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Florida Hospital Carrollwood Honored For Sustainability

Florida Hospital Carrollwood was recently recognized for its efforts to decrease consumption of fuel, water and energy.

The Hospital received the Green Business Designation from The Sustany Foundation and the City of Tampa. The program recognizes efforts of Tampa-based businesses in energy and natural gas consumption, water consumption, fuel consumption, solid waste and recycling.

Through its green initiative, launched in 2011, the Hospital has been able to save 2.4 million kilowatts of energy and 583,307 gallons of water, among other savings. Specific efforts include replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient options and purchasing only ENERGY STAR products. A partnership with Stericycle allowed them to identify recycling opportunities, leading to 30,683 lbs of recycling. They also implemented employee-focused programs such as recycling education, designated parking spaces for fuel efficient vehicles and a Green Team to help review their progress and develop new ideas.

"We believe strongly that we’re here to benefit the community," says Florida Hospital CEO Joe Johnson. "We want to do whatever we can to minimize the impact to our landfills and our environment."

The Green Business Designation process involves businesses completing a set of specific metrics including materials recycled, percent of employees that carpool, ongoing hours of energy and water conservation and training and business-generated metrics.

The Hospital responded to a recent challenge by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and is the only hospital to receive the designation thus far. The challenge was first identified by a hospital employee who championed it internally. "I knew it was a challenge we needed to accept," says Johnson.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Joe Johnson, Florida Hospital Carrollwood

First Fit Provides Community Approach To Health, Fitness

A new model for getting fit has arrived in the Tampa Bay region that combines a small group feel with high-intensity exercises for maximum impact.

Founded in 2013, Tampa-based First Fit Health and Fitness Studio was created by Co-Owners Jim White and Joey Graham.

A lifetime fitness buff, White worked at several big box fitness studios before realizing he wanted to provide something different. At most larger studios, customers are given an initial orientation and then left on their own. Some may hire a private trainer, but for others affordability and the intimidation factor make this out of reach. White wanted to provide a community feeling, taking the quality of functional training and coupling it with equipment that’s easy to operate. A mutual friend introduced White to Tampa native and NBA professional Graham, and the two took the concept to market.

First Fit delivers high intensity interval training, or HIIT. Customers perform a specific exercise at a high intensity for 30 seconds. They then take a short 15 – 25 second break and then start another exercise. This process drives up metabolic rates and keeps them higher for approximately 12 hours after completing the workout, allowing for more calorie burning. Customers work out in groups of 14 people, providing a community effect.

"When people are in a group setting, they’re much more supportive, much more secure and have a whole lot more fun," says White.

Graham has a particular interest in using the gyms for summer camps for youth. Having done several camps in the Tampa Bay area, Graham always found it difficult to find gym space. He also has an interest in the nutrition side, which goes hand in hand with fitness.  

"We want to promote health and wellness for all the young kids in the Hillsborough area, and everywhere." says Graham.

Another unique aspect of the studio is its location. The first branch of First Fit opened February15 inside Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa. The mall location provides convenience as well as ample parking.

The company hopes to open more mall-based locations in the near future. They intend to hire Fitness Instructors and Assistant Management positions within the next 60 days.

A grand opening will be held March 29 from 11 am to 3 pm.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jim White, Joey Graham, First Fit Health and Fitness Studio

USF Researchers Discover Potential New Therapy For Psychological Disorders

Researchers at USF Health may have found a more viable treatment for patients with neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as bipolar disorder.

Currently, FDA-approved lithium carbonate is one of the oldest and most widely used drugs to treat these illnesses. The drug, however, comes with a major drawback -- toxicity. There are alternatives on the market, but none have the same efficacy without the side effects, which include hand tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain and thyroid problems.

A team of researchers at the University of South Florida recently discovered a previously untested lithium salicylate (an alternative salt form) while working on a collaborative endeavor with a chemistry professor. The group used crystal engineering techniques to change the component of the new solid forms of lithium and published a salicylate containing co-crystal. This prompted researcher Adam Smith to wonder what other lithium salts could do.

The downside to current lithium therapy is that it’s eliminated very rapidly from the body. Therefore, patients have to take it once or twice daily to achieve optimum absorption levels, leading to potential toxicity. The new therapy has the potential to stay in the body for up to 48 hours, leading to a decrease in the number of pills taken. By modifying the dosing regiment, researchers hope to improve patient compliance and reduce the potential for side effects.

