Twelve University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville employees were among the 30 Health Care Heroes honored by the Jacksonville Business Journal this week.
Physicians, researchers and a nurse were among the UF faculty and staff recognized at the annual celebration of quality and compassionate health care in Northeast Florida.
Longtime pediatrics chair Thomas T. Chiu, M.D., M.B.A., was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award and received two standing ovations from the packed house at the Jacksonville Marriott.
Chiu joked that he’s been receiving awards like this lately and his friends tell him it’s because he’s getting old. But Chiu said flatly he’s not planning on ending his 40-year career anytime soon.
The UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville had more honorees this year than any other health care organization.
"It is tremendous to witness such public recognition that the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville has many of the truly finest physicians and nurses in north Florida," said Daniel R. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of health affairs and dean of the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville. "Our Health Care Heroes come from many specialties and it wonderful to see our community honor them and learn about the hard work UF faculty and staff put in each day in service to our patients and the entire region."
The winners from the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville are:
Thomas T. Chiu, M.D., M.B.A., UF professor and medical director of external affairs for pediatrics
Chiu stepped down this year after 20 years of service as chair of pediatrics. Before becoming chair, Chiu established a citywide neonatology program that helped lower Jacksonville’s infant mortality rate in line with the national average (it had been three times the normal rate). Chiu helped the UF pediatric practice grow through numerous community partnerships and, on the weekends, he makes rounds to stay involved in clinical work.
Dominick J. Angiolillo, M.D., Ph.D., UF associate professor of medicine
Angiolillo is an internationally recognized interventional cardiologist and his groundbreaking research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association three times in the past year. He brings scientific ingenuity and expertise into his clinical work, tailoring medications and therapies to a patient’s physical and genetic makeup.
Ann M. Usitalo, Ph.D., UF assistant professor of pediatrics
Usitalo is a licensed psychologist with the UF Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Support (UF CARES), specializing in counseling children and adults coping with the disease, either personally or with an infected family member. She empowers them to take control of their lives and overcome the denial and fear so commonly experienced when faced with this life-changing diagnosis.
Melissa Scites, R.N., executive director of UF Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Support
Scites began her nursing career at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when a diagnosis gave little hope for positive treatment outcomes. At that time, the transmission rate from HIV-positive mothers to their children was 25 percent. Scites worked on a national research study that dramatically changed HIV care, cutting the rate to less than 2 percent. Scites now runs UF CARES and attracts significant state and federal dollars for research and outreach.
Nizar F. Maraqa, M.D., UF assistant professor of pediatrics
Maraqa is director of the Children’s Medical Services Medical Foster Care Program in Jacksonville, responsible for caring for children with significant health issues who have also been removed from their biological parents’ home because of abuse or neglect. Maraqa leads a team of nurses and social workers to find safe, loving homes for children. Under his leadership, the program increased placements for children with serious medical challenges.
Mark L. Hudak, M.D., UF professor and chair of pediatrics, assistant dean for managed care, and chief of neonatology
Hudak was named chair of pediatrics in April and recently published a study about the increased use of painkillers among pregnant women and what physicians should look for in newborns withdrawing from drugs. He’s also site principal investigator in Baker County for the National Children’s Study, which follows 100,000 children nationwide from birth to age 21, looking at environmental influences on health and development.
Madeline M. Joseph, M.D., UF professor of emergency medicine, chief of pediatric emergency medicine
Joseph is leading a national workgroup of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop guidelines to treat and recognize mild traumatic brain injury in youth, in addition to her work on concussion research locally. Joseph also led a national committee that used a federal grant to develop a video game designed to teach youth what to do during a natural disaster.
Kenyatta Y. Lee, M.D., UF assistant professor of community health and family medicine
Lee is a leader in implementing the Patient-Centered Medical Home model focusing on data-driven care and having staff automatically alerted when a patient misses a procedure or test results come back irregular. Lee is also leading a multidisciplinary team and developing educational curriculum at one of five U.S. clinical sites for the American Diabetes Association to test a new system to monitor diabetes patients and track progress using data, including weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Michael Haas, Ph.D., UF research associate professor of medicine
Haas has focused his research on examining how to increase the levels of "good" cholesterol and promote the remarkable role it has in overall health and well-being. He was published in two prestigious journals this year, one for research on how niacin can trigger creation of good cholesterol. The other study pinpointed the chemical in cigarette smoke that blocks good cholesterol production.
Mobeen H. Rathore, M.B.B.S. (M.D), UF professor and associate chair of pediatrics, chief of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology
Rathore’s career in research spans 25 years, the last 22 in Jacksonville. He specializes in HIV/AIDS, vaccines and the epidemiology of infections. Last year, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study Rathore co-authored that redefined the care of newborns infected with herpes. Through his research, Rathore held leadership roles with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Robert M. Levy, M.D., Ph.D., UF professor and chair of neurosurgery
Levy joined UF last year as chair of neurosurgery and co-director of the Shands Jacksonville Neuroscience Institute. Levy is a leader in his specialty, known as neuromodulation—using electrical or chemical devices to treat neurologic disorders including chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, headaches and epilepsy. He has started building a Center for Neurorestorative Surgery, which allows Levy and his colleagues to treat patients with state-of-the-art equipment and technology in neuromodulation.
Andrew J. Kerwin, M.D., UF associate professor of surgery, chief of acute care surgery
Kerwin is chief of acute care surgery and medical director for the trauma program at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center. The trauma center is one of the busiest in the country and treats about 4,000 patients a year with devastating, life-threatening injuries. Kerwin stays on top of the latest advances in technology with his prolific research career and by teaching the next generation of trauma surgeons.