Emory Report
September 4, 2007
Volume 60, Number 2

Emory Report homepage  

September 4, 2007
Center offers unique approach to health care

By Holly Korschun

Inside the new Center for Health Discovery and Well Being, located on the 18th floor of the Emory Crawford Long Medical Office Tower, spaces flow and colors soothe. A fountain sings. Luminous glass panels, comfortable chairs and a big city view invite participants to be healthy and stay healthy.

The conceptually and architecturally unique and innovative center, part of the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute, opened Aug. 29 at the Crawford Long campus in midtown. The center’s focus is on defining and maintaining health rather than treating disease.

“Our focus in medicine has been on treating disease, but we want to reverse that paradigm and focus on maintaining health,” said Michael M.E. Johns, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “Using new tools of genetics, proteomics and computational biology, we can identify and measure risks and mechanisms of disease, then promote health maintenance. Where there is a potential problem, we can intervene at the very earliest indication, based on an individual’s personal profile, and restore normal function.”

“It’s a different approach to health care, a brand new way to do health care. And the center’s space is meant to reflect and enhance that,” said Director Kenneth Brigham. “It’s a place where healthy people go to get even healthier. Predictive health is a new model of health and healing for the 21st century.”

The 5,000-square-foot Center for Health Discovery and Well Being will initially enroll Emory and Georgia Tech employees, and future enrollment will be open to the public as space allows.

Physical, medical and lifestyle histories, and the results of up to 50 different blood and plasma tests that target known critical predictors of health and illness will be collected from healthy participants. Measures of inflammation, immune health, metabolic health and DNA analysis for genes that confer risk will be used to construct an integrated definition of current health that predicts future health.

Based on these profiles and increasingly complex integrated predictive risk models, each participant will receive a personalized health program designed to address individual risks — with the goal of remaining healthy. Participants in the Center for Health Discovery and Well Being will also serve as research partners, providing new information on risk and participating in clinical trials that test predictive models and novel interventions. They will discover their personal health and participate in discovery of human health more generally.

The center will be linked to a predictive health research program with the goal of developing and validating novel biomarkers to predict health and to find new targets for preventive measures that will keep people healthy. The scientific core will be a joint Emory-Georgia Tech program collaborating with Georgia Institute of Technology’s Health Systems Institute and systems biology program, the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, and several programs within Emory College and the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, including the new Emory program in computational and life sciences.