May 7, 2021 — Michael Okun, MD, and Jiang Bian, PhD, were recently announced as the winners of the 2021 College of Medicine Clinical Science Research Award and the UF College of Medicine Basic Science Research Award, respectively. Each year the college presents an award to a clinical science and a basic science faculty member for outstanding achievement, productivity and research discovery.
Clinical Science Research Award — Michael Okun, MD
An internationally recognized expert in movement disorders — particularly in the exploration of non-motor basal ganglia brain features — Okun is the recipient of the 2021 College of Medicine Clinical Science Research Award. This award recognizes outstanding research that has a close connection to clinical medicine and/or a significant impact on the delivery of patient care. He is a professor and chair of the Department of Neurology and director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases.
Okun received his MD with honors from the University of Florida and has been a faculty member at the college since 2002. He currently is a principal investigator on three NIH grants and several foundation grants exploring various aspects of deep brain stimulation and neuromodulation. His research publications include many high-impact papers that have deeply influenced and improved patient care and outcomes worldwide. Okun has been an integral part of some of the pioneering studies exploring the cognitive, behavioral and mood effects of brain stimulation and, since 2005, his laboratory has been working to uncover the electrical brain signals associated with human tic. He has also partnered with Ayse Gunduz, PhD, and Kelly Foote, MD, to develop a first generation of closed loop adaptive deep brain stimulation approaches. Okun has served as the National Medical Director for the Parkinson’s Foundation since 2006 and was recognized in a 2015 White House ceremony by the Obama administration as a Champion of Change for Parkinson’s Disease. He was the founding principal investigator for the International Database and Public Registry for Tourette Deep Brain Stimulation. He and his group have contributed data to support the FDA approval of several device-related approaches now used to treat human disease.
Okun is also a published author, with his book of poetry, “Lessons from the Bedside” published in 1995. His book “Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life” has been translated in over 20 languages.
Basic Science Research Award — Jiang Bian, PhD
With an expertise in developing informatic tools and systems, Bian is the recipient of the 2021 UF College of Medicine Basic Science Research Award. This award recognizes exceptional research that contributes to the understanding of the fundamental underlying principles of biology and medicine.
Bian is an associate professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics and a member of the UF Health Cancer Center, focusing on machine learning, causal AI, natural language processing, network science, ontology development and evaluation, semantic web technology and software engineering. He has extensive experience in data science methods for the analysis and interpretation of biomedical and textural data as well as a strong track record in building data infrastructure and using electronic health records for research and natural language processing tools. Bian has been leading the effort in integrating and linking diverse data sources to create the data infrastructure for the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute-funded OneFlorida, where they collect, link and manage electronic health records, administrative claims, vital statistics and cancer registry data from 22 hospitals, 1,240 clinical practices and 4,100 physicians. This represents over 15 million Floridians — more than 50% of the state’s population. Within the OneFlorida network, he is the director of Query Coordination and the biomedical informatics director of the OneFlorida Surveillance and Linkage to Care Program. He is currently a principal investigator on seven NIH grants and one CDC grant in addition to serving as a coinvestigator on many others.
Bian’s research has produced a number of publications in highly ranked international journals and conferences; but more importantly, his work has resulted in a number of production-level informatics tools and systems that have been widely used.