As an undergraduate freshman at UF, Tomas Potlach became interested in studying inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Upon reaching out to UF gastroenterology professor Ellen Zimmermann, M.D., in the hopes of interning in her lab, he landed a spot carrying out basic science benchwork techniques.
Under Zimmermann’s guidance and as part of UF’s combined B.S./M.D. Medical Honors Program, Potlach soon transitioned to a big data study leveraging the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium, a large, statewide electronic health record database housed in the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and wrote his honors thesis investigating biologic medication use among a large cohort of patients with IBD in Florida. Zimmermann, who is also the associate dean for faculty development, sponsored Potlach and a peer in establishing an on-campus IBD support group for UF students and a panel discussion to help students with IBD effectively transition to college life.
“I am thankful for Dr. Zimmermann’s mentorship,” Potlach said. “She really uplifted me and opened my eyes to a future career in medicine. She constantly strives to help others, especially students, become the best version of themselves. Beyond this, Dr. Zimmermann continues to show me that research is an increasingly important facet of medicine. She helped me get into research, and one of my most memorable experiences with her mentorship was giving my first poster presentation at the UF College of Medicine Celebration of Research Day at the Stephen O’Connell Center.”