I am very pleased to share the news that the University of Arizona has been selected to participate in the national Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program, a landmark study of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors affecting the health of a million or more people.
As one of four regional medical centers in the initial set of health care provider organizations, the UA will receive $43.3 million over five years from the National Institutes of Health – the largest peer-reviewed grant in Arizona history.
When the UA's strategic plan was created a few years ago, we set ambitious goals. In order to accomplish them, we committed ourselves to aligning across disciplines, leveraging efficiencies, and seeking new resources. Within our research mission, that meant redoubling our efforts to identify opportunities and partnerships in seven key areas, including precision health, an emerging approach to health care that customizes prevention and treatment to individual patients.
The UA's selection for this important initiative not only delivers on one of the goals we set for ourselves, but also acknowledges the excellence of the UA Health Sciences.
This great news came on the heels of two national events in which the UA took part last month:
The UA Cancer Center was selected as a host site for the White House Cancer Moonshot Summit, which took place June 29.
UA and UA Health Sciences sleep researchers presented their findings at SLEEP 2016. The meeting is held annually, drawing about 5,000 clinicians, scientists, students, and other health care professionals in the fields of sleep medicine and sleep research.
Closer to home, I would like to let you know about two moves. The first is the return of the Arizona Geological Survey to the UA campus. The office was based at the University from 1893 to 1915 before moving to the Arizona Bureau of Mines. From 1977 to 1988, it was part of the Arizona Bureau of Geology and Mineral Technology, and then became an independent state agency. With the passage of a bill this spring, the office was placed under the Arizona Board of Regents and is now housed at the Arid Lands Studies building. The second move is an organizational change that places Biosphere 2 – previously part of the College of Science – under the Office for Research and Discovery. With the change, this iconic, living lab, which offers full-scale modeling opportunities that are second to none, will be better positioned to develop its potential as an innovation hub.
Finally, I invite you to join me in cheering on the UA student-athletes who will compete in the 2016 Summer Games. To learn more about the Wildcats who are headed to Rio, please visit the Arizona Athletics website.
Thank you for reading, and for your support of the University of Arizona.
The UA Center for Rural Health has been improving the health and wellness of rural and vulnerable populations in Arizona for more than 35 years. As a federally designated State Office of Rural Health, the center will receive federal and matching state funds totaling $3.4 million to continue its mission over the next five years. Among the projects being supported is the creation of a clearinghouse to collect and share innovative approaches to the delivery of rural health care.
Scientists at the UA's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, along with Northern Arizona University, have received a $5 million grant to enhance efforts aimed at reducing the health effects of environmental pollution on indigenous communities. Together, the UA and NAU will establish the Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research and work with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and community organizations to develop culturally appropriate ways to reduce exposure.
The world's largest robotic field scanner has been inaugurated at the UA's Maricopa Agricultural Center. Called the "field scanalyzer," the robot senses and continuously images the growth and development of a sorghum crop, generating an extremely high-resolution data stream. The UA is part of a multi-institutional effort to identify physical traits that are best suited to producing high-energy sustainable biofuels and match those plant characteristics to their genes. The end goal is to speed up plant breeding to deliver improved varieties to market.