UF celebrates research at annual event

UF held the 2014 College of Medicine Celebration of Research during the first week in April. Events during the week included a poster session displaying more than 400 medical research projects, a keynote address by Jeffrey W. Kelly, Ph.D., the chairman of the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, and a competition among Medical Guild members.

Dr. Michael Good, the dean of the college, said that UF has held a Research Day for years in the college’s facilities, but this is the second year that the poster session has packed the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

“What’s so impressive to me is that we fill this space, and we fill it with science and research,” Good said. “We have three missions in the college of medicine: patient care, research and education, and this is a week when we can celebrate the accomplishments of our researchers.”

Research topics at the College of Medicine cover the entire medical field, from gene therapies that might return the sense of smell to people with specific congenic disabilities to gauging how well students learn via podcast. Some have already been tested in the market, like Chelsey S. Simmons’ GatorBAIT Labs medical devices that help bridge the gap between petri dish research and having to deal with unruly lab animals by mimicking biological functions.

Good said that the college is following the university’s lead in intensive research. Over the past five years, he said, funding from the National Institutes of Health has risen almost 40 percent, a statistic he said shows that the research UF performs is valued in the nation’s capitol.

The college brings in more than $200 million in external funding through the NIH and other funding sources and the majority is used to hire people. The medical school creates a lot of jobs in Gainesville, he said, and when the college moves whole teams to town it helps stimulate the local economy through the purchase of housing and other amenities.

“The most important thing is the science and discovery because we’re trying to improve human health,” Good said. “But it is an economic driver as well.”

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