Director's Letter

Our Director, Benjamin D. Levine, MD. He is a researcher and a practicing cardiologist. Dr. Levine is a Professor in the Internal Medicine Department at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

I am delighted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine. Two decades ago, James Knochel, M.D., (then Chief of Medicine at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas), Doug Hawthorne (CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare System) and I met to discuss a bold plan to establish a new paradigm of clinical research by partnering the premier private, non-profit hospital in Dallas with the city’s renowned public medical school (UT Southwestern).

At the time, medicine and science were quite different than they are today. The Internet was just being established as a tool for information dissemination, and e-mail was a novelty. Stenting of coronary arteries was investigational; children rarely developed diabetes; the human genome was a mystery. Yet even then, it was clear that medicine and science were heading in diverging trends: on the one hand were the reductionists of molecular and cellular biology, reducing medical problems to their smallest component parts – the underlying genetic abnormalities, along with the proteins they produce. In contrast, the concept of the large scale clinical trial to establish “evidence based medicine” was becoming predominant. However; patients are not mice in a laboratory, and doctors have to take care of patients one at a time – neither basic scientists creating transgenic animals, nor computers calculating odds ratios can practice the “art” of medicine.

The IEEM was created to fill the void left by both trends in order to focus on individual patients. Our approach is to "put things together" using the tools of a branch of science called integrative physiology, which reflects an emphasis on how the complex, individual parts of the human body are interwoven together to create a functional whole. Physiology is the true “personalized” medicine! Ultimately, our mission is to explore and define the limits to human functional capacity in health and disease, with the objective of improving the quality of life for human beings of all ages. The IEEM pursues this bold mission by creating an integrated series of world class laboratories, each with a specific research and clinical focus that provides expertise on a particular aspect of human physiology and medicine. Our extraordinary faculty, students, and staff and the labs in which they work are highlighted in pages of this book.

Our mission is compelling. Medicine is at a crossroads, where helping to improve or maintain the quality of life – the ability to function optimally despite aging or disease – is as important as prolonging life. Science too is at a crossroads, where the advances at the basic level must be applied to living systems to allow the full promise of this exciting technology to flourish. The Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine is the bridge between both roads. Our first 20 years have been extraordinarily successful. Our next 20 will be even better!

Benjamin D. Levine, M.D. Director, Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine

S. Finley Ewing Jr. Chair for Wellness at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas
Harry S. Moss Heart Chair for Cardiovascular Research
Professor of Medicine and Cardiology
Distinguished Professorship in Exercise Science
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas