ICHP Year in Review

Building on nationally recognized research programs in pediatric quality of care, life-span research, and biomedical informatics, the Institute for Child Health Policy (ICHP) continued to carry out its mission to improve children’s health through innovative research and to serve as a transdisciplinary hub of child health research at UF and around the country.

Using Biomedical Informatics to Improve Pediatric Quality of Care

As data analytics takes on an increasingly important role in health research and care delivery, ICHP faculty are leveraging big data to promote pediatric safety and quality of care. For example, in addition to evaluating quality and outcomes of care for children in Florida and Texas Medicaid programs, Betsy Shenkman is using health care claims and electronic health record data from the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium to test and implement new pediatric quality measures developed by the Pediatric Quality Measures Program (PQMP) Centers of Excellence. With $675,000 in initial funding from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Shenkman will lead a team of UF Health researchers and national collaborators with PCORI’s PedsNet and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to evaluate two quality measures: preventive oral health care, and the safe and judicious use of antipsychotic medications. UF is one of only six institutions nationwide to participate in the PQMP.

Other ICHP collaborations in this field of research include:

  • With funding from PCORI, ICHP researchers and the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium will collaborate with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a network member of PedsNet, to use electronic health record data to improve patient safety for those with sickle cell anemia and other childhood conditions.
  • Mildred Maldonado-Molina, Ph.D., is collaborating with ICHP, the UF Family Data Center and the Florida chapter of the March of Dimes to map premature births in Florida’s 67 counties to help state policy-makers target areas with the highest needs.
  • Amanda Hicks, Ph.D., is participating in national work to develop a terminology to examine adverse events in pediatrics for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This groundbreaking work, published in the January 2017 issue of Pediatrics, provides scientists and clinicians with an important tool to improve patient safety and quality of care.
  • Betsy Shenkman, Ph.D., began serving as national co-chair of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s (PCORI’s) Pediatric Collaborative Research Group in 2016, working with leading child health researchers to help shape a national child-health research agenda for PCORI that includes a focus on biomedical informatics.

Promoting Health Across the Life Span

ICHP researchers are collaborating with scientists at UF in the Department of Pediatrics and the UF Diabetes Institute and nationwide to conduct vital research across the life span, as well. Collaborative research groups with PCORI and PedsNet are focusing on diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular health. In another project funded by UF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Lindsay Thompson, M.D., M.S., assistant director of clinical research at ICHP, has partnered with four other CTSIs to lead a national initiative for the Child Health-Research Acceleration Through Multisite Planning (CHAMP) program to accelerate research on screening for adverse childhood experiences (ACES) in the primary care setting.

William Hogan, M.D., M.S., ICHP professor and director of biomedical informatics at the UF CTSI, received a grant from PCORI to enhance and accelerate surveillance of congenital Zika syndrome using electronic health records and administrative data from PCORnet and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Sentinel Initiative.

Chris Delcher, Ph.D., received a three-year, $196,248 grant from the Department of Justice to evaluate the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and track high-risk groups, such as women of reproductive age who use opioids and adolescents prescribed stimulants for ADHD.

Stephanie Staras, Ph.D., and Robert Lawrence, M.D., in the department of pediatrics, received a two-year Pfizer grant to study a school-based immunization program for meningitis Group B (Men B), in collaboration with the county health department, area public schools and the University of Florida.

ICHP Associate Director Matthew Gurka, Ph.D.,is working with Josef Neu, M.D., in the department of pediatrics on a recently funded R21 from the NICHD to evaluate the effects of early antibiotic use on the developing intestinal microbiome and metabolome in preterm infants.

With a $45,000 grant from the national T1D Exchange Clinic Network, Ashby Walker, Ph.D., is working with Desmond Schatz, M.D., medical director of the UF Diabetes Institute and president of the American Diabetes Association, to develop a program in which UF college students mentor children with diabetes from low-income families.

Ramzi Salloum, Ph.D., andLindsay Thompsonare collaborating on a project to identify children most likely to start using tobacco products and to implement interventions to prevent that use.

Francois Modave, Ph.D., is working with Angelina Bernier, M.D., in the department of pediatrics to validate a fitness assessment and develop mobile health app for use by adults and children.

Advancing Health Care Research

ICHP researchers are striving to improve the quality of child health research, as well. For instance, ICHP biostatistician Keith Muller, Ph.D., and University of Colorado Denver co-principal investigator Deborah Glueck, Ph.D., received renewed NIH funding to continue offering their GLIMMPSE sample size-calculating software to researchers nationwide. The software helps calculate power and sample size for multilevel and longitudinal studies, typically used for following cohorts of children in nested relationships, such as schools or clinics.

Recognized Leaders in Child Health Research

ICHP researchers are nationally recognized and sought out for their expertise in quality of care, health disparities, data analytics, and health screening and promotion. Highlights from 2016:

  • Matthew Gurka was elected to the Society for Pediatric Research for his outstanding contributions to pediatric research. Gurka also began a three-year term on the editorial board of The Journal of Pediatrics.
  • William Hogan was elected to membership in the American College of Medical Informatics, one of the highest honors in this field.
  • Michelle Cardel, Ph.D., gave a presentation on the social determinants of obesity in Hispanic adolescents at the National Academy of Medicine’s Obesity Interest Group.
  • Dominick Lemas, Ph.D., was named one of 10 Keystone Symposia fellows, a two-year fellowship program for minority junior faculty funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
  • Stephanie Staras and Ramzi Salloum were named cancer rellows in the NCI’s Mentored Training for Dissemination and Implementation Research program, which trains researchers in methodologies to shorten the time it takes study findings to be incorporated into cancer treatments and prevention interventions.
  • Ashby Walker began a two-year term on the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) National Health Disparities Committee, which helps the ADA reduce inequities facing populations disparately affected by diabetes.

In addition to providing a collaborative space for child health researchers across UF’s campus, the institute’s faculty members have expanded their diverse funding portfolio with the department of health outcomes and policy to garner $34.5 million in new grant funding in fiscal year 2015-16, for a total active portfolio of $94.3 million to fund life span research. ICHP faculty also continued to increase their research productivity with 114 publications in the past fiscal year.