Human Biology, Health, and Society

Biology is an important factor for health and illness in society because of the fact that some of the diseases humans are afflicted are passed down through our genes. A mother’s mitochondria play a role in genetics and disease; mothers can pass down a disease to their baby. Also, it is known that if one of the parents is a carrier of a particular disease, the child is likely to be affected by the same disease. The likelihood of the child contracting a disease from one or both of his/her parents is significantly increased when both of the child’s parents are carriers of a particular disease. Biology is used to determine the risk of an individual having a disease. When we know the probability of an individual having a disease, we can better assess their well-being because of the fact that we are able to make a diagnosis and, hopefully, to alleviate the condition using medications or other modalities of treatments.

Biology is also used to analyze how bacteria change over time, for example, becoming transmittable to new species, or antibiotic resistant. It can also be used to help track outbreaks of certain diseases. Promoting health and reducing the risk of disease in the United States and other countries require that practitioners, researchers, and policy makers consider not only the biological and physical aspects of health and illness but also the social, psychological, economic, cultural, and political dimensions.

Many health problems are complex in origin and require that experts with different talents and perspectives work together and with the affected individuals and communities to understand the problems, propose solutions, and take steps to reduce health risks. Advances in the understanding of health risks and the dramatic changes in the management of health problems in the U.S. have caused the roles and responsibilities of health professionals to change dramatically. Those wishing to pursue a health-related career must be prepared to work in this new and ever-changing environment.

The Human Biology, Health, and Society program in the Division of Nutritional Sciences helps one to view human health issues from a broad and multidisciplinary perspective. One is required to develop a strong background in human biology so that they can understand the physiological and biochemical aspects of health issues. One is also required to use perspectives from both the biological sciences and the social sciences to examine health issues. We can select the issues we wish to investigate through the wide array of studies related to human health and well-being in the different departments of the College of Human Ecology.

Some of the issues to explore include:

What physiological and biochemical processes are involved in health and necessary for resistance to disease?

What is normal growth of children and what biological, social, cultural and environmental factors are involved?

How do biological processes explain normal and abnormal behavior?

How do diet and other lifestyle factors influence the risk of chronic disease?

What social, political, economic, and cultural factors explain the differential access to health care in the US and how can this situation be changed?

How can communities, organizations, and practitioners work to promote health in the US and other countries?

What can be done to reduce disease and promote quality of life for older Americans?


One thought on “Human Biology, Health, and Society

  1. Pingback: Transitioning Systems Biology To Systems Medicine | Behavioral Medicine

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