"We hope that these findings lead to a more effective lithium therapy,"says Adam Smith, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at USF Health.

Animals trials have shown promise thus far. Next steps are to conduct additional animal trials that more closely mimic reality with multiple doses and then begin human trials.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Adam Smith, PhD., USF Health

Sarasota Mobile Healthcare App Voalte Receives $36 Million In Funding

Voalte, a Sarasota-based leader in healthcare communication technology, has announced $36 million in Series C funding, led by private equity firm Bedford Funding.

Healthcare communication technology in your hands, or mHealth, will only become a bigger market in coming years, predicts Voalte founder and President Trey Lauderdale.

"The mobile health industry is poised to grow to 10.2 billion by 2018, according to some reports. We believe that the industry will be as large as the electronic medical record (EMR) industry within five years,'' Lauderdale says.

The company, which launched as a startup at HIMSS in 2009, aims to simplify healthcare communication.

Voalte One, the company's primary mobile solution, is a shared smartphone alternative that offers tailored voice calls, alarm and alert notification, and text messaging on one device. It is also HIPAA-compliant. The Voalte Me application allows caregivers outside of the hospital to connect with Voalte One users inside.

"Voalte applications help connect caregivers both inside and outside the hospital, and integrate with other hospital technologies to maximize workflow efficiency,'' Lauderdale says. "The two apps facilitate seamless communication between caregivers and improve care coordination.''

Voalte's applications are used in over 100 leading healthcare facilities like Massachusetts General Hospital, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Smartphone use at the point of care is a growing trend.

"There is an increasing demand for smartphones in healthcare due to the functionality of smartphones compared to legacy devices or pagers. Voalte is the only company in the industry to provide a fully integrated mobile communication strategy,'' Lauderdale explains.

He notes that the investment funds will provide Voalte with "the resources to grow the company, further expand our engineering team, and build out our services and support department.''

The company currently has 130 employees.

"Voalte nearly tripled in size in 2013, and expects significant growth in 2014,'' Lauderdale says.
 
Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Trey Lauderdale, founder and President of Voalte

New South Biolabs Plants In Bradenton, 52 New Jobs

New South Biolabs has established a new sales and distribution center in Bradenton to market and sell environmentally safe ZeroMold anti-microbial products made by Biosenta, Inc. The development will create 52 new logistics, marketing and sales jobs over the next five years with average salaries at 50 percent higher than the local average area wage of $35,633.

The successful establishment of New South’s distribution center in South Manatee County is a result of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Council’s global economic development initiatives and long-term commitment to business collaboration.

"Two years in the making, this is the first international project directly resulting from the EDC’s outreach initiative that began in 2011 through a grant provided by Manatee County Government. Our initial conversations in Toronto with New South Biolab’s president placed the Bradenton area on the company’s radar as it was identifying a location for marketing Biosenta products," says Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area EDC.

New South is a newly formed company that recently entered a distribution agreement with Canadian firm Biosentia to market, sell, and distribute a new line of anti-microbal products from the ZeroMold brand. The products will be targeted to and sold in the Southern US, Caribbean Basin and South America.

Manatee Board of County Commissioners
approved New South to receive up to $104,000 in performance-based incentives for the new jobs that it will create.

New South’s distribution center additionally qualified for Manatee County’s rapid response permitting program which streamlines and expedites the process of obtaining the necessary permitting to bring the full project and facility to market.

"The Bradenton area offered a number of attributes that attracted us. We need a warm climate to help protect the product from damage; the cost of doing business was attractive; and we value proximity to Port Manatee for future distribution," says New South President Bill Connor.

The company's new facility features 15,000 square feet of operational space and the addition of a full science lab at the Parkland Center in South Manatee County.

New South’s 2014 focus includes hiring and training new staff, regulatory approvals, and logistics management.

Biosenta is also sourcing local companies to produce the liquid product nearby.

Visit the Bradenton Area EDC's website for more information.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Bill Connor, New South Biolabs; Sharon Hillstrom, Bradenton Area EDC

Covidien Invests $18 Million in Hillsborough, 165 Jobs

Leading global healthcare product provider Covidien is making its mark in Tampa Bay, planting a new medical device manufacturing facility and making an $18 million capital investment in Hillsborough County, which will create up to 165 new jobs by 2017.

