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Changing the way science helps society thrive is our grand challenge.

Advances in science give us the unprecedented ability to understand health and human behavior and use that knowledge to extend our quality and length of life. But when it comes to life expectancy, ZIP code continues to matter more than genetic code.

We All Live Here

Science and technology aren’t serving everyone equally. Communities with access to fewer resources face unacceptable health disparities. That’s why Whole Communities–Whole Health is designing a 5-year cohort study to understand how physical and emotional adversity, biology, and the environment affect the health of families facing systemic injustice.  
We’ve spent the last few years collecting data about social determinants of health while listening to people living and working in marginalized communities in eastern Travis County — asking what matters most to them when it comes to building a more socially just, equitable, and healthy future for their families. While researchers have a wealth of knowledge in their specific fields, families facing challenges are experts in their own experiences. In conversations with these families, we’re hearing a deep desire to secure a happy, healthy future for their children and frustration with problems outside of their control, like air and water pollution where they live and poor access to grocery stores, greenspace, and health care.  

Including the Whole Community

These insights and expertise will inform our cohort study as we uncover the factors that affect the overall health of those who have been historically left out of the research process. We will then return the information we learn as quickly as possible so that families and partner organizations can make changes that ensure better health in the future.

Looking at the Whole Picture

Our researchers are looking at hundreds of variables that affect health, both at the individual and systemic levels. By combining information about a home’s environmental quality with medical health markers, interactive family surveys, and community-level information, we’ll help develop a more holistic picture of health over time.

Bringing Science Home

Families can choose to have access to technology that will measure health factors like indoor air quality, sleep habits, mood, or physical activity. Then we’ll share our results in real-time through a smartphone app so participants can make informed decisions about their own health.

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From left: Shatayu Mondhe, Madhav Varma, Ananya Gubbi Mohanbabu, Aayushi Saha, Benjamin Baird (WCWH Research Assistant Professor), and Shirene Garcia (WCWH Community Engagement Specialist)
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