A forum for all
Celebration of Research 2018 joins students, faculty and staff in an exchange of ideas
Feb. 21, 2018 — A thunderous buzz reverberated throughout the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Monday evening. The noise was not the excited chatter of Gator basketball fans, but instead the musings and discussions among UF College of Medicine students, faculty and staff, who took to the O’Dome to share their latest research findings.
The 2018 Celebration of Research, which began Monday with the poster session and reception and continued Tuesday with seminars led by two faculty members from Harvard Medical School, served as a forum for researchers of all academic levels to teach and inspire each other.
UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good., M.D., called the event a cross-college effort. He said the UF College of Medicine’s recent milestone of exceeding more than $100 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health in one year speaks to the quality of research being conducted here.
“The UF College of Medicine research program continues to expand in size, scope and especially impact,” he said. “I’m so proud of our faculty, students and staff.”
Visitors to Monday’s poster session munched on finger sandwiches and sweets as they weaved in and out of aisles created by more than 500 research posters. The corners of the arena were filled with informational booths from organizations like the Center for Smell and Taste, the Electron Microscopy Core Facility and the Office of Graduate Education.
Karen Pastos, assistant director for the UF College of Medicine Office of Research Affairs, said the event has grown over the last few years, namely due to the opportunities it affords. She estimates attendance exceeded 1,000 this year.
“Six years ago, we outgrew the conference center where the event was usually held and moved to the O’Connell Center. That speaks to the growth and participation of our researchers,” she said. “Undergraduate students can see what being a graduate student is like, faculty can visit their colleagues and learn more about their work, and basic science researchers can see what clinical researchers are up to.”
Pastos said she hopes all attendees leave the event feeling stimulated and energized, both about their own research and that of their colleagues.
“I hope this year’s participants and attendees find new collaborators, learn about new areas of research they didn’t know were being done and meet someone new who inspires them,” she said. “From students to faculty, everyone needs that venue to be passionate and engage others in what you’re doing. It’s also an opportunity for them to refine their elevator talk. That’s the way you explain your science to people in other fields. You have to break it down in a way that makes sense.”
Second-year UF College of Medicine student Anthony Barrios presented his work on the “Impact of Sex and Ethnicity on Underuse of Cardiovascular Stress Testing in the Outpatient Setting.” He said the evening provided a special occasion to share work he feels passionate about.
“The best part about tonight is that everybody gets to show what they’ve been working on. I get to learn from their work, and they get to learn from mine. That’s what you want from an academic community,” he said.
Elizabeth Thomas, D.O., an assistant professor of surgery in the UF College of Medicine division of transplantation surgery, said sharing her work on “The Effects of a Multimodal Pain Control Regimen in Living Donor Laparoscopic Nephrectomies” renewed her sense of enthusiasm to continue with her studies.
“As faculty, we don’t often have the opportunity to see the variety of research being done throughout this institution. It’s inspiring and encouraging to be part of a forum like this,” she said.
Tuesday’s events featured two seminars from keynote speaker Yang Shi, Ph.D., a professor of neonatology at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School and special guest Yujiang Geno Shi, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an assistant professor in the division of endocrinology, hypertension, and diabetes at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research affairs said the work of these two epigeneticists will leave a lasting impression on the field.
“Importantly, their studies have revealed how epigenetic changes translate into specific biological processes that impact human health,” he said.
Sugrue called the events comprising the 2018 Celebration of Research an opportunity to take some time and smell the roses.
“It is time to slow down and appreciate the breadth and depth of the UF College of Medicine’s research endeavors and recognize how our research is directed at fundamental, timely and significant areas of human health,” he said.