Top Experts Recruited to Lead the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture at Texas A&M

The IHA is comprised of three focus areas: responsive agriculture, precision nutrition, and healthy living. It also includes an Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA-ARS, unit where Texas A&M leadership will collaborate to accelerate innovations, technologies and systems approaches to promote health, reduce health care costs and manage diet-related chronic diseases.

The three leading experts added to the IHA management team under the leadership of its Director, Patrick StoverPh.D., are:

  • Regan BaileyPh.D., registered dietitian, internationally renowned nutritional scientist and elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, currently Associate Director of Precision Nutrition.
  • Rebecca Seguin-FowlerPh.D., internationally recognized dietitian and public health scientist, currently Associate Director for Healthy Living.
  • Elizabeth ParkerDVM, an agricultural research leader with extensive international and domestic agricultural policy experience, who now serves as the acting Associate Director for Responsive Agriculture.

“The nation’s food supply, and how it’s produced, is key to dramatically reducing diet-related chronic diseases, which are costing the U.S. economy more. $1 trillion annually and affects 50% of adults,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “Our Institute for the Advancement of Health Through Agriculture, led by top talent in nutrition, agriculture and behavioral research, is meeting this challenge head-on. Their work will save lives here at Texas and beyond.”

“The USDA-ARS mission is to find science-based solutions to agricultural challenges, and this collaboration with Texas A&M is part of what we do every day,” the USDA-ARS Administrator said. Chavonda Jacobs-Young. “Building this new institute with a foundation of strong leadership and great scientific minds will help us address the health challenges that affect Americans every day.”

Stover said: “The past year has brought us a pandemic on top of an epidemic of diet-related chronic disease, which has been catastrophic for people around the world. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes from type 2 are not only the primary contributing factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 90% of all COVID-19-related deaths, but they are also diet-responsive diseases. sharing big ideas and big data to support agriculture as a solution, we will be able to tackle this underlying public health crisis in a completely new way, by connecting agricultural production and healthy communities.”

Leader in precision nutrition

Bailey is an internationally renowned nutritional scientist who has joined the IHA since Purdue University. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine for her work on measuring nutritional status to optimize health. She was on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Bailey’s research has focused on how dietary intakes relate to health outcomes. She created models combining nutrients from foods and dietary supplements and used these models to identify differences in nutritional risk by gender, race, ethnicity, life stage and income, suggesting the need for population-specific interventions and public health policies.

Her work with the IHA will build on her expertise, drawing on the study of precision nutrition, which seeks to understand nutrition based on individual differences in response to diets and their impact on health in due to genetics, epigenetics, age, sex, disease state, sleep. models and other factors.

“This multidisciplinary institute is poised to solve the complex challenges facing human and planetary health,” Bailey said of the IHA. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with Dr. Stover, a visionary leader, and all of the talented Aggies I have met and have yet to meet.”

Bailey completed an internship in dietetics and a master’s degree in food and nutrition at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She obtained her doctorate in nutritional science at Pennsylvania State University. She earned a master’s degree in public health from Bloomberg Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

Healthy living initiatives

Seguin-Fowler is an internationally renowned public health scientist with expertise in community-based intervention research on nutrition and physical activity.

Prior to joining IHA as Associate Director for Healthy Living, Seguin-Fowler served as Associate Director for Texas A&M AgriLife Research. At the same time, she served as Scientific Director of the Healthy Texas Institute, a role she will continue in addition to her role as Associate Director for the IHA. The Healthy Texas Institute combines the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based programs in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M Health Sciences Centerto improve community health south texas.

As Associate Director of the IHA, Seguin-Fowler will set the vision and goals for the IHA faculty in community interventions and outreach research. Research will focus on primary prevention strategies for chronic disease, improving access to food, and built environments in underserved communities. The team aims to develop scalable and sustainable models that will improve community health and reduce the burden of healthcare costs.

“We want to understand behavioral choice in the socio-cultural and environmental context,” she said, “by developing more adaptable solutions that adapt to different individuals, communities, settings, and systems.”

Seguin-Fowler earned his bachelor’s degree in clinical exercise physiology from Boston University. She earned a Masters in Nutrition Communication and a PhD in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts University in Boston.

Guiding responsive agriculture

Parker has extensive national and international experience in agricultural research and policy. Previously, she focused on US agricultural policy for several chairpersons and senior professional staff of the House Committee on Agriculture. She also focused on resource mobilization, global disease strategies and policies for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Parker intends to build on interconnecting networks as it works with local and international programs to accelerate responsive agricultural research within IHA.

Responsive agriculture is a dynamic, science-based systems approach to agriculture that seeks to address the growing public health challenge of escalating chronic disease while considering environmental sustainability and economic viability. This approach opens up new possibilities for large- and small-scale innovations in production agriculture to improve human and environmental health.

“This is an exciting opportunity to help deliver agricultural solutions in a number of key areas,” said Parker, who holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine, a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science and a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. “Whether it’s growing or consuming food, we explore topics of global interest at the Institute for Advancing Health Through Agriculture.”

National scope

The IHA includes the USDA-ARS Responsive Agricultural Food Systems Research Unit, in which researchers will work with other USDA-ARS programs and land-grant universities nationwide to bring big data, advanced sensors and computing systems approaches to responsive systems. precision agriculture and nutrition.

Funded at $20 million annually, the research unit will be made up of a mix of new scientists from ARS and Texas A&M faculty throughout Texas. In conjunction with IHA leadership, USDA-ARS is actively recruiting talent to support this unit.

The IHA relies on funding from federal, state, and other entities to accomplish its mission. Goals include advancing research, knowledge and practice as well as developing science-based policies that connect and improve human, environmental and economic health, resilience, sustainability and prosperity across the chain. of Agrifood-Health value. The institute aims to be a nationwide model for positioning agriculture as the solution to human and environmental health issues and economic prosperity. The IHA is a statewide program of the Texas A&M University System and is headquartered in Bryan College Station. Learn more about the IHA at iha.tamu.edu.

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Contact: Laura Muntean979.803.1287, [email protected]

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