The company is hiring engineers, scientists and manufacturing operators at an average salary of $41,375.

Covidien is among an extensive list of biotech, life sciences, health and medical development firms that have recently selected the Tampa Bay region to expand their research, innovation and manufacturing operations.

As Tampa Bay’s talent pool, innovation, technology and medical market grows, the region is sure to gain additional developmental and growth opportunities that, in-turn, stimulate our regional growth.

"We specifically selected Hillsborough County for several reasons, including its talented workforce and the Tampa Bay region’s business climate, economy and quality of life. Our new facility will not only provide jobs for the local community; it will support Florida’s growing life science industry as well," says Phil Devlin, Covidien’s VP and General Manager.

In January 2013, a $165,000 local incentive package was approved by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, additionally supporting a commitment of $660,000 from the State of Florida through the State’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program.

The total QTI allocation of $825,000 will provide Covidien with $5,000 for the creation of each new job, incentives which will be payable over an eight-year period.

Currently occupying temporary office space in Sabal Park, the company will expand operations to its new 62,000-square-foot Riverview facility by mid-2014.

"Covidien’s choice to expand its presence in the state validates Florida’s position as a leader in life sciences and manufacturing. The company’s investment and jobs created adds to these extensive sectors. The opportunities created by Covidien will add value to Florida’s workforce, and I look forward to seeing their success continue in our state," says Gray Swoope, President & CEO of Enterprise Florida.

For information on career opportunities, visit Covidien online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Phil Devlin, Covidien; Gray Swoope, Enterprise Florida

Moffitt Cancer Center's SPARK Offers Internships

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Summer Program for the Advancement of Research Knowledge (SPARK) is helping to stimulate and strengthen medical innovation by preparing student interns for career growth in cancer research and biomedical science.

"The mission of Moffitt Cancer Center is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer, so one important way to do that is education and training of researchers," says Dr. Doug Cress, SPARK program director.

Through a 10-week intensive research training program, SPARK allows experienced undergraduate students having a career interest in biomedical science or fields related to cancer research an opportunity to significantly dive into specialized research areas via a variety of programs, including cancer biology and evolution, cancer epidemiology, chemical biology and molecular medicine, health outcomes and behavior, and immunology.

With such an in-depth and expansive field as cancer research, students are able to explore their interests in policy, scientific writing, psychology, laboratory experimentation, and more.

"Every student has a different experience at Moffitt. It depends on what they are interested in," says Cress.

To help guide the creative process, students are assigned a mentor within a particular research group and define goals with which to make an impact over the 10 weeks.

The idea is to increase the students’ knowledge base while providing training and instruction on methodologies, processes, and intricacies critical to the development of cancer research.

The internship program is among key opportunities in medical research and development available in the Tampa Bay region’s growing healthcare provider industry.

"Moffitt as a business is a huge contributor to the economy in the area. You can’t necessarily bring all the talent from the outside. The more talent you train from the inside, the better your perspective is. We hope to be able to bring the interns that we train back into Moffitt as they become independent researchers and independent physicians that contribute to our mission," says Cress.

Moffit is accepting applications through February 15 for participation in SPARK. The program is free to participants, and a taxable stipend is provided.

Selection into the program is based upon relevant experience, a written essay and academic performance as well as recommendations from teachers or faculty.

Selected students must commit to a 40-hours-per-week schedule, which may be completed during any 10 weeks between May 1 and August 31.

For more information on SPARK, visit the program online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Dr. Doug Cress, Moffitt Cancer Center & SPARK

USF Health Pilots New Therapy For PTSD Patients

Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) now have an innovative treatment option that offers promising results.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder experienced by combat military personnel and others who have been exposed to one or more life-threatening or traumatic events. According to PTSD Foundation of America, one in three combat veterans suffers from PTSD, yet less than 40 percent seek help.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) combines evidence-based psychotherapies with eye movements, and offers promising results within an abbreviated period of time compared with traditional therapist. Patients are asked to think about the traumatic experience and walk through it in their head like a movie. This elicits typical physiological responses to stress, including increased heart rate and chest tightening. They then participate in eye movement therapy, which creates a calming feeling or desensitization.

In the second stage, the patient reimagines the way the event occurred in a way they would prefer to remember it. They then do additional eye movement therapy, which essentially replaces the negative images in the brain with positive ones.

