The College of Public Health and Health Professions launched a new nine-credit certificate to help undergraduate students apply knowledge in artificial intelligence to future careers in public health and health sciences. The first cohort of students will complete the certificate in spring 2023.
The certificate is part of a universitywide initiative to provide opportunities for all undergraduate students to learn about AI and how it impacts their fields of study. PHHP’s Certificate in Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Public Health teaches students to evaluate AI applications in health contexts, appraise the ethical use of AI technologies in health decisions, explore the advantages of AI in addressing health outcomes and learn the foundations of information visualization.
AI is already prevalent in health care and population health and it is important that students be prepared to use AI technology effectively in their future careers, whether that is making treatment decisions for a patient or predicting the next pandemic, said George Hack, Ph.D., the college’s associate dean for educational affairs.
“Our students will need to understand how these tools work, where there are ethical concerns in their use, and understand how these tools generate findings and predictions,” Hack said. “That way they can assess what AI data is valuable for them to use as evidence in their decision-making, whether that be for the health of the patient or interventions in a population.”
Tracie Baker, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor in the PHHP department of environmental and global health, served as the lead scientist on a historic canoe journey through the Florida Everglades to assess the impact of humans on the world’s largest subtropical wildness. The team of four, which also included experienced explorers and guides, retraced an 1897 canoe journey that was first completed by explorer and scientist Hugh de Laussat Willoughby.
Baker collected water samples that are now being analyzed in UF laboratories for the same water constituents that Willoughby did more than a century ago, along with many he couldn’t have foreseen, including microplastics, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pesticides, pharmaceuticals and antibiotic-resistant genes, all of which are adversely affecting plant and animal species globally.
“This expedition was primarily focused on applying modern scientific investigations to one of the planet’s most important watersheds. However, we also hope to inspire future generations of scientists, explorers and all citizens to be better stewards of our shared environment,” Baker said. “My work focuses on multidisciplinary research that seeks to bridge and improve human, animal and environmental health. The Willoughby Expedition provides critical primary research into that work.”
The PHHP department of clinical and health psychology established the Holistic Interventions for Brain Health and Recovery, or HI-BHaR, Clinic, directed by clinical assistant professor Aliyah Snyder, Ph.D. This new therapeutic program provides psychophysiology-focused interventions to support patients recovering from injury or illness. HI-BHaR specializes in working with patients across a wide range of neurological and medical conditions, but especially patients with persistent symptoms after concussion/brain injury and COVID-19 infection.
HI-BHaR employs a time-limited treatment approach that features neuropsychology-informed psychoeducation, cognitive behavioral strategies, cognitive remediation and biofeedback aimed at reducing symptom burden through improving autonomic nervous system regulation, health behaviors and psychological adaptation.
The Occupational Therapy Equal Access Clinic recently took several steps to improve student and client experience. Established in 2014 as the first free OT clinic in the state of Florida, the OT EAC is run by Doctor of Occupational Therapy students under the supervision of community clinicians and faculty in the PHHP department of occupational therapy.
Over the last year, a needs assessment and SWOT analysis were completed and the clinic undertook subsequent logistical changes, including streamlined documentation templates, improved care plans and realigning board roles. These changes have resulted in more student involvement as well as more individualized interventions focused on returning clients to the things they want to and need to do.
The OT EAC also relocated to the Smart House on the Oak Hammock at the University of Florida campus. The ability to offer home-based interventions in the Smart House has greatly improved client participation by facilitating applicable patient skills in a naturalistic environment.
Candice Adams-Mitchell, SLP.D., CCC-SLP, a clinical assistant professor in the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, and Shantrel Canidate, Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology, are among the inaugural fellowship recipients of the National Institutes of Health’s Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity program. The AIM-AHEAD program was created to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning models and to improve the capabilities of the technology in order to address health disparities and inequities.
Adams-Mitchell plans to leverage AI to develop bias-free models to identify interventions and strategies suitable for reducing racial disparities in neurological health outcomes related to communication, cognition and swallowing among individuals living with sickle cell disease.
Canidate’s fellowship project will apply artificial intelligence and causal inference approaches to electronic health records to identify interventions that can improve care access and outcomes among Black men who have sex with men living with HIV.