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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News December 2015

Volume 6, Issue 12: December 2015

PEPH E-News Header

New Digital Tool Helps Researchers Personalize Results Report-Back

At the end of the day, community residents who participate in environmental health research projects want to know what their results are, what they mean, and what actions they can take to protect their health. In this day and age, with novel personal exposure sensors and biomonitoring studies, researchers face new challenges and responsibilities to report individual results to study participants. Scientists need better tools to communicate results ethically and effectively to study participants, especially when the health effects and exposure reduction strategies are uncertain. To bridge this gap, Julia Brody, Ph.D., executive director and senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute and an NIEHS grantee, is working with a transdisciplinary team to create and field-test a digital tool to communicate environmental health information to diverse participants.

The Digital Exposure Report-Back Interface, or DERBI, is a new tool for creating personalized chemical exposure reports so participants in environmental exposure studies can learn their own results and what they mean. DERBI was designed based on interviews with participants and researchers from eight studies that have reported personal results.

"Sometimes researchers are reluctant to report personal results for fear of worrying study participants too much, but we have found that people want to know their results and are able to understand that the health connections are uncertain for many of the chemicals under study," explained Brody. "Our goal is to provide a software framework and knowledge base that makes it practical for researchers to report personalized results even in large studies."

DERBI addresses result report-back challenges by providing researchers with tools to visualize exposure data and create individualized reports. Participants view their results through a secure online interface that combines personal results with contextual information about the chemicals' sources, possible health effects, and exposure reduction strategies. Personal results are communicated through interactive graphs that rely on visual abilities rather than requiring participants to have a certain level of literacy or numeracy. Additionally, DERBI uses decision rules specified by the researchers to direct study participants automatically to the most important results from their samples. Individual results may be compared to others in the study, and, when available, to national norms or health guidelines. To date, Brody and colleagues have developed contextual information for DERBI on flame retardants, pesticides, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other chemicals.

To field-test the tool, Brody and her team are deploying DERBI in two major studies, the Centers for Disease Control Green Housing Study and the Childhood Health and Development Studies. They developed both paper and digital report-back materials and then conducted interviews and observations with study participants to understand their experiences with the two formats.

"So far we have focused on the study participant's experience in DERBI, and we are eager to update DERBI based on new interviews and analytics that show how users navigate. At the same time, we are turning our attention to making the interface easier to use for researchers," said Brody. "We discovered that reporting individual results can generate new insights for researchers, so we are building tools for that into DERBI too."

DERBI was created in collaboration with Krzysztof Gajos at Harvard University's computer science department, as well as other co-investigators from the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of California, Berkeley, and Northeastern University. DERBI is an open-source project and is available for use in other studies. Contact Katie Boronow at Silent Spring Institute to learn more (

Arsenic and Rice: Translating Research to Address Health Care Providers' Needs

A recent commentary published in the Journal of Pediatrics summarizes key information for health providers faced with providing guidance on children's arsenic exposure from rice consumption. Though actual risks are still being defined, the commentary describes health effects associated with arsenic exposure, provides evidence that rice is a major contributor to dietary arsenic exposure, discusses testing children for exposure, and provides recommendations and limitations. The commentary was funded in part by NIEHS.

For more information on arsenic in rice, listen to the Arsenic in Rice and Other Foods PEPH podcast. You also can check out the interactive, infographic-style digital story created by Dartmouth researchers to help explain how arsenic gets into our food supply and how people can reduce their exposure. You may remember that we featured Dartmouth's arsenic tool in the August 2015 issue of the PEPH Newsletter.

LEAN's Wilma Subra Featured in Discover Magazine

The November 2015 issue of Discover Magazine features one of our PEPH colleagues, Wilma Subra, who is the technical advisor for the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN). LEAN is a community-based organization that provides the necessary tools and services to Louisiana communities facing environmental problems. Through her work with LEAN, Subra has partnered with many NIEHS grantees over the years, including researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who are working on an NIEHS-funded project to explore the health impacts and community resilience related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Discover article chronicles Subra's untiring efforts to provide technical expertise to communities across the United States and around the world that are suffering from environmental health problems. Discover Magazine subscribers can access the full article at the Discover Magazine website. The November 2015 issue also should be available at your local bookstore.

Sacoby Wilson Receives Environmental Achievement Award at APHA 2015

On November 2, Sacoby Wilson, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health (UM SPH) and an NIEHS grantee, was honored with the Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award at the 2015 American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting in Chicago. This annual award, given by the APHA Environment Section, honors an individual who has been an exemplary leader in the areas of environmental and social justice. Wilson is widely recognized for his leadership in environmental health and justice issues, both through his role as a researcher and as an advocate for communities fighting for environmental, social, and economic justice. His work has included the development of, and participation in, partnerships with community-based organizations, environmental advocacy groups, health practitioners, and policymakers to reduce local contamination, improve environmental quality, and enhance community health and sustainability. Read more about Wilson's work and the Award on the UM SPH website.

