the
science fair last year. She studied silver nanoparticles and their effect on
the environment, testing them E. coli, water fleas and other microscopic
forms of life.
"The thing about nanotechnology is there are several different kinds
of materials nanorods, nanoparticles, nanotubes and different
elements and different applications," Oli said. "One I got started in
nanotechnology, I was really interested in it."
And this year's experiment may lead to more than blue ribbons and
trophies. Reynolds said he thinks Oli's research could lead to a
promising approach for treating glioblastoma, the type of tumor Oli has
been studying. Glioblastoma is one of the most common cancers in
adults, and there is currently no effective way to treat it, Reynolds said.
"It's incredibly exciting because it has the potential to be a new
therapeutic, and this is coming from a child in grade 10," Reynolds said.
"The drive and focus she has to get involved in basic research and see
these projects to fruition, it requires a lot of vision. It's not an instant
gratification. There are a lot of kids in their 20s that realize they don't
have that quality."
For now, Oli is focused on finishing her work and hopes her project
does well enough to make it to the international science fair, her goal
this year. And as for the future?
"I want to go to UF, but I'm not sure," she said. "As of right now, I
want to do a combined M.D./Ph.D., which is hard I know, but it sounds
181 I http: news.health.utl.edu
A final goodbye
Medical students honor body donors
By Priscilla Santos
three months after picking up scalpels for the first time to begin dissecting
haman cadavers, first-year medical students at the College of Medicine
,aid their final goodbyes to those who donated the ultimate gift a person
can give to further medical education.
The class of 2012 Anatomy Commemorative Ceremony was held Dec. 1 in
the HPNP Complex auditorium to honor the individuals whose bodies were
used during the college's human anatomy course. The solemn celebration
included musical performances, poetry readings and expressions of gratitude
by the students.
Jennifer Rodney sang "Time to Say Goodbye," and Mohammad Qureshi
shared a Ghazal a unique style of poetry common in Central Asia titled
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Altl l'lu Pl'ahu,-k add Chllaiuphcl altlhcwa pIrcancLd latulLy mrrmbcia a
thank-you card for the time they invested in the gross anatomy class, the lights
dimmed and each person lit a candle. The students and faculty walked reverently
to the anatomy laboratory on the ground floor of the Communicore Building,
where many students reflected on their time in gross anatomy and discussed
their appreciation for the individuals who will forever leave a mark not only in
their future practice but also on their lives.
"It was wonderful and meaningful to gather as a class in the lab much as we
did on day one, and to hear everyone's thoughts and prayers, and finally lay all
those bodies to rest after their last duties as our educators," said Lola Xie. "I
think the ceremony was a great way to bring things full circle and to remind us
of the humanity aspect of this privileged profession into which we are entering."
The end of gross anatomy is a milestone in the lives of first-year students, but it
also marks just the beginning of the educational rapport they've built with the 22
professors and mentors who shepherded them through the course.
"We really do have the best faculty," Pashuck said. "They're an amazing team."
According to Kyle Rarey, Ph.D., interim senior associate dean for educational
affairs, members of the class of 2012 understand they have been given a gift, and
the night of the Anatomy Commemorative Ceremony demonstrated just that.
"They demonstrated by this ceremony why they are so special," Rarey said. "It
was one of the best ceremonies done by students at the College of Medicine."
When plants go ROGUE
Climate change opens new avenue for spread of invasive plants
I jn i that range northward because of climate change may be better at defending themselves against local enemies than native plants.
,.i concludes a team of scientists including a UF geneticist. The team's findings, reported in today's online edition of Nature, suggest that
LO I in plants could become invasive if they spread to places that were previously too cold for them.
"This paper is the first to suggest that the mechanisms that aid invasive species when they move from one continent to the next may actually work
within continents when climate change gradually extends the distributional range of a species," said Koen J.F. Verhoeven, an evolutionary biologist at
The Netherlands Institute of Ecology. "Plants may be able to outrun, so to speak, their enemies from the southern range."
Often, exotic plants and animals are introduced to new continents or geographic regions by travelers and commerce. Separation from their natural
enemies can drive their invasive success in the new range. But, increasingly, the distribution of many species is shifting because of climate change and
changes in land use.
The researchers compared exotic plant species that had recently established in Millingerwaard, a nature preserve in The Netherlands, with related
native plant species from the same area.
"We set out to see whether the native and exotics responded differently to natural enemies such as herbivores or microorganisms in the soil," said
Lauren McIntyre, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in UF's College of Medicine and a member of the UF Genetics
Institute. "UF helped develop a statistical model that took into account the experimental design and had good power to detect the effects of herbivory."
The growth of native plants was reduced far more than the growth of exotic species, indicating natives were more vulnerable to natural soil-borne
In addition, all plant species were exposed to North African locusts and a widespread species of aphid. These herbivores were not expected to show a
preference for either the native or the exotic species. But they preferred the native plants and left the exotic ones relatively alone.
Visit us online @ lt du or e latest news aind HSC events 1 9
Study shows a
lephone counseling may be just as
successful as face-to-face counseling
in helping people maintain weight
loss, report UF researchers.
The UF study is the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of
telephone counseling for long-term management of obesity in rural
communities. The findings appeared in the Nov. 24 issue of
Archives of Internal Medicine.
In the study of women in underserved rural areas, those who
received phone or face-to-face counseling after an initial weight-
loss program did a better job of keeping the weight off than those
in a control group.
"We found that the participants who received extended care were
able to maintain their weight loss at higher levels than those
participants who only received printed health education materials
as a follow-up," said lead investigator Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., a
professor and interim dean of the College of Public Health and
Health Professions. "The success of telephone counseling gives us a
cost-effective alternative to face-to-face visits that is more
convenient for rural residents who may need to travel long
distances for care."
Study participants included 234 women who were obese, were
between 50 and 75, and lived in rural communities in northern
Florida. After completing a six-month weight-loss program, women
in the study lost an average of 22 pounds. One year later,
participants who received phone or face-to-face counseling after
treatment had regained less weight on average, 2.5 pounds -
than those in the education control group, who regained an average
of 8 pounds.
