Oklahoma State University has taken another major step to enhance health in Oklahoma by appointing Lance Walker to lead the new Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute (HPNRI).
The academic institute, which will be constructed on the Stillwater campus, will develop preventative therapeutic strategies to combat obesity and chronic diseases. Walker, the inaugural Rick and Gail Muncrief Executive Director, is a licensed physical therapist and an internationally recognized expert in fusing sports performance, sports science and sports medicine for athletes of all ages, ability levels and disciplines. His position was recently endowed through a gift from OSU alumni Rick and Gail Muncrief.
Walker said the new institute will provide practical and research-supported solutions that can trigger transformational changes to health outcomes across the state. These solutions will be created using research and information already collected from OSU's student athletes, whose nutrition, physical activity and other biometrics are closely monitored while they train and compete.
The institute has received $50 million in initial funding from the state of Oklahoma through the American Rescue Plan Act. With 25 cents of every health care dollar currently being spent on the treatment of diseases or disabilities that are related to changeable behaviors, the potential economic impact of the new institute is incalculable, with the economic benefits of healthy eating alone estimated to be $114.5 billion per year. The benefits include decreased health care spending, a more productive workforce and saving lives.
Areas of focus include:
- Therapeutic compliance
- Cognitive performance
- Chronic disease prevention
- Non-pharmaceutical chronic disease management
“The institute will be the first of its kind — a university-based center focused on human performance and nutrition science for optimizing health and performance,” said OSU President Kayse Shrum. “As Oklahoma’s land-grant university, OSU is uniquely positioned to serve as the leader in improving the state’s health outcomes, and we are thrilled to have such an accomplished and innovative director in Lance Walker. He brings two and a half decades of experience to the role, having worked with organizations like the NFL, NCAA and Nike. He will lead the HPNRI in advancing vital research that will improve lives."
In accordance with its land-grant mission to address society’s toughest challenges, and through the expertise and resources available at the new institute, Dr. Shrum believes OSU is perfectly positioned to abate the state’s unhealthy trends.
The institute will leverage research and expertise from several departments and colleges across the OSU system, including the College of Education and Human Sciences, Ferguson College of Agriculture, the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, Robert M. Kerr Food and Agriculture Products Center, College of Osteopathic Medicine and more.