From recreation and weight control to designing fruits and vegetables with more phytonutrients for cancer prevention to using the latest biotechnology advancements to search for new drugs, the College is dedicated to improving health.
Our students in the life sciences will be among the research scientists and technicians, physicians, pharmacists, and biotechnology engineers of the future. We believe in taking a leadership role in health by providing students and researchers with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to investigate such areas as structure-based drug design using X-ray crystallography combined with computer bioinformatics to find the right drug to target a specific disease. Other research is aimed at finding nontoxic “smart drugs” that can be carried by nanoparticles directly to disease sites in the body.
From recreation and weight control to designing fruits, vegetables and animal products better able to prevent chronic diseases to improving human health and production efficiency in livestock and using the latest advancements in biotechnology to search for new drugs, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is dedicated to improving health of humans, animals and plants.
What is Improving Our Health?
One Health: A Systems Biology Approach
The “One Health” initiative recognizes the complex links between animal, human, and ecosystem health that are both beneficial and problematic and require investments in basic and translational research, education and outreach for solutions. Interdisciplinary teamwork is essential to explore the broad array of intricate and interconnected pathways that are integrated in complex organisms, determine how disturbances in these pathways lead to disease and resistance, and desired phenotypes that enhance production agriculture, human and animal health, and health of the ecosystem.
Foods for Health and Prevention of Disease
Foods for Health research examines the complex systemic processes, from consumer choice to biochemical mechanisms that underlie functions of nutrients in plant and animal based foods that enhance human health and disease prevention. There is a growing recognition that bioactive compounds in food play critically important roles in disease prevention in humans. Therefore, the choices consumers make determine the nutritional status of the nation and are critical to national health goals because healthy diets are strongly linked to longevity and to the prevention of disability, major chronic diseases, and death in the United States.
Ingestive Behavior and Metabolism
Food and feed consumption is the fundamental process whereby nourishment is taken into the body. This activity is influenced by a disparate group of variables that include hedonic, social, economic, cultural, psychological, health status and food availability. The emerging field of epigenomics is the study of how environmental factors, nutrition, stress and gender modify structure and expression of genes without expression of genes without affecting the make-up of the genome directly.
Wellness through Parks and Natural Environment
Research on wellness through parks and the natural environment examines how public parks, gardens, greenways, and other natural areas contribute to individual and community health. An important direct benefit is in the form of restoration of healthy minds and bodies and providing inviting places for people to engage in physical activity, including gardening, walking, and bicycling. Research shows that proximity and availability of parks and natural areas is linked to higher rates of physical activity and lower rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Rural areas with larger parks and protected areas are particularly critical in sustaining critical ecosystems.
Population Growth and Reproductive Rights
The issue around population growth centers around family size and reproductive rights which requires a strategy to educate women, both globally and locally. With improved education for women regarding reproductive health, nutrition, and quality of life issues for families, it has been demonstrated that birth rates decrease which reduces pressure on available resources including food sources and the environment. Importantly, the projected increases in the human population on our planet will stabilize and perhaps decrease in response to improved education and decision making by women of the world.