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"Over 40 Faculty Fellows from 21 departments create the interdisciplinary milieu that has positioned UGA as an international leader in compelling societal issues... "

David Lee
Vice President for Research


For the Record

UGA’s behavioral research
is a point of pride

David Lee, Vice President for ResearchThe social and behavioral sciences are areas of outstanding achievement for UGA, in no small measure because of the contributions of the Institute for Behavioral Research (IBR). Directed by Professor Steven Beach, IBR reports to the Office of the Vice President for Research but also enjoys strong and steady support from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Education, Public Health, and the School of Social Work.

Under the IBR umbrella are three robust centers—Research on Behavioral Health and Human Services Delivery (Professor Paul Roman, Director), Family Research (Professor Gene Brody, Director), and Advancing Conservation in Social Context (Professor Pete Brosius, Director)—complemented by work groups focused on important themes that include community and ethnicity, migration, and violence.

Two major goals of the IBR are to encourage cross-campus research and to facilitate the development of young scholars, and its faculty have been enormously successful at both. Over 40 Faculty Fellows from 21 departments create the interdisciplinary milieu that has positioned UGA as an international leader in compelling societal issues such as substance-abuse prevention, mental health, and healthy families. These Fellows have competed very effectively for funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and private foundations; IBR currently holds more than $30 million in research and training grants.

Another laudable IBR feature is the faculty-mentoring program, which targets faculty who have not previously been engaged in or successful with research grant writing. Participants enjoy one-on-one mentoring by accomplished faculty that culminates in the submission of at least one proposal for external funding. This is a very successful program that others may wish to emulate.

Two research initiatives illustrate the timeliness and potential impact of IBR research. The first, on “health disparities,” refers to gaps—clearly evident in Georgia—in the quality of health and health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. For example, in 2005 the mortality rates from diabetes were two to three times higher for blacks than for whites. Such disparities, also observed with cardiovascular disease and cancer, can be narrowed by appropriate social and behavioral interventions. The programs the IBR is developing will position UGA as a national leader in this vital area.

IBR is also on the front line with efforts to understand how genes, and individuals’ variations in genes, interact with different family and social environments to influence behavior—particularly, damaging behavior. Just as it is now possible to identify people who are likely to benefit from preventive medical interventions, it may soon be possible to identify individuals who are likely to benefit from preventive behavioral interventions. The potential to combine advanced knowledge of the human genome with behavioral insights promises a revolution in the social sciences, and here too UGA is in a position to lead.

IBR is a well-justified point of pride for our university, and we are pleased to feature the work of one of its centers, led by Professor Roman, in this issue.

David Lee

David Lee
Vice President for Research


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Research Communications, Office of the VP for Research, UGA

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