Long-term care is an important component in weight-loss
maintenance, said Perri, who has argued for the acceptance of
obesity as a chronic condition that requires continuous care.
Previous studies have shown that in the year after treatment,
participants regain one-third to one-half of the weight lost.
During the first phase of the UF study, the women participated in
a weight-loss program that combined
a low-calorie diet with daily
30-minute walks and an emphasis on
learning problem-solving skills to
overcome barriers to weight loss. The
women met in weekly group sessions
in six rural counties.
"We also addressed special issues
of concern for women in rural areas,
such as low-calorie preparation of
traditional 'Southern' dishes,
strategies for coping with a lack of
family support for weight loss and MICHAEL G. PERRI, PH.D.
techniques for healthful eating away
from home," said Perri, a professor of clinical and health psychology.
After the weight-loss portion of the study, participants were
randomly assigned to one of three 12-month follow-up programs to
help them keep the weight off: face-to-face group counseling, phone
counseling or a comparison group that received written educational
materials. Participants were encouraged to use weight-control
strategies and asked to log food intake on at least two weekdays and
one weekend day per week.
Adherence to the behavioral weight control program, as
measured by the food intake records, was significantly higher in
the phone and in-person groups.
"The completion of written self-monitoring records was the
single best behavioral predictor of weight change," Perri said.
Although phone and in-person counseling were equally effective
in helping participants maintain weight loss, program expenses per
participant for phone counseling were half the cost of face-to-face
counseling $397 on average for in-person counseling versus $192
for those in the phone group. Phone counseling also offers other
benefits for people in rural areas, researchers say.
"Because distance represents a major barrier to medical care in
rural areas, the availability of a treatment modality that does not
require time and costs for travel and attendance at clinic visits
represents a potentially important approach to providing ongoing
care to rural residents," Perri said. G
By Tracy Brown Wright
About one in 150 children are diagnosed with autism
each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. This staggering number leaves many
parents wondering and worrying about this mysterious
disorder and the effect it could have on their child.
Jennifer Ann Harrison Elder, Ph.D., R.N., a professor and
chair in the UF College of Nursing department of health
care environments and systems, has studied autism and
related child neuropsychiatric disorders for the past 27
years. Much of her work examines methods of educating
families, enhancing family cohesion and reducing
caregiver stress. She also evaluated the effects of a
gluten-free, casein-free diet on children with autism, one
of the first double-blind clinical trials of this diet. Needless
to say, she's an expert. In this month's POST, Elder answers
our questions about autism.
Autism occurs on a spectrum and to date has no clearly defined cause or cure.
Individuals who have this disorder appear to not process the world in the same way
as non-affected individuals. To be diagnosed with autism, the individual must present
features related to three areas: delayed speech and language, deficits in social
relatedness, and unusual repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests. The severity
of autism varies greatly, from individuals with little speech and poor daily living skills to
others who function well in most settings.
Currently, autism is difficult to conclusively diagnose before 18 months of age.
Health-care providers may detect symptoms during infancy, although a formal
diagnosis is generally not made until the child fails to develop functional language by
age 2. There are several standard testing instruments that are available to diagnose
children by age 3. Language delay or lack of appropriate social development may cause
parents or teachers to seek an evaluation. Some children may have a period of normal
development before the onset of symptoms and may even lose some earlier acquired
skills, such as early words or social smiling. Currently, there is no blood test or other
medical test available to diagnose autism. Correct diagnosis depends on extensive
and accurate developmental history, as well as observations of the child's social,
communicative and play behaviors.
r C U
Genetic factors are considered to be some of the most recognized causes of autism. There are
also theories pointing to possible environmental triggers that may include diet, allergic reaction,
virus or high fever. Many parents do believe there is a link between vaccinations and autism
although, to date, no scientific study has borne this out. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention currently states there is no clear link between the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine
(widely reported by parents to be a cause) and multiple forms of autism.
I recommend that parents vaccinate their children. The risk and effects of illnesses that may
strike a child not protected against them far outweigh any other consideration. However, I
believe parents should discuss their concerns with their health-care provider and discuss a
vaccination schedule that is right for them. There are delayed vaccination schedules that still
protect children against harmful diseases while allowing for more time between vaccinations and
the ability to split certain combined vaccinations.
There are a variety of treatments available to autistic children. In our research, we have
focused on parent-training intervention because we believe well-informed parents can be the best
therapists, and the children are more likely to respond to their parents when they incorporate
training strategies into their daily lives. Our research has shown that early intervention with
autistic children can have a major influence on how the child develops and functions later in life.
There are many other types of treatments available, including the wheat-free, dairy-free diet in
which many parents have taken interest. We conducted the first published double-blind clinical
trial of this diet in autism. We could find no significant differences in symptoms between the
children receiving the diet and those not receiving the diet. However, anecdotally, parents of
seven children reported improvements in language and decreased hyperactivity and tantrums.
We plan to conduct a future study examining the effects of the diet over longer periods of time
with more subjects. Q
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the latest news and HSC events I 11
h, 2008. How we will miss thee. You brought us a historic and entertaining
presidential election, a record-breaking Olympics and, of course, the
near collapse of the economy (we'll try not to hold that one against you).
It was a good year for science too. UF researchers began testing gene therapy
to treat blindness in humans and reported numerous findings that someday
could help patients battle cancer, obesity and other diseases. The POST brought
you these headlines each month, but what about what we didn't tell you, the
stories behind the science? For every research discovery, there's a story of
how it happened or what's happened since then. So, as 2008 ends, we bring you a
few of the tales we found in labs across the IISC this year.
1121 I http: news.health.utl.edu
fi i ... \ ars of experiments, tests, frustration, revised experiments and more tests, UF researchers were finally decoding
Ihe I '..i m-lo-worm signals the microscopic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans sends its potential suitors. That's when UF
hi .. h mi Art Edison, Ph.D., read an abstract and realized his lab may have been scooped.