"It sounds a little farfetched, but memories can be changed," says Kevin Kip, PhD, professor and executive director for the Research Center at te USF College of Nursing. "When you bring up a memory, you can actually change features of it."

With ART, results can be achieved in just two to five sessions, compared with 10--12 in traditional therapies. It’s also unique in that the patient doesn’t have to verbalize or write about the trauma.

The first randomized controlled trail of the therapy with 57 participants was recently conducted by the Restore Lives Center at the USF College of Nursing, yielding promising results.

Representative Castor provided support through Congressional funding in 2009 for this and four other similar studies.

Approximately 300 clinicians in the U.S. have been trained on the therapy so far. Next steps include a larger study, with 200 veterans and a six month follow-up.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kevin Kip, USF College of Nursing

Tampa General Hospital Recognized For Use Of Technology

Imagine you’re in the hospital, laying in bed, watching TV. A box pops up on your television screen, asking about your pain level and providing you with a way to answer on-screen. If your pain is over a certain threshold, a nurse is alerted. You can also use your TV to interact with clinical staff, asking questions on a digital whiteboard and keeping a journal of your medical information.

The Get Well Network, an interactive patient care system, is just one of the ways Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is using technology to improve healthcare delivery. The hospital’s electronic medical record (EMR) system recently received highest honors from the Health Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), an international organization that analyzes use of technology in healthcare.

The hospital received the Stage 7 designation, the final level of a multi-tiered process. Currently, only 2.2 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have this designation (four in Florida).

HIMSS looks at how the hospital leverages technology for better and safer patient care, quality outcomes improvement and reduction in medication errors. The designation includes an on-site inspection in which the hospital receives a thorough scrutinization. Nurses and doctors are questioned about how they use the system, and specific outcomes are studied, such as disease management, research and how available data is used to improve the wellness of the community.

They also look at governance in decision-making, including new ideas, innovations and the involvement of key stakeholders.

"What’s unique about our organization is that we involve everyone who has to use the system on a daily basis," says Scott Arnold, Senior VP and Chief Information Officer for Tampa General Hospital. "What’s most important is patient safety and a higher quality of care."

TGH first launched its EMR in 2011, and has seen a reduction in medication errors of 63 percent since implementation.

by: Megan Hendricks
Source: Scott Arnold, Tampa General Hospital

WaZINIT App Wins Startup Weekend Tampa Bay With Focus On Food Allergies

A mobile app that identifies food ingredients and allergens has won Tampa Bay's fifth Startup Weekend. WaZINIT is designed to help consumers with allergies and specific preferences compare products directly from their smartphones.

WaZINIT President and St. Petersburg native Brian DiVito has lived with Crohn's disease for over half of his life. For 16 years, he navigated a cycle of flare-ups, hospital stays, abdominal surgery and recovery related to the condition.

Along the way, DiVito learned that he had about 30 food allergies. He developed a new diet that avoided trigger foods. Today, he experiences virtually no Crohn's-related issues.

"With 30 allergies, I kept thinking, 'There's got to be a better way','' DiVito explains. "I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading ingredient labels in the store.''

Multiple food allergies also kept DiVito from trying new things. "Once I found a food product that worked, I'd stick with it,'' he says. "Current solutions that are out there limit you, many times, to the eight FDA allergies. They also charge a super-high premium.''

The eight major food allergens identified by the Food and Drug Administration include: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.

"Our app will allow you to focus on many more specific ingredients: Do you want to eat this, or avoid it?'' says DiVito, who attended the University of South Florida, where he studied Architecture and Civil/Structural Engineering.

As a "hobbyist'' front-end developer, DiVito had been "kicking around'' the idea of an app that could help consumers search a large database for specific products or ingredients. Smartphone and tablet users will be able to scan products and identify ingredients from the app's directory.

Enter Startup Weekend Tampa Bay. The team included DiVito and his wife, Christina DiVito, along with Gregg Hilferding, Zach Kanzler, Todd Broyles, Adriane Jacobsen, Collete Lawson and Elizabeth Rugg. WaZINIT won.

"Our pitch for the judges was focused on how we could monetize the app -- but for me, the most important thing is to keep it free,'' DiVito explains. "Whatever their reasons, I want people to be able to use it and share it with family and friends for free.''

Now that Startup Weekend is over, the team is back down to a skeleton crew as they work to develop a beta version, market the app and source funding. They applied to the First WaVe Accelerator program, and competed in the Global Startup Battle, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola. DiVito hopes to "attract the attention and support'' of manufacturers like the brand.

