USF Health Research Day 2018 celebrates team science

Two new Research Day awards focus on scholarly work promoting research and practice across the health colleges

This year’s USF Health Research Day hit another record number of poster presentations, and the successful event’s aim to encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional research among students was at the forefront.

For Research Day 2018, held Feb. 23, the university’s Marshall Center Ballroom filled early more than 370 poster presentations. The event showcases the best scientific work of students, residents, fellows and postdoctoral students across USF Health as well as health-related collaborations with other USF colleges.

Among the 97 judges who volunteered to evaluate student presentations was Charles J. Lockwood, MD, who has seen Research Day grow in both the numbers of participants and the caliber of research in his more than three years as senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine.

This year’s USF Health Research Day hit another record number of poster presentations.

“The quality of the presentations is exceptional, and the passion and energy of our students is infectious,” Dr. Lockwood said.  “This passion for excellence in research is a sign of our maturity as an academic organization.  It’s what a great health sciences center ought to do.”

Now in its 28th year, Research Day initiated three new awards this year — two focused specifically on scholarly work promoting interdisciplinary research and practice.

A Research Day participant prepares her poster for presentation.

The $1,000 USF Health Deans’ Interdisciplinary Research Award, sponsored by the deans from medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy and coordinated through the WELL, was created to reward students from two or three different USF Health colleges who collaborate on a research project. The $500 Lisa DeSafey Japp Memorial Award in Patient-Centered Health Care and Communications recognizes a team of interdisciplinary USF Health students conducting patient-centered care that promotes empathy and compassion for patients and their families. The third new award, the USF Federal Credit Union Cancer Biology Poster Award, honors a Morsani College of Medicine doctoral student conducting outstanding research in cancer biology. (A list of USF Health Research Day 2018 top award and certificate winners appears at the end of this story.)

Research Day kicked off with the Annual Roy H. Behnke, MD, Distinguished Lectureship presented by Francis McCormack, MD, director of pulmonary, critical care medicine and sleep medicine at the University of Cincinnati.  Dr. McCormack conducts National Institutes of Health-funded research on lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and other rare lung diseases with the aim of applying that knowledge toward discovering new biomarkers and treatments.  His presentation was titled “Silencing LAM: Science, Synergy and Serendipity.”

Stephen B. Liggett, MD, associate vice president for research at USF Health and vice dean for research at Morsani College of Medicine, welcomes attendees to USF Health Research Day 2018.

Dr. McCormack has worked with USF Health’s Jeffrey Krischer, PhD, one of the world’s top NIH-funded principal investigators who oversees a major data coordinating center for the NIH Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, encompassing some 250 medical centers worldwide.  The network’s Rare Lung Diseases Consortium includes the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Dr. McCormack leads LAM studies bridging both basic and clinical research.

Following his presentation, Dr. McCormack said he was “very impressed” by the level engagement and enthusiasm at USF Health Research Day.

Other academic Research Days he has attended “don’t get turnouts like this,” he said. “I think young people become interested in (advancing) research when other students and faculty take an interest in their research, and this kind of event is the forum where that interaction can happen.”

Featured Research Day speaker Francis McCormack, MD, of the University of Cincinnati, spoke about his laboratory and clinical research seeking new biomarkers and treatments for rare lung diseases, particularly lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM. 

Dr. McCormack, who encourages emerging health scientists to focus their energies on answering “big questions” that could ultimately benefit patients or public health, said “collaboration is the key to success.”

Public and private agencies increasingly require that collaborative edge in the projects they fund.

Both Dr. McCormack and Stephen Liggett, MD, associate vice president for research at USF Health and vice dean for research at the Morsani College of Medicine, agreed that team science that stretches the abilities of researchers to tackle the big questions of science by working across disciplines and professions is the wave of the future.  Within a structured format, projects that bring a broader range of expertise and perspectives to discovery in the laboratory, clinic or community settings have the potential to improve experimental design and the relevance of findings.

“Interdisciplinary research builds a process whereby we can get things done in a quicker, and often better, fashion than if you try to do everything yourself,” Dr. Liggett said.

Nicole Le, far right, of the Morsani College of Medicine Department of Plastic Surgery, explains her team’s research poster results to judges, including Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of MCOM.

