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UF | College of Medicine - University of Florida
Engage, Innovate, Excel | 2026
College of Medicine offers new artificial intelligence track for PhD students
A student uses virtual reality glasses to view a computer-generated image in a lab

The newest group of doctoral candidates at the UF College of Medicine can now collaborate with some of the university’s preeminent researchers in artificial intelligence for a chance to become immersed in the growing field during their graduate studies.

The Emerging Research Scholars-AI PhD Program, which will introduce its first cohort of about 10 students this fall, is a new initiative being developed under the research pillar of the UF College of Medicine strategic plan created by Dean Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A.

Students in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences who are interested in pursuing bioinformatics will be offered the opportunity to join the Emerging Research Scholars-AI PhD Program and receive additional support in the area of AI for the first two years of their studies from the Office of Research Affairs.

“One thing that makes this program so great is that it’s really tailored to the individual,” said Sara Burke, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience and a member of the program’s advisory committee. “It’s going to boost collaborations between scientists in different fields and cover the full scope of AI.”

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UF Health names chief diversity officer

Lakesha Butler, Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacy practice and director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Southern Illinois University deeply trained in facilitating diversity-related discussion and policy change, has been named UF Health’s associate vice president for inclusion, diversity and health equity and chief diversity officer. She begins Aug. 22.

In her new role, Butler will collaborate with diversity liaisons in the six health colleges, the UF Health hospitals in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Central Florida, and the Lake Nona campus in Orlando. She will also work closely with the university’s chief diversity officer.

Meet Dr. Butler »
Department spotlight: Neuroscience fosters passion for research and solutions for brain health
An image of five researchers standing together in a laboratory.

Collaboration is key to creating a supportive and successful scientific community, according to Jennifer Bizon, Ph.D., chair of the department of neuroscience. This philosophy has been at the heart of the department since its founding in 1970 and has only grown in the five decades since.

For 52 years, neuroscientists at UF have worked to identify mechanisms in the brain related normal and disordered function. Much of this research involves cross-disciplinary collaboration with clinicians and other UF departments, such as the department of neurology.

Advancing research is not the only passion for Bizon and other leaders in the department of neuroscience; educating the next generation and fostering an inclusive environment are also top of mind.

“It’s critical to help develop that next generation of neuroscientists who are just as committed to advancing the understanding of the brain,” Bizon said.

Read more department highlights »
SynGatorTron™ to speed medical research, alleviate privacy worries
Medical chatbot “doctors” that use conversational language to communicate with patients online are one of many possible applications to arise from SynGatorTron™, a groundbreaking artificial intelligence tool developed by UF Health and NVIDIA as part of a $100 million AI public-private collaboration.
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Reminder: Orange and Brew for learners and trainees coming this month
Three people smile at a coffee shop
Visit Opus at the academic health center July 18 and 20 for a complimentary latte or tea to celebrate the new year. In addition to guest baristas Drs. Colleen Koch and David Nelson, mascot Alberta will pop by July 18. Participants in social media challenges and event raffles can win gift baskets.
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Don't miss annual State of the College Sept. 23
Hear about successes over the past year, including advancements with initiatives under the strategic plan's seven pillars; student, trainee, faculty and staff updates; highlights from community and university engagement efforts and more.
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View strategic plan initiatives dashboard
Track the progress of initiatives under the seven pillars of the strategic plan.
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» A new study shows wisdom cultivates resilience and mastery to reduce stress, which leads to a sense of well-being as we age. Wisdom-related therapy can better equip individuals to handle adversity.
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Annual resident welcome: Celebrating hundreds of new and returning Gator physicians

At the start of July, the University of Florida College of Medicine welcomed 207 new residents to the UF Health family. In addition to 43 returning UF graduates, the #GatorNation grew with doctors from 26 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 11 other countries.

Residents typically begin orientation and start their new training positions in late June or early July at medical centers around the nation after learning in the spring which programs they matched into. UF offers a number of competitive specialties across its academic health centers throughout the state of Florida.

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Dr. Baker sets sail for new adventures in retirement

After contributing more than three decades of scientific research and leadership at the UF College of Medicine, Henry V. Baker, Ph.D., the Hazel Kitzman professor of genetics and chair of the department of molecular genetics and microbiology from 2003-22, has retired.

Baker, who was also a professor in the department of surgery, frequently collaborated with colleagues in clinical departments on research that focused on developing gene expression classifiers that could be used to diagnose illnesses and predict clinical courses and therapy responsiveness.

His efforts as chair included recruiting new faculty with a wide range of interests in microbiology and genetics.

Meet Dr. Baker »
A group photo of U-F physician assistant students outside
School of PA studies class of 2024 students begin training

Excitement rippled through the room of 61 future physician assistants who unboxed new stethoscopes on their second day of orientation June 23. The first-year students in the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies began classes June 27, embarking on their careers in health care. The stethoscopes, purchased through donations by alumni and other College of Medicine supporters, will accompany the students over the next two years as they are immersed in learning in and out of the classroom.

“This is a welcome gift from someone who’s walked in your shoes before you,” said Nina Multak, Ph.D., MPAS, PA-C, associate dean and Randolph B. Mahoney director of the UF School of PA Studies.

Meet class of 2024 »
UF | College of Medicine - University of Florida
Location Dean's Office | Medical Science Building
Phone (352) 273-7500
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