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Interdisciplinary UGA Research Team Works Toward Better Public Health

The Life is Made of Choices project (LIFE) combines the expertise of biomedical scientists with important, but often overlooked, data and techniques from the social sciences to better understand and improve real-world health outcomes, particularly in cases of multi-morbidity.

The project falls into the spirit of the United Nations’ sustainable development goal: good health and well-being. The goal includes a target to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one third by 2030. The LIFE project, with its emphasis on socio-economic and environmental factors and barriers to access, likewise aims to reduce poor outcomes from preventable conditions.

A trans-disciplinary approach
LIFE recognizes that chronic disease is often caused by a complex interaction of factors. Environmental, social, and cultural elements are important contributors to the development of the disease as well as to managing treatment.

Understanding how factors such as environmental toxicity, poor nutrition, sedentary behavior, or lack of access to care contribute to poor outcomes requires breaking down the barriers between academic disciplines that separate biology and medicine from sociology, urban and environmental studies, and public policy. In addition, a high-level analysis of large populations requires specific expertise in the management and interpretation of data.

The project will have particular implications for populations living in cities, examining factors such as environmental toxins, urban design, and large-scale access. As the proportion of the population living in cities is predicted to increase by 72% in 30 years, specific solutions for urban-dwellers are increasingly important.

Dedicated Funding for Innovative Research
The LIFE project is supported by funding as a part of France’s Excellence Initiative (IDEX). The UGA won the prestigious funding in 2016, and a substantial amount is dedicated to its innovative Cross-Disciplinary Program (CDP).

This program supports research which spans multiple disciplines in order to solve complex problems. Some funded projects are pure research, while many, like the LIFE project, aim to bring the complementary areas of expertise to bear on pressing social issues.

LIFE enjoys 1.7 million euros of support over 4 years.

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