Innovation, recruitment, and great progress

A Message from Scott A. Rivkees, M.D., UF Department of Pediatrics Chair

The past 150 days at the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and Shands Hospital for Children at UF, which marks how long I have had the honor of serving as Chair of Pediatrics, have been marked by innovation, recruitment and great progress. We have made major strides in our educational program, in our research programs and in our clinical care.


Our educational program is now one of the most innovative and imaginative pediatric training programs in the country. Directed by Dr. Nicole Black, who is assisted by a dedicated core of program directors and eager house staff, we have initiated major changes to the education of the next generation of pediatricians. Residency programs typically are not individually tailored to the desires of trainees, nor are they geared to accommodate the changing landscape of pediatrics in academic medicine.

The UF residency educational curriculum has been modified so that we now have individual tracks for house officers. We now have Medical Home, Global Health, Public Policy and Research/Subspecialty tracks.

  • The Medical Home track is for those individuals who wish to practice primary care pediatrics upon graduation. The medical home is an important new concept in pediatric care where the primary care physician plays an instrumental role in the care of the child and orchestrating needed subspecialty care when the need arises.
  • The Global Health track recognizes that we have the opportunity to contribute to health programs of many countries. This track will provide trainees the opportunity to experience pediatric health care in areas that are very different from the United States.
  • The Public Health track recognizes that pediatric care and the development of health policy requires the input of pediatricians. This track provides legislative exposure for trainees, along with coursework in the public health area.

The Research track provides house officers the opportunity to work in leading laboratories at the University of Florida, as innovation is the keystone for pediatric discovery of new treatments. This experience exposes them to research early in their residency. This track also sets the stage for house officers who are interested in going into pediatrics subspecialties.

Read more about these unique tracks here.


Our department continues to excel and expand in research and discovery. We have leading and internationally recognized programs in many areas, such as our programs focusing on children with metabolic and endocrine disorders and our gene therapy program. We have advanced our discovery program over the past several months with the recruitment of Dr. Bryon Peterson and Dr. Samuel Cheng.

We are delighted with the recruitment of Dr. Bryon Peterson, who is an internationally renowned expert in regenerative medicine. Dr. Peterson’s research team will bring new expertise to our department with a focus on organ regeneration.

We are very pleased with the recruitment of Dr. Samuel Cheng from Yale University. Dr. Chen is a pediatric gastroenterologist who is developing novel treatments for the treatment of intestinal disorders and diarrheal diseases.

We’re also consolidating research space. This will facilitate the interaction of research scientists in a way that will lead to the incubation of new ideas and new research programs.

Patient Care

Our clinical program is dramatically moving forward. We are delighted to announce the renovation of Shands Medical Plaza, where more than 50,000 children are seen each year. The Shands Arts and Medicine Program, directed by Ms. Tina Mullen, has been instrumental in the development of child-friendly and interesting visual themes in our renovated treatment areas. Under the direction of Dr. Sanjeev Tuli and Mr. John Moller, we are improving our outpatient operations, too. It is our goal that all children will be seen promptly when an appointment is requested and that it will be a pleasant experience for them.

Our inpatient operations continue to expand to provide wonderful care. We are delighted with the addition of two new faculty members to the Division of Hematology/Oncology, which is directed by Dr. William Slayton. We welcome Dr. John Fort and Dr. Tung Wynn to this division.

Dr. Fort is a leading expert in the treatment of children with cancer and bone marrow transplantation.

Dr. Tung is a national expert in the treatment of bleeding disorders, including hemophilia.

UF Pediatrics Local Care Program

We are branching out from Gainesville to see children closer to where they live. Florida is a vast state of natural beauty.  We recognize that many families have to travel several hours to see us. Working with community partners, we will soon be seeing children in their home cities as we create the University of Florida Pediatrics Local Care Program.

We are delighted with the continued rise and growth of UF Pediatrics and Shands Hospital for Children at UF in so many different areas. And with the passing of each season, there will be many more exciting changes for our wonderful department

Thank you for your terrific support.

Scott A. Rivkees, M.D.
Nemours Eminent Scholar
Professor and Chair