Health Sciences Thematic Areas of Research

July 2013

The Health Sciences Committee has identified four broad, thematic areas of research that are transdisciplinary in nature to advance the Mission and Vision of the Health Sciences TAE. These are meant to serve as guiding themes to integrate research at Binghamton University and toward which individual departments and programs can align future proposals for new faculty hires. At the same time, it is expected to serve as a guiding rubric for the Binghamton University administration to allocate hires and other resources to further develop and integrate the Health Sciences research presence across campus.

Binghamton University intends to become a leader in the themes detailed below and will seek individuals in complementary fields that provide essential depth and breadth to this endeavor. To make significant advances, Binghamton University will strengthen the infrastructure to effectively enable research and scholarly activity in these areas. Hiring faculty and investing resources in supporting technologies such as advanced data management (e.g., statistical consultation, business analytics, data mining, bioinformatics, big data) as well as the development of appropriately staffed and resourced core facilities (such as genomics, proteomics, advanced microscopy) will be necessary to attract and retain top-tier talent, enable path-breaking research, and promote highly competitive federal grant submissions including those targeted toward national research centers.

Theme 1

Disease Susceptibility, Pathogenesis and Prevention: Life experiences, and in many cases environmental toxicants and pathogens, can produce deleterious effects on the overall health and quality of life of individuals. Such experiences have direct consequences on basic aspects of physiological function (e.g., cardiovascular fitness) and can be etiologically related to the development of psychopathological states (e.g., stress, fear, anxiety, depression) as well as a diverse range of other chronic disease conditions. Understanding of the relationship between, and mechanisms underlying, life experiences and disease progression is critical for development of prevention and intervention strategies at the behavioral (e.g., exercise, therapy, treatment), health decision-making (personal, community or societal) or biological (cellular, molecular, genetic/epigenetic) levels necessary to promote positive health throughout society. Binghamton University currently has strengths in pathological weight gain and associated metabolic disorders; pathogen-host interactions, infectious diseases, and biofilms; substance abuse; neurodegenerative conditions; and inflammatory diseases. Through strategic investment of resources to leverage these existing strengths and develop a cross-disciplinary network focusing on experiential and environmental influences on disease progression and health, Binghamton University will become a key force in development of novel approaches for behavioral and biological health promotion.

Theme 2

Sensors and Devices for Diagnosis and Treatment: Extraordinary scientific advances are giving us new tools to tackle challenging health problems. Increasingly these innovations spring from the merging of engineering and the physical and biological sciences to develop new technologies that will improve health. Significant growth in this field is mirrored by emergent opportunities for funding and partnership between academia and industry. Across several disciplines, Binghamton University has built unique expertise in biosensors and microfluidics. Development of biosensors that monitor other adverse consequences of drug administration (e.g., contraindications, toxicity), biomarkers of disease state(s), or companion diagnostic systems to monitor responses and improve strategies for drug treatment are in great demand. Extant and burgeoning strengths in engineering, mathematics and computer science in collaboration with life and physical sciences will catalyze productive advances in modeling of physiological systems (e.g., animal models) that will facilitate the design and implementation of these technologies.

Theme 3

Healthcare Systems and Outcomes Research: Building a better delivery system requires effective partnerships that can harness the power of engineering, health and healthcare sciences, information technology, management, and social sciences. Such partnerships are essential to transforming our under-performing healthcare system into high performance environments that produce premier quality care and better patient outcomes at lower cost. By combining expertise across colleges to establish next-generation policies and approaches in health care management, systems engineering and outcomes research, Binghamton University can realize a growing societal need for a transformed healthcare system that embraces patient-centered care, optimized operations, efficacy, safety, and equity. A strong core of faculty in healthcare systems engineering could be linked with the researchers and providers from nursing and social work, as these two groups represent the front-lines of patient care and individualized healthcare management. Growing expertise in biomedical ethics and economics of healthcare, geographical distribution of disease and healthcare, and healthcare management and analytics could be brought together to establish transdisciplinary teams in this area.

Theme 4

Individualized Therapeutics: Positive therapeutic results are often determined by characteristics of the individual as much or more than the nature of the therapeutic agents or treatments whether pharmacological, physical, cognitive or behavioral. Individual characteristics that matter include developmental stage, genetic predisposition, family history, sex, ethnicity, social conditions, healthcare disparities, and other preexisting or environmental factors. Focusing resources in this area would capitalize on existing strengths at Binghamton University in the areas of life-span development/aging, genetics, evolution and evolutionary medicine, and socio/environmental factors across multiple academic units, and could provide an avenue for critical expansion in areas as such epidemiology, molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, immunopharmacology, women's health, medical anthropology and pharmacogenetics. Collectively, this focus would help integrate across and unite other themes within the health sciences by adding critical consideration of individual differences, cross-cultural differences and personalized medicine.

Last Updated: 2/11/15