My Heartfelt Gratitude
We have all coped and remained flexible through changing circumstances in novel, creative ways. The compassion and dedication that you have demonstrated this past year was inspiring. Though the ongoing pandemic continues to test our limits, it has also highlighted the qualities that unite us. I encourage you all to stay focused, stay optimistic and continue to work as the terrific team our department represents.
The COVID-19 surge caused by the delta variant lasted several months and peaked with over 240 active COVID positive patients admitted to UF Health and many others recovering. Medicine teams across the institution rose to the challenge and provided exemplary care when the department activated the COVID-19 surge plan. The Medical ICU put in place six additional critical care teams, consisting of 12 additional medicine residents and nine residents from outside of the Department of Medicine. In order to reduce Emergency Department visits and hospital admissions, additional COVID-19 clinics were added by General Internal Medicine. The ripple effect of caring for COVID-19 patients was felt by us all.
We did much more than just weather a storm in 2021; we continued the progress and momentum of our mission here at the University of Florida. Together we had a number of noteworthy accomplishments.
• U.S. News and World Report Rankings
Each year, U.S. News & World Report ranks nearly 5,000 hospitals across the country in 16 specialties and ten procedures and conditions. Three Department of Medicine specialties ranked in the Top 50 nationally, including Cardiology and Heart Surgery (#50), Pulmonary & Lung Surgery (#37) and Geriatrics (#42). Additionally, four specialties ranked as “high performing”, including Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery and Nephrology.
In education, 100% of our residents matched into fellowship (21 of whom are continuing their education at UF) and 93% of our 42 fellowship openings in the Department of Medicine were filled. Furthermore, 94% of our residents passed their board this year, which is well above the national average.
Research has continued to grow. In 2021, there were 366 funded projects for new and existing awards. These projects accounted for $30.8M in direct funding for the calendar year, up from $24.5M in 2020.
I’d like to recognize 26 faculty who received new awards in 2021. This information is based on UFIRST data at a point in time, so I apologize if I’ve missed anyone.
This year, I am proud to say we’ve added 31 faculty members to the Department of Medicine this year, bringing our total faculty count to just over 325. Twenty-two faculty members were successfully promoted. We also welcomed the Division of Geriatric Medicine to the Department, including seven faculty members who practice at UF Health Senior Care – Springhill, UF Health Shands Hospital and Oak Hammock.
During this past year, we have completed two national searches for the division chiefs for the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Renal Transplantation and the Division of Hematology and Oncology. Applications were incredibly competitive, but two internal candidates were selected as most able to lead our divisions forward. There was also a national search at the college level for the senior associate dean for research affairs, also very competitive and also ultimately filled by an accomplished internal candidate.
Dr. Amir Kazory was named Chief of the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Renal Transplantation.
Dr. Kazory joined UF Health in 2009 as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and rose to the rank of Professor within 10 years. He has served as the Division of Nephrology’s Vice Chief of Clinical Affairs for the past two years. Dr. Kazory’s academic interests focus on the nephrologic aspects of heart failure, cardiorenal syndrome, and fluid management in critically ill patients. He has authored 150 peer-reviewed publications as well as dozens of book chapters. Due to his contributions and accomplishments both in the field of nephrology and cardiology, he has been honored to be named a Fellow of the American Society of Nephrology (FASN) and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC). Dr. Kazory was named Chief of Nephrology, Hypertension and Renal Transplantation in April 2021.
Dr. Merry Jennifer Markham was named Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology.
Dr. Markham is well known in the department and college as a clinical investigator and educator in the division of hematology and oncology at the University of Florida, specializing in the treatment of gynecologic malignancies. She graduated from medical school at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2001 and completed three years of internal medicine residency as well as one year as chief medical resident at the University of Florida. She then went on to complete a combined fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at UF in 2008. The division was able to subsequently recruit her to a faculty position. Dr. Markham has served as the Associate Director for Medical Affairs for the UF Health Cancer Center since 2017. I asked Dr. Markham to serve as interim chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology in 2018 and she was named Division Chief in March 2021.
Azra Bihorac, M.D., M.S., FCCM, FASN, was named Senior Associate Dean for Research Affairs at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
Throughout her career as a physician-scientist, Dr. Bihorac has engaged in transdisciplinary clinical, translational and data science research in perioperative and critical care medicine and nephrology. She is co-director of the Intelligent Critical Care Center at UF, a collaboration with the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering focused on ethical applications of artificial intelligence and pervasive sensing in acute and critical care medicine. Dr. Bihorac also founded UF’s Precision and Intelligent Systems in Medicine Research Partnership, or PRISMAp, a collaborative research partnership for the design, development and implementation of intelligent health care systems. Since its founding in 2010, the research portfolio at PRISMAp includes more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts with more than 10,000 citations. Dr. Bihorac’s broad training spanning multiple disciplines will allow her to lead UF College of Medicine teams as they collaborate on innovative research in the digital age.
Finally, we have several faculty who I would like to honor for their many years of loyalty and dedication to this department who have hit a milestone in their years of service in 2021.
I could continue for many more pages, but will close with a few things to look forward to in the coming year.
• The College of Medicine has rolled out its strategic plan. We look forward to divisions taking this plan and incorporating it into their goals and strategies for the next few years.
• Expect to see more on the use of a medical office building in northern Ocala. We look forward to divisions brainstorming about best possible uses for this location and which practices could most benefit from a presence there.
• We are planning an internal medicine residency program in The Villages® and currently recruiting for a program director to lead this program.
• We have an exciting move planned for the faculty at Tower Hill. Their new building should be ready for occupancy in January 2023 and promises to be as beautiful and functional as our Springhill campus.
• Dr. Kenneth Cusi will be stepping down as Chief of Endocrinology in July 2022. Thus, we have undertaken a national search for his replacement.
• The Department continues to focus on growing and strengthening our research portfolio and impact. I am incredibly encouraged by our recent success and expect great things in the coming year.
Again, thank you to all for a wonderful, productive year. As always, I am here to help. Your success and happiness are top priorities. Best wishes for the New Year to you and your families.
Jamie Conti, M.D., FACC
Chair, Department of Medicine