In 2017, the Genetics Institute welcomed six new faculty members from five different colleges of the University of Florida. The 220-member faculty of the Genetics Institute now represent seven colleges and 51 academic departments as well as the Marston Science Library, Health Science Center Library and Florida Museum of Natural History. During 2017, institute investigators secured $63 million in sponsored research support, filed 48 U.S. patents and published 771 scholarly articles. Their work appeared in a diverse array of prestigious journals, including The Journal of the American Medical Association, Science, Cell, and Nature Genetics and Nature Nanotechnology.
The aim of the UF Genetics Institute is to promote excellence in the areas of genetics and genomics by: (1) building community, facilitating collaboration and creating opportunities for intellectual exchanges among investigators working in diverse taxonomic systems but with a common set of approaches in genetics and genomics; (2) supporting recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty in the areas of genetic and genomics; (3) supporting graduate education in the areas of genetics and genomics; and (4) enhancing the ability of UF researchers to compete for multidisciplinary research grants in the area of genetics and genomics.
In 2017, the Genetics Institute initiated a pilot grant program offering early support for multidisciplinary research initiatives that had the potential to mature into projects that would compete effectively for extramural funding. Three pilot grant awards were made to institute members representing three different colleges and the UF Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences.
In 2017, the Genetics & Genomics Graduate Program, directed by the Genetics Institute, had 28 students training in 11 different departments in four colleges. Last year saw four G&G students earn their doctoral degrees, bringing the total number of graduates from the program to 27. This intercollegiate program continues to grow, with four more students admitted in the current year and interviews already underway for the class of 2018. Last year the Kenneth and Laura Berns Award for Excellence in Genetics, awarded annually for outstanding scientific contribution by a G&G student, went to Yong Shen, who is training in the laboratory of institute member Jorg Bungert.
In 2017, Doug Soltis, Distinguished Professor in the Florida Museum of Natural History, institute member and co-director of our Genetics & Genomics Graduate Program, was inducted into the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. He joins institute faculty members Harry Klee, Robert Cousins, Ken Berns and Pam Soltis, who also have received this honor.
Four Genetics Institute members were cited as being among the top 1 percent of most highly cited researchers worldwide over the last 10 years by Clarivate Analytics.
The 2017 program of our annual cornerstone event, The Florida Genetics Symposium, was the most successful yet. Taking place Oct. 25–26, more than 550 people registered to attend — the most participants in the history of the event. The conference featured 12 distinguished speakers from UF and other institutions. Approximately 100 posters were presented, with student and postdoctoral associates receiving awards for best poster presentations. The Florida Genetics Symposium attendees heard from 12 internal and external speakers
In 2017, the institute’s weekly seminar series continued with internal and external speaker presentations. The invited speakers reflect our broad, multidisciplinary mandate. The seminars included outstanding investigators from the fields of bioinformatics, genomics and cell biology working on a variety of different species and model systems.