In 2018, the Genetics Institute welcomed 20 new faculty members from 5 different colleges at UF. The 233 member faculty of the UFGI now represent seven colleges and 51 academic departments as well as the libraries and the Florida Museum of Natural History. During 2018, UFGI investigators secured $74 million in sponsored research support, filed 56 US patents and published 829 scholarly articles. Their work appeared in a diverse array of prestigious, interdisciplinary journals including Nature, Science, Cell, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The aim of the UFGI is to promote excellence in the areas of genetics and genomics at the University of Florida 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 researchers at the University of Florida to compete for multidisciplinary research grants in the area of genetics and genomics.
In 2018, the UFGI supported 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. Five Pilot Grant awards totaling more than $185,000 were made to UFGI members representing 3 different colleges and the Florida Museum of Natural History.
In 2018, the Genetics & Genomics Graduate Program, directed by the UFGI, had 30 students training in 11 different departments in 5 colleges. Three G&G students earned their doctoral degrees in 2018, bringing the total number of graduates from the program to 29. This unique intercollegiate program continues to grow, and welcomed its largest incoming class ever in 2018, 9 students. 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 Enrico Barrozo, who is training in the laboratory of UFGI member David Bloom.
In 2018, three UFGI members were cited as being among the top 1% of most highly cited researchers world-wide over the last 10 years by Clarivate Analytics.
The 2018 program of our annual cornerstone event, The Florida Genetics Symposium, was the most successful yet. Taking place October 31-November 1, more than 550 people registered to attend– the most participants in the history of the event. The conference featured nearly a dozen distinguished speakers from UF and other institutions. Approximately 100 posters were presented, with student and postdoctoral associates receiving awards for best poster presentations. G&G students were particularly successful this year, taking three of the four student poster awards.
In 2018, the UFGI celebrated DNA Day, April 25, with a new outreach program directed by Peter DiGennaro, UFGI member and Assistant Professor in Molecular Nematology. As part of this program, graduate students from G&G and other programs at UF traveled to high schools neighboring counties where they engaged the local students in classroom-based scientific experiments and talked about their own choice to pursue science as a career.