Written by Frank Schroeder, Ph.D., a Cornell University researcher whom Edison had invited to speak at UF, the research
abstract detailed a chemical structure strikingly similar to the one Edison and his researchers had recently identified. But Edison's
lab was trying to find the first mating pheromone in the tiny worm one of the most simple multicellular organisms and a model
research subject while Schroeder's lab was looking for what's known as Dauer pheromones, chemical
signals that control the worm population, not expand it.
While Schroeder was in town for the talk, Edison asked him to review his lab's most recent nuclear
R Oes ear ch magnetic resonance spectroscopy results, data that detailed, atom by atom, the chemicals in the fraction of
R the worm they were studying. Looking at the results, called a spectrum, Schroeder spotted it, C6, the Dauer
rLO pheromone he had discovered. It was very similar to the chemical UF researchers had identified as a mating
coas ter "I was on a roller-coaster at that point," Edison says. "We had been working on this for two years and
either we had been scooped, or C6 did a lot more than Frank had known before."
Working in collaboration with Paul Sternberg, Ph.D., a scientist at the California Institute of Technology
whose research sparked Edison's interest in the mating pheromone, the researchers learned they had
identified the same chemical the only difference in chemistry was a sugar attached to UF's molecule,
Edison says. And it did, in fact, have two distinct purposes, working basically as a population monitor. It opens the door for mating
when the pheromone signal is very low, and if the signal gets too strong, it shuts the worms' system down, sending them into
"It's like a bell-shaped curve," says Edison, who along with his collaborators reported the findings in Nature in July. "It only works
within a certain range. A lot of pheromones act like that.
"This is something I'm going to be thinking about for years. It does make sense that the same molecules have dual purposes. The
other caveat is we're certain the story is more complicated. There are more signals we haven't identified."
So why all the fuss to understand how worms communicate? Researchers have learned almost everything there is to know about
cells, human or animal, by first discovering it in a nematode or a fruit fly, Edison says. Because nematodes are actually the most
common animal on the planet, understanding C. elegans could help scientists combat worms that threaten human health, too.
And, as any researcher will say, C. elegans is easy to study.
"You can grow large amounts of C. elegans in a culture mixed with bacteria," Edison says. "It sounds disgusting, but it's not.
They're actually very pretty worms." -April Frawley Birdwell
Spec ;nrv ;Th ricr oscopiC M vod \ r
wn(rtA Caerorhcbditis q\c2&nS II/Qc'
in t'hs rA'odes- ,ov --roorv1 ?Vr\ ctsh.
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Surprisingly, they could see better in the dark.
Each of the first three patients who volunteered to test
the safety of an experimental gene-transfer technique to
treat blindness said their vision had improved, but a portion of
that improvement was not readily evident.
The UF and University of Pennsylvania scientists conducting
the phase 1 clinical research study here in Gainesville were
startled to learn that after treatment the volunteers could see
best when they woke up in the morning.
"When someone walks into a dark movie theater from the
sunlight, it takes a few moments for their eyes to adjust. This
process is termed 'dark adaptation.' But for some people, dark
adaptation takes much longer, if it occurs at all," says William
Hauswirth, Ph.D., an eminent scholar, professor of
ophthalmology and member of UF's Powell Gene Therapy
Center. "When our patients told us they could see better after
they had been in the dark for hours, it became clear that some of
their restored visual function was hidden by a defect in their
rate of dark adaptation."
The volunteers have a type of hereditary blindness called
Leber congenital amaurosis type 2, a condition where
photoreceptor cells cannot respond to light because a gene
called RPE65 does not properly produce a protein necessary for
Each received a subretinal injection to replace the
nonfunctioning gene in small, selected regions of the retina.
And the therapy is working.
The results, reported in September in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, are the first to show that gene
therapy can improve both day and night vision in patients with
LCA. Restoration was localized to the area of treatment. While
day vision improved as much as 1,000-fold, night vision
improved as much as 63,000-fold.
But the restored night vision of the volunteers took as much as
eight hours to adjust to darkness compared with about 20
minutes in normal eyes.
"This is not a bad thing, because what we've given them is
some vision in daylight and lots of vision after dark, and we've
only treated a very small portion of the retina," Hauswirth says.
Since the first three patients were treated, two additional ones
have received the therapy. The sixth is expected to be treated
"So far, so good," Hauswirth says. "The results are already
spectacular. We have one more patient to go in this round. We'll
then watch for any side effects and if everything continues to be
OK, we'll decide whether or not to move forward in children.
LCA2 is considered a childhood form of blindness, and patients
are usually functionally blind before age 10. We think the
younger the patient, the more vision they can potentially gain
back." -John Pastor
1141 1 http: news.health.utl.edu
" N : fLttIi &pcr'n v. ^Auc t 'o\o3 c .* r fA c ^\'
(rAMdl(') hcQpP pC. ;nt %n-P-tu1P
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A li I nJ ic iJ Il ih k, Ph.D., and her students discovered
ain unr \p cLclJ .. elation in their research database, she
V'. J J !ghciJ. in a sense, when the National Institutes of
IIli h hi h he! ..rl\ Ihe nominal amount of $50,000 to further
,\II h..uch *1.1i., ii a. aj mere fraction of what she would have
nrccdcd i. jl hii mrr..i J i a for her study, all was not lost. Instead,
I h Ni I p..inilJ h.! in Jn..Ih !. I L iI\ ul lu u I j, .l l l !e direction.
I he NIII !qu!!. !L~!JIhI. i i. all.'',. JLL~ .. i' JJiJhJ., created with NIH grant monies. So the
NI I pul llj I.'huk in i LuL]h !i h i I ma L h! al ji\ ~ 'II j! i academic institutions that had
Jji hj ,,,h i he am \ ph, ,,I ,e ni ii a he lih in I l m ai !in ,he was collecting. The other groups
minrLJ ih1ii J ia eh,.... .m ,I I'.h ih .L-,i rnilli. n, I,.u The results showed the same
-i !lji in ih i llai ,Ihuk', iIjrm hdJ ,Iin in Ih ii JjiJhj, -a connection between childhood ear
inlcI. l !i r' i nJ Jd J uli ,hl.!l\
lj Ia. 'huk. a p!l' ... in i hI I1 ( ,,IIiex I I 1)nLi 1\ .h. studies taste and smell, had discovered
Ihji Lji! !rnl.l I r' Jm jrr i I ji.L. I' h ILh ill! LJI l n hi h l ind can lead to obesity.
