UF College of Medicine research showcase gets bigger, better

Basic, clinical and translational science researchers from across the College of Medicine shared their research and sowed the seeds of new collaborations Monday during the 2011 Celebration of Research held at the Hilton UF Conference Center.

Mark Wallet, Ph.D., discusses his research with Michael Clare-Salzler, M.D., during the reception and poster presentation.

“A lot of our time is spent worrying about numbers — money, space and faculty time — tonight is a little bit more about worrying about discovery and sharing some interactions with colleagues,” said Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research affairs.

With more than 300 presenters from departments throughout the college, the poster session spilled into the hallways.

“We’ve outgrown our own campus, said Dean Michael L. Good, the Folke H. Peterson Dean’s Distinguished Professor. “This just shows the breadth of research groups and exciting work being done here.”

The program’s top honors went to two noted senior faculty members.

Maureen Goodenow, Ph.D., the Stephany W. Holloway University Chair for AIDS Research, won the Basic Science Research Award. In presenting the award, Sugrue cited Goodenow’s prolific research program aimed at understanding the mechanisms of development and progression of HIV/AIDS and related conditions such as HIV-associated dementia. In the last eight years, Goodenow has brought in about $20 million in research funds to the College of Medicine and published in top scientific journals.

Scott Berceli, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of surgery, won the Clinical Science Research Award and was cited for his work examining how the accelerated thickening of grafted blood vessels after heart bypass surgery contributes to failure of the procedure.

“Scott is a great example of physicians going from the bedside to the bench, and then eventually back to the bedside with therapeutic interventions,” said David Nelson, M.D., director of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

David Nelson, M.D., director of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, presented the Clinical Science Research Award to Scott Berceli, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of surgery at UF.

Poster presenters included not just senior faculty members, but a large number of junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students.

• Kavitha Gnanasambandan, a fourth-year graduate student in the interdisciplinary program in biomedical sciences, presented her work examining the ways in which a mutant protein contributes to overproduction of blood cells as occurs in a group of diseases known as myeloproliferative neoplasms. Gnanasambandan works with Peter Sayeski, Ph.D., an associate professor of functional physiology and genomics.

• Mark Wallet, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine, is investigating the causes of inflammation during HIV-infection. He is working to extend those findings to other inflammation-related diseases and exploring therapies that potentially can be used for not only HIV-associated conditions such as dementia, but also cardiovascular disease, avian flu and other diseases characterized by inflammation.

• HIV-researcher Li Yin, Ph.D., a research assistant professor who is also in the pathology department, shared her investigation of how changes in immune system cells enhance the likelihood of viral infection.

Maureen Goodenow, Ph.D., the Stephany W. Holloway University chair for AIDS Research, was presented with the Basic Science Research Award by Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D.

• Todd Manini, Ph.D., an assistant professor with the department of aging and geriatric research and the UF Institute on Aging, and his students presented on a number of topics in aging, including the amount of energy older adults expend in carrying out daily tasks — work that could lead to fatigue-reduction strategies, how blood glucose levels relate to time spent watching television and how confidence in the ability to do a task affects the ability to carry out that task.

“These young people are the future — they are the ones who are going to continue to grow science and become the new productive entourage of physicians and research scientists,” said Michael Clare-Salzler, M.D., interim chairman of the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine, whose students presented at the session. “It’s nice to see them from one year to another and see their expanding knowledge, expertise and breadth of thinking.”