Lab Members


Working Groups: Metabolome and Epilepsy

Additional Roles: IG President

Semester Joined: Fall 2012

Major: Microbiology and Cell Science

Future Plans: Medical School

Giselle Pacheco

As a member of the Epilepsy Working Group and Keto Buddy, I am focused on providing the best possible form of Ketogenic Therapy (KT) for our patients. The team collaborates with Dr. Borum, graduate students, and healthcare professionals to study the effects of this therapy in a pediatric population diagnosed with intractable epilepsy.

As a Keto Buddy, I am responsible for creating a Comprehensive Epilepsy Form, reviewing data and records collected at clinic, and proposing diet and supplement changes for our patients, as well as addressing any issues that may arise in between their visits at UF Health.

For the past year, I have been collaborating with Dr. Borum on a personal project analyzing the blood plasma values received at all clinic visits during a patient's time on KT. I am also focusing on a subset of values that were collected during a yearly Keto Meal Challenge beginning at a patient's 1 year on KT clinic visit. During the Keto Meal Challenge, blood was drawn at 30 minutes, 1 hour, and 2 hours after the consumption of a Ketogenic Therapy meal. We hope to correlate this data to seizure response, growth, overall outcome, and other parameters.

I am also involved in the creation of the Keto Cookbook that will be made available to patients, families, and other Ketogenic Therapy centers in the hopes of improving communication between centers, making clinical decisions for patients, and making unique and creative meals available to any family interested in Ketogenic Therapy.

Working Groups: Epilepsy

Additional Roles: IG Treasurer, Archiving

Semester Joined: Spring 2013

Major: Nutritional Science

Future Plans: Missionary Work and Medical School

Alex Davila

Being a part of IG these last few years has shaped my way of thinking in a way that I can never forget. I get the opportunity to work with a unique population and observe how diet, medications, and response levels of Ketogenic Therapy affect a patient’s quality of life.

As of right now, my main responsibilities involve maintaining the food database and drug database of the lab, which are essential components towards the administration of Ketogenic Therapy of our patients. My current research project looks into the cost effectiveness of Ketogenic Therapy in comparison to normal medication therapy.

I am also looking into obtaining all carbohydrate information of the anti-epileptic medications of our patients with the goal of seeing how this information affects their diet prescription, the administration of Ketogenic Therapy and overall, the effectiveness of KT itself.

Working Group: Epilepsy

Additional Roles:

Semester Joined: Fall 2014

Major: Food Science and Human Nutrition - Nutritional Sciences

Future Plans: Medical School

Esther Olasoji

Since joining the InvestiGators in the spring of my freshman year, my exposure to clinical and translational science has far surpassed my expectations. I have gained experience and knowledge of the various underlying aspects required to provide a clinic for our patients. As a member of the epilepsy working group, I am involved with preparing data collection documents used to monitor our patients’ progress, creating meals for administering Ketogenic Therapy, and aiding in the development of Keto education.

I will be working on a project to discern the processes required to accurately determine and define the nutritional status of our pediatric population diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. The majority of published guidelines for nutritional health are for a “healthy” population, and cannot be easily translated to those with chronic diseases. My hope is that through this study, we will have better clarity of the nutritional status of this population, as well as stress the need to monitor nutritional status and its possible adverse effects alongside the disease.

Through IG, I have developed a love for my major and further recognized the effects of diet on not only one’s nutrition, but also on the psychological and neurological factors that affect’s one’s quality of life. I have been exposed to various patients of various backgrounds and personalities that truly prove the need for personalized care. I value being involved with a group of professionals that are not only working towards common research goals, but also working towards creating the highest quality of care for each of our patients.

Working Groups: Microbiome and Piglet

Additional Role:

Semester Joined: Spring 2014

Major: Microbiology and Cell Science

Future Plans: Graduate School

Marc Ferrell

Being a part of InvestiGators and this lab has been a great experience. I have been involved in planning and creating procedures for a preclinical pilot study to test the effect of ketogenic therapy on very young piglets. We hope that monitoring the metabolome, microbiome, and physical state of the piglets will provide evidence as to whether this therapy might be safe for human neonates with uncontrolled seizures.

To further evaluate how our piglets’ gut microbiomes are shaped by the diet therapy, we would like to compare our piglet’s microbial profiles to those published in scientific literature. For this purpose, I have been awarded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Intramural Research Award to build a database of the microbial profiles of piglets and human babies, as well as extensive supporting metadata. I am currently working on populating this database with published information about piglets and babies which can later be used to compare our experiments to previous work or for meta-analysis.

In my free time I enjoy reading and I am training for a triathlon. Like these activities, I enjoy working with the other members of lab. My time with InvestiGators has given me ample opportunity to practice the organizational skills and critical thinking it takes to do scientific research, but I still have a lot to learn, and I look forward to improvements we can bring to our patients lives.

Working Groups: Microbiome and Epilepsy

Additional Roles:

Semester Joined: Fall 2013

Major: Food Science and Human Nutrition-Dietetics

Future Plans: Clinical Dietician

Jessica Yomano

I joined the InvestiGators Fall 2013 during my first semester at UF. Through being a member of this lab I have been driven to ensure that our pediatric patients, and their parents, receive the very best care possible while being on Ketogenic Therapy. Through attending clinic I have had the opportunity to interact with our patients with intractable epilepsy, and from this I have learned just how important it is to be a caring medical professional that always puts the patient first.

Besides this, a large portion of my time is spent in lab, where I worked daily on entering in current and previous patients’ data into Excel, and into the program we use called the Nutritional Data System for Research. I am currently working on a personal project for the optimal selection, initiation, and maintenance of patients on Ketogenic Therapy.

I look forward to the rest of my time as a member of InvestiGators where I will continue to improve my patient and family interaction skills, and continue to work to make these children’s lives better.


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Dr. Peggy R. Borum
University of Florida
FSHN Department
P. O. Box #110370
Gainesville, FL 32611-0370

409A FSHN Bldg
Newell Drive
UF Campus
Phone: 352-392-7553
Fax: 352-392-8957


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