Research

GRADUATE EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

My primary education research area focuses on innovative teaching and assessment methods in biomedical science graduate education.  Our most recent work has shown that clinical research self-efficacy among MD-PhD students is correlated with the amount of clinical research training and that a clinical research practicum is an effective option for MD-PhD students conducting basic science research to gain experience in clinical research skills (Sebastian).  Other recent work in collaboration with GREAT Group colleagues has led to the development of a set of core competencies for science PhD predoctoral and postdoctoral training and an accompanying rubric for competency-based assessment by trainees and mentors (Verderame).  In collaboration with other translational workforce development program leaders in the CTSA Consortium, I have been investigating optimal ways to train clinical & translational science researchers, with a special interest in methods for training in team science (Begg) and metrics for training assessment (Lee).  In other collaborative work I helped develop a peer feedback tool for faculty teaching (Blanco).

Current research focuses on the UF CTSI “TL1 Team” training program, in which teams of PhD and/or MD-PhD students from PhD programs in different colleges form interdisciplinary collaborative teams.  They develop team specific aims embedded in their dissertation research that extend the scope of individual dissertation research projects, overcome barriers to progress via collaborative research, and provide authentic interdisciplinary team experience.  Preliminary results suggest positive outcomes for student attitudes toward interdisciplinary collaboration and self-efficacy for conducting clinical research (unpublished).  Other current research focuses on the optimization of a career outcomes taxonomy that supports both informative graphical display of career outcomes and detection of significant differences in trainee subgroups and trends over time.  Preliminary results of UF biomedical science career outcomes data reveal significant differences in career outcomes based on gender, nationality, and time since degree, but not for underrepresented minorities (unpublished).

  1. Sebastian M, Robinson MA, Dumeny L, Dyson KA, Fantone JC, McCormack WT, May WS. Training methods that improve MD-PhD student self-efficacy for clinical research skills. (submitted)
  2. Verderame MF, Freedman VH, Kozlowski LM, McCormack WT. 2018. Competency-Based Assessment for the Training of PhD Scientists. eLIFE 7:e34801.
  3. Begg MD, Crumley CG, Fair AM, Martina CA, McCormack WT, Merchant C, Patino-Sutton CM, Umans JG. 2014. Approaches To Preparing Young Scholars For Careers in Interdisciplinary Team Science. Journal of Investigative Medicine 62(1):14-25. PMID 24169319
  4. Lee LS, SN Pusek, WT McCormack, DL Helitzer, CA Martina, A Dozier, JS Ahluwalia, L Schwartz, LM McManus, B Reynolds, E Haynes, DM Rubio. 2012. Clinical and Translational Scientist Career Success: Metrics for Evaluation.  Clinical and Translational Science 5: 400-407.  PMID 23067352.
  5. Blanco M, Capello C, Gusic M, McCormack W, Hafler J. 2011. Peer Feedback Tool for Lectures & Small Group Teaching. MedEdPORTAL 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8416.

TEAM-BASED LEARNING

The TBL-based responsible conduct of research (RCR) training program I developed has been shown to have more positive impact on ethical decision-making than typical RCR curricula (McCormack).  I guided the development of TBL modules for inter-professional education, e.g., clinical ethics (Gregg), patient safety, and health disparities, and for a variety of other basic and clinical science topics.  With colleagues in the TBLC I have led efforts to promote research and scholarship related to TBL (Burns, Haidet).

  1. Burns CM, McCormack WT, Wragg S. 2014. TBL Oversight for Continuous Quality Improvement and Acceptance. Medical Science Educator1007/s40670-014-0033-2.
  2. Haidet P, Kubitz K, McCormack WT. 2014. Analysis of the Team-Based Learning Literature: TBL Comes of Age. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 25(3&4):303-333.
  3. Gregg A, Allen W, Black E, Davidson R, McCormack W. 2013. An Interdisciplinary Team-Based Learning Experience in Clinical Ethics. MedEdPORTAL http://www.mededportal.org/publication/9579.
  4. McCormack WT, Garvan CW. 2014. Team-Based Learning Instruction for Responsible Conduct of Research Positively Impacts Ethical Decision-Making. Accountability in Research 21(1):34-49. PMC3801221

HUMANISM IN MEDICINE

A previous area of my education research focused on the use of peer evaluation to assess medical student professional behaviors, with a special interest in humanism in medicine.  A peer nomination survey I developed and continue to study was adopted as a student selection tool by the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) and is now in use at over 3/4 of our nation’s medical schools (McCormack).  A collaborative study of academic outcomes has shown that students elected into the GHHS as an aggregate group tend to be academically higher achieving and gravitate to a higher degree toward primary care when compared to their non-GHHS peers (Specter).  Unpublished research has shown that patterns of medical student peer nomination are influenced significantly by the clinical clerkship experiences of the third year of medical school. This research was funded by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

  1. Specter S, Kahn MJ, Lazarus C, Prislin M, Wong JG, O’Donnell J, McCormack WT, Kavan MG, López AM, House A. 2015. Gold Humanism Honor Society Election and Academic Outcomes: A 10 Institution Study. Family Medicine 47(10):770-775.
  2. McCormack, W.T., C. Lazarus, D. Stern, C.B. Stevens, P.A. Small, Jr. 2007. Peer nomination identifies medical student exemplars in clinical competence and caring at three medical schools.  Academic Medicine 82(11):1033-9.

