Promoting health and wellness is key to improving lives and cultivating prosperous communities. Understanding the variety of factors that influence our health â€” the intricate workings of the human body, policies that impact lifestyle choices, and how environments affect wellness â€” is essential to helping people across the globe improve their lives. Faculty, students, and staff at the College of Human Ecology are engaged in each of these areas. Molecular biologists are investigating how microscopic proteins influence disease. Sociologists and physicians are partnering to improve pain management for older adults. Nutritionists are designing intervention programs that encourage healthy eating and exercise among disadvantaged populations. Economists are looking into the causes and consequences of obesity. And psychologists are developing the best methods for translating medical research into policies and practices that help people.
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engaging students A Human Biology, Health, and Society major, Edgar Akuffo-Addo — believes in promoting peace through meeting basic human needs. As a Cornell sophomore, Akuffo-Addo won a $10,000 grant from the Projects for Peace non-profit to improve child and maternal nutrition in a village in Kumasi, Ghana, by building a poultry farm. Akuffo-Addo’s project provided a drastically cheaper source of animal protein for mothers and children in the village, while providing new data on the root causes of malnutrition in the community. With mentoring from Nutritional Sciences Professor Rebecca Seguin, Akuffo-Addo developed the idea for the project, secured the funding, and led all efforts for project planning, and data collection and analysis. "Growing up in Ghana, I was exposed to the dire effects of nutrient deficiencies especially protein malnutrition," he said. "My education at Cornell has informed me that with locally sustainable initiatives, malnutrition can be substantially mitigated. This inspires me to make a meaningful contribution to the children whose capacity stifled." In addition to work with Projects for Peace, Akuffo-Addo has been a fellow at UCLA and the UC Davis Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders. He aspires to become a medical doctor and public health researcher. Learn more at http://bit.ly/12WEUYZ.
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A deeper understanding of chronic disease at the molecular level Our bodies function at the microscopic level, where tiny molecules create chain reactions that determine our health. Researchers in the Division of Nutritional Sciences are making new discoveries about how cells and proteins interact to cause chronic disease — specifically diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. Among them, molecular biologist Ling Qi (pronounced Chi) has discovered how our body's cells clear away misfolded proteins to prevent them from accumulating and destroying the cell. Complications from misfolded proteins are linked to chronic disease, including Type 1 diabetes and cystic fibrosis. Biochemist Shu-Bing Qian (pronounced Chang) has made discoveries about the molecular links between nutrition and aging. Qian studies how cells can sense nutrients and then regulate their protein synthesis. When cells find an abundance of nutrients, they manufacture more proteins than they need, causing a stress response that ultimately leads to diseases related to aging.
Finding ways to help people make healthier choices Over the past century, the leading causes of death in the U.S. have shifted from communicable diseases to conditions resulting from risky health behaviors such as poor diet, smoking, and alcohol abuse. To better understand this shift and develop policy solutions, the college launched the Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors, and Disparities. Part of the Cornell Population Center, it promotes health economics and coordinates multidisciplinary research on health policy from researchers in the fields of economics, public policy, nutrition, communications, sociology, psychology, and medicine. Two professors in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management direct the institute. Donald Kenkel, the Joan K. and Irwin M. Jacobs Professor, studies public health policies designed to prevent risky alcohol and tobacco consumption. And health economist John Cawley uses economic analysis to provide insights into the causes and consequences of obesity, as well as the effectiveness of policies designed to prevent and reduce it. Learn more at http://www.human.cornell.edu/ihehbd/.
Addressing obesity through community initiatives More than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese â€” a condition that leads to chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, and stroke. A new federally-funded center in the Division of Nutritional Sciences is researching how simple changes to schools, communities, and workplaces could help people live healthier and boost the success of long-running nutrition education programs for low-income families. The Northeast Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Center of Excellence unites multidisciplinary researchers, extension leaders, and community partners to address socio-ecological factors contributing to obesity. Nutritional Sciences Professor Jamie Dollahite directs the center. Her research focuses on building evidence for the effectiveness of USDA nutrition programs that serve low-income populations. The center will study the effect of direct education plus environmental and policy changes on peopleâ€™s food and activity choices, with the results to be disseminated nationally to improve nutrition programming and interventions.
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Translating research into reality Research helps us develop new treatments for disease, promote lifestyle change, and encourage wellness. But to improve lives and build healthier communities, scientists must translate those findings into real-life measures. Faculty members are experts in translational research. More than half of the college’s community-based research projects are based on a model designed to move findings to the public — and many are translated into Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) programs that help New York residents. In New York City alone, members of more than 16,000 low income families attended nutrition education workshops and nutrition educators engaged 190,000 residents at outreach events held throughout the five boroughs. CCE also builds on Human Ecology research to educate New Yorkers about energy efficiency in their homes, household budgets, and quality child care. Through its partnership with CCE, the college is well-equipped to move discoveries into real-life settings. Learn more at http://cce.cornell.edu/.
a broad look into the future At Cornell, a collaborative culture encourages faculty members to partner in developing innovative solutions for improving health and eradicating disease. As Cornell celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary, now more than ever, support for this type of interdisciplinary work is essential. With a plan in place to recruit more faculty, staff, and students, high-impact collaborative research will continue to yield important knowledge — fostering innovative research and revolutionary discoveries to improve life for all. You can find more information about the university’s campaign to support these efforts — called Cornell Now— at http://now.cornell.edu/.
Improving lives by exploring and shaping human connections to natural, social, and built environments www.human.cornell.edu DRAFT 2015.01.31 Issue
Faculty members and students at the College of Human Ecology are engaged in each of these areas to improve public and community health. At o...