The University of Georgia
UGA at forefront in public health

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UGA at forefront in public health

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June 1, 2014

UGA has a long history of conducting groundbreaking health and medical research. From behavioral health to advanced stem cell therapy, UGA researchers are on the front lines of the fight against obesity, diabetes and infectious diseases. Faculty members are leaders in public health, policy and economics, and they are constantly developing new diagnostics, treatments, vaccines and cures.

Through a partnership with the Georgia Health Sciences University (now Georgia Regents University), UGA began training the next generation of medical professionals in August 2010. The first class of medical students trained in Athens graduated spring 2014 and those students are moving into residency programs.

In addition to educating a well-trained workforce, UGA is conducting groundbreaking research to reduce premature death, infant mortality, cancer, infectious disease, obesity, heart disease and substance abuse. Public service efforts aim to increase nutritious eating, promote exercise and foster healthy relationships.

Through research, education and outreach, UGA is working to improve lives. The presence of UGA Extension in each of Georgia's 159 counties and the Archway Partnership empowers and facilitates community partnership in the pursuit of health. Through these outreach efforts, as well as the multitude of service-learning programs UGA students participate in, Georgians have access to the research and educational tools needed to live healthier lives.

Aging

UGA is committed to helping older adults maximize function and well-being as they age. As part of a statewide effort, UGA is building a clearinghouse for access to Web-based training opportunities in gerontology and geriatrics, providing continuing education for Georgia's health care community. Efforts to address risk factors associated with unintentional falls, motor vehicle accidents and the use of immunizations for influenza and pneumonia serve the public. Research areas include functional assessment, caregiving, long-term and end-of-life care, normal to pathological memory changes, vision, nutrition, exercise science, pharmacy, adult education, social work, marketing and housing.

More information on UGA's effort is available at http://www.publichealth.uga.edu/geron/.

Behavioral Health

UGA has a nationally recognized center for behavioral health research, outreach and education. Faculty and students from across UGA's campus are investigating the causes and solutions to many pressing behavioral health issues. Students from across campus study behavioral health-related issues through the discipline of their choice. Be it public health, psychology, sociology, anthropology or family and consumer sciences, UGA offers unparalleled educational opportunities for those interested in health behaviors.

Faculty and students at UGA conduct research on numerous pressing behavioral health problems. Among the many critical research areas, investigators at UGA are examining substance abuse, compulsive gambling, sexual risk behavior, alcohol use by children and adolescents, care networks for the elderly, violence against women, child abuse and the promotion of medical compliance among diabetics.

Much of the work conducted by behavioral health researchers at UGA focuses on bettering the lives of those who live in communities throughout Georgia. But research into issues of abuse, risk behaviors, health care and violence lead to solutions for global communities as well.

More about the Institute for Behavioral Research is available at http://ibr.uga.edu/.

Cancer

The UGA Cancer Center is taking a broad-based approach to fighting cancer, bringing faculty from across the campus together to search for new diagnostic tests and treatments while also designing more effective public health campaigns and improving the quality of life for patients and survivors.

As the state's largest and most comprehensive university, a major focus of the UGA Cancer Center involves training students. Undergraduates gain invaluable hands-on experience as members of research teams. Faculty members serve as mentors for graduate students.

Cancer research at UGA focuses on four areas of expertise: early detection through the creation of new diagnostic tests, the creation of drugs that fight cancer, vaccines that train the immune system to attack tumors and the design of public health campaigns and support systems for cancer survivors.

A healthy lifestyle and timely cancer screenings play a critical role in preventing several types of cancer, but getting people to adopt lifestyle changes and undergo screenings can be notoriously difficult. Researchers at the UGA Cancer Center are helping officials design more effective health education campaigns. They're also working to better understand the emotional and social impacts of cancer in hopes of creating interventions that improve the quality of life of patients.

More about the UGA Cancer Center is available at http://cancercenter.uga.edu/.

Diagnostics

By developing new methods to more quickly detect diseases such as cancer, pneumonia and flu, scientists at UGA are working to ensure that treatment can begin as early as possible to maximize the likelihood of success. The university's expertise in nanotechnology, infectious disease and cellular biology makes UGA an emerging leader in diagnostics. At UGA, undergraduate and graduate students work side-by-side with faculty members who are leaders in their fields. They gain hands-on experience in labs conducting cutting-edge science.

Diagnosis is a major focus of the UGA Cancer Center. The university's Faculty of Infectious Diseases, NanoScale Science and Engineering Center and other interdisciplinary efforts have resulted in the creation of new methods to diagnose diseases such as the flu and pneumonia.

More about UGA's diagnostic programs is available at http://healthsciences.uga.edu/diagnostics/.

Exercise and Recreation

Active people are healthy people. UGA is known for outstanding scholarship, leadership and educational excellence in the areas of recreation administration, experienced-based education, physical activity and the scholarly study of leisure. Faculty and students address the design, provision and evaluation of recreation and leisure services that facilitate health, education and well-being across the lifespan, and study the psychological and social dimensions of exercise and leisure.

To enhance the health and well-being for all people throughout the lifespan, research at UGA focuses on exercise science that applies knowledge, principles and methods from the behavioral, biological, medical and physical sciences to the study of physical activity and sport. With a global focus, UGA works to develop and deliver programs to all populations including children, the elderly, athletes and persons with disability, injury and disease.