"Ultimately, the goal is to keep the mobile app free of charge for the user,'' Di Vito says.

WaZINIT will be released in 2014 for mobile devices.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Brian DiVito, WaZINIT

HealthPlan Services Expands, 1,000+ Jobs In Tampa

HealthPlan Services is expanding its Tampa offices to make room for the 1,000 jobs the company will add by 2018. The company has made a $34 million capital investment toward infrastructure and new facilities to accommodate the firm’s growth in Hillsborough County.

HealthPlan Services currently employs more than 650 employees in Hillsborough County and provides sales, benefits administration, retention, reform and technology solutions to the insurance and managed care industries.

HealthPlan's new site will feature an operations center that will house all employees in IT, sales, customer services, human resources, and finance. The newly created positions will focus on building new platforms as well as helping to maintain existing client platforms.

"This expansion strengthens our commitment to provide our clients with the innovative services and high-quality customer support they need to succeed in the evolving post-reform insurance landscape," says CEO Jeffrey Bak.

With the influx of the new federal healthcare law, the client base of HealthPlan naturally grew to include clients who needed assistance to connect and participate in Obamacare.

As the company considered the amount of staff needed to handle the increased operations, Bak alternatively considered Ohio and Nevada for expansion sites, ultimately choosing Florida for its talented workforce and lower taxes.

"We have more than 40 locations, and we looked at all of our main hubs. We chose to expand here in Tampa," says CFO Steve Saft.

The firm will also receive state-based incentives worth several million dollars for each job created in addition to grants toward worker training programs.

Enterprise Florida, Hillsborough County, City of Tampa and the Tampa Hillsborough EDC were involved in facilitating the company's expansion in Tampa Bay.

"We are glad that the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and the governor made a compelling offer. So far, we’re happy," says Saft.

For more information on career opportunities, visit HealthPlan Services online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Jeffrey Bak and Steve Saft, HealthPlan Services

USAA Invests $164.3 Million, 1,200+ New Jobs In Tampa

USAA (United Services Automobile Association) is undergoing a major expansion in Tampa Bay, announcing a $164.3 million capital investment to create 1,215 new high-wage jobs and grow its local operations by 2019.

USAA leads the industry in insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services for the military community and their families.

"It’s a big deal, and it will have a pretty significant ripple effect in our economy. Add to that Amazon’s 1,000 new jobs, Bristol-Myers Squibb adding 600 jobs, and HealthPlan Services’ 1,000 jobs -- this is pretty serious economic growth that secures our future and the development of our community," says Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

USAA has operated in Florida for more than 40 years, with a significant presence in Hillsborough County. With more than 1,800 individuals currently employed at USAA’s New Tampa facility and over 600 employees additionally located throughout Florida, the firm has already created nearly 370,000 new jobs in just two years.

"USAA is growing as the demand for our financial products and services among the military community increases. We’ve had a great team of employees in Tampa for forty years, and we are excited to grow that team in this great military community," says USAA CEO Joe Robles.

In April, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners approved a local incentive package of $729,000, supporting a commitment of $2,916,000 from the State of Florida through the State’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program. The total QTI allocation of $3,645,000 will provide the company with $3,000 for the creation of each new high-wage job, incentives which will be payable over a nine-year period.

The company will initially lease 50,000 square feet of office space at Lakeview Center in Tampa and will soon construct a new 420,000 square-foot facility at Brandon’s Crosstown Center by 2015. Once complete, the facility will be the largest built-to-suit office project in Hillsborough County since 2001.

"This is another sign that Florida is becoming the number one place for business. Not only has Florida’s unemployment rate continued to decrease, but we are still below the national unemployment rate at seven percent," says Governor Rick Scott.

Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the Career Center online for more information on available positions.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Joe Robles, USAA; Rick Homans, Tampa Hillsborough EDC; Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida

MOSI Tampa Hosts STEAM Summit On Innovation

What do science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) have in common? They’re all part of Tampa Bay’s growing reputation as a region that nurtures innovation, and they will all be discussed at an upcoming professional leaders forum.

Hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), the forum on October 10 is a first for Tampa Bay and brings together professionals from all industries and across the region.

