Institute for Place an Wellbeing to focus on environment and personal health
Matthew Fulton / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Dean of the College of Architecture, Janice Cervelli, helped plan the newly created Institute for Place and Wellbeing.
A UA collaborative effort will focus on the impact of the environment on human well-being.
The Institute for Place and Wellbeing is a new collaborative effort that brings together the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture and the Institute of the Environment. At this point, the exact date that the new institute will be up and running is unknown, however, it is expected to be this year, according to Janice Cervelli, dean of the UA College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture.
The institute will be looking at how the environment affects health and how changes can be made to the spaces where people live and work, in order to make them healthier places, Cervelli said.
Two internationally renowned experts, Dr. Esther Sternberg and Eve Edelstein, were brought in to lead the new institute. Sternberg, who is also the director of research at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, will be the director of the new institute. Edelstein is an associate professor at the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture.
“Our experience of place and space around us influences emotions that in turn can influence the brain’s hormonal and neuronal pathways,” Sternberg said. “That in turn can affect the immune system and its ability to heal and maintain health.”
The institute will engage how the environment impacts health through “research, development of new curricula, and scholarly work,” Edelstein said. It will bring ongoing research and expertise and combine them to elevate and further what is known about the environment and how that impacts a person’s health.
“We are leaping off of the work we have all done separately,” Edelstein said. “Now we have leapt into collaborations that we have actually started to push forward and started working on.”
The institute is currently developing a patch that can detect all different types of health information on a patient through sweat, Sternberg said. The institute will use this patch to measure a person’s physiological reaction to man-made and green environments.
Along with the new institute, new degree programs in this area of study will eventually be offered at the UA, according to Cervelli. There are currently plans to develop masters and doctoral programs.
“We fully intend to not just do our research within the laboratories on the campus and keep it there,” Cervelli said. “We intend to go out into Tucson and Arizona and begin to share and help transform the state and the local area here in terms of what we learn in this research and how we can rebuild our communities to be healthier.”