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Steven Cuffe, MD, recognized with UFCOMJ’s top research award

Published: June 1, 2016

Steven Cuffe, MD, has been using his particular interest in child and adolescent psychiatry to study mental health disorders among school-age children in Duval County. For his work in recent years, the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville has awarded him the most prestigious research accolade for faculty.

Cuffe, professor and chair of psychiatry at UFCOMJ, is the 2016 winner of the Robert C. Nuss Researcher/Scholar Award. The award, named after the former UFCOMJ dean, is given annually to a UF faculty member in Jacksonville who has a distinguished record of current research.   

“I feel honored to receive this award. It is humbling and gratifying to have my contributions recognized,” Cuffe said.

Cuffe received the honor May 19 during UFCOMJ’s annual Celebration of Research, which highlighted on-campus research and discovery and featured platform presentations, poster viewings, a keynote speaker and other award presentations. The event was sponsored by the University of Florida Health Science Center Jacksonville and the Office of Research Affairs.

Cuffe is currently leading a research project that is screening for emotional and behavioral problems in more than 5,700 students in Duval County Public Schools. The students, ages 5 to 17, are from nine different schools in the district.

He and his colleagues are now using in-depth psychiatric interviews and questionnaires to further assess up to 500 of those children. The next phase of the project will be a follow-up study on those who may have bipolar disorder, tic disorder or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. 

The study is made possible through a $550,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before this, Cuffe was co-principal investigator on a longitudinal study of ADHD in the community that observed outcomes and diagnostic changes among school-age children over an eight-year span. Both studies were referenced during Cuffe’s introduction as the Research/Scholar Award recipient.

Cuffe, who joined the UFCOMJ faculty in 2008, became interested in the epidemiology of psychiatric disorders in children while working as a medical resident in San Francisco. He said he realized there was so much unknown about child psychopathology. He later joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina, where he took part in a project studying the epidemiology of adolescent depression. 

“I have been in this field since then and it has been the primary focus of my research career,” Cuffe said.

Keynote speaker

Anna Wald, MD, director of the Virology Research Clinic at the University of Washington, flew in from the Pacific Northwest to give the keynote presentation on the herpes simplex virus.

There are two main forms of the virus – herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which produces most cold sores, and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), which produces most genital herpes. Both are transmitted via contact with an infected area of the skin.

Wald pointed to statistics that indicate 417 million people in the world have HSV-2. In the United States, an estimated 17 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 45 have HSV-2, with rates highest in the Southeast.

She spoke of a study that tracked herpes diagnoses at a Seattle STD clinic from 1993 to 2013. There was a sharp decrease in HSV-2 incidence during the first few years of the study, with the numbers continuing to drop in successive years. In 1993, there were more than 200 positive cases. In 2013, there were fewer than 50.

However, there were far less drastic shifts in HSV-1 diagnoses over the 20 years, with about 50 positive cases each year. Continued community outreach and education are believed to have impacted the numbers.

“I think (the infection rate) is very dynamic in the population and we will continue to see changing trends,” she said.

Wald stressed that HSV is often asymptomatic and that having genital herpes increases a person’s risk of being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. That’s due to the effect the herpes virus has on the immune system.

“It’s a really big public health problem because of its connection to HIV,” Wald said. “You can get HSV-2 from a person who’s completely asymptomatic.”

Wald later spent a few minutes addressing the Zika virus outbreak, which began last year in Brazil and has spread to other parts of the Americas. The virus is primarily spread by mosquitos but can also spread from an infected woman to her fetus during pregnancy. She warned the audience that the virus will be making its way to Jacksonville soon.

“For my colleagues in the ER, be prepared to see some (patients) here this summer,” Wald said.

After Wald’s presentation, students from the nearby Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts were recognized for their exemplary science projects. UFCOMJ has a longstanding relationship with the school, whose students are viewed as the next generation of researchers, scientists and health care providers.   

Poster and platform presentation awards

Of the UFCOMJ fellows, residents and faculty who submitted presentations for Celebration of Research, six were chosen for poster presentation awards and six received platform presentation awards for their excellence. In all, there were more than 150 poster and platform presentations.

Poster presentation winners

  • 1st Place: Christina Cannon, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine; Sepsis Alert Protocol Reduces Inpatient Mortality for Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department with Sepsis
  • 2nd Place: Gabriel Faz, MD, Department of Medicine; Pharmacodynamic Effects of Switching from Prasugrel to Ticagrelor: Results of the Prospective, Randomized SWAP (Switching Anti Platelet)-3 Study
  • 3rd Place: Jaime Morel, MD, Department of Pathology; Ductal Carcinoma in Situ of the Breast with Microinvasion: Diagnostic Issues and the Role of Myoepithelial Cells Biomarkers
  • 4th Place: Monica Plazarte, DO, Department of Medicine; High-Throughput Analysis to Identify Drugs That Alter Apolipoprotein A-1 Production
  • 5th Place: Jared Roeckner, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; One Abnormal Value on 3-Hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is Associated with Adverse Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  • 6th Place: Kathryn Ashley Bentley, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation; Dynamic MRI for Diagnosis of Pathologic Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Tendon Instability

Platform presentation winners

  • 1st Place: Danish Vaiyani, MD, Department of Pediatrics; Using the IT Ratio to Screen for Early Onset Neonatal Sepsis - Is There a Better Way?
  • 2nd Place: Adnan Javed, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine; Clinical Predictors of Death from Severe Sepsis Within 24 Hours of ED Admission: A Retrospective Analysis
  • 3rd Place: Lauren Stemboroski, DO, Department of Medicine; Prevalence of Serrated Adenomas in Non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans Undergoing Screening Colonoscopy
  • 4th Place: Astrid Botty Van Den Bruele, MD, Department of Surgery; First-Case Delays: Curriculum-Based Quality Improvement in Interdisciplinary Teams
  • 5th Place: Stephanie Tootle, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Using Standardized EMR Orders to Reduce Mislabeled Placental Pathology Specimens
  • 6th Place: Laura Travers, DO, Department of Pediatrics; The Effect of Oral Dextrose Gel Administration on NICU Admission Rates in Neonates with Hypoglycemia

“Not only are we an excellent institution for providing medical care and fulfilling a time-honored commitment to educating the next generation of physicians, we are also a center for health care research that will improve the lives of our patients and the residents of Northeast Florida,” said George Wilson III, MD, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at UFCOMJ. “It is these multiple roles of patient care, service, education and research that define us and our mission.”   

Steven Cuffe, MD, left, professor and chair of psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, receives the Robert C. Nuss Researcher/Scholar Award from George Wilson III, MD, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at UFCOMJ.
Emergency medicine resident Christina Cannon, MD, won first place in the poster presentation category during the May 19 Celebration of Research event.
Pediatrics resident Danish Vaiyani, MD, won first place in the platform presentation category.
Students from the nearby Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts were recognized for their exemplary science projects. UFCOMJ has a longstanding relationship with the school, whose students are viewed as the next generation of researchers, scientists and health care providers.
Anna Wald, MD, director of the Virology Research Clinic at the University of Washington, gave the keynote presentation on the herpes simplex virus.

For more information, please contact:
UF Health Media Relations
904-244-3268