Precision One Health (POH) is committed to studying the intricate connections among genetics, the environment, and lifestyle factors and their effects on disease prevention and treatment. Our main goal is to develop personalized healthcare strategies that provide individuals with the most effective treatment options at the right time. Our mission is centered on personalized medicine, which includes risk assessment, exploration of significant biological mutations, vaccine and drug development, and selection of customized therapies based on molecular profiling.

Our interdisciplinary team consists of members from several colleges, schools, centers, and laboratories, representing a wide range of disciplines such as Veterinary Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, Engineering, and the Savannah River Ecology Lab with tremendous potential of expanding contributions and collaborations in Arts and Sciences, Law, Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Journalism and Mass Communication. Through these collaborations, we aim to accelerate UGA’s research momentum and secure grants from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, USDA, Department of Defense, industry, and foundations. Additionally, this initiative will attract and support more PhD students and Post Doctoral Fellows in each participating unit, contributing to the growth and prestige of the University’s Graduate and Fellows programs. The Precision Health and Medicine Initiative also has the potential to achieve center or institute status, benefiting all partners and the University of Georgia as a whole.

A major aspect of precision health and medicine is the comprehensive profiling of “omics” in humans and animals, including wildlife. This will help identify molecular profiles and biomarkers associated with disease, as well as novel insights into disease pathogenesis and effective prevention and treatment strategies. Animal-centric studies and human-centric studies, particularly those using animal models of human disease, can inform and complement each other in this endeavor. This holistic “One Health” approach also improves readiness for disease outbreaks and community health issues, safeguarding individuals, public health, food supply, agriculture, and the environment.

This initiative is broad, bringing together experts in areas such as nutrition, physiology, immunology, infectious disease, genetics, neurodegenerative disease, public health, journalism, engineering, and agriculture with experts in data analysis in areas such as the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (CCRC), all exploiting the powerful resources of UGA’s core facilities in areas such as sequencing, NMR, and mass spectrometry-based OMICS (metabolomics, glycomics, proteomics) and computer science. It is also important to note that, although most initiative faculty will focus on research, a sustainable precision health and medicine program needs strong service facilities to translate research findings into practice. The CCRC has experience in running service facilities, and the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Medical Partnership, the College of Pharmacy, and the College of Public Health are well-positioned to translate and scale up the team’s research findings into clinical applications.

Research Pillars

Pillar 1: Diagnostics

Diagnostic Bioinformatics and Genomics. Four positions constitute the initial hires for a Precision Diagnostics Section are being shared among the Pathology and Population Health Departments. The primary focus of this section will be research and development of new OMICS technology and translation of novel findings into innovative diagnostic applications that advance human and animal diagnostic medicine. Faculty hired through this section (Drs. Mochel/Allenspach/Clark/Mortimer/Joshi) will leverage advanced computational modeling (e.g., Bioinformatics) techniques, OMICS (i.e., Genetics), and stem cell biology (i.e., 3D organoid) technology to better understand the pathomechanisms of disease etiology and support the development of next-generation therapeutic drug candidates.

POH Cycle and Pillars graphic for Precision One Health

Emerging Infectious Disease Predictions. Three positions in the Department of Infectious Diseases and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (Drs. Sundaram/Peach/Paton) will focus on human population growth, the requirements for more space for food production, and the need for more animals to feed this growth. Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are increasing, causing large costs to society, including losses in both human and animal lives. Many factors contribute to disease emergence, including climate change, globalization, and urbanization – most of which are caused by human activities. Some pathogens are more prone to emergence than others, such as rapidly mutating viruses like SARS-CoV-2. To address this issue, this initiative will primarily focus on two areas: 1) building a world-class program to monitor changes in the pathogenesis of EIDs from multiple perspectives, including field and laboratory-based research. Currently, UGA has a large group of investigators studying various aspects of infectious disease pathogenesis, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

One critical area of focus is arthropod vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, particularly in the Southeastern US and other warmer regions of the planet. Understanding transmission patterns, host specificity, virulence levels, and the impact of human activities – such as climate change and encroachment into forests and other animal habitats – is crucial for effective control efforts; and 2) developing a support core to aid the most vulnerable populations and communities affected by EIDs and their after-effects. Research in this area involves exploring the effects of climate-related and other human interventions on health and mental health outcomes in populations vulnerable to and affected by EIDs.

Pillar 2: Therapeutic Intervention

Drug Discovery/Antimicrobial Resistance. The Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Infectious Diseases share one position (Dr. Billmyre) who will focus on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – an emerging healthcare crisis where bacteria, viruses, and parasites become resistant to existing treatments. Single mechanisms of resistance can be circumvented by resorting to different classes of drugs, but once pathogens acquire multiple resistance determinants, as in the phenomena of multi and pan-drug resistance (MDR and XDR), options are rapidly exhausted. Patients experience longer hospital stays, more severe disease, and ultimately increased mortality from MDR and XDR pathogens, commonly known as ESKAPE pathogens, which are increasingly widespread in hospital settings. These pathogens are difficult to eradicate, leading to an increased threat from opportunistic infections during routine medical procedures. Therefore, there is a critical need to develop new therapeutics that can overcome both existing and new resistance mechanisms and rebuild the once-potent antimicrobial drug arsenal. Modern drug discovery utilizes iterative and integrated feedback between computational and experimental approaches. Computational analysis of drug targets and quantitative comparison between drug-resistant and non-resistant forms of these targets facilitates the selection of new drug candidates. As a complementary approach, screening large libraries of diverse molecular structures is used to discover new classes of molecules with activity against MDR and XDR pathogens suitable for optimization. Artificial intelligence can then be used to accelerate this process by providing insight into drug-target and drug-resistance determinant interactions, and even the synthesis of novel molecules.

