• Letter from the Executive Director
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Welcome to the first issue of Journey to Health, an online publication published by FAU’s Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-Health). The stories in this publication highlight the cutting-edge research efforts of more than 100 I-Health faculty members throughout seven FAU colleges.

I-Health was created in July of 2019 to help address the unique health care challenges of South Florida residents, advancing health through pioneering research and practical applications. The institute is redesigning the health care infrastructure to create novel intervention programs to provide patients and the community with health care for everyday needs, as well as the most specialized services for complex diseases, illnesses and injuries.

I-Health also focuses on aging patient populations to provide unique care not available elsewhere in the region. In addition to developing clinical trials and conducting clinical and translational research, I-Health teaches and trains generations of health care professionals to meet South Florida’s diverse needs.

In consideration of the South Florida health care environment, I-Health has created research focus groups in

  • cancer
  • infectious diseases and
  • human health and dementia.

FAU cancer researchers are conducting novel, collaborative research that is responsive to both national and community needs. From basic research in the laboratory, to clinical research in the field, FAU’s growing oncology research portfolio reflects a spirit of excellence and innovation.

The infectious diseases research group develops therapeutic treatments, diagnostic tools and outreach programs, address diseases including HIV, hepatitis, COVID-19 and malaria. The group also confronts particular challenges among South Florida populations, such as vulnerable seniors who are likelier to acquire resistance to common antimicrobial medicines, via innovative therapies and expansion of current outreach efforts. Researchers work to help local communities understand biological and social mechanisms driving antimicrobial resistance and other public health challenges.

The human health and dementia research focus group considers all stages of human development and afflictions which primarily impact the neurons of the human brain, resulting in diseases that are presently incurable. Researchers develop novel therapeutic agents for treating individuals with dementia and other related diseases and conditions associated with memory deficits and declining cognitive skills. Research suggests lifestyle changes in diet or environment across entire lifespans helps reduce risks and impacts of neurodegenerative diseases. The group is creating and testing outreach programs in South Florida to improve public understanding of neurodegenerative disease progression and existing and potential treatments and lifestyle strategies.

I-Health research also includes an overarching genetics group that examines genes, genetic variation and heredity in organisms. Of particular interest to this group are the application of unique model systems, such as the blind Mexican cavefish, and the identification of human disease-associated genetic variants.

Gregg B. Fields, Ph.D., FNAI
Executive Director, Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention
Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry