Mobeen Rathore, MD, is a professor and associate chair of pediatrics and pediatric infectious disease specialist who led the launch of a program in 1991 to provide clinical services to children with HIV/AIDS and their families. It was part of the first NIH grant for the UF Health Jacksonville campus and became the largest clinical research program at the college. Rathore said that development necessitated the creation of a research infrastructure on campus.
“Because of our work in HIV/AIDS research and the existence of a strong clinical infrastructure, combined with sound management, we have been invited to be part of the NIH-funded COVID Vaccine Prevention Network and the COVID-19 Prevention Network,” Rathore said. “We will be conducting coronavirus vaccine, prevention and treatment trials at our COVID research center.”
Phyllis Hendry, MD, a professor and associate chair of research for emergency medicine, said building an infrastructure for emergency medicine research was her initial goal when she formally started the division in 2008.
“I’m an organizer and each research study requires pulling together a multidisciplinary team of doctors, coordinators, pharmacy, nursing, Institutional Review Board and budgetary staff,” Hendry said. “This infrastructure led to the first NIH KL2, K23 and R01 awards for our college and millions of dollars in new funding for private and federal grants and industry clinical trials that have improved sepsis, COVID-19, post-traumatic stress and pediatric care and the development of new nonopioid approaches to pain management at local and national levels.”
The infrastructures Rathore and Hendry speak of are part of an “ecosystem” now considered foundational to the college’s research efforts. That ecosystem, which includes the Center for Data Solutions and Center for Research Training, is the base on which all research programs are now built, according to Tina Bottini, senior assistant dean for research.
However, that infrastructure would be meaningless if not for the “dedication of people,” says Mark Hudak, MD, a professor and chair of pediatrics and chief of neonatology.
“Our studies in neonatology with newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit depend greatly on nursing, medical staff and pharmacy to work with patients, families and each other,” Hudak said. “That involves getting a family’s approval, explaining aspects of research throughout the process, getting the medication doses right and all the information recorded correctly. The paperwork is extremely important, and our group is equally expert at that and at patient care. It’s a delicate balance in the NICU, and infrastructure wouldn’t matter unless we had fantastic people. And we do have fantastic people.”