USF Health students were quick to cite the advantages of working across disciplines and colleges to help solve problems.

Second-year medical student Attiya Harit, winner of the USF Health Deans’ Interdisciplinary Research Award, led a team creating a health care needs assessment for Tampa Bay Street Medicine (TBSM), a medical student-run organization providing basic medical care to homeless in the Tampa Bay area through street runs and outreach clinics.

Last summer, TBSM partnered with the USF College of Public Health to create an interdisciplinary service learning opportunity. Undergraduate public health students taking a health education course with COPH Assistant Professor Anna Torrens Armstrong, PhD, drafted a structured questionnaire to help TBSM identify the strengths of services they offer as well as pinpoint any gaps or barriers to care that might be addressed.  To get to know the people TBSM serves and their daily challenges, some of the public health students accompanied medical students on outreach runs to distribute hygiene supplies. The preliminary assessment tool will be further refined and implemented by a class of COPH graduate students this summer before being used by TBSM to evaluate services.

Second-year medical student Attiya Harit speaks with Victoria Rich, PhD (right), dean of the USF College of Nursing.

“Creating the health needs assessment really would not have been possible without the expertise of the College of Public Health,” Harit said. “Public health as a discipline has a strong background in doing needs assessments and looking at things from a preventive aspect, and we in medicine can take the needs they’ve identified and act on them.”

Abena Annor, a first-year medical student; Samia Vo Dutra, a PhD nursing student;  Marlene J. Bewa, a public health graduate student; and Danielle Gorman, a first-year physical therapy student, are members of a research team working to develop a user-friendly mobile app to improve patient-centered communication.  Annor, lead author on their poster, received the Lisa DeSafey Japp Memorial Award in Patient-Centered Health Care and Communications.

Theresa Nguyen (left), a College of Public Health graduate student specializing in global communicable diseases, explains the research she conducted with colleagues in mental health and civil engineering. The study combined  GIS, mapping technologies and sociodemographic information to help define populations vulnerable to the opioid epidemic in Florida counties. COPH Professor Ellen Daley, PhD, was among the Research Day judges. 

Each student contributed different perspectives in designing survey questions that the app will use to assess patient and provider feedback about patient encounters.  Their goal is to help improve provider communication skills to increase patient satisfaction with care and adherence to medical recommendations. The students plan to test the app this summer with a pilot study involving USF faculty physicians and 15 eligible cancer patients.

USF Health provides an environment that gives students from different colleges the opportunities to interact – which helps create the context for interprofessional research and practice, Dutra said.  “If we weren’t able to reach out to students and faculty in other colleges to brainstorm, team projects like this would not happen.”

College of Pharmacy Associate Professor Srinivas Tipparaju, PhD, (left) one of the judges for the Research Day oral presentations, listens intently to a student speaker. 

Following the 9th Annual Joseph Krzanowski Invited Oral Presentations by 12 select students representing medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy, Research Day concluded with a ceremony announcing top award and certificate winners:

Jeremy Baker, a doctoral student in the Morsani College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Medicine, took the top prize in the oral presentations for his research on a naturally-occurring human enzyme  that can unravel protein aggregates contributing to both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

Top Award Winners

The 9th Annual Joseph Krzanowski, PhD Invited Oral Presenters
Evan Hegarty
, master’s student, College of Public Health
Elliot Pressman, Med II student, Morsani College of Medicine
John Canfield, doctoral student, Morsani College of Medicine
Krys Johnson, MPH, doctoral student, College of Public Health
Jeremy Baker, doctoral student, Morsani College of Medicine
Caitlin Wolfe, MPH, doctoral student, College of Public Health
Ashley Marie Perry, Med II student, Morsani College of Medicine
Chao Ma, doctoral student, Morsani College of Medicine
Kimberly Sand, DNP, postdoctoral student, College of Nursing
Arunava Roy, PhD, postdoctoral student, Morsani College of Medicine
Jared Tur, PhD, postdoctoral student, College of Pharmacy
Danielle Henry, MD, fellow, Moffitt Cancer Center

Kimberly Sand, DNP, a postdoc in the USF College of Nursing, presented results of her quality improvement project evaluating the impact of an adult cardiovascular disease risk assessment on patients’ perception of risk and their intent to change risk.

