Solving society's challenges
Interim President Joseph A. Alutto describes how Ohio State's size and scale enable it to find solutions that benefit communities everywhere.
When the Orange Bowl ends Friday night, the transformative work of two land-grant universities will continue off the field. Inside Sun Life Stadium, The Ohio State University and Clemson University will be fierce opponents. Off the field, both universities share a common mission to improve the quality of life in communities across America.
Ohio State is one of the biggest and most comprehensive universities in the country with 14 different colleges, including seven health sciences colleges, and more than 300 collaborative research centers and initiatives. As such, the university has the infrastructure, intellectual depth and collaborative spirit to address the world's most pressing problems. More important, as a land-grant university, Ohio State is duty-bound to make the world a better place — in Florida, South Carolina, Ohio and beyond.
Each and every day, Ohio State tackles issues that South Florida residents care deeply about — from cutting-edge neurological research deep inside the human brain to deep-sea research aimed at healing the world's battered coral reefs.
At Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, neurosurgeon Ali Rezai and his team have stretched the limits of deep brain stimulation with ground-breaking research. They have become among the first in the world to develop trials to investigate whether this technique, known for its effectiveness in tremor disorders such as Parkinson's disease, can treat obesity, autism, stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder and other neurological conditions.
Continuing to search for new applications for the process that places tiny electrodes in the brain to help regulate electrical signals, Rezai's team recently implanted the first "brain pacemaker" in a woman with Alzheimer's to test the technique's effectiveness in improving cognitive and behavioral functioning. This research may someday extend and improve the lives of Florida's senior population by finding answers to the neurological riddles that diminish the lives of many of our elderly.
Ohio State's research also plumbs the deepest waters of the ocean. Off the coast of Hawaii, Ohio State earth sciences professor Andrea Grottoli leads a team studying the effects of climate change and land use on coral. She hopes to learn ways we can help coral reefs — home to 25 percent of all marine species — thrive in an undersea world threatened by climate and acidification. Someday, her research could help the Great Florida Reef and other fragile ecosystems survive and adapt in the coming century.
Back on dry land, Ohio State research on driver behavior may someday curb Florida's harrowing pedestrian and bicycling fatality rates, which were the highest in the country last year. Developed in partnership with Honda R&D Americas, Ohio State's Driving Simulation Laboratory uses state-of-the-art technology to study the factors that affect driver behavior and road safety. This innovative research into the psychological components of the driving experience could lead to breakthroughs in vehicle safety.
The noble quest to learn more about our mysterious and marvelous world and solve the problems that confound modern society is the driving force behind all of our research. Ohio State strives continually to find innovative solutions that will make a real difference in the lives of people in your neighborhood and across this globe.
There is no higher calling, and we are proud to devote our lives to it.
Previously published in the Miami Herald.