Cara Donohue, PhD, CCC-SLP

Hometown: Bloomington, MN

Year I became a Gator: 2021

Department: Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Mentor: Emily Plowman, PhD, CCC-SLP

Research focus: My clinical work as a speech-language pathologist and my research experiences throughout my doctoral training have shaped my current research interests. My long-term goal as a clinician scientist is to improve clinical care and quality of life for patients with swallowing disorders by 1) understanding the mechanisms of disordered swallowing that are associated with neurologic and respiratory etiologies and; 2) developing accurate assessment and effective treatment techniques for impaired pulmonary, cough, and swallow function by aligning them with the mechanisms of action of these diseases.

What drives me: I am driven by an insatiable curiosity for knowledge and by my desire to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients with swallowing disorders by conducting clinically relevant research work.

What I like most about the BREATHE Training Program: I like that the BREATHE program facilitates interdisciplinary interactions with professionals from diverse backgrounds that have overlapping research interests. I also appreciate that the program spans basic science to translational research with an emphasis on making clinically meaningful contributions.

Awards & achievements since being on the T32: I am a new trainee on the T32, but in the past year I have published 6 first-author publications and co-authored an additional 2 manuscripts. I have had the opportunity to present at several local and national conferences and was recently awarded the Steven B. Leder Award for Most Clinically Impactful Publication in the Dysphagia journal. Additionally, I received several scholarships and internal grants to support my dissertation research work, which focused on proactive dysphagia management in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

What I like about Gainesville: I’m new to Gainesville, but so far I am enjoying the warmer weather and the bike and running trails. As a Minnesota native, I’m looking forward to having less than 6 months of winter.

Why I chose BREATHE at the University of Florida: I chose the BREATHE program because of the extensive training opportunities to further advance my knowledge in the realms of respiratory physiology and because of the access to excellent mentorship/renowned experts in fields related to underlying mechanisms of impaired breathing and airway defense.

What makes the BREATHE Training Program unique? The BREATHE program is unique because it embodies team science and provides a welcoming environment that facilitates growth to assist trainees in transitioning to the next career stage and to transform them into independent research investigators and new leaders within the realm of respiratory neuromuscular systems.

What I do for fun: I enjoy running road and trail races, teaching group fitness classes, doing anything outdoors, reading, and spending time with my two retired racing greyhounds, family, and friends.