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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Florida Graduation Ceremony

The University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions welcomed Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, director of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Unit at the National Institute of Mental Health, as the distinguished speaker at the college’s convocation ceremony held April 29.

[Photo: Dr. Bruce Cuthbert]

The RDoC was formed to expand the institute’s effort to develop a research classification for mental disorders based upon dimensions of behavior and neural systems. Dr. Cuthbert has led the RDoC project since its inception, while also serving as director of the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development from 2009 to 2014 and as the institute’s acting director from 2015 to 2016. The RDoC seeks to expand research on basic behavioral and emotional processes, such as fear, impulse control, and reward-related activity, that may underlie multiple disorders. The RDoC effort emphasizes going beyond observable behavior to incorporate multiple measures, including genetics, self-report, and physiological responses. About half of the clinical translational research at NIMH involves RDoC approaches in some way, and the institute funds a few hundred grants for studies that apply different aspects of RDoC principles.

Dr. Cuthbert served on the faculty of the PHHP department of clinical and health psychology for 17 years before joining the National Institute of Mental Health in 1998. For his contributions to psychology research and policy, Dr. Cuthbert was awarded UF’s Distinguished Achievement Award at a graduation ceremony on April 30.

Dr. Cuthbert advised the college’s graduating students that with constant changes in the economy, health care, and technology, the knowledge they gained as students will eventually become outdated, adding, “The mark of an outstanding professional is the ability to relinquish old ideas and learn the new.”

Dr. Cuthbert recalled the lessons he learned in graduate school from his mentor Dr. Peter Lang, a graduate research professor in the PHHP department of clinical and health psychology, which shaped the basic principles of how Dr. Cuthbert has approached research on behavior and mental disorders throughout his career.

“Sticking with the basic principles that I learned in graduate school is a major reason why my career developed as it did and why I am standing here before you today, even though our technologies and methods have changed drastically,” he said. “Of course, the nature of these basic principles varies for different people, depending upon our careers and our own aims. In the long run, it is up to each of us to find our own guiding principles as we develop. Only in this way, I believe, can we build on a solid foundation to strive for the excellence that we all seek.”