"In J 'lme ,I huJi.l -nl i J!ini !i '. i Ji chilul i.' ji. a collaborative effort between
irMi uli i rn, i hil '.!n' \I\ !n I L- ni I mr nL.\. lu'I !ni .ested in furthering knowledge,"
llj ..ii huk aj\, /\0, ,i Ri,...J i ,.I
S pe (c en( R-er Cc.. C- c c C pl C
Vnt. LeQ ( 1U C) cO ed r
I Ill h.gan when Lee Krause started asking his
audiologist, Alice Holmes, Ph.D., questions.
Krause, a computer engineer from Melbourne,
Fla., was frustrated with the fine-tuning process after he
received a cochlear implant at Shands at UF in 2002.
"I realized during the tuning process that I was never
going to achieve my objective of being able to better
understand speech," Krause says. "I knew there had to be
a better way."
After cochlear implant surgery, audiologists "fit" the
patient's cochlear implant processor by manipulating
implant settings, a process that often takes multiple clinic
visits and many months to complete. Several million
combinations of device parameters make it impossible to
evaluate a patient's performance for every possible
"Lee came in to me one day while we were doing
programming and said 'This doesn't make sense. Why are
you having me listen to beeps when I want to listen to
speech? Why don't you test me doing speech and we can
program it that way?'" recalls Holmes, a professor in the
College of Public Health and Health Professions'
department of communicative disorders. "I told him
there were some problems with that and I gave him a
couple of chapters to read thinking that that was probably
going to answer his questions. And he came back the next
week and said 'No I really think we can do this.'"
Krause and Holmes, along with Rahul Shrivastav,
Ph.D., an associate professor in UF's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences, and Purvis Bedenbaugh, a former UF
professor, set out to develop a better system for cochlear
implant tuning. The resulting software program, known as Clarujust, quickly analyzes the patient's speech comprehension to
determine the best cochlear implant settings for a particular patient. In a pilot study, the researchers found that the new program
resulted in improved performance in all outcome measures, including speech perception and the ability to hear over background noise.
The new software program has the potential to improve the quality of life for thousands of cochlear implant recipients, Holmes says.
"This is the most exciting research project I've been involved with in my career," she says. -Jill Pease
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the latest news and HSC events 15
Photos By Sarah Kiewel
A look at few of our favorite
unpublished photos from 2008
1. Devan Dempsey, 2, blows a kiss for the photographer during his
stay at Shands at UF 2. Gracie, a baby giraffe who was treated at the
UF College of Veterinary Medicine in March, leans in for her close-
up. 3. Human anatomy is one of the hallmarks of medical training.
Here, first-year students in the UF College of Medicine participate in
their first human anatomy lab. 4. Dr. Michael Okun works with a
patient undergoing a deep brain stimulation operation. 5. Veterinary
resident Dr. Amanda House visits with a colt at the UF College of
1161 1 http: news.health.utl.edu
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the latest news cnd HSC events I17
Jacksonville doctors helped girl battle leukemia
By Kandra Albury
In April 2006, when Jenea Berrios was 8, she
started complaining of pain in her joints and
a loss of appetite. Her mother took her to the
doctor and was told the discomfort her daughter was
experiencing was only growing pains.
Two weeks following the appointment, Jenea's father found her on the bedroom
floor foaming from the mouth. Thinking she was having a seizure, her parents took
her to the nearest fire station. From there, firefighters transported Jenea to Shands
"I looked at her pale face and knew that she was a very sick little girl," said Phyllis
Hendry, M.D., a pediatric emergency specialist at the UF College of Medicine-
Jacksonville. "When we drew her blood it looked like pale red Kool-Aid."
Hendry's initial suspicion was that Jenea had some type of cancer or blood
disorder. Tests showed that Jenea's blood hemoglobin level was lower than Hendry
had ever seen before. Jenea's body was in shock, and she lost her eyesight. A team
of 10 physicians, nurses and technicians worked to stabilize her as she was put on a
ventilator and given blood transfusions.
"I did not leave her bedside for two straight hours," said Hendry, also an
associate professor and assistant chair of research for the department of
emergency medicine in Jacksonville. "My colleagues from the main (emergency
department) and the Trauma Center managed the rest of the pediatric patients so
that I could focus on Jenea."
Once she was stabilized, tests revealed that Jenea had acute lymphoblastic
leukemia, also called ALL. She received additional treatment at Wolfson
UF patient Jenea Berrios and her mother, Jackie (second
from right), visit with College of Medicine-Jacksonville
staff Dr. Shawna Perry (from left), Dr. Phyllis Hendry and
nurse Stacey Collins. Berrios also attended a charity event
over the summer where she was taken care of by celebrity
waiters, including Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-
Drew and Rashean Mathis (third and fourth from left).
ALL is cancer of the white blood cells and is the most common form of cancer
diagnosed in children. White blood cells multiply at an accelerated rate and may
collect in the brain or spinal cord, causing the body to shut down. Symptoms of
ALL include achy bones and joints, chronic fatigue and easy bleeding or bruising.
One in 29,000 children in the United States is diagnosed with this rare disease
each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Jenea's journey to recovery hasn't been easy. Although her cancer has been in
remission since August 2006, she continues to be in and out of the hospital for
chemotherapy treatments. Jenea will finish her last treatment in November.
Last June, Jenea received star treatment during Morton's Medicine and Miracles
annual event benefiting Children's Miracle Network. More than 20 celebrity
waiters, including players from the Jacksonville Jaguars, entertained and served
those attending. During the event Jenea was named the miracle child and she
shared her story. A total of $50,000 was raised.
