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Learn what research reveals for current health challenges

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URBANA, Ill. – The rush of summer activities can interrupt healthy routines. Researchers from University of Illinois can help guide your summer health choices. A series of seven workshops will dive into a wide range of topics, from fitness to brain health. 

The free online webinars are held each Wednesday through the summer, beginning June 29. Registration is required at Sessions begin at noon and last one hour. CPDU and CEUs are available. 

The workshops are a collaboration of University of Illinois Extension and the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute. If you will need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate, please email Dee Walls,, 217-300-6862. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.

The series includes:

Training Your Mind and Brain: Maximizing Cognitive Efficiency Across the Lifespan | June 29
Out of necessity, our cognitive skills become specialized across the lifespan in order to cope and thrive. More than ever before, our attention is being pulled by external and internal distractors. Evidence suggests that we are incurring costs at a personal and societal level. How can we train our minds and brains to prevent this? Jonathan Cerna, doctoral neuroscience student, discusses how various modalities of cognitive training can help us stay sharp, present, and healthy across the lifespan.

Interpersonal Communication: Beyond the Frontlines of Healthcare | July 6
Interpersonal communication, the clinical skill known to hold patient-provider connections together, is also said to be the driving force behind positive health outcomes. Consisting of verbal cues, written and non-written prompts, and active listening, this network is needed as it can lessen stress while promoting health and safeguarding one's quality of life. Do these actions and relationships come across as the same for patients who vary in social status? Can this standardized care method be the tool needed when developing influences and theories of disease prevention methods? Erica Noel will move past the exterior of healthcare and what we know about interpersonal communication into mechanisms of transforming our health system through relational and comparative insight and care.

The Human Genome Project | July 13
The human genome is comprised of 3 billion genetic letters called base. When scientist printed it on paper, it filled 130 volumes with 43,000 characters on each page. The Human Genome Project was launched in the 1990s to sequence and map the human genome. The first complete sequence was finally published in 2022. HGP is the largest international collaborative project in biological sciences to date, and scientists and institutes from around the world participated in this effort. Sneha Das explains why the HGP endeavor was important, how it was accomplished, and what can be done with the knowledge of the human genome sequence.

The Science of Vaccines | July 20
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of discussion, research, money, time, and effort has been expended on vaccines. What is a vaccine? How does it work? How old is this technology, and what lies in the future? Apurva Godbole, doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering, explains the science behind vaccines as we discuss popular questions and myths surrounding vaccines.

Fitness & Wellness Classes: Having Fun and Feeling Good | July 27
What is the difference between a good, great, and excellent fitness and wellness class? The instructor! Yes, the type of class, the equipment, and even the room all play a part in every fitness and wellness class; however, even the most boring or challenging class can be exciting because of who leads it. So, what's next once you have the "perfect" instructor? Each person has their own personal journey they must navigate, and attending a fitness and wellness class is no different. As classes are supposed to be fun and offer some challenges, they can fall short of expectations. Latashia Key, doctoral student and avid fitness and wellness instructor, will how you how to turn your excuses into promises and explore different classes for where you are today on your journey!

The Golden Years: Cognitive and Brain Changes Observed in Healthy Aging | Aug. 3
If we’re fortunate, the golden years of our lives will be spent engaging in rewarding activities with family and friends. What cognitive changes can we expect during this time and what does healthy aging look like in the brain? Grace Clements, Ph.D., will take us on a tour of the cognitive system and the brain across middle and late adulthood to learn that although some changes can be expected, they are not all bad news.

Diet, Gut Microbiome, and Child Health: Truths & Myths | August 10
Within our gastrointestinal tract there are over 1,000 species of microbes whose composition and function are shaped by genetics and other modifiable factors, including diet. Is all the hype surrounding the gut microbiome and its emerging role in child health warranted? How might diet be playing a role in this relationship? Arden McMath will discuss the current state of the science in regards to links between diet, the gut microbiome, and child health.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.