Technology that creatively and intelligently understands and responds to human behavior and the environment can improve health. That is why faculty from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health are joining forces with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the Texas A&M College of Engineering, the Texas A&M University Division of Research, and the Texas A&M College of Geoscience to establish the Texas A&M University Coalition for Healthy Active Living (TAMU-CHAL).
Dr. Marcia Ory, regents and distinguished professor and director of the Program on Healthy Aging at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, will serve as co-primary investigator of the $25,000 seed grant and sees TAMU-CHAL as “the perfect opportunity to integrate multiple perspectives and disciplines to improve public and individual health, health care system and delivery, and the value of health care solutions.”
Additional Texas A&M School of Public Health faculty working with the multidisciplinary team include Dr. Yan Hong, associate professor, and Dr. Samuel Towne, assistant professor.
“Engineer technologies and techniques for data collection and analyses facilitate new forms of health research and analyses, and enable novel lines of health interventions, monitoring, and promotion for targeted populations of at-risk individuals,” said Dr. Tracy Hammond, co-PI and associate professor in the Texas A&M department of computer science and engineering.
Dr. Daniel Goldberg, assistant professor in the Texas A&M department of geography, envisions that “technology will help health professionals have a greater understanding on the impact of place on a person’s health.”
The planned coalition has also garnered support from clinical partners at Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple Texas including Dr. Samuel Forjuoh, director of research in the department of family and community medicine.
With the escalating advances in health technologies from sensors to medical records, a TAMU-CHAL, said Dr. Ory, “would serve as a research, education, outreach, and clinical nucleus within which multidisciplinary research teams can be empowered to develop, test, and deploy new techniques and strategies which exploit this new ecosystem of data, services, and sensors to improve public and individual health.”
Several pilot studies are currently in development including testing the efficacy of health tools for assessing health behaviors, improving patient-physician interactions, and enhancing healthy lifestyle behaviors. Another project attempts to automatically recognize user’s exercise patterns and suggests specific changes to a person’s daily activity. While a third study is examining innovative ways of testing environmental impacts on the spatial and temporal patterning of physical activity.