The Irvine-based Kay Family Foundation has made a gift of $1.3 million to the UCI Center for Healthspan Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. The funds will be used to create a novel health coaching program, among other projects.
Part of the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, within the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, the center aims to increase human longevity and improve “healthspan,” the time in people’s lives when they experience mental and physical well-being.
“Healthspan sciences is a relatively new field focused on extending healthy human life,” said center director Mahtab Jafari, UCI professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “The main goals of the center are to engage in evidence-based, multidisciplinary research and educational programs to help improve everyday life in a way that will inspire healthier lifestyle choices and habits. This generous gift from the Kay Family Foundation will enable the center to launch its ambitious agenda.”
Elim Kay, president of the Kay Family Foundation, said: “Dr. Mahtab Jafari’s cutting-edge healthspan program is the ideal setting to collaborate on developing the unique health coaching program. We look forward to the outcome of this program so that patients – more specifically, patients with cancer – can benefit from it.”
According to Jafari, health coaching is based on the premise that knowledge alone is not powerful enough to help people prevent or address chronic diseases.
“Health coaches empower and inspire their clients to take charge of their own health by pursuing healthy, lifelong habits,” she said. “I also believe that a preventive model of care is far better than a treatment model of care. Working with a health coach while going through treatment for a specific health issue may expedite the healing process.”
Jafari said the center will serve as a platform for scientists and educators from various fields – such as medicine, computer sciences, nutrition, exercise, psychology, healthspan pharmacology and health coaching – to collaborate on, innovate and present science-based new knowledge, with the goal of improving human health.
In addition to their research endeavors, center members will develop educational resources for students and the community. The center’s educational initiatives include a monthly distinguished speaker series; the popular self-care course Life 101, which is now offered to students on all 10 UC campuses and will eventually be available on Coursera; and a new healthspan sciences class for students and the community.
“We are very grateful to the Kay Family Foundation for their support of the UCI Center for Healthspan Sciences,” said Jan Hirsch, founding dean of UCI’s School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. “With their indispensable help, we are about to bring experts together to promote whole-person care that advances healthy aging, and we will strive always to share this knowledge with the diverse communities of Orange County and beyond.”