Emory Report
December 10, 2007
Volume 60, Number 14

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December 10, 2007
A new model of health care for a new year — and for years to come

Ken Brigham is director of the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute.

Imagine what it would be like to be healthy well into your 80s and even into your 90s — to maintain your health throughout your entire life rather than being treated for various and sundry diseases.

That’s the idea behind the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute, which combines scientific research with a new Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being. The institute will serve as a clinical testing ground for new predictive biomarkers of health, disease risk and prognosis aimed at keeping people healthy. As you can see, this is a new and innovative model of health care that focuses on maintaining health rather than treating disease.

Translating knowledge into health
New discoveries in science and technology are making it possible to understand health and how to maintain it at a level that we could not imagine even a decade ago. We are learning more about human biology than ever. Translating that knowledge into health in the context of the entire human experience requires changes in how health care is practiced by health professionals, and how health and its care are understood by everyone.

To accomplish this, the institute’s researchers and clinicians will use new tools to identify and measure your risks and deviations from health to promote health maintenance and to restore faulty processes to healthy ones before diseases occur.

More than 20 research projects already are under way in predictive health, including biomarkers to predict risk of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, drug treatment toxicity and predictive health modeling in early infancy.

This conceptually — and architecturally — unique and innovative Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being is located at the Emory Crawford Long campus in Midtown.

Encouraging healthy habits
Hoping to further encourage each member of the Emory community to embrace this fresh view of health, the University is now offering a new medical plan aimed at helping employees improve and maintain their health now and in years to come. Through financial incentives, the Aetna HealthFund encourages participants to seek preventative care before disease sets in, set up their own personal fitness plan, and even participate in healthy living programs — programs aimed at improving and maintaining their health.

Likewise, just last spring the University launched Step Up Emory, created to provide employee education and awareness of health promotion and wellness opportunities in the workplace. Step Up Emory began with a “Take the Stairs” program, which encouraged faculty and staff to increase their physical activity throughout the workday by skipping the elevator and taking the stairs. The initiative also focuses on nutrition and prevention.

Upcoming symposium
The community is also invited to attend this year’s third annual national symposium on predictive health. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Predictive Health — State of the Art: A Story in Four Parts,” with a first-day focus on defining and measuring health and discovering optimal biomarkers of health. On day two, presenters will discuss interventions to optimize health and ways to apply new knowledge to individuals and populations worldwide.

Find out more
For more information on the Predictive Health Symposium, visit http://whsc.emory.edu/phi/symposium2007.cfm.

For more information about enrolling in the Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being, visit http://whsc.emory.edu/phi/enrollment.cfm.

For more information about the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute, visit http://whsc.emory.edu/phi/aboutus.cfm