Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)
PEPH is a network of scientists, community members, educators, healthcare providers, public health officials, and policymakers who share the goal of increasing the impact of environmental public health research at the local, regional, and national level. PEPH defines environmental public health as the science of conducting and translating research into action to address environmental exposures and health risks of concern to the public.
Grantees: for information on how to access the PEPH Resource Center, please contact Liam O'Fallon or Lynn Albert . You can also visit the NIEHS Research Partners page ( http://partners.niehs.nih.gov/ ) to access the Resource Center and other NIEHS shared datasets and applications.
Training Public Health Professionals to Improve Environmental Health Literacy
A growing body of evidence links low health literacy and poor health. Public health professionals play an important role in helping individuals, families, and communities understand health information. This is a critical step to promoting healthy behaviors and improving public health.
As part of an ongoing effort to increase environmental health literacy, the NIEHS-funded Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) of the UNC Chapel Hill Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS) engages public health professionals to teach their patients and clients about how the environment can affect their health. Through the program, the COEC trains a variety of public health professionals to increase environmental health literacy, particularly in the areas of healthy homes and asthma.
"Working directly with public health professionals not only helps the COEC extend its reach broadly across North Carolina, but it also connects us to people who are focused on cultivating environmental health literacy in every community," said COEC Director Kathleen Gray. "They are eager to learn about current science and work with us to figure out how it can best be applied locally."
In the past year, the program has had far reaching effects. Public health and housing professionals who participated in the COEC's day-long Healthy Homes for Community Health Workers training have shared information from the training with more than 500 individuals and families during home and clinical visits. Another training prepared nearly 100 public health nurses, social workers, housing professionals, and asthma advocates to inform patients and their families about reducing environmental triggers of asthma in the home. The COEC also engaged more than 250 nurses in a webinar that outlined federal guidelines to protect the health of young mothers and their infants from lead poisoning.
The COEC is now working with CEHS researchers to share emerging science on skin cancer with child care health consultants. They are also collaborating with the UNC School of Information and Library Science to develop a website to educate younger African American women and their healthcare providers about breast cancer risk.
To learn more about the emerging field of environmental health literacy check out the latest PEPH webinar, Environmental Health Literacy: The Evolution of New Field.
Community-University Partnership Strengthens Community Resilience Using the Arts
The arts bring people together and can help families and communities cope with and recover from natural or human-caused disasters. This was the idea behind a March 2014 symposium, “Using the Arts for Resiliency in Rural Communities,” held in the Gulf Coast city of Apalachicola, Florida. The two-day symposium was co-hosted by Franklin's Promise Coalition, a community organization, and the University of Florida. This community-university partnership is one of many nurtured through the NIEHS Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia, a program funding four Gulf Coast universities – the University of Florida, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), Tulane University, and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - New Orleans – to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on human health and resiliency in Gulf Coast communities.
The Arts Symposium demonstrated how the visual arts, music, dance, and theater can build capacity and enhance wellbeing in rural communities. “Our involvement with the University of Florida's Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities project, combined with our longstanding relationship with the University of Florida Arts in Medicine Program, has given Franklin's Promise Coalition a unique capacity to understand community resiliency and how the arts can impact community health,” said Joe Taylor, Executive Director of Franklin's Promise Coalition and a Deepwater Horizon Consortium Steering Committee Member. “The opportunity to bring researchers, community members, artists, and agency representatives together initiated an effort which continues to grow and will lead to a second gathering in Tallahassee next spring.” The event also strengthened ties between Consortia researchers from the University of Florida and UTMB. John Sullivan of the UTMB Center in Environmental Toxicology's Community Outreach and Engagement Core was a presenter at the symposium and also hosted a special “Theatre for Resiliency” workshop.
The Arts Symposium highlights the collaborative structure of the Consortia, where community partners work with researchers to help develop and disseminate findings to families and communities along the Gulf Coast. Read the Environmental Factor article to learn more about coordination across the Consortia and how community partnerships are strengthening the Consortia research.
