Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative 2018-05-21T15:31:50-07:00
Dr. James Hicks is the Director of the Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative and a professor in the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences.

Dr. James Hicks is the Director of the Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative and a professor in the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences.


The Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative

Director: Dr. James Hicks
Initiative Funding Period: December 2013 – December 2016
Website: http://emssi.uci.edu

The Problem: Inactivity and disuse are widely recognized as significant factors in the development of a wide array of diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. While the idea that “exercise is good for health” seems unquestionable, translating this vague notion into specific, biological mechanisms that could be used to prevent disease and promote health has proven to be difficult.

The mission of the Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative is to promote and expand scholarly activities and innovative discoveries in all fields associated with exercise and sport sciences, exercise medicine and rehabilitation at UC Irvine.

The potential role of exercise as therapy, particularly as an adjuvant to standard medical approaches, is gaining steady acceptance among health care professionals and the general public. But a fundamental, mechanistic understanding of how exercise works in specific diseases and conditions is still lacking. Motivating individuals to engage in regular exercise, remains a challenge that requires systematic research and identification of evidence-based strategies for successful behavior change. In addition, how to effectively engage individuals in the benefits associated with activity, many of whom may suffer from physical constraints, for example stroke, traumatic brain injury, or loss of limbs, will require technological innovations. Without knowledge at this level, rational and appropriate uses of exercise as adjuvant therapy will remain imprecise, and the effectiveness of physical activity as a means to benefit human health may be lost.

Future Plans

The Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative is now a school-based center in the Ayala School of Biological Sciences with additional funding from donations and grants.

Visit the EMSSI Website

Initiative Accomplishments

The UCI Academic Initiative program seeks to unravel some of the world’s most challenging problems through cross-discipline collaboration.

Twenty-seven faculty from across campus helped shape the Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Initiative. Below are some program highlights.

Research highlights include:

  • Effects of exercise on cognitive function and reducing risk for dementia,” Dr. Mike Yassa
  • The epidemiology of sports-releated head injury and concussion in water polo,” Drs. Steve Small, James Hicks, and Robert Blumfeld
  • Concussive forces and brain trauma in competitive sports,” Undergraduates from the Samueli School of Engineering. Supervised by Dr. David Reinkensmeyer and Dr. James Hicks
  • Head impact forces experienced by athletes playing water polo,” Intercollegiate Athletics and Triax Technologies 
  • Cerebral micro bleeds in high school football players,” Dr. Mark Fisher

Extramural Awards

  • NIH-funded postdoctoral training program in Exercise and Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship for post-doctoral training
Undergraduate Major in Exercise Sciences

  • Launched in 2014, this is currently the only Exercise Science major offered in the UC system
  • Students work with physiologists, biologists, physicians, and engineers
  • Watch a video on the major

Exercise is Medicine Elective

  • Elective course that introduces medical students to how physical activity/inactivity impacts human health

Research Conferences

Community Engagement

  •  Moving Through Life: Physical Activity and Health,” free community event with keynote presentation by Joan Benoit-Samuelson, 1984 Gold Medalist for the Women’s Marathon
  • Exercise and Brain Health,” public lecture by best selling author Dr. Wendy Suzuki