With CLIC support, University of Florida to host program-wide Un-Meeting focused on rural health and health equity


The University of Florida (UF) Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) have been selected as this year’s recipients of CLIC funds and support to host a CTSA Program-wide Un-Meeting. Their event will focus on catalyzing new collaborations to bridge the translational science and agricultural extension sectors to improve rural health and health equity.

In September of 2018, CLIC announced an open call for applications, inviting CTSA Program hubs and connected affiliates to apply for CLIC funding and support to host an Un-Meeting around a theme that would advance or address barriers in translational science. The goal of this opportunity was to support an event that would cultivate ideas and develop collaborative partnerships across academia, industry, government, and community.

CLIC received a total of seven applications from hubs across the country, and ultimately selected UF as the awardee. The university says the decision to focus on rural health and health equity was a natural choice.

“As a land grant university, UF’s mission is to serve residents no matter where they live and to be a source of science-based knowledge that can help them live better, healthier lives,” said Dr. Michael Gutter, associate dean at UF/IFAS Extension and UF Un-Meeting event lead. “This event gives the CTSI and IFAS an opportunity to collaborate with key stakeholders, including extension leaders from other land-grant universities.”

Rural Americans, who make up as much as 20 percent of the US population, face health disparities rooted in economic, social, racial, ethnic, geographic and health workforce factors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The focus on rural health and health equity addresses recommendations in recent congressional appropriations subcommittee reports, which encourage the CTSA Program to leverage resources and capabilities to improve rural health outcomes and eliminate long-standing regional health disparities. This Un-Meeting will create a timely opportunity to leverage robust national infrastructure across sectors in pursuit of a shared mission to translate science for practical application. 

“This is an important topic for our state, as well as for the nation,” said Dr. David R. Nelson, MD, director of the UF CTSI. “Residents of rural communities are a special population that is underrepresented in research, and we would ultimately like to engage these community members as partners in research from topic identification to study design and dissemination of health-related best practices. We envision a wide range of Un-Meeting participants with relevant expertise, including those involved in community engagement, special populations, team science, implementation and dissemination science, and health communication.”

The Un-Meeting format, which is without the rules and structure of a traditional conference, provides a unique opportunity for attendees to focus on what really matters to them, as they drive the agenda and the resulting discussions. This format is particularly beneficial for multidisciplinary groups of participants with varied backgrounds and areas of expertise.

“The CTSA Program hubs are uniquely positioned in national, regional and local communities to convene diverse stakeholders who are passionate about critical issues in clinical and translational science,” said Laura Sugarwala, Un-Meeting project lead at CLIC. “CLIC is so excited to help hubs take on their own Un-Meetings, which we know have the potential to make a huge impact.”

UF plans to host their event in April 2019 in north central Florida – additional details will become available in the coming months. If you’re interested in learning more about the Un-Meeting concept or about future funding opportunities, please email unmeetings@clic-ctsa.org.