Educational Modules Help Pediatricians Connect Children's Health and Environment
Getting people to understand the link between their environment and health can be a challenge, especially at the doctor's office. The Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) at the University of Cincinnati Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) offers online Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) courses to help bridge the gap between pediatricians and nurses and environmental health issues. "Health care providers need to know about environmental triggers to disease and providing this information through CME/CNE is one viable option," said CEG COEC Director, Erin Haynes, Dr.P.H. The "Pediatric Environmental Health" module discusses concepts of pediatric environmental health and describes health effects, like atopic diseases, associated with common environmental exposures. A second module, "Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma," provides a scientific overview of various environmental triggers of asthma in children and intervention strategies families can use to control environmental exposures at home. Teaching physicians and nurses how to ask environmental health history questions, such as "Where does your child spend his/her time?" or "What do the adults in the household do for a living?", often leads to answers that make a significant difference in the life of a child, said module author Nicholas Newman, D.O., M.S.
The PEPH Evaluation Metrics Manual provides examples of tangible metrics that PEPH grantees and program staff can use for both planning and evaluation. Example logic models are used as a means to develop evaluation metrics for cross-cutting PEPH themes such as Partnerships, Leveraging, Products and Dissemination, Education and Training and Capacity Building. PEPH grantees (including all project partners) are the primary target audience for this document.
PEPH Annual Meeting to Focus on Environmental Health Literacy
We are excited to announce that Environmental Health Literacy (EHL) is the central theme for the 2014 PEPH meeting. The meeting will be held September 22-24 at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The first two days of the meeting will include oral presentations, panel discussions, and ample opportunity for small group interactions. The third day will be composed of hands-on workshops related to EHL. Workshop proposals are due by July 10, 2014. Please email email@example.com to request the Workshop Abstract Form with "PEPH Workshop" in the subject line. Meeting registration will open in late July. We are capping registration at 150 participants, so please register early. Stay tuned for more information later this summer.
PEPH in the Environmental Factor
The June issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting our PEPH colleagues. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects and activities happening in the PEPH network:
- Scientists study impacts of climate change on public health. The April PEPH webinar highlighted two NIEHS-funded researchers who are developing methods to assess and quantify the role of climate change on human health.
- Emerging concerns with PCBs in schools draw hundreds to SRP webinars. Two April webinars provided more than 300 people with overview, exposure assessment, and approaches to reducing health risks from PCBs in schools.
- Translating research into products to improve public health. Three NIEHS-funded researchers launched start-ups that promise to enhance public health by providing lower-cost and safer approaches to cleaning and detection of contaminants.
- Centers of excellence adds Texas consortium. NIEHS has designated the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research in Texas as the newest National Center of Excellence in Environmental Health Science.
PEPH Grantee Highlight: Annie Belcourt, Ph.D.
Annie Belcourt (Otter Woman), an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes and a descendent of the Blackfeet and Chippewa, is working to address health disparities and improve health in Native American communities. Belcourt uses an educational intervention focusing on healthy wood-burning practices to improve indoor air quality in two Native American communities. Part of the intervention involves digital storytelling, which allows Native Americans to create and distribute their own stories in their own words. Read more about Belcourt's accomplishments and efforts to improve Native American health on the PEPH Grantee Highlights Web page.
Connecting Students to Environmental Health
The National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Environmental Health Student Portal is a great resource to get middle school aged kids interested in environmental health. The Portal includes sections on air pollution, chemicals, climate change, and water pollution. With videos, games, and experiments, the Portal offers a fun way to keep kids busy this summer and a tool for teachers to incorporate environmental health into the classroom this fall!
NIH Announces New Biosketch Format
With strong support from NIH leadership, the NIH Office of Extramural Research will be rolling out a new biosketch format. The new NIH biosketch emphasizes your accomplishments instead of just a list of publications. The primary focus of the new NIH biosketch will be the magnitude and significance of the scientific advances associated with a researcher's discoveries and the specific role the researcher played in those findings. For more about the new format, see the NIH Rock Talk blog post.
PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series
More than one-third of American adults are obese. Although diet and exercise clearly play a large role in the development of obesity, scientists are finding evidence that being exposed to certain chemicals could also increase the risk of obesity. In a new podcast titled Obesity and the Environment, we speak with Bruce Blumberg, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of California, Irvine, about how chemicals might contribute to weight gain.
PEPH Webinar: Food Safety and Nutrition
The PEPH webinar topic for July is “Food Safety and Nutrition.” Stay tuned for more information about the webinar date, presenters, and how to register.
EPA/NIEHS Children's Centers Webinar: Social Determinants of Health
The July EPA/NIEHS Children's Centers Webinar will focus on social determinants of health. The webinar will take place Wednesday, July 9, 2014, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Register online.
Upcoming PEPH-related Meetings
- August 11-22, 2014: NIMHD Translational Health Disparities Course: Integrating Principles of Science, Practice and Policy in Health Disparities Research in Bethesda, Maryland. The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host a course on the science of health disparities to provide specialized instruction on the concepts, principles, methods, and applications of health disparities science, practice, and policy. It will also integrate principles and practice of community engagement. Check out the draft course overview and syllabus . (Registration for the course has closed.)
- August 19-21, 2014: National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference, co-hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Public Health Information Coalition, is an excellent opportunity to meet with colleagues and to shape the future of health communication, marketing, and media practice. Register online .
- September 8-10, 2014: Latin American Conference on Compatible Mining: Protecting Vulnerable Populations and the Surrounding Environment in San Luis Potosí, México. The goal of this multi-stakeholder conference is to assemble an international group of experts, government officials, non-governmental organizations, and community and industry leaders to discuss how to implement compatible mining appropriate to the needs and perspectives of vulnerable populations and the surrounding environment. The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program is co-hosting the conference.
- September 22-24, 2014: PEPH Annual Meeting on the NIEHS main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. This year's theme is “Communication Research in Environmental Health Sciences: Environmental Health Literacy.” Workshop proposals are due by July 10, 2014. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Workshop Abstract Form with “PEPH Workshop” in the subject line. Meeting registration will open in late July.
- October 5-9, 2014: Eighth International PCB Workshop: PCBs in Schools, Exposures, Effects, Remediation and Regulation. A primary objective of the PCB Workshops is to provide a unique, single forum for experts on issues of analysis, fate and transport, exposure assessment, metabolism and disposition, toxicity, and public health policy to come together and learn from each other. The Workshop will take place October 5-9, 2014 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Abstracts are due by July 25, 2014.
- October 26-29, 2014: PPTOX IV in Boston, Massachusetts. PPTOX IV hosts the world's leading experts in endocrinology, toxicology, and environmental health to provide interdisciplinary discussions on the current landscape, future directions, and ongoing global effects of early life exposures in research, medicine, and regulation. One conference goal is to identify implications for public health and clinical medicine in building research agenda consensus for the next five years. See the draft program for information on conference sessions.
- November 3-4, 2014: Health Literacy Research Conference in Bethesda, Maryland. This is an interdisciplinary meeting for investigators dedicated to health literacy research. It is an opportunity to advance the field of health literacy, a method to raise the quality of our research, and a venue for professional development. Session abstracts are due July 11, 2014.
- November 15-19, 2014: 2014 American Public Health Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year's conference theme is “Healthography: How Where You Live Affects Your Health and Well-Being.” Late breaker abstracts are being accepted for the following sections: Epidemiology, Aging and Public Health, and Injury Control and Emergency Health Services. See each late breaker section for deadlines and information on how to submit. If you are an NIEHS grantee or partner and you will be presenting at APHA this year, let us know! We will compile the “PEPH at APHA” booklet later this summer.
- December 1-3, 2014: International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities in National Harbor, Maryland. Abstracts are categorized into broad thematic areas related to domestic and global transdisciplinary collaborations on minority health, health disparities, and health equity.
- February 4-6, 2015: Save the date for the Children's Environmental Health Network 2015 Research Conference in Austin, Texas. The conference will explore how the interaction between food and environmental factors affects children's health. Registration opens in July.