Asthmatic Spaces: Creating a 21st Century Platform for Cross-Disciplinary Discussion
Asthmatic Spaces will bring together coursework, research, and conferences with an online forum through which scientists, researchers, academics, and students can collaborate in their studies of complex chronic diseases and their impacts on the greater population. The Asthmatic Spaces: Houston program is led by Dr. Dan Price, who says of the project that it is about "new ways of talking between the disciplines."
Asthma: A Chronic Disease in the 21st Century
According to the CDC, childhood asthma prevalence has more than doubled since 1980. While researchers in many different fields are working on this problem, Asthmatic Spaces seeks to overcome the isolated nature of most of today’s asthma research.
Through a web-based platform, Asthmatic Spaces will bridge the gaps between the hard sciences, social sciences, and government agencies by creating a multifaceted forum to encourage collaborative, integrative, and holistic approaches to chronic disease management. Using the latest innovations in object-oriented content management, the online forum will provide dynamic and integrated representations of the broad range of qualitative and quantitative research on asthma.
The home of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, and the site of massive urban expansion, Houston is an ideal base for this project. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston, and the University of Houston have already begun to collaborate with Houston public health officials and non-profit organizations in a conference hosted by The Honors College of Houston last fall. Planning has begun on the 2010 conference, "Seeing Health: Innovations in Qualitative and Quantitative Inquiry."
Why study Asthma?
Because genetic, environmental, and political factors all contribute to the disease, asthma serves as an excellent test field to bring together scientific research and social concerns. And because the treatment of asthma requires that no factor be considered in isolation, creative and integrative responses to the problem are necessary.
In the Long Run: Creating a Better Model for Research
Asthmatic Spaces will contribute to the broader transformation of cultures of research by creating virtual and physical environments in which multiple stakeholders - governmental, academic, medical, and corporate – can safely exchange and develop new responses to old problems.
And because it involves the research contributions of undergraduate researchers, Asthmatic Spaces cultivates the next generation of researchers in science, technology, engineering, math, and related fields. These future professionals will enter their postgraduate careers with broader perspectives on the problems, health-related and otherwise, of tomorrow.