USF Health Vice President’s Award for Outstanding Invited Oral Presentation
Jeremy Baker

Outstanding Innovations in Medicine Poster Presentation Award
Elliot George Neal

Outstanding Med IV Student Presenter Watson Clinic Award
Leah Clark

Dr. Christopher P. Phelps Memorial Fund Annual Morsani College of Medicine Graduate Student Travel Award
Chao Ma

Attiya Harit was among the top award winners, receiving the first-ever USF Health Deans’ Interdisciplinary Research Award for a research/service-learning project teaming medical students from Tampa Bay Street Medicine with College of Public Health students.

USF Health Deans’ Interdisciplinary Research Award
Attiya Harit

USF Federal Credit UnionCancer Biology Poster Award
Mark Howell

The Morsani College of Medicine Outstanding Poster Awards

Postdoctoral Scholar Poster
Lei Wang

Resident Trainee Poster
Kelsey Ryan

Clinical Fellow Poster
Matthew Perez

Lisa DeSafey Japp Memorial Award in Patient Centered Health Care and Communications
Abena Annor

From left, Abena Annor, a first-year medical student received the inaugural Lisa DeSafey Jaap Memorial Poster Award for Patient-Centered Health Care and Communications.  She’s pictured here with her student teammates:  Marlene J. Bewa of the College of Public Health, Samia Vo Dutra of the College of Nursing, and Danielle Gorman of the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. 

Certificate Winners

Morsani College of Medicine Masters & Doctoral level Graduate Student Categories

Overall Masters-Level Student Research
Shan He

(Masters-level) Molecular Biology and Neurology
Jacob Wilson

(Doctoral-level) Allergy, Immunology & Infectious Disease Research
Udoka Okaro

(Doctoral-level) Cardiovascular Research
Natascha Alves

(Doctoral-level) Clinical and Education Research
Rohini Nimbalkar

(Doctoral-level) Molecular and Cellular Biology
Thomas Parks

Morsani College of Medicine Medical I- III Student Categories

Med I Student Research
Karisa Serraneau

Med II Clinical Science Research
Ashley Perry
Lawrence Guan

Med II Student Case Studies
Jose Jesurajan

Med II Chart Reviews
Kyle Sheets
Matthew Gliksman

Med II Education Research
Sabrina Khalil

Med II Evidence-based Research
Chelsea Schmitt

Med II Neuroscience Research
Suraj Nagaraj

Med II Public Health Research
Anna Radisic

Med III Case Studies
Danny Nguyen

Med III Chart Reviews
Roger Gerard

Med III Clinical Science
Joseph Luke O’Neill, II

Research presented ranged from basic and translational science to clinical studies.

Morsani College of Medicine Medical IV Student, Medical Resident/Clinical Fellow, Postdoctoral Scholar Categories

Med IV Case Studies and Chart Reviews
Min Kong
Bryce Montane

Resident Case Studies, Chart Reviews
Stefanie Grewe

Clinical Fellows Case Studies, Allergy, Immunology & Infectious Disease
Sonia Joychan

Clinical Fellows Chart Reviews
Lynh Nguyen

College of Public Health Graduate Student Categories
Marlene Bewa
Linda Bomboka
Kenneth Taylor
Yingwei Yang
Nisha Vijayakumar
Alexis Barr
Mosadoluwa Afoiabi
Evan Hegarty
Virginia Liddell
Jessica Berumen
Rumour Piepenbrink

College of Nursing & College of Pharmacy Student Awards

College of Nursing Research
Samia Vo Dutra

College of Pharmacy Graduate Student Research
Donna Mae Marg Pate

College of Pharmacy Postdoctoral Scholar Research
Vetriselvan Manavalan

Emerging young scientists included undergraduate award winners, some of whom are pictured here.

USF Health Undergraduate Student Poster Awards

Undergraduate Research: Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Bence Zakota

Undergraduate Research: Case Studies and Chart Reviews
Meghana Reddy

Undergraduate Research: Clinical Science
Hayley Rein
Radhe Mehta
Pamela Bulu

Undergraduate Neuroscience Research
Mohammed Khatib

Undergraduate Research
Grant Morrison

A group of award winners shows their USF Bulls pride.

-Video by Sandra C. Roa and Torie Doll, and photos by Eric Younghans and Freddie Coleman, USF Health Communications and Marketing