About Us

About Us

Economics, access to health services, genetics, the environment, geography, age – all of these and more form a complex web of interdependent influences on wellbeing. The Arizona Wellbeing Commons brings scientists, clinicians and partners together in a powerful network of researchers to tackle the health issues that impact wellbeing in Arizona.


Joshua LaBaer, MD, PhD, leads the Commons. He is one of the nation’s foremost investigators in the rapidly expanding field of personalized diagnostics and executive director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. LaBaer is also director of the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, the Dalton Chair of Cancer Research, a professor in the ASU School of Molecular Sciences and an adjunct professor of medicine at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.


Cancer prevention, detection, management and treatment 

The cancer prevention, detection, management and treatment division is comprised of individuals and organizations interested in cancer research in Arizona, from pre-clinical to clinical translational research. This division provides an opportunity for scientists to identify research opportunities, collaborators, infrastructure and knowledge across the state and to improve the health and wellbeing for patients at risk for, or with, cancer. Our members have a wide range of specific interests, such as cancer prevention and screening, viral oncology, immunotherapy, and mitigating toxicities from treatment.


Public health and health care services law, policy and equity

Through a diverse array of health care and public health professionals and practitioners, our division explores and assesses how principles of law, policy and equity impact the provision of public health and health care services nationally and in Arizona.  A primary goal is finding new channels and routes to sustain improved health outcomes via effective changes in law and policy in promotion of health equity.


Nutrition, obesity, exercise and lifestyle 

The nutrition, obesity, exercise and lifestyle division encompasses partnerships across the state to improve the health and wellbeing of Arizona. We will bring ideas together to develop interventions that are multi-sector, multi-institutional and multi-level collaborations. We will pay special attention to health disparities and use innovative strategies to monitor, promote and evaluate behaviors across the lifespan. Our goal is to disseminate the work we conduct and obtain large scale grants to fund our efforts (e.g., R01, Center grants, training grants). 


Viruses, immunity, microbiomes and infectious diseases 

The viruses, immunity, microbiomes and infectious diseases division is devoted to research and academic advancement of the fields encompassing virology, immunology, microbiota and infectious diseases in Arizona. The goals of the consortium are to promote new scientific collaborations within the VIMID mandate, as well as develop novel intersections with other related disciplines, such as cancer research and public health.


Mental health, substance abuse, crime and behavior change 

The mental health, substance abuse, crime and behavior change division brings together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who practice in the intersection of the chronic diseases of mental illness and substance use disorders and the unintended societal correlates of these diseases, including poverty and crime. This division draws upon the vast inter-institutional, public-private partnerships among and between: Arizona state and local municipalities; service providing systems, agencies, and practitioners; and researchers at Arizona’s institutions of higher education. The mission of the Behavioral Health Services Division is to stimulate changes in health care delivery that lead to earlier detection and treatment of mental illnesses and substance use disorders and more effective and cost-efficient approaches to the long-term management of these chronic diseases. 


Neurobiology, aging, dementias and movement disorders

The neurobiology, aging, dementias and movement disorders division brings together researchers and care providers from all over Arizona who are working in the broad area of brain health. They share ideas and resources with the common goal of understanding the processes of aging and disease at different levels of analysis. This knowledge is then used to find interventions aimed at improving brain function.


Culture, arts, design and humanities in health

The culture, arts, design, and humanities in health swarm looks at how arts, design, culture and humanities can be integrated in health research and practice. Members of the swarm seek to advance opportunities for health researchers to collaborate with artists, designers, and humanities researchers, in order to improve both health and the social determinants of health, leading to better outcomes for individuals and communities, while strengthening and standardizing research frameworks to build the evidence base for such integrative work.