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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 10/19/05
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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$7 Million Awarded to UC Education and Research Center

The University of Cincinnati Department of Environmental Health has received $7 million from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to operate its Education and Research Center (ERC) through 2010.

Founded in 1977, the ERC teaches young professionals the skills necessary for pursuing occupational safety and health careers—in research and professional practice. A key focus of the center is its interdisciplinary collaboration between students in the colleges of engineering, nursing and medicine.

“Occupational safety and health issues don’t develop in a vacuum, so it makes sense to work across disciplines to determine the best solutions,” said Scott Clark, PhD, director of the ERC and UC’s Division of Environmental and Occupational Hygiene. “Approaching training from this perspective gives our students a holistic view of occupational health and safety issues, which in turn empowers them to be more effective in their professional careers.”

UC is one of only 16 NIOSH-funded ERC programs in the United States.

In the past five years, NIOSH funding has made it possible for UC to award nearly $400,000 to 83 new researchers through the Pilot Research Project (PRP), an ERC training program that offers financial support to young investigators with promising research ideas. These pilot grants have led to more than $3 million in additional external grant funding for the investigators.

Led by Amit Bhattacharya, PhD, professor of occupational and environmental health, the PRP program seeks to increase the Tristate region’s research capacity through collaboration with 10 universities and colleges—including several historically black and underfunded institutions.

The program has inspired 15 new investigators from other fields of expertise to initiate research in occupational safety and health.

Research findings from the PRP programs are translated into actionable items and offered as continuing medical education classes for community practitioners.

“One of our primary objectives is to be a resource for the community,” said Dr. Clark. “Our trainees annually select local work sites for pro bono safety and health assessments and the majority of our graduates stay to work for Ohio companies, governmental agencies and other organizations.”

Current PRP research projects will be presented at the ERC’s sixth annual symposium on Thursday, Oct. 20 (1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and Friday, Oct. 21 (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) in UC’s Kehoe Auditorium. Jean Grassman, PhD, deputy chair of health at Brooklyn College, and Linda McCauley, PhD, associate dean for nursing research at the University of Pennsylvania, will give the keynote addresses. The event is free and open to the public.

UC’s ERC includes eight specialty occupational safety and health program tracks with more than 50 students at the graduate and residency levels.  Eighteen students graduated from the program in 2004.

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