Construction is underway on the conceptually--and architecturally--unique and innovative Center for Health Discovery and Well Being at the Emory Crawford Long campus in midtown Atlanta. The center is part of the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Initiative, which focuses on defining and maintaining health rather than treating disease.
Inside the center, located on the 18th floor of the Emory Crawford Long Medical Office Tower (MOT), spaces flow and colors soothe. A fountain sings. Luminous glass panels, comfortable chairs and a big city view invite participants to be healthy and stay healthy.
The 5,000-square foot facility is set to open this summer, initially enrolling Emory employees. Center director Kenneth Brigham, MD, says there is nothing like the center in or near Atlanta, maybe anywhere. "It's a different kind of approach to health care, a brand new way to do health care. And the center's space is meant to reflect and enhance that. It's a place where healthy people go to get even healthier," says Dr. Brigham.
The center initially will enroll several hundred healthy individuals, collecting physical, medical and lifestyle histories, and the results of up to 50 different blood and plasma tests that target known critical predictors of health and illness. Measures of inflammation, immune health, metabolic health and DNA analysis for genes that confer risk are used to construct an integrated definition of current health that predicts future health.
Based on these profiles and increasingly complex integrated predictive risk models, each participant will be prescribed a personalized health program designed to address individual risks--with the goal of remaining healthy. Participants in the Center for Health Discovery and Well Being will also serve as research partners, providing new information on risk and participating in clinical trials that test predictive models and novel interventions. They will discover their personal health and participate in discovery of human health more generally.
The center will be linked to a predictive health research program with the goal of developing and validating novel biomarkers to predict health and to find new targets for doing things that will keep people healthy. The scientific core will be a new program joint Emory-Georgia Tech program that will collaborate with Georgia Institute of Technology's Health Systems Institute, the systems biology program, the joint Emory/GeorgiaTech biomedical engineering program and several programs at Emory College and the Woodruff Health Sciences Center including the new Emory program in computational and life sciences.
"Our focus in medicine has been on treating disease, but we want to reverse that paradigm and focus on maintaining health," says Michael Johns, MD, CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "Using new tools of genetics, proteomics and computational biology, we can identify and measure risks and mechanisms of disease, then promote health maintenance. Where there is a potential problem, we can intervene at the very earliest indication, based on an individual's personal profile, and restore normal function."