Deadline Extended for NIEHS Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge

NIEHS has extended the deadline for submissions to the Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge to February 1, 2016. The Challenge aims to help decision makers understand and address potential changes in environmental health risks by inviting talented software developers, data scientists, and other innovators from around the country to create data visualizations, tools, and applications, using the best available science on environmental exposures and increases in temperature, precipitation, flooding, and sea level rise. The new deadline for submissions is February 1, 2016. You also can use the hashtag #climatechallengeNIEHS to follow the Challenge.

PEPH Webinar: Meet the Editors

Thinking of publishing an article about environmental public health? Interested in what journal editors are looking for these days? In this webinar, you will hear from three editors who will present some general ideas about what it takes to get an article published, styles and formats appropriate for environmental public health, and the possibility of special issues and supplements. This webinar will include a dedicated Q&A session. Register for the webinar, which will take place on December 14, 2015, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EST.

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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Arsenic poisoning is a recognized health threat worldwide. Although contaminated drinking water is a primary culprit, people also can be exposed to arsenic through foods. In the podcast, learn about how we can be exposed to arsenic through the food we eat and get tips on how to reduce your exposure.

You can find more podcasts on the Environmental Health Chat Web page or subscribe to the series on iTunes. We want your feedback! Send comments and ideas for future podcasts to

PEPH in the Environmental Factor

The latest issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor features several stories highlighting topics and activities of interest to the PEPH community. Take a moment to catch up with some of the latest projects, events, and activities happening in the PEPH Network:

New phase of breast cancer research focuses on prevention. NIEHS and the National Cancer Institute announced a new phase of the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program, focused on prevention.

President's task force recommits to children's environmental health. The President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children reviewed progress and recommitted to achieving goals.

Worker Training Program builds collaborations and enhances data use. WTP launched new grants with a workshop focused on boosting grantee collaborations and increasing data collection.

Test kits can motivate parents to reduce allergens. NIEHS scientists report that in-home test kits, coupled with patient education, helped parents reduce allergen levels in their homes.

EPA Updates Data for Children's Environmental Health Indicators

EPA's website for America's Children and the Environment (ACE) is now updated with new data for several children's environmental health indicators. ACE is EPA's report on data related to children's environmental health. The report brings together information from a variety of sources to provide national indicators, which are easy-to-understand summaries of data from national surveys and studies. The most recent data available are now included in the indicators for the following topics: criteria air pollutants, drinking water contaminants, lead, mercury, respiratory diseases, and neurodevelopmental disorders. This new update incorporates data that have become available since the EPA published the third edition of America's Children and the Environment in January 2013. Visit EPA's Web page to learn more.

NSF Funds Big Data Hubs, Releases Big Data Spokes Initiative

On November 2, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced four awards, totaling more than $5 million, to establish four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) across the nation. NSF also released a new solicitation – the BD Spokes initiative – for projects that will leverage the BD Hubs' data. Each BD Spoke will focus on a specific BD Hub priority area and address one or more of three key issues: improving access to data, automating the data lifecycle, and applying data science techniques to solve domain science problems or demonstrate societal impact. See the NSF Press Release for more information. A letter of intent is due January 12, 2016, and proposals are due February 25, 2016.

Infographics from CDC Help Communicate Environmental Health Information

Looking for an effective and engaging way to communicate environmental health information with general audiences? Check out a series of infographics created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network! There are infographics for a variety of topics, including asthma and air pollution, children's environmental health, developmental disabilities and the environment, childhood lead poisoning, and more. Visit the CDC's Web page to download and share the graphics.

Have you developed an infographic to communicate an environmental public health message? Let us know. Send it to

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

December 2 - 4, 2015: Tribal Ecological Knowledge Workshop in Bethesda, Maryland. This workshop will explore the contributions that Native American (NA) and Alaskan Native (AN) tribal communities bring to the research enterprise. Before the two-day workshop, training sessions will be held for workshop participants. The workshop is open to the public; pre-registration is required for both the training sessions (December 2) and two-day workshop (December 3-4).

December 4, 2015 (Webinar): Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Join this free webinar to explore the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The webinar will take place Friday, December 4, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. EST. Registration is required.

December 14 - 15, 2015: 8th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Washington, D.C. The conference theme, Optimizing Personal and Population Health, reflects the opportunities and challenges of integrating evidence-based practice and service delivery to improve both healthcare delivery and population health in the U.S. and globally. Registration is now open.