Today, Jenea is like any other girl her age. Her curly, black locks have grown
back and her vision has been restored. A sixth-grader at LaVilla School of the Arts,
Jenea enjoys reading and painting. She also continues to earn high marks in
various subject areas. When Jenea grows up, she hopes to become either an actress
or a physician who specializes in oncology.
"You could never tell that she is fighting cancer," said Jenea's mother, Jackie.
"She is such a very positive child."
Jackie said she is forever grateful for the advanced technology and highly
trained UF physicians who stabilized her daughter and saved her life.
"Thank God Dr. Hendry was there," Jackie said. "I could tell within a few
seconds of being in her presence that she knew what was going on. Everyone there
was great. Their main focus was Jenea, and I couldn't ask for anything else." O
I I1 I http: news.health.utl.edu
Meet the CHAMPS
By Kelly Brockmeier
regardless of what happens on the football field Jan. 8, UF has already earned
one national title this year, a victory earned not on the gridiron but on the
techno-turf of the medical simulation lab. Three emergency medicine residents
from UF's College of Medicine-Jacksonville were crowned the champions of medical
simulation during a first-of-its-kind competition in October.
Spencer Topp M.D., Zach Goldman M.D., and Rich Westenbarger M.D., three
chief emergency medicine residents, claimed their title during the 2008 scientific
assembly of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Chicago, competing
UF emergency medicine residents (in blue, from left) Dr. Spencer Topp, Dr.
Zach Goldman and Dr. Rich Westenbarger, earned top honors during a recent
medical simulation contest. Shown with them is team coach Dr. David Caro.
against teams from Harvard Medical School, Louisiana State University,
Northwestern University, the University of Illinois and the Mt. Sinai School of
The teams were each given mock medical scenarios and 10 minutes to treat their
"patient," a human patient simulator.
In the first round, the UF team went up against the University of Illinois in the
first round as 100 observers watched. At the completion of the round, the audience
voted for the team they felt best handled the case.
UF, LSU and Mt. Sinai advanced to the final round and were each given the same
scenario. Once again the audience voted, and in the end, the UF team came out on
top in the inaugural year of the competition.
The team brought home a plaque and $1,500 for the UF Emergency Residency
The home team was well-trained for the competition. The UF Center for
Simulation Education and Safety Research at Shands Jacksonville is the largest
non-military simulation lab in the United States.
"In emergency medicine, in particular, we do a lot of high-stakes evaluations on
patients who are critically ill. We want our residents to have as much opportunity to
practice as possible," said David Caro, the UF team's coach and the residency director
in the department of emergency medicine at the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville.
The mannequins used in the simulation lab are complex, lifelike robots that, under
computer control, mimic almost every known human physical condition. They have
skin that can be pierced, cut and sutured, as well as bones and organs that can be
observed, felt and removed. a
he Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical
Education recently approved two new fellowships in
,jrdiac electrophysiology and pulmonary and critical care
medicine for the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville.
Steve Hsu, M.D., a UF assistant professor of medicine and
medical director of the electrophysiology program, will direct
the electrophysiology fellowship. This one-year training
program will appoint two fellows. James Cury, M.D., a UF
associate professor of medicine and division chief of pulmonary,
critical care and sleep medicine, will oversee the pulmonary
and critical care medicine program. This three-year program
will appoint six fellows.
"We are pleased to be providing subspecialty training in
these areas of high demand," said Constance Haan, M.D.,
senior associate dean for education affairs. "Dr. Hsu and Dr.
Cury, along with their faculty colleagues, are proud to have
successfully achieved program accreditation, and look forward
to the opportunity to contribute to graduate medical education
on our campus."
jI i, Ray, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology
ji I he College of Medicine-Jacksonville, died
suddenly Dec. 9. He was 69.
Ray, who also spent years as a doctor in Ocala, attended UF's
College of Medicine and completed his neurology residency
here. He had been a faculty member at the College of Medicine-
Jacksonville since 1999.
"He was an immensely popular physician known for his
warmth and compassion as well as his encyclopedic knowledge
base," said Robert Nuss, M.D., dean of the regional campus, in
a statement about Ray's death. "His caring, fatherly presence set
his patients at ease. Dr. Ray possessed a rich sense of humor
that was typically self-deprecating. His patients, students and
colleagues were fortunate to have known him. We offer our
deepest sympathy and condolences to his family."
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the Irtest news and HSC events I 19
UF College of Medicine graduate students Jeannette Lo-Dauer (from left), Megan
Greenlee, Michelle Gumz (red shirt), Rose Mikulski, Susan Ellor, Sara Palmer and Lisa
Stow recently formed the UF chapter of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.
The group is holding the NuNu 5K Jan. 24 to raise money for TNBC research.
UF students form foundation to raise money
for breast cancer research
By Anne Myers
he re were just eight National Institutes of Health grants awarded in 2008 to
i ,earchers studying triple negative breast cancer, and only a few of them dealt
,pccifically with the disease. Considering it causes one out of every four breast cancer
deaths, the lack of research funding for TNBC seemed a little odd to a group of graduate
students in UF's College of Medicine.
After losing a dear friend, Mary Lou "NuNu" Miller, to triple negative breast cancer in
September, the students decided to form the UF chapter of the Triple Negative Breast
Cancer Foundation. The group is joining the national foundation in its quest to promote
awareness of the disease and raise funds for research to find a treatment.
TNBC is unique in that its cells lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone and human
epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Because of the lack of receptors, this type of breast
cancer doesn't typically respond well to receptor-targeted treatments, which are generally
considered the most effective way to treat breast cancer. TNBC is more prevalent in women
in their 30s and 40s and has a high probability of spreading to the brain and spinal cord. It
is also the only form of breast cancer that can occur in men.
To help raise money for research, UF TNBC will be holding two fundraisers during the
spring semester in memory of Miller. The NuNu 5K Race will be held at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 24 on
the UF campus. The Mary Lou Miller TNBC Gator Gala will be held in March, in the
Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. The formal event will feature music, a silent auction and the
presentation of the first annual UF TNBC Award for Research Excellence. All proceeds
from these two events will go directly to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.