Information about UGA's varied programs aimed at exercise and recreation is available at http://healthsciences.uga.edu/exercise-recreation/.

Food Science and Safety

UGA faculty members strive to keep the food on your plate safe. They address health risks like salmonella, E. coli and listeria with research-based solutions. Faculty members also work to improve foods through breeding programs and to identify nutrient-rich foods and make their benefits known.

The issue of food safety is as close as a person's next meal. Yet it covers such widespread challenges as food recalls and imports, the country's booming food processing industry, organic growers and school lunch programs. University faculty members investigate these issues and inform the public. Food safety issues constantly arise, and new developments in food science are always evolving. UGA works to solve problems in the food industry and provide consumers with safe high-quality foods. New technologies improve quality while decreasing health risks.

More about UGA's Center for Food Safety is available at http://www.ugacfs.org/hottopics.html.

Genetics

Scientists at UGA are using genetics to help lead one of the major scientific revolutions of humankind: delving into human DNA to provide an unprecedented understanding of disease to find new diagnostic tests and treatments.

Along with classroom instruction in a wide-ranging series of topics, a special feature of the undergraduate major in genetics at UGA is the requirement for two semesters of laboratory research. Frequently, this research is done on cutting-edge projects in a faculty member's lab. For graduate students, the genetics department is so well respected that is has continuously held a training grant from the National Institutes of Health for more than 30 years.

Scientists at UGA analyze genetic information to search for factors involved in the initiation and progression of diseases such as cancer. They're also using their knowledge of basic cellular processes such as RNA interference-which modifies the activity of genes-for vaccine development and the search for new treatments.

UGA's Department of Genetics is available online at http://www.genetics.uga.edu/index_alt.html.

Infectious Diseases

Through integration of multidisciplinary research in animal, human and ecosystem health, University of Georgia scientists work to understand the factors that contribute to disease emergence in order to better anticipate and prevent infectious diseases. They develop new countermeasures to diagnose, control, eliminate, treat and prevent both existing and emerging infectious diseases.

Research efforts focus on three challenges: emerging and re-emerging diseases; food and water safety; and development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, including the use of nanotechnology. Their work has led to discoveries ranging from new ways to diagnose seasonal flu to vaccinating people against deadly parasites.

More on the Faculty of Infectious Diseases is available at http://fid.ovpr.uga.edu/.

Nutrition

Optimal food and nutrient intake plays a critical role in disease prevention and health maintenance. With this knowledge, UGA faculty members are devoted to learning about and sharing information about nutrition and health programs that benefit lives worldwide.

Research in the areas of nutrition spans from prenatal care to aging and everything in between. UGA faculty members are devoted to learning how nutrition can limit risks of chronic disease and improve lives. Students work with faculty on the development of healthy food products, health promotion, obesity and disease prevention through diet. UGA efforts to educate and inform citizens about nutrition guidelines include local programming, online interactive tools and fresh food delivery to citizens living in areas without access to healthy foods.

More about UGA's education, research and outreach nutrition programs is available at http://healthsciences.uga.edu/nutrition/.

Obesity and Diabetes

Specialists at UGA are addressing the growing epidemic of adult and childhood obesity and diabetes. Faculty members are developing and implementing innovative nutrition, exercise and health education programs for UGA students, schools, adults and employers. UGA faculty members conduct research on adult and childhood obesity and related diseases. Research topics range from basic science on metabolism and genetics to the development of pharmaceuticals, weight management interventions, health policy, behavioral modification, gaming and mobile technologies for health messaging and innovative after-school exercise programs.

More about the UGA Obesity Initiative is available at http://obesity.ovpr.uga.edu/.

Pharmaceuticals

UGA is dedicated to finding life-saving medications to treat a variety of illnesses. Through continuing education programs, clinical placements and rigorous professional study, UGA trains today's pharmacists to tackle emerging health risks. UGA exhibits unrelenting effort to find therapies, treatments and cures for global health risks through its research efforts at the Center for Drug Discovery.

More on UGA's College of Pharmacy is available at http://www.rx.uga.edu/.

Public Health

UGA is a diverse and robust institution focused on promoting health in human populations throughout the state, country and world. Within the College of Public Health, research areas that improve the health of citizens include epidemiology, disaster management, environmental health, global health and health promotion and behavior. UGA experts lend their expertise to public and private institutions throughout the world in order to strengthen public health and improve the health and quality of life of people everywhere.

More about how UGA is working to improve public health is available at http://healthsciences.uga.edu/public-health/.

Stem Cells

Human stem cells have great potential for finding and restoring damaged tissues throughout the body and speeding the drug discovery process. UGA is developing a combined approach of both the cells needed to restore damaged areas and using these cells to discover new compounds to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's. UGA faculty members are devoted to the progression and training of upcoming scientists and researchers. A central goal of UGA stem cell researchers is to connect, inform and educate the research and non-research communities about stem cells, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. UGA serves as a conduit connecting the regenerative medicine research community to the general population.

For more information about UGA's work in health sciences, see http://healthsciences.uga.edu/