USF's CAMLS wows New Jersey Democrat

04/23/14 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: Frank Pallone, kathy castor, Judy Genshaft, USF, CAMLS, medical research


U.S. Rep Kathy Castor (D-FL) hosts colleague Frank Pallone (D-NJ) at USF's CAMLS.

photo by Janelle Irwin

A University of South Florida medical research facility is getting kudos from a high ranking Democrat in Washington. New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone sits on a health subcommittee where things like funding for Medicare and Medicaid are sorted out. Pallone toured the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa Wednesday.

"There's always competition with NIH, with a lot of federal agencies also with the private sector. Obviously we'll take that back to Washington in our efforts to try to look at some of these grants whether they be private or public."

CAMLS opened in 2012 and boasts room after room where doctors and surgeons can learn about medical innovations and put it to practical use. Surgeons can replace a hip without ever even touching an actual patient. One of the things that most impressed Pallone is a room that simulates an emergency surgery on a soldier in Afghanistan. A rubber dummy named MATT has a severed leg and squirts blood.

"A doctor could come in there, a health professional and actually simulate, maybe, that they were in Afghanistan. We can hear the helicopters, the sounds of the helicopters, so that they actually could sort of witness, if you will, what it might be like to be in Kandohar or somewhere in Afghanistan."

In addition to research, CAMLS also tests and certifies some new medical equipment for FDA approval.

"One of the concerns that we hear all the time is that the FDA process doesn't move fast enough. Of course if you're going to be innovative which is what the Congresswoman is saying is so important, you have to be able to move quickly if there's a new medical device that you wanted to be approved."

But funding continues to be an issue for research facilities like CAMLS who rely heavily on government grants. A budget that passed the House cut funding for the National Institute of Health where some grants come from. Congress member Kathy Castor sits on the Health Subcommittee with Pallone.

"I offered an amendment to restore NIH funding to higher levels and also to put it in a mandatory category so it would not be subject to sequester again. Unfortunately the Republican colleagues voted that amendment down."

USF president Judy Genshaft ushered both members of Congress through simulated operating rooms at CAMLS. She touted the medical research arm as part of a growing USF initiative to be nationally competitive.

"We're number 43 in all universities in the country, whether it's public or private, we're 43rd in terms of the amount of research grants and contracts and expenditures."

Genshaft said CAMLS is one of only a few places in the nation where doctors and nurses can get continuing training on new procedures and technology.

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