"With these fundraisers we hope to raise awareness about TNBC and support a wonderful
nonprofit organization that wishes to promote not just awareness, but also research," said
Megan Greenlee, the marketing director of UF TNBC and a graduate student in the
Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Science.
For more information or to register for the race and purchase tickets to the gala, visit UF
TNBC's Web site at sites.google.com/site/uftnbc. If you are interested in sponsoring the race
and gala or wish to donate time, money or items for the auction, more information can also
be found on the Web site. 1
Grant brings health focus to
By Chris Brazda
compared with all other racial and gender groups in the
United States, African-American women are at higher
risk of developing hypertension and obesity. The Blue
Foundation for a Healthy Florida, the philanthropic affiliate of
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, is partnering with UF to
reduce this health disparity.
A $100,000 grant from The Blue Foundation is enabling UF's
department of psychology to spearhead a church-based health
empowerment program aimed at increasing and sustaining
healthy cooking, vegetable consumption and other health-smart
behaviors. As a result, the program will decrease blood pressure
and BMI among pre-hypertensive, hypertensive and/or
overweight/obese African-American women and their families.
"Food preferences and traditional food preparation practices
may contribute to the disproportionately high number of
African-Americans who are overweight or obese and/or have
pre-hypertension or hypertension," said Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D.,
a distinguished alumni professor and term professor in health
disparities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the
College of Medicine. "Although African-Americans understand
the importance of a healthy diet and health-smart behaviors
such as exercising, it's difficult to translate that knowledge into
their everyday lifestyles."
Selected church members and pastors from 10 African-
American churches in Gainesville will be trained as health
promotion coaches to encourage the buying and eating of
healthy vegetables, healthy cooking practices and active
lifestyles among 120 targeted African-American women and
later among their congregations in general.
The participating women will be given funds to purchase
vegetables and seasonings to be used for a no-salt, low-fat
vegetable cook-off between local churches. After the cook-off, 40
of the women will be given funds to buy vegetables for three
months. This will determine if an increased income plays a role
in the frequency of vegetable consumption among families.
The grant to UF is part of The Blue Foundation's four-year
initiative called Embrace a Healthy Florida. The statewide
initiative supports community-based programs that promote
change in families and parenting, child-care centers and schools,
neighborhood recreation opportunities and other influences on
the accessibility of healthy food and physical activity.
"Parents can greatly influence a child's lifestyle and eating
habits," said Susan Towler, executive director, The Blue
Foundation for a Healthy Florida. "This program's efforts to
change the way caregivers prepare food is key to reducing or
preventing a child's chance of becoming overweight or obese
now and later in life."
I X I I
Honoring Gators from across the globe
Tolga Barker (center) received the Alec Courtelis Award at UF's
International Students Academic Awards ceremony Nov. 18. Standing with
Barker are his mentor, Dr. Minoru Satoh (left), and Dr. Wayne McCormack,
associate dean for graduate education in the College of Medicine.
By Anne Myers
he UF International Center presented awards to outstanding international students
daring its 14th annual International Student Academic Awards ceremony Nov. 18.
Tolga Barker, a fifth-year doctoral student in the College of Medicine's
Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences, is a recipient of the Alec Courtelis
Award. Barker's research focuses on the autoimmune disease lupus, and he has
conducted several presentations and has co-authored 10 peer-reviewed papers on the
subject. He is active with the College of Medicine's Graduate Student Organization and
still finds time to volunteer with local charities.
Several other students from the Health Science Center received Outstanding Student
Awards. The College of Medicine's recipients include Eun Jung Choi, Meiyu Dong, I-Ju
Lin, Qian Liu, Santhi Pondugula, Mercedes Prucencio-Alvarez, Xiaolei Qiu, Jihae Shin,
Nan Su and Tolga Barker.
The College of Pharmacy recipients are Natasha Chen, Chienning Hsu, Yi Jiang and
Recipients from the College of Public Health and Health Professions are Manuela
Corti and Milapjit Sandhu.
The College of Veterinary Medicine recipients are Ana Cristina Bassit, Yingling
Huang, Ayanna Carla Phillips, Joshua R. Powe and Weerapongse Tangjitjaroen.
Also honored was Emel Ozdora, a graduate student in the College of Journalism and
Communications and staff member in the College of Dentistry. Q
Recognizing research UF awards top researchers with fellowship
By Anne Myers
ach year, the UF Research Foundation
recognizes professors who have helped make
UF a top-tier research university. Nine of this
year's 33 UFRF professors, who were honored Nov. 12,
are from the Health Science Center.
MARY B. BROWN, Ph.D., a
professor of infectious diseases
and pathology in the College of
Veterinary Medicine, has focused her
research on the disease properties
of mycoplasmas, bacteria that are
not affected by antibiotics.
EDWARD K.L. CHAN, Ph.D., Mary B. Brc
a professor of oral biology in the
College of Dentistry, is credited with
discovering the protein GW182,
which is linked to the treatment of
deadly diseases such as oral cancer.
R. PAUL DUNCAN, Ph.D.,
a professor and chair of health
services research, management E K
and policy in the College of Public E K
Health and Health Professions, seeks
to explain why some people can
afford health insurance while others
cannot. His research has gained
recognition as a basis for potential
modifications to the health-care
JENNIFER H. ELDER, Ph.D., R. Paul Dun
R.N., a professor and chair of health
care environment and systems in
the College of Nursing, has been
researching autism and other child
neuropsychiatric disorders for the
past 27 years. Her research has
focused on fathers' interactions with
autistic children and the effects of
a wheat- and milk-free diet on the
treatment of behavioral problems.
JEFFREY A. HUGHES, Ph.D.,
a professor of pharmaceutics in the
College of Pharmacy, has devoted
his research to Alzheimer's disease
and cancer. He is currently exploring
the use of gene therapy to reduce
the build-up of plaques in the brain,
which is associated with Alzheimer's
LAURENCE M. MOREL,
Ph.D., a professor of pathology,
immunology and laboratory medicine
in the College of Medicine, has made
great progress in the study of lupus,
an autoimmune disease that causes
an immune system to attack the
body's own cells, tissues and organs.