GENETICS OF SUSCEPTIBILITY TO VITILIGO

Before my transition to education research, my research focused on human genetics of vitiligo susceptibility, supported by grant funding from the National Vitiligo Foundation and the American Vitiligo Research Foundation.  Using case-control association studies, we found significant association with the catalase gene and genes of the TAP/LMP cluster in the HLA region.  In collaboration with Drs. Margaret Wallace (UF), Richard Spritz (Colorado), and the VitGene Consortium, I have contributed to genome-wide association studies, which led to the discovery of many more human vitiligo susceptibility genes.  This project is not active at UF at this time, and we are not enrolling additional research subjects.

  1. Casp, C.B., J.X. She, & W.T. McCormack.   Genetic association of the catalase gene (CAT) with vitiligo susceptibility.  Pigment Cell Res. 15:62-66.
  2. Casp, C.B., J.X. She, & W.T. McCormack.   Genes of the TAP/LMP cluster are associated with the human autoimmune disease vitiligo.  Genes & Immunity 4:492-499.
  3. Jin Y, SA Birlea, PR Fain, TM Ferrara, S Ben, SL Riccardi, JB Cole, K Gowan, PJ Holland, DC Bennett, RM Luiten, A Wolkerstorfer, JP Wietze van der Veen, A Hartmann, S Eichner, G Schuler, N van Geel, J Lambert, EH Kemp, DJ Gawkrodger, AP Weetman, A Taϊeb, T Jouary, K Ezzedine, MR Wallace, WT McCormack, M Picardo, G Leone, A Overbeck, NB Silverberg, RA Spritz.   Genome-wide association study and meta-analysis identifies 13 new melanocyte-specific and immunoregulatory susceptibility loci for generalized vitiligo. Nature Genetics 44(6):676-80.
  4. Jin Y, Andersen G, Yorgov D, Ferrara TM, Ben S, Brownson KM, Holland PJ, Birlea SA, Siebert J, Hartmann A, Lienert A, van Geel N, Lambert J, Luiten RM, Wolkerstorfer A, Wietze van der Veen JP, Bennett DC, Taïeb A, Ezzedine K, Kemp EH, Gawkrodger DJ, Weetman AP, Kõks S, Prans E, Kingo K, Karelson M, Wallace MR, McCormack WT, Overbeck A, Moretti S, Colucci R, Picardo M, Silverberg NB, Olsson M, Valle Y, Korobko I, Böhm M, Lim HW, Hamzavi I, Zhou L, Mi QS, Fain PR, Santorico SA, Spritz RA. 2016. Genome-wide association studies of autoimmune vitiligo identify 23 new risk loci and highlight key pathways and regulatory variants.  Nature Genetics 48(11):1418-1424.

IMMUNOGLOBULIN AND T CELL RECEPTOR GENETIC DIVERSITY

During my predoctoral and postdoctoral training and early faculty years my research focused on the genetic diversification of rabbit antibody and chicken antibody and T cell receptor genes.  My research elucidated molecular mechanisms for antibody gene rearrangement and somatic diversification by gene conversion and contributed to the identification of chicken T cell receptor beta and gamma genes.

  1. McCormack, W.T., S.M. Laster, W.F. Marzluff & K.H. Roux.   Dynamic gene interactions in the evolution of rabbit VH genes: a four codon duplication and block homologies provide evidence for intergenic exchange. Nucleic Acids Res. 13:7041 7054.
  2. McCormack, W.T., L.W. Tjoelker, L.M. Carlson, B. Petryniak, C.F. Barth, E.H. Humphries & C.B. Thompson.   Chicken IgL gene rearrangement involves deletion of a circular episome and addition of single nonrandom nucleotides to both coding ends.  Cell 56:785 791.
  3. McCormack, W.T. & C.B. Thompson.   Chicken IgL variable region gene conversions display pseudogene donor preference and 5′ to 3′ polarity.  Genes Dev. 4:548 558.
  4. McCormack, W.T., L.W. Tjoelker, G. Stella, C.E. Postema & C.B. Thompson.   Chicken T-cell receptor beta-chain diversity:  An evolutionarily conserved D-beta -encoded glycine turn within the hypervariable CDR3 domain.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 88:7699-7703.

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