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Orlando's Adventist University of Health Sciences to open Center for Population Health Research

Center will task students, faculty with applying geographic information systems technology to medical geography research.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

The research center will be under the direction of Russ Butler, an ADU professor of biology.The research center will be under the direction of Russ Butler, an ADU professor of biology.

Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando will soon open the doors to its Center for Population Health Research, directed by Dr. Russ Butler, an ADU professor of biology. Butler was commissioned to coordinate both faculty and student research across the university campus, with the new center representing a long history of his work in this area.

Population health is an approach to healthcare that aims to improve the health of an entire population. Rather than focusing on individualistic, case-by-case healing, the Center for Population Health Research will help develop long-term prevention methods and contribute to improving the overall health of central Florida's communities.

[Also: Preventable death rates fall when communities expand population health, study shows]

The new research center will task students and faculty with applying geographic information systems technologies to medical geography research. Medical geography is the science of understanding the geographic arrangement of phenomena related to human health and well-being in order to identify various factors which may affect the health of a population.

GIS technologies can be used to match research data with map coordinates that reveal patterns of disease and illness, as well as pinpoint high-risk areas. It uses spatial statistics, geo-spatial analysis, cartographic techniques and remotely-sensed data to assess and analyze trends. Butler said in a statement that, in using that data, "we can more accurately prescribe action."

[Also: New law will bring needed specificity to health data on Asian populations]

Currently, Butler and his students are conducting research on water quality in nearby Bithlo, among other projects aimed at improving community health.

The center's use of GIS technologies is expected to help develop skills in spatial thinking, quantitative analysis and problem solving while providing hands-on research experience to students.

Dr. David Greenlaw, president of ADU, said in a statement that it's the university's goal "to give our students and faculty the very best resources to nurture personal and professional growth, and with this new research center they will be given the opportunity to produce results that will offer a positive impact on the community they serve."

Twitter: @JELagasse

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