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Introducing Washington State University's Sustaining Health Initiative

Posted By Alyssa Patrick, Communication Coordinator | Washington State University | Economic Development, Monday, July 14, 2014

It has been nearly 70 years since the World Health Organization defined health as much more than “the absence of disease or infirmity.” In fact, the WHO concept of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing” remains a solid foundation for our expanding understanding of all of the factors that foster healthy humans and communities.


Washington State University’s Sustaining Health Initiative focuses on the interconnectedness of those factors and on breaking down traditional barriers to solving our health challenges.


It is a university-wide, cross-disciplinary effort aimed at equitably and holistically advancing the health of people around the state, nation, and world.


The vision for the Sustaining Health Initiative is clear and compelling: healthy humans living in healthy, sustainable communities with access to clean air and water, quality medical care, a safe and abundant food supply, clean and renewable energy sources, and a built environment that fosters wellbeing and prosperity.


The Initiative addresses three major concepts that draw from WSU’s research strengths:


Uncompromising pursuit of a healthier world - Longtime expertise in the academic disciplines focused on human and animal health is one of the hallmarks of the WSU enterprise. As a result, the University is ideally positioned to advance health and wellbeing issues worldwide.  Here are a few departments and partnerships that contribute to this area:

·         The Center for Reproductive Biology

·         College of Medical Sciences

·         College of Nursing

·         College of Pharmacy

·         Murrow Center for Media & Health Promotion

·         Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

·         Sleep and Performance Research Center


A safe and abundant food supply - Building a modern food system that is safe, productive, competitive, and sustainable is critical to meeting the health needs of an ever-growing world population. WSU has experts working on various parts of this need:

·         Agricultural Research Center

·         The Center for Precision Agriculture & Automated Systems

·         Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

·         Food & Environmental Quality Lab

·         Institute of Biological Chemistry

·         International Research & Agricultural Development


Secure, sustainable, energy-filled living - Building upon long-term institutional strengths in plant science, power, and applied sciences and engineering, WSU researchers pursue interdisciplinary solutions to meet current resource needs without compromising future generations.

·         Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory

·         The Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach

·         Center for Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment

·         Composite Materials and Engineering Center

·         The Institute of Sustainable Design

·         Laboratory for Atmospheric Research

·         Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance

·         The School of the Environment

·         State of Washington Water Research Center


However, it’s not about the strengths in these three areas separately that make Sustaining Health Initiative groundbreaking. It’s about how these diverse areas of study and outreach are integrated and what is possible when our top notch faculty from across the university can do together to solve problems with sustainable solutions. And it’s about what we bring to our partners like the Washington Global Health Alliance, Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Institute, and the University of Washington. Collaboration is the key to a healthy future, for all people, and Sustaining Health Initiative is just the first step for WSU.


To learn more about the specifics of each area, visit


Tags:  BIO  bio-ag  Education  Global Health  Life Sciences  Outreach  Spokane  STEM  Students  WBBA  WSU 

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