The UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) established Centers and Health Institutes to speed research discoveries from the bench to the bedside and to create a healthier and more productive Texas. The Health Institutes leverage our growing expertise in public health, interdisciplinary scientific research, medical education and health care delivery. The goal of the Health Institutes is to improve the health of Texans and beyond by reducing disparities, developing new treatments and therapies, and improving access to care in rural and underserved communities in Texas.
Institute for Healthy Aging
Age influences the frequency and progression of nearly all diseases and profoundly impacts our resistance to injury and ability to recover. The Institute for Healthy Aging integrates state-of-the-art clinical care, cutting-edge research, innovative education and training, and community engagement to create solutions for a new era of enduring quality of life.
North Texas Eye Research Institute
Since 1992, our researchers and clinicians in the field of visual science and ophthalmology have been driven to increase awareness about disease development and the need for novel therapies, especially among ethnic and minority populations who have or will develop debilitating vision disorders and related health disparities.
- Initiate and facilitate collaborative projects in vision research.
- Develop innovative multidisciplinary graduate training programs.
- Engage and inform the community on the importance of eye diseases and vision research.
- Attain research outcomes that will lead to the development of new and effective treatments for ocular diseases, including glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, optic neuritis, and dry eye disease.
Institute for Translational Research
Sid O’Bryant, PhD
The Institute for Translational Research (ITR) is designed to bring novel diagnostics and interventions to patients (and families) diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases.
In order to achieve these goals, the ITR has multiple cores and cohorts, as well as collaborations with outside institutions.
Cores: The ITR consists of an Administrative Core, Clinical Core, Biomarker Core, Genetics Core, Data Core, Imaging Core, and Clinical Trials Core and will soon launch a Clinical Research Center (CRC).
Cohorts: The ITR is responsible for two independent NIH-funded cohorts.
Health & Aging Brain among Latino Elders (HABLE) study. The HABLE study is one of the most comprehensive studies of cognitive aging among Mexican Americans conducted to date. The HABLE study was funded to investigate the biological and social underpinnings of health disparities in cognitive aging among Mexican Americans as well as to determine if novel diagnostic biomarkers for detecting Alzheimer’s disease are accurate within diverse populations.
Alzheimer’s Disease in Primary Care (ADPC) study. The ADPC study is recruiting patients from UNTHSC Clinical Practice and local primary care clinics. This is the first-ever study specifically designed to determine if a blood test can be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease within primary care patients. All patients undergo an interview, medical/functional exams, cognitive testing, and imaging of the brain. Additionally, all participants provide blood samples for lab tests. The ITR is also actively partnering with outside institutions to examine novel diagnostics and therapeutics for multiple neurodegenerative diseases. For example, it is a site of the Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarker Consortium - Down Syndrome (ABC-DS) and has ongoing studies in Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Thus, the ITR is actively engaged in fully translational research into brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases from a broad range of aspects.
SaferCare Texas is comprised of interprofessional, patient-safety subject matter experts committed to creating a new culture of safety in health care for Texas. The mission is to challenge traditional thinking to eliminate preventable harm. SaferCare Texas is focused on reducing medical errors and assuring Texans receive the highest quality of health care. SaferCare Texas is expanding its profile and raising state and national awareness through education, health literacy, community outreach initiatives, and quality improvement programs. SaferCare Texas’ efforts are integrated into the Texas State Health Plan and other state agencies to facilitate the awareness and elimination of preventable harm. A few of the key focus areas include Health Literacy, Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Rural Health, and Medical Education. IHI Open School, Fort Worth Chapter is a global learning community supporting students and teams in providing the best possible care through on-line patient safety education, project-based learning, and interprofessional networking. It is supported and facilitated by SaferCare Texas. For more information, please visit safercaretexas.org.
Center for Human Identification
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) is an accredited forensic laboratory that is globally recognized as a leader in forensic identification. Located on the UNTHSC campus, UNTCHI services include forensic genetic and anthropological examinations for criminal casework and missing persons identification, local CODIS operations, and development and management of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) for the U.S. Department of Justice. UNTCHI also is committed to the training of students and professionals in various aspects of forensic genetics and maintaining an active, innovative research program to improve forensic identification capabilities. Interdisciplinary expertise in forensics, genetics, genomics, microbiology, molecular biology, anthropology, bioinformatics, and other related disciplines are available within UNTCHI to support its mission.
With funding support from the State of Texas and various federal government agencies, UNTCHI continues to support forensic DNA testing. To date, UNTCHI has processed the majority of missing person samples for the United States that reside within the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). UNTCHI also has been instrumental in decreasing sexual assault and criminal casework backlogs within Texas. In addition to forensic and missing person DNA services, UNTCHI provides anthropological examinations of skeletal remains to determine gender, ancestry, age, stature, possible signs of trauma, and whether the remains are of forensic significance. Since 2011, UNTCHI has managed the NamUs program, which consists of a central online repository of information related to missing and unidentified decedent cases. The repository serves law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, and the general public. Regional Service Administrators located throughout the U.S. work closely with agencies and families missing loved ones in an effort to exchange information and potentially resolve missing persons cases.
The scientists at UNTCHI are recognized subject matter experts that often are called upon to assist in various investigative needs such as reduction of laboratory backlogs for the State of Texas, casework interpretation, testimony support, and development of software and databases to assist investigators nationwide and internationally. Active research efforts support the service work at UNTCHI and are collaborative with scientists from around the world. In the past several years, UNTCHI has published more than 120 peer-reviewed publications related to forensic genetics in the areas of human identification, microbial forensics, and molecular autopsy. Most of the mentored Masters and Doctoral students involved in the research continue on to active, successful careers.
Texas Center for Health Disparities (TCHD)
In comparison to the general population of Texas, racial and ethnic minorities suffer from heightened risk factors and poorer overall health and access to health care. Our mission is to prevent, reduce and eliminate health disparities in our communities through:
Research. Historically, academic institutions have conducted research in communities but not necessarily with communities at risk for disease. By working with key community members, prevention research can be translated into actions that will drive improvement in areas such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, stroke, and HIV.
Education and Training. We are committed to increasing the underrepresented minority student and faculty population, and we offer an innovative fellowship program that fosters collaborative research among junior research faculty, community leaders, and stakeholders.
Outreach. By leveraging UNTHSC’s community partnerships, we work to improve prevention and outreach efforts affecting women in underserved and low-income communities in North Texas. Current efforts are focused on obesity and cancer. Established in 2005, the Texas Center for Health Disparities is designated as a Center of Excellence by the National Institutes of Health.
Center for Anatomical Science (CAS)
The CAS maintains a state-of-the-art human anatomy laboratory as well as a bio-skills research facility for education and training of local residents and clinicians in new ultrasound, orthopedic, and surgical techniques. The CAS graduate programs (MS and PhD) provide opportunities for our graduate students to pursue research in structural anatomy and biomechanics as applied to biological anthropology, rehabilitation sciences, orthopedics, and/or the scholarship of anatomy education while providing quality outreach programs in the Fort Worth ISD and surrounding Tarrant County area.