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Your Environment. Your Health.

word cloud: Human Health, Global Warming, Sea Level Rise, Climate Change, Infectious Disease, earth,weather, desert Disaster Research Response (DR2) Program Community of Practice

team meeting at conference table with the words search, data, research and analysis

The DR2 Program engages with a variety of partners and stakeholders to promote understanding of the need for and importance of disaster research response. Collective actions can improve national and global capacity to collect timely data and conduct studies in response to disasters and public health emergencies. The translation of knowledge from such studies into policies and interventions will strengthen recovery, reduce adverse health impacts, and build resilience, especially in vulnerable populations.

The DR2 Community of Practice includes members of academia; local, state, and federal officials; public health practitioners; emergency management personnel; community advocates; and more. All members engage in discussions, share information, coordinate outreach and training, and collaborate on resource and tool development. Support of these efforts is a strategic priority of the DR2 program.

The DR2 Environmental Health Sciences Network

Disaster research planning pays off after hurricane

NIEHS-funded researchers leveraged partnerships built through the Environmental Health Science Network and DR2 training workshops to improve disaster research response following Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Hurricane in Atlantic ocean

The DR2 Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Network was created by a group of NIEHS-funded disaster research scientists. In 2020, the group expanded to welcome all environmental health researchers. This vital group coordinates and collaborates on issues related to disaster research response.

The DR2 EHS Network works within the larger DR2 Community of Practice to facilitate the specific engagement of environmental health scientists. Priorities include identifying scientific knowledge gaps and proposing solutions around implementation of disaster research, such as methods development, institutional review board approval, and stakeholder engagement. Recent outcomes of the DR2 EHS Network include a study using the Delphi method to identify and prioritize environmental health research questions related to COVID-19, and the launch in 2021 of inaugural symposia, “Compounding Environmental Health Crises: COVID-19 Research Response.”

Stories from the Environmental Factor (NIEHS Newsletter)

Symposia Videos

  • Routes of Transmission and Exposure Mitigation (January 13, 2021)
  • Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 Response (February 4, 2021)
  • Addressing COVID-19 Challenges With Community Partners (February 25, 2021)
  • COVID-19, Social Vulnerability, and Environmental Injustic (March 2, 2021)
Nicole Errett, Ph.D., University of Washington Nicole Errett, Ph.D., University of Washington
Nicole Errett, Ph.D.
DR2 EHS Network Co-Chair
University of Washington
Erin Haynes, Ph.D., University of Kentucky Erin Haynes, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
Erin Haynes, Ph.D.
DR2 EHS Network Co-Chair
University of Kentucky

Environmental health researchers interested in joining the DR2 EHS Network should send an email to dr2@niehs.nih.gov.

Federal Interagency Activities

Intra-NIH Disaster Interest Group (IDIG)

NIEHS coordinates the Intra-NIH Disaster Interest Group (IDIG) of scientists and staff from 15 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices. The IDIG meets monthly to discuss issues related to improving NIH’s capacity to coordinate, design, and implement timely research to address the health impacts associated with public health emergencies and disasters.

NIH staff interested in joining IDIG, email dr2@nih.gov.

Annual Federal Interagency Disaster Research Meeting

Since 2013, the DR2 Program has hosted an annual Federal Interagency Disaster Research Meeting. This meeting provides a venue for federal agencies to share ongoing activities and explore opportunities for coordination and collaboration around disaster research response. Topics of presentation and discussions include funding, communication, vulnerable populations, justice and equity, best practices, data collection and sharing, and more.

Meeting participants reflect the multidisciplinary nature of disaster research response and represent agencies as diverse as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute on Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among others. The annual meeting, with both a national and international focus, is open to any federal agency staff.

For information on the Annual Federal Interagency Disaster Research Meeting, email dr2@nih.gov.

National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) The Action Collaborative on Disaster Research

NIEHS partners with other NIH institutes, federal agencies, the academic community, and public sector representatives to lead the The Action Collaborative on Disaster Research. The Action Collaborative, which is associated with the Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Disasters and Emergencies, provides a forum for exchange of ideas on development and integration of population, health care, clinical, environmental, and disaster research.

Activities of the Action Collaborative include:

For more information, visit The Action Collaborative on Disaster Research.

International Activities

The DR2 program, consistent with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the Global Health Security Agenda, supports efforts of international researchers, governments, and organizations to promote understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics, and the environment.

This knowledge can be leveraged for the purpose of pre-disaster risk assessment, prevention and mitigation, and development and implementation of effective preparedness and response to disasters and public health emergencies. The DR2 Program has been instrumental in promoting the development of disaster research response programs in other countries, providing expertise and consultation.

Two countries have formalized a relationship with the DR2 Program through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Former NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. (left) poses with Chiho Watanabe, Ph.D., (right) president of Japan’s NIES.

Former NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. (left) poses with Chiho Watanabe, Ph.D., (right) president of Japan’s NIES.
(Photo courtesy of NIEHS)

National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan

NIEHS and the Japan National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) signed a MOU on DR2 in 2017. Goals of the agreement include:

  • Coordinate and cooperate in chemical safety research
  • Facilitate joint efforts to develop and improve DR2 tools and to conduct environmental health research
  • Facilitate translation of DR2 materials into Japanese and English

Health Canada

Health Canada, a federal department similar to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is working to establish a DR2 program called CanDR2. NIEHS DR2 staff serve on the CanDR2 advisory board. NIEHS and Health Canada signed a MOU in 2019, and its goals include:

  • Develop common platforms and data management strategies for improved public access to DR2 resources, data collections, and training materials
  • Promote environmental health research, including chemical safety and disaster research
  • Share disaster research scientific investigations, materials, and resources

For more information about these activities, email dr2@nih.gov.

Join the DR2 email list
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