• Apr 12 2024

Largest-ever CCTS Conference Draws Nearly 1,100 Attendees as Mayor Issues Proclamation of “Translational Science Day” in Lexington

Dr. Philip Kern, DR. Katherine Hartmann, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, and Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis

CCTS Co-Director Philip Kern, CCTS Director Katherine Hartmann, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, and UK Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis with the proclamation of April 9 as "Translational Science Day" in the city. 


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 12, 2024) – The 19th Annual Spring Conference of the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) drew it’s largest-ever audience, with nearly 1,100 attendees including a particularly special guest: Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, who issued a proclamation that April 9 is “Translational Science Day” in the city.  

The annual conference is a pillar of the CCTS’ mission to accelerate discoveries and train upcoming generations of translational scientists. Every year, hundreds of clinicians, researchers, trainees, undergraduates, high school students, and community partners gather to share research and foster collaborations.

Mayor Gorton’s proclamation recognized the critical role of translational science in bringing new findings and knowledge into use for patient care and population health. While it often takes many years for innovations to be “translated” into use, the UK CCTS works to catalyze that process by providing research infrastructure, funding, and training. As Kentucky’s only clinical and translational science program funded by National Institutes of Health, the CCTS helps to ensure that innovations by University of Kentucky researchers can directly impact the health needs of the Commonwealth and beyond as quickly as possible.

“It is essential that we identify discoveries, whether in the lab or through other types of research, and find ways to translate these discoveries into use for people, especially to our most vulnerable populations.  Translational science how we do this—it’s focused on methods to help make a difference in people’s lives, which is often difficult in spite of our best intentions,” said Philip Kern, M.D., co-director of the CCTS.

This year’s CCTS conference focused on “Dissemination and Implementation across the Translational Spectrum” and featured:

  • two keynote speakers,
  • 10 breakout sessions,
  • 63 oral presentations,
  • 312 poster presentations including 11 by students from the Frederick Douglass High School Biomedical Pathways Program,
  • the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship 60-Second Poster Pitch Competition, and
  • Mentor Recognition and Special Recognition Awards.

Research Days for the following colleges and centers were also held at the CCTS Conference:

  • College of Dentistry
  • College of Engineering - Biomedical Engineering
  • College of Health Science
  • College of Medicine
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Public Health
  • Institute for Biomedical Informatics

Geoffrey Curran, PhD, director of the Center for Implementation Research and Endowed Chair in Pharmacy Practice Innovation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, delivered a morning keynote address titled Implementation Science Explained: What it Is and What it Does.”

Ellen J. HahnPhD, RN, FAAN, professor emeritus in the UK College of Nursing and former professor in the UK College of Public Health, delivered an afternoon keynote address titled Innovation Uptake in the Heart of Tobacco Country: Implementation Science at a Glance,” in which she discussed policy change as implementation science. Hahn was a key figure in implementing Lexington’s smoke-free policy, which marked its 20 year anniversary this month.  


Frederick Douglass High School Students’ Research Poster Presentations

A highlight of CCTS conference is research poster presentations by students from the Frederick Douglass High School (FDHS) Biomedical Pathways Program. Thirty-three FDHS students, all in their junior year, presented 11 research posters on a range of cancer-related topics. They also attended the afternoon keynote address and had an informational session about science careers with CCTS research development director Joel Thompson, Ph.D.

FDHS students Layla Hudson, Rachel Franklin, and Morgan Prewitt worked together to research the impact of leukemia of a state and national level.

“It is a very interesting cancer to study because a lot the risk factors are really unknown, and it’s interesting to see how different locations are affected by it,” Franklin said.

For Hudson, studying in the biomedical pathways program and learning how to conduct and present rigorous research is a step in her journey to earn a doctorate in nursing practice.

“This is the third year that FDHS students have attended the CCTS conference to present research posters they developed as part of their course work,” said Amanda Ellis, Ph.D., vice chair of biostatistics in the UK College of Public Health, who leads the collaboration with FDHS.  “Each year we are delighted to host the students. This experience not only builds their confidence and presentation skills but also fosters networking skills, enhancing their overall academic growth and future prospects.”

33 students from Frederick Douglass High School, all wearing white lab coats, and two of their teachers stand on the steps in Central Bank Center.

Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship 60-Second Poster Pitch Competition 

For the seventh year, the UK Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship hosted a 60-Second Poster Pitch Competition at the conference. Twenty-four people participated in the competition, and cash awards were presented to the following winners:

  • First Place ($850): Breanna Knicely, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology
  • Second Place ($600): Fatemeh Hamedi, University of Kentucky College of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Third Place ($400): Yolanda Jackson MS, RD, LD, University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, Center for Health Equity Transformation
  • Director's Choice Award ($150):  Hannah Cleary, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Department of Behavioral Science


Mentor Recognition and Other Awards

The CCTS Spring Conference also celebrates mentorship, which is integral to training the upcoming translational science workforce but often goes unrecognized. After an open call for nominations, Mentor Recognition Awards were presented to:

  • Ilhem Messoudi-Powers, PhD
  • Mike Samaan, PhD
  • Sibu Saha, MD, MBA

Additionally, the Gerald Supinski Award for Excellence in Mentoring Award (named in memory of a CCTS colleague who tirelessly advocated for his mentees) was presented to Craig Rush, PhD.

Special Recognition Award was presented to Aaron Kruse-Diehr, PhD, the 2024 CCTS Conference Chairperson and co-director of the CCTS Center for Implementation, Dissemination, and Evidence-based Research.


The conference agenda and poster presentation books are available here.


Special thanks to WUKY for covering the event in their afternoon broadcast, which you can listen to here.


More photos coming soon!


Media Contact: Mallory Profeta, mallory.profeta@uky.edu