Health Research Boosts State’s Well-Being

Health disparities across North Carolina’s population. Limited access to health care in many parts of the state. Inefficiencies in using scarce health care resources. Responding to such issues, the UNC Tomorrow Commission, a 28-member blue-ribbon panel, has targeted health and well-being as one of seven challenges on which NC State and the rest of the University of North Carolina system should focus their education, research, and outreach efforts in the coming years.

NC State has a head start on the effort, having had health and wellness among its major research thrusts for years. “We look at health holistically, which produces groundbreaking research in genomics, proteomics, pharmaceuticals, nutritional foods, medical devices, accessibility for people with disabilities, and translational medicine that addresses both animal and human needs.” Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies Terri Lomax says. She notes that the University has research programs and a culture of partnerships in systems biology, comparative medicine, medical textiles, and biomedical engineering.
Leading NC State’s health-related research is the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), ranked fourth in the nation for its programs in clinical sciences, population health, and molecular biomedical science. The joint NCSU-UNC Biomedical Engineering Department, formed in 2004, is known for its research in biomedical imaging and devices, biosystems analysis, biomechanics, tissue engineering, and rehabilitation engineering. The Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry has one of the most comprehensive programs in macromolecular structure-function in North America. In addition, six large-scale, health-focused interdisciplinary graduate fellowship programs at NC State are currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency, attracting and supporting top graduate students in biomedical fields.

Dr. Prema Arasu, director of Global Health Initiatives at NC State, is a parasitologist and infectious disease expert in the CVM. Arasu has spent several years working on international health policy and developing partnerships in China and India for public health research. She is now building teams of researchers across colleges to join partners in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to attack major international health problems like food safety and infectious diseases.

This issue of RESULTS features research projects in health and well-being. It also highlights achievements across the full range of NC State’s research in the 2007-2008 Research and Graduate Studies Annual Report. “We had a record year for research awards from a broad and balanced array of sources, Lomax says. “We also continued to grow our population of talented graduate students who are the engine of our research enterprise.”

 

Dr. Prema Arasu, left, and Vice Chancellor Terri Lomax lead NC State research to addressing health and well-being issues both statewide and worldwide.