DAVID R. NELSON, M.D., an
associate professor of medicine in
the College of Medicine, has focused
his research on liver disease and the
immune system, specifically the body's
immune response to hepatitis C.
DIETMAR W. SIEMANN,
Ph.D., a professor of radiation
oncology in the College of
Medicine, is searching for novel
approaches to treat cancer. His
research seeks to destroy tumors
by targeting and cutting off the
Jennifer H. Elder tumor's blood supply.
jerrrey /. nugnes
Laurence M. Morel
M.D., an associate professor of
internal medicine and molecular
genetics and microbiology in the
College of Medicine, has become
an expert on how AIDS and
cancer relate to common viruses,
specifically Epstein-Barr virus and
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated virus.
CAROLYN M. TUCKER, Ph.D., (not pictured)
a professor of psychology and a researcher with
the College of Medicine department of community
health and family medicine in the College of
Medicine, is the organizer of a project that aims
to bridge the gap separating minorities and low-
income communities from adequate health care.
CHARLES S. WINGO,
M.D., a professor of medicine
and physiology in the College of
Medicine, focuses his research
on kidney regulation of serum
potassium and how it is crucial to
maintaining normal heart rhythm.
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the Ictest news Hnd HSC events 1 21
YVETTE MCCARTER, Ph.D.,
a professor of pathology and
laboratory medicine, has been
appointed by the American
Society for Microbiology as the
to The Joint Commission's
Laboratory Professional and
Technical Advisory Committee. Yvette McCarter
This committee is involved in
advising The Joint Commission on laboratory-
related issues. McCarter will serve a four-year
ROBERT NUSS, M.D., dean of
the UF College of Medicine-
Jacksonville regional campus
and associate vice president
for health affairs, has been
named to the Florida Board
of Medicine, which oversees
physicians throughout the
state. The appointment was Robert Nuss
made by Gov. Charlie Crist Nov. 18. Nuss will
serve a four-year term, pending approval from
the Florida Senate. The board certifies physicians
and physician assistants, establishes regulations
for licensure, imposes penalties for violations and
adopts standards for physician assistants.
COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
DAVID MEURER, M.D., a clinical assistant
professor of emergency medicine and medical
director of the ShandsCair Adult Team and the
Gainesville Fire and Rescue HazMat Team, was
recently appointed to the State Emergency Medical
Services Advisory Council. The council, which is
made up of individuals from
different constituency groups,
serves to advise the Florida
Department of Health Bureau
of Emergency Medical Services.
Meurer seeks to represent both
citizens and EMS providers
and advocate for aeromedical
issues during his appointment. David Meurer
ADRIANO TONELLI, M.D., a
second-year pulmonary and
critical care fellow, received
the Young Investigator
Award at CHEST 2008, the
American College of Chest
Physicians' national meeting, in
Philadelphia Oct. 29. Awards
were based on outstanding Adriano Tonelli
original scientific research, and
recipients were evaluated on their written abstract
and presentation. Tonelli's work was titled "The
majority of adults identified as PiZZ Alpha-1 -
Antitrypsin deficient are over the age of 50."
PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH PROFESSIONS
BRUCE CROSSON, Ph.D., a
professor of clinical and health
psychology, received a Senior
Research Career Scientist award
from the Department of Veterans
Affairs Rehabilitation Research
and Development Service. He
also received a contract for a
two-year, multicenter study on Bruce Crosson
Gulf War illness that will bring
$905,000 to UF. In addition, he was recently re-
appointed as an honorary professor at the University
of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Honorary
professorships are awarded to internationally
renowned individuals to facilitate scientific
communication and collaboration.
IDA KELLISON and
doctoral students in the
department of clinical
and health psychology,
Scholarships from the
Foundation. Only two of Ida Kellison
these scholarships are
awarded nationally each
year, and UF students
claimed both 2008
awards. The $2,500
students with a promising
career in neuropsychology.
UF neuropsychology Ania Mikos
students have won at
least one of the Benton-Meier Neuropsychology
Scholarships each year for the past several years.
SHANNON SISCO, a
student in the clinical
and health psychology
was awarded a National
Institute on Aging
in Aging. The 12-month
fellowship is reserved
for students who display Shannon Sisco
a commitment to aging
research and have been productive in terms of
publications, presentations and grants.
An ambassador for students
By Sarah Carey
l Jd with sadness for the passing of a man who helped define the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, friends
nJd family transformed a memorial service Nov. 19 into a passionate celebration of the life of longtime faculty
m'rnrber and dean emeritus of students Jim Himes, Ph.D.
Past and present students, faculty and administrators as well as members of Himes' family shared their memories
of a man who was born in Ohio, but who called Gainesville home for more than 40 years.
Himes, who passed away Nov. 16 at 89, came to UF in 1965 as an assistant professor of veterinary science in the
College of Agriculture. He received a joint appointment in the newly formed College of Veterinary Medicine in
1973, where he eventually served as assistant dean and dean of students until his retirement in 1992.
But even after retirement, he kept the college close to his heart.
"He was just an extraordinary person who made this college his family until about a month ago," recalled the
college's dean, Glen Hoffsis, D.V.M.
"He made eye contact. He looked directly at you and smiled," recalled Alexa McDermott, senior class president.
Link Welborn, D.V.M., a member of the college's class of '82 and a driving force behind the college alumni council's creation of the James A Himes
Scholarship, remembered meeting Himes while a pre-veterinary student in 1977.
"The period of preparation for veterinary school and the application and interview process is a stressful time for every student, and it was no
different for me," Welborn said. "However, Dr. Himes' quiet, warm, reassuring manner relieved as much of the anxiety as was possible. He made
every student feel as if he cared for them, and I'm convinced that he did genuinely care for all of us."
1221 I http: news.health.utl.edu
Now a UF vet student, KID
Max Polyak helped
develop a technique that
is saving people's lives
one organ at a time
By Sarah Carey
The experience changed him forever.