Therapeutic Drug Utilization in the Modern World. Two positions in the Department of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy (Drs. Villa Zapata/Niying, College of Pharmacy) will study how the increasing complexity of drug utilization in the modern world creates complex problems in pharmaceutical care delivery. This issue creates a critical need to investigate how changes in health care systems affect the structure, process, and outcomes of treatments. Society has been increasingly called upon to maximize health outcomes while operating within a budgetary constraint. Changes in products (goods and services), access to care, freedom of choice, reimbursement policy, direct-to-consumer advertising, third-party considerations, and government regulations are a few examples of the complex nature of pharmaceutical care. Addressing these issues requires a broad spectrum of skills, including but not limited to pharmacy, economics, finance, marketing, epidemiology, and psychology. Health disparities refer to gaps in health care and/or outcomes that are closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantages. These disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, mental health, cognitive, sensory, or physical disabilities, sexual orientation or gender identity, geographic location, or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion. Precision outcomes can address this problem by examining the complex relationships between health and biology, genetics, individual behavior, health services, socioeconomic status, physical environment, discrimination, racism, literacy, and legislative policies. Additional research is needed to improve health outcomes, close gaps, and work towards health equity. Such research requires extensive computational resources to analyze trends and outcomes from patient databases. In addition to large national databases such as Medicare, SEER, MIMIC-III, eICU, and PCOmet, the College of Pharmacy also has access to every major medical center in Georgia through our extended campuses (Gwinnett, Albany, Savannah, and Augusta) and the Georgia Center for Translational Science Alliance (GaCTSA). This unique position of UGA allows for the analysis, highlighting, and changing of healthcare trends, outcomes, and disparities at the local, regional, and national levels.

Systems Physiology and Pharmacology. Two positions in the School of Chemical, Materials, and Biomedical Engineering (Drs. Wu/Liu, College of Engineering) will focus on designing and producing new technology that will drive novel and innovative therapeutic approaches to disease management. Furthermore, the incorporation of mathematical modeling systems in disease will aid in biomarker discovery and the development of strategies for their detection. Mathematical modeling and systems biology tools will be developed to create quantitative models of complex physiological systems to understand mechanisms of disease progression and/or pharmacodynamics. This will also foster partnerships within and outside the University of Georgia, as well as with industry.

Pillar 3: Prevention

Behavioral Health and Translational Sciences. The addition of a behavioral health scientist, Dr. Correia, as part of the precision health and medicine initiative will bring forth a wealth of valuable insights and expertise to the project. A specialist in translational and implementation science, Dr. Correia will play a crucial role in increasing the dissemination and widespread use of innovative technologies and treatments developed by the OMICS specialists. This new hire will also focus on understanding the connection between lifestyle and disease prevention and treatment, with a specific focus on translating the OMICS team’s findings into actionable improvements for overall health and well-being. This collaboration between behavioral health and OMICS researchers is expected to result in more significant and long-lasting positive impacts on society as a whole. Such collaborations are instrumental in furthering our understanding and advancements in the field of precision health and medicine, ultimately leading to healthier and happier lives for individuals and communities.

Goals, Approach & Methods


  • Provide individual patients with the right medical approach at the right time;
  • Optimal therapeutic and preventative care.


  • Understand how genetics, the environment and lifestyle inform approaches to prevent and treat diseases;
  • Bench-to-bedside-to-community paradigm to develop improved preventative, diagnostic and treatment tools/protocols.


  • Refine approaches to improving patient health;
  • Artificial intelligence, data sciences, epidemiology, systems pharmacology.

POH Core AreasPOH Cores

To leverage our team’s collective expertise and increase our impact, our initiative is organized into four essential Research Cores: Translational Medicine, Systems Modeling and Data Analytics, Epidemiology and Disease Ecology, and Social Sciences and Medicine. Each POH Core will have its own dedicated leader responsible for building the vision, mission and objectives of its core.

The Translational Medicine Core will be led by Dr. Karin Allenspach (CVM), a Professor in the Department of Pathology and a world leader in comparative medicine and translation from animals to humans ( Dr. Allenspach has broad background in small animal internal medicine with a special emphasis on gastroenterology and oncology, and extensive training in applied immunology.

The Social Sciences and Medicine Core will be led by Dr. Steve Correia (PH), an Associate Professor in Health Promotion & Behavior and Director of the Neuropsychology, Cognitive Aging Research and Education (CARE) Center ( Dr. Correia is a is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and a prominent figure in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.

The Systems Modeling and Data Analytics Core will be led by Dr. Eugene Douglass, an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy with expertise in systems pharmacology modeling and drug development. As a postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Douglass helped build drug-screening and RNA-sequencing infrastructure that supported several clinical trials at Columbia University.

The Epidemiology and Disease Ecology Core will be led at interim by Dr. Justin Bahl, a Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics in the Department of Infectious Diseases. Dr. Bahl is also the academic lead for the Georgia Pathogen Genomics Center of Excellence, which is one of five CDC-funded Centers.

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