Inspiring research through clinical Innovation, Discovery, Engineering, and Applied Science
A lecture series sponsored by IHSI

Health IDEAS - Inspiring Research Through Clinical Innovation, Discovery, Engineering, & Applied Science

Health IDEAS (clinical Innovation, Discovery, Engineering and Applied Science) will help ignite new interdisciplinary research ideas and collaborations. This lecture series will engage health sciences researchers, faculty, and students from various units as well as clinical partners with the ultimate goal of inspiring new innovations in health. 


IHSI Health IDEAS Upcoming Lectures

If you will need disability-related accommodations in order to participate, please e-mail Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting your access needs.

Scale and Skills: Translational Communication to Address Health Inequities
K. "Vish" Viswanath, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

September 26, 2019 | 4 p.m. (light refreshments provided)
Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
919 W. Illinois St., Urbana

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This lecture is held in partnership with the Department of Communication.

The revolutions in life sciences and information and communication technologies are leading to interesting discoveries that could prove consequential to individual and population health. Innovations and discoveries stemming from the investments in science and technology have begun to influence practices across the entire illness to well-being continuum and have the potential to revolutionize how we treat diseases and promote health. Yet, two major challenges could derail the impact of these developments:

  • The benefits from these revolutions continue to accrue unequally across social groups exacerbating existing inequities in health and well-being.
  • The translation of innovations to advance the science, policy and practice to improve patient and population health remains a major problem. 

Addressing these problems requires a multi-disciplinary, multi-level and a multi-sectoral approach entailing coordination, planning, organization and execution at many levels. It also requires a framework that takes the issue of inequities explicitly into account and that strives to design and execute solutions at scale. In this Health IDEAS talk, Dr. Viswanath will characterize the problems of communication inequalities and knowledge translation and show how they can be addressed, drawing on exemplar efforts from his lab as well as in the field. 


Past Lectures

The First 1,000 Days: The Foundation for Health and Brain Development
Rafael Perez-Escamilla, PhD, Yale University
September 4, 2018 | 4:00 - 5:15 p.m. (reception to follow)
I Hotel, Chancellor's Ballroom

This keynote lecture was held in partnership with The First 1,000 Days Symposium. The first 1000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and a child’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established. Environmental exposures, including nutrition, stress, and environmental toxins, can interact with the child’s genetics during the first 1000 days of a child’s life to have lifelong implications on their physical, mental and emotional health. Learn more about basic and applied transdisciplinary research being conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that is addressing this critical window of development using a cells-to-society framework.

Imaging Function and Connectivity in the Human Brain with High Magnetic Fields: Spanning Scales from Cortical Columns to Whole Brain 
Kamil Ugurbil, PhD, University of Minnesota
October 24, 2018 | 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. (reception to follow)
Beckman Institute Auditorium

This lecture was held in partnership with the Beckman InstituteCarle Illinois College of Medicine, Center for Brain Plasticity, and Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois, and with Carle Health System

Bridging and spanning the multiple scales of organization is an essential but daunting task necessary for understanding brain function and ultimately dysfunction. Our ability to map human brain function and connectivity is transforming with recent changes, including rapid developments in instrumentation for radio frequency (RF) transmission and signal detection, a push to achieve higher magnetic fields (currently at 10.5T for human imaging) despite challenges of imaging at the correspondingly high RF frequencies, and a plethora of novel imaging acquisition techniques that increase spatiotemporal sampling.

These developments, complemented by other non-MR imaging methods, hold promise that it will be feasible in the near future to integrate information from the single synapse level to whole brain networks that define behavior.

"Fasting Mimicking Diets, Regeneration, and Age-related Diseases"
Valter Longo, PhD, University of Southern California
April 11, 2019 | 4 - 5 p.m. (reception to follow)
Beckman Institute Auditorium

This Willard J. and Priscilla F. Visek lecture was hosted in partnership with the University of Illinois College of Medicine, with additional sponsorship by the Division of Nutritional Sciences and Center on Health, Aging, and Disability.

Decades of genetic and nutrition studies by Dr. Longo's laboratory and others have resulted in the identification and understanding of strategies to activate high protection, repair and regeneration systems able to prevent but also treat diseases. We now know that certain genetic mutations are effective in greatly reducing cancer and diabetes rates in mice and humans. Chronic dietary restriction is also able to prevent major diseases in monkeys and has strong effects on disease risk factors in humans but it also has detrimental effects on lean body mass, and potentially on immunity and wound healing. In contrast, periodic Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMDs) given to human subjects up to once a month for 5 days are able to promote protection and potentially regeneration without severe side effects. In mice, FMDs cause regeneration in multiple systems leading to the amelioration or reversal of a number of pathologies. In humans, FMDs can reduce many disease risk factors, and reduce abdominal adiposity without causing significant losses of muscle mass. These results indicate that FMDs are safe and have high potential to improve health and prevent a variety of age-related diseases. A number of ongoing and future clinical trials will determine which diseases these FMDs are able to treat effectively in the presence or absence of standard of care drugs.

"Brain imaging in health and disease"
May 1, 2019 | 3 - 4 p.m. (reception to follow)
Beckman Institute Auditorium

Dr. Cary Savage will speak about two ongoing research programs from the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior (CB3) at the University of Nebraska. The first focuses on identifying brain function contributors to obesity, unhealthy eating, and sedentary lifestyle in order to better understand why healthy choices are so difficult to make consistently. Dr. Savage will present results from functional MRI studies examining group differences between obese and healthy weight groups in children and adults. He will also discuss results from treatment outcome studies of bariatric surgery and behavioral weight loss interventions and summarize recent studies examining fMRI predictors of weight loss in diet interventions. 

The second program focuses on new collaborations with Nebraska Athletics to refine understanding of structural and functional neural biomarkers of sports-related concussion. In 2018, baseline MRI scans on 110 football players were collected and followed closely throughout the season. Follow up scans immediately after injury and following recovery were completed for every football player who suffered a concussion, with a long-term goal of turning this effort into a longitudinal program that will follow student athletes after their retirement from college sports.