"Dr. Peek is charged with coordinating UH System Health Initiatives in the areas of research, as well as educational and clinical programs," said John Antel, UH provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. "This includes working with both internal and external stakeholders.
"There is a sense across the university that there will be a new emphasis on health-related programs and projects, and a number of people want to get involved," said Peek. "That translates directly into new health-related programs, new degrees that are under development, and new opportunities across the entire university system."
The University of Houston is home to a number of health-related programs and research areas including biology, chemistry, engineering, social sciences, law, sociology, psychology, pharmacy and optometry, among many others. In 2008, UH awarded 1,244 health-related baccalaureate degrees, 352 graduate degrees and 216 special professional degrees in optometry and pharmacy.
In her new position, Peek will identify and create new cross-disciplinary academic and health-related research opportunities for faculty and students. UH is already on the forefront of health-related research, which accounted for $61.1 million of the university's $110 million in research awards in 2009, a historic milestone.
"The next generation of health programs for the University of Houston will not be limited by boundaries of colleges and departments, but will be truly interdepartmental and interdisciplinary," said Peek. "UH Health will not just bridge within UH, but across to other universities within our system and across Highway 288 to the Texas Medical Center."
In October, UH became the 48th member of the Texas Medical Center (TMC). Peek, working with the UH Office of Research and the TMC, hopes to increase the amount of sponsored research expenditures awarded to UH, as well as the number of students graduating in health-related fields, both key factors in attaining Tier-One status.
"We are further along in Tier-One for health than many imagined only a few years ago," said Antel. "Dr. Peek will help us pull together as an institution and get the word out to the community about our great programs."
"I am, by self definition, a biomedical educator, so I come with my intrinsic interest in the students. I envision the University of Houston being the destination of choice for students interested in health professions," said Peek.
Dr. Peek, who earned a Master's of Science in biology at UH, a Master's of Arts in behavior sciences at UH-Clear Lake and a Ph.D. in behavioral science at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, most recently served as associate professor in the department of imaging physics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and adjunct associate professor, department of bioengineering, Rice University. She has also held positions at UT Medical School at Houston and the UH College of Optometry, where she developed several popular undergraduate programs for students interested in health professions.
In 2002, Peek founded the Texas Medical Center Women's Health Network, an organization of more than 600 health professionals. She is an active player in a broad variety of health initiatives across the Texas Medical Center, the medical research community and the Houston region.
For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/newsroom.