January 12 - 13, 2016: Research to Action (R2A) Grantee Meeting at NIEHS's main campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The purpose of the meeting is to hear about progress on the existing R01 Research to Action projects and the outcomes of the former R21 projects. The meeting also will include an interactive session to assess the efficacy of the evaluation plans required for these projects. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information!

May 11 - 14, 2016: 14th International Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Save the date for the annual CCPH conference, which will bring together community partners, faculty members, students, funders, and policymakers to highlight partnerships and research collaborations addressing health equity through social justice.

June 19 - 23, 2016: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists 2016 Annual Conference in Anchorage, Alaska. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) is currently accepting abstracts for the 2016 Annual Conference. At the conference, attendees from across the country meet and share their expertise in surveillance and epidemiology, as well as best practices in a broad range of areas including informatics, infectious diseases, immunizations, environmental health, occupational health, chronic disease, injury control, and maternal and child health. Abstracts are due January 6, 2016.

Funding Opportunities

Visit the PEPH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) page for more PEPH-related funding opportunities.

Breast Cancer and the Environment Communication Research Initiative (R03, R21). The purpose of these announcements is to encourage research projects focused on the process of effective communication of research findings about breast cancer and the environment. A central objective of this new initiative is to ensure that risk messaging is designed for dissemination and effectively implemented and leads to individual behavior change or policy change. The ultimate goal is to assess the most effective approaches for the development, dissemination, and implementation of communication-based prevention efforts to reduce the risk for breast cancer from environmental factors. If you have questions, contact Symma Finn, NIEHS at, or Gila Neta, NCI at Deadlines: January 10, 2016 (letter of intent); February 10, 2016 (application).

Household Air Pollution (HAP) Health Outcomes Trial (UM1). Seeks applications from institutions/organizations for a cooperative agreement research grant (UM1) to conduct a clinical trial across three or more Low and Middle Income Country (LMIC) settings to test improved stove and fuel interventions on health outcomes in exposed populations. Each application must include a biomarker center element for the development and validation of clinical, physiological, chemical, biochemical, and/or microbiological markers of (a) exposure and (b) pathophysiological responses. Deadlines: December 1, 2015 (letter of intent); January 19, 2016 (application).

NIMHD Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention (U54). The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) invites applications to establish specialized Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for health disparities research focused on chronic disease prevention, with an emphasis on developing, implementing, and disseminating community-based multilevel interventions. Deadline: December 16, 2015.

Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Exploratory/Developmental (R21). The mission of CounterACT is to foster and support research and development of new and improved therapeutics to mitigate the health effects of chemical threats. Chemical threats are toxic chemicals that could be used in a terrorist attack or accidentally released from industrial production, storage, or shipping. They include traditional chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and pesticides. The scope of the research includes target/candidate identification and characterization, through candidate optimization, and demonstration of in vivo efficacy. Deadlines: January 26, 2016 (application); a letter of intent is due 30 days before the application.

Spatial Uncertainty: Data, Modeling, and Communication (R01). Supports innovative research that identifies sources of spatial uncertainty in public health data, incorporates the inaccuracy or instability into statistical methods, and develops novel tools to visualize the nature and consequences of spatial uncertainty. Deadline: February 5, 2015.

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01, R03, R21). Encourages methodological, intervention, and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy. Deadlines: February 5, 2015 (R01); February 19, 2015 (R03, R21). Learn more about NIEHS areas of interest.

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement. The EPA is seeking applications for EJCPS grants to be awarded in 2016. Cooperative agreements will be awarded to local community-based organizations seeking to address environmental and/or public health concerns in their communities through collaboration with other stakeholders, such as state and local governments, industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations. Deadline: February 12, 2016. See the FY2016 Request for Proposals.

The Open Science Prize. A partnership between the NIH, Wellcome Trust, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Open Science Prize provides funding to encourage and support the prototyping and development of services, tools, or platforms that enable open content – including publications, datasets, codes, and other research outputs – to be discovered, accessed, and re-used in ways that will advance discovery and spark innovation. It also aims to forge new international collaborations that bring together open science innovators to develop services and tools of benefit to the global research community. The challenge consists of a two-phase competition. Deadline: February 29, 2016 (Phase I); see the Web page for the full competition schedule and deadlines. The funders are holding an informational webinar on December 10, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. EST for potential applicants.

International Research Scientist Development Award (K01). The purpose of the International Research Scientist Development Award (IRSDA) is to provide support and protected time to advanced postdoctoral U.S. research scientists and recently appointed U.S. junior faculty for an intensive, mentored research career-development experience in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC) leading to an independently funded research career focused on global health. See the IRSDA Web page for more information. Deadline: March 2, 2016.


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