Tracy Gaudet will speak at Virginia Tech about whole health on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. in the Fralin Hall Auditorium on the Blacksburg campus. Sponsored by the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment (ISCE), Gaudet’s presentation is free and open to the public.

Having led the transformation of the Veterans Health Administration to whole health, a health care approach that empowers and equips people to take charge of their health and well-being, Gaudet will speak on the national need for the transformation to whole health and the opportunity for Virginia Tech.

Co-founder of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, Gaudet recently served as the founding executive director of the Whole Health Institute. Prior to this position, she was the executive director of the Veterans Health Administration’s National Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation. Gaudet also served as the executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine at the Duke University Health System.

“We are honored to have Dr. Gaudet share her experiences in transforming health care to an integrative whole health and wellness approach,” said Karen Roberto, University Distinguished Professor and executive director of ISCE. “Her vision of whole health is an inspiring model for collaborative and interdisciplinary research.”

In addition to speaking, Gaudet will be meeting with university leaders and faculty and advising members of the whole health research working group, which supports the Health Frontier. Virginia Tech has identified Research Frontiers that includes artificial intelligence, health, security, and quantum, bringing together diverse expertise that transcends traditional discipline boundaries in partnerships with industry, government, and foundations, to address emerging challenges and opportunities that seek to improve the human condition and create a better world for all.

The Health Frontier expands the focus on health from disease and symptoms to a focus on whole health by integrating animal, environmental, societal, and human health and by building communities and systems to encourage wellbeing on all levels. 

“It is time to radically re-envision and redesign all the systems that impact our health and well-being,” Gaudet said. “In this redesign, we must start from a different place. We must expand our understanding of what defines well-being and shift to a paradigm of whole health — empowering and equipping people to take charge of their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being so that they can live their most meaningful life.”

Virginia Tech researchers have developed areas of expertise, which are instrumental in enabling this paradigm shift to whole health. By knitting together the technical and natural sciences with social sciences, investigators delve into topics influencing individuals across the life span, including disparities and inequities, mental health, and environmental effects on health and community. Such collaborative efforts require researchers to integrate old and newly established methodologies as well as multisystem interactions, health restoration, and participant engagement. According to Gaudet, “Virginia Tech has a tremendous opportunity to lead research supporting such change.”

The whole health research working group members represent their expansive research capability as well as their willingness to reach across disciplines. Its 12 members represent 10 departments in nine colleges across the university. Consulting with Gaudet, this collaborative group will work toward formalizing the whole health research initiative by defining the term, identifying focus and research areas, developing a supportive structure, and identifying faculty collaborators and community partners.

Working group members are:

  • Charles Calderwood, associate professor of psychology in the College of Science, and director of the Work Stress and Recovery Lab
  • Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, assistant professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, and associate director of the Center for Health Behaviors Research
  • Matthew Fullen, assistant professor of counselor education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and affiliate faculty with the Center for Gerontology
  • Julie Gerdes, assistant professor of professional and technical writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Samantha Harden, associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Kathy Hosig, associate professor of public health sciences in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Center for Public Health Practice and Research
  • Andre Muelenaer, professor of practice in biomedical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering
  • Quinton Nottingham, associate professor and head of the business information and technology in the Pamplin College of Business
  • Sarah Parker, research associate professor in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and chair of Health Systems and Implementation Science at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Tina Savla, the group's chair, professor of human development and family science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and research methodologist at the Center for Gerontology
  • Stephanie Smith, associate professor in the Center for Public Administration and Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Elif Tural, associate professor of interior design in the College of Architecture, Arts, and Design


By Felicia Spencer