"The goal is to have a conversation with business leaders in the community about the importance of STEAM education, the opportunities that brings to Tampa, and our challenges as a region as we strive to be an innovative place," says Molly Demeulenaere, VP of development for MOSI.

Panelists include Raul Cuero, PhD., MOSI's 2013 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year. A microbiologist originally from Columbia, Cuero is a national spokesperson for STEAM and innovation who discovered through growing up in poverty that creativity can help bring about a better way of life.

Kerriann Greenlagh, Ph.D., a local organic chemist and University of South Florida graduate will provide an entrepreneur’s perspective of taking her liquid bandaid, KeriCure, from lab to market.

The panel is rounded out by local artpreneur and biologist Jeff Hazelton whose innovations include medical games, animation and imaging technology.

In addition to the panelists, the event is intended be an interactive conversation with involvement from the entire community.

STEAM is a focus of MOSI’s masterplan for 2025, but it has always been an important part of the educational process for the museum.

"As a science center, we have been teaching STEM/STEAM since MOSI opened in the 1950s," says Demeulenaere, adding that many people don’t realize that art is already integrated into STEM initiatives. For example, architecture plays a critical part in building design, as does design as an element in automobile manufacturing.

In bringing the STEAM conversation to the masses, MOSI also hopes to inspire the next generation of our region’s youth to take advantage of careers in STEAM fields. "We want people to know that it’s accessible, that it’s not hard for them to accomplish."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Molly Demeulenaere, MOSI Tampa

WellCare Contributes $1M To Step Up For Students

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. is offering scholarships to improve health and educational opportunities for students in need.

WellCare announced its participation in the Step Up For Students scholarship program, contributing $1 million to help provide K-12 students coming from low-income families or poverty circumstances the opportunity to participate in learning environments tailored to their scholastic needs. Since 2004, WellCare has contributed $9 million for 2,400 students throughout Florida.

"WellCare always has a health focus, but we understand that you actually have to touch people’s lives to improve their health. When we start young, we know that we will have healthier adults in our community. Start young and build their futures and potential through these scholarships," says Denise Malecki, Corporate Communications Manager.

Through the Step Up For Students initiative, students are given the opportunity to excel in their educational environment by being able to participate in private schools or out-of-district public schools that may be more tailored to their individual learning needs.

A significant long-term benefit of the program is the potential break in cyclical poverty situations and the creation of successful life paths for children in challenged economic circumstances.

The program recognizes the differences in children’s learning styles and aims to give families choices in their child’s education -- an option that many financially stable families may already have.

Since the program’s start, more than 331,000 scholarships have been awarded.

"For 11 years, our program has been helping our state’s most disadvantaged and academically vulnerable children access the schools that best meet their needs. The program exists to promote equal educational opportunity, so all of Florida’s children have a better chance at a successful future. We are grateful to WellCare for heling us make this mission a reality," says Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill.

For more information on WellCare, visit them online. For information on Step Up For Students and how to get involved, visit their website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Denise Malecki, WellCare; Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students

USF College Of Pharmacy, CoreRx Develop Market-Ready Talent

The University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and Clearwater-based CoreRx recently received a $200,000 grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor designed to train students to meet local demand for pharmaceutical careers.

Pharmaceutical companies in Tampa Bay historically have had to look outside of the region to find talent, from pharmaceutical hubs such as New Jersey or Michigan. USF’s long-term goal is to create a hub in Tampa Bay so companies can find the talent they seek.

"We create the talent right here and then the students get the opportunity to get into positions where they can create opportunity and build leadership," says Srinivas Tipparaju, assistant professor at USF’s College of Pharmacy. "We want to be in the forefront of what’s going on in the industry."

CoreRx provides drug development from the pre-formulation stage all the way through to manufacturing. The grant will allow for multidisplinary collaboration among USF’s College of Pharmacy and College of Engineering, providing undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to work with CoreRx’s scientists through hands-on projects and internships. The cross-college collaboration helps address the need for a more highly skilled workforce in STEM fields.

Among other things, students will learn about the development of drug delivery systems, the functionality of ingredients found in modern drugs and techniques involved with quality control. Students will also be challenged to use technology to develop new solutions that will overcome current issues with drug delivery systems.

The idea is for students to be market-ready, with no lag time in transitioning from an academic setting into industry.

The program is initially for one year, but long term goals are to extend it beyond that, and eventually develop patentable technologies.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Soure: Srinivas Tipparaju, USF College of Pharmacy
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