Research has shown that violence contributes to environmental trauma and youth who are exposed disproportionately to violent crimes may be at risk for a shorter life span. A community engaged researcher at Indiana University is partnering with community organizations to help lessen the harmful effects of exposure to violence crimes and unstable home environments, including drug misuse and limited access to safe outdoor play. Victoria Garcia Wilburn, assistant professor of occupational therapy IUPUI School of Health and Human Sciences, is helping to create a safe space for children using the national model Camp Mariposa with community partner Overdose Lifeline. An addiction-prevention and mentoring program for youth affected by a family member’s substance use disorder, the camp will be located in Indianapolis and called Camp Mariposa Indianapolis, Aaron’s Place. Wilburn says she and her partners will provide traditional camp activities paired with educational and trauma-sensitive elements designed to educate youth on positive coping and self-care strategies. Additionally, campers will be paired with a year-long mentor using a collaborative model, which fosters connectedness among campers and with mentors who will be volunteer graduate students in professional healthcare programs from the IUPUI campus. Wilburn says our big idea will change the culture of health in Indianapolis from the inside out by empowering families to help build healing communities together.
In other news, regenerative medicine is an innovative new branch of medicine that has created a billion-dollar industry. And the field is growing, particularly in Central Indiana. In fact, 2025, the global regenerative medicine industry is expected to grow over $124 billion. The IU School of Medicine is helping to train the next generation if leaders in this field through a new PhD program in regenerative medicine and technologies. Chandan Sen, director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering said the program is interdisciplinary in nature and is primarily focused on skilled workforce development to shape the future of regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. The field includes the generation and use of cell/tissue reprogramming, therapeutic stem cells, tissue engineering and the production of bioartificial organs. IU’s new PhD program will be one of only six regenerative medicine PhD programs in the country and the second with an industry emphasis. Sen says the program aims to equip people to assume leadership positions to assemble new programs and define this new future of health care.