"The longer I was there, the more I realized it was the
diplomats who were screwing things up," said Polyak,
now a sophomore veterinary student at UF. "The people
having the biggest impact were the physicians and
nurses the medical folks on the ground."
Instead, Polyak nurtured his travel bug, traveling
to England, where he received a master's degree in
natural sciences from the University of Cambridge.
With an eye on medical school, Polyak wound up
back in the U.S., working in Cornell University's
transplant surgery department.
The 10 years he spent there allowed him to
cultivate a unique niche.
Focusing on techniques to improve the function of
transplanted organs, Polyak developed the
department's research laboratory, the largest of its
kind in the country. His research focused on the time
when a donor organ is outside of the body prior to
"We formulated different types of drugs that we
would infuse into organs so they'd function better,"
Polyak said. "When you watch 'ER' you see an Igloo
cooler with an organ inside of it being rushed to the
emergency room. We changed that paradigm. We
would hook the organ up to a machine to trick it into
thinking it is still inside the body."
This technique, now in practice at several
transplantation centers in the U.S., gives medical
personnel more time to test the organ for viability
Max Polyak, a UF veterinary medicine student, also serves as director of the organ
perfusion center at the Shands Transplant Center at UF. Here, he is shown
preparing a kidney for machine perfusion and transplantation.
and he works with a committed staff, Polyak said.
Of course, his veterinary education is also taking
him into new areas of research.
Polyak recently worked with UF large animal
surgeons David Freeman Ph.D., and Alison Morton,
D.V.M., on equine colic.
"We are delighted to have him involved in our
research on improving survival in ischemic-injured
equine colon," said Freeman, associate chair of large
animal clinical sciences, associate chief of staff of the
Alec P. and Louise H. Courtelis Equine Hospital and
director of the Island Whirl Colic Research Laboratory.
"Max is a remarkable individual and has
accomplished more before he earns his professional
degree than many accomplish afterward, in
veterinary or human medicine."
Polyak is excited about the possibility of future
human and veterinary medicine collaborations in
"We now have a series of experiments that are
ongoing," Polyak said. "The goal is to use techniques
that are proven in the human organ transplant field
to improve healing in surgical colic cases."
Polyak co-authored several papers presented this
summer at the International Equine Colic
Symposium and the American Gastrointestinal
Association. Most recently, he presented his findings
at the American College of Veterinary Surgeons
meeting in San Diego.
"Max has brought novel concepts and ideas to our
research, and he is definitely a great person to work
with very intelligent, yet unassuming, and with a
great sense of humor, too," Morton said.
As for his future? Polyak likes contemplating a
career in academic veterinary medicine or possibly
"The area of equine veterinary medicine is
certainly the most attractive to me," he said. Q
and to send it to recipients across the country.
Polyak's research involved developing the drug
solution used to perfuse the organ and perfecting the
machine used to optimize organ viability.
"I was really close to going to medical school, and
the surgeons I worked with really wanted me to stay,"
Polyak said. "But I knew it wasn't for me."
Polyak, now 39 and a father, wanted to be a
veterinarian, like his own father and brother. He
applied to the University of California at Davis, the
University of Pennsylvania and UF, and was accepted
at all three schools. But Polyak was Florida-bound.
Soon after moving to Gainesville, Polyak heard
from some of his UF contacts from the human
transplant world. "They said, 'we heard you were
here in Gainesville and we want to start a clinical
service to machine-perfuse donor kidneys for our
patients,'" Polyak recalled. "They knew about my
experience and asked if I would help set up an organ
perfusion lab, so we started talking and got
In the past year, the Shands Transplant Center at
UF's organ perfusion laboratory, which Polyak directs,
has increased the number of kidney transplants
performed at UF&Shands by 120 percent.
"We are now taking organs we wouldn't have even
considered years ago and actually using them," he said.
Being a veterinary student and holding down a job
directing the perfusion lab is not as difficult as it
might appear. Many procedures can be scheduled,
Visit us online @ http://news.health.ufl.edu for the Ictest news rnd HSC events 1 23
After graduation from the University of Southern California in
1990, Max Polyak planned to be a diplomat. Toward that end,
he participated in a medical relief team, flying critically injured
civilians out of Bosnia during that country's civil war.
Gail Birket (from left) receives a vehicle check from occupational therapist Linda
Struckmeyer and UF occupational therapy students Frances Faucher and Christopher
Cardani on Nov. 14. The occupational therapy department hosted CarFit, a free
national program that gives older adults the opportunity to check how their personal
vehicles "fit" them and receive advice on adjustments to improve driver safety.
The band Deny the Fall, featuring UF medical resident
Matthew Willey (left), performed Nov. 14 at MEDSTOCK, an
event Willey helped start in 2005 to raise funds for UF
medical humanitarian trips.
Patti Behrns (right) sets up toys for the
Shands Children's Hospital playrooms Dec.
17. Behrns, Amy Zingarelli (left) and other
wives of UF surgeons, organized a toy
collection during the department's holiday
party. Gifts for children of all ages were
donated to the Shands Child Life program,
which helps children and families cope with
hospitalization. Child Life specialist Naomi
Martinez said the gifts were very helpful
because donations are down this year. If
interested in helping, Shands' Child Life has
a wish list on amazon.com.
UF Health Science Center
Office of News & Communications
Douglas J. Barrett, M.D.
Melanie Fridl Ross
April Frawley Birdwell
Melanie Fridl Ross, John Pastor
Kandra Albury, April Frawley Birdwell,
Jennifer Brindise, Tracy Brown Wright,
Sarah Carey, Linda Homewood, John
Pastor, Jill Pease, Karen Rhodenizer,
Melanie Fridl Ross, Priscilla Santos
Cassandra Jackson, Beth Powers,
The POST is the monthly internal
newsletter for the University of
Florida Health Science Center, the
most comprehensive academic
health center in the Southeast,
with campuses in Gainesville
and Jacksonville and affiliations
throughout Florida. Articles feature
news of interest for and about HSC
faculty, staff and students. Content
may be reprinted with appropriate
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The deadline for submitting items
to be considered for each month's
issue is the 15th of the previous
month. Submit to the editor at
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