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Your Environment. Your Health.

PEPH E-News January 2016

Volume 7, Issue 1: January 2016

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Community-Engaged Research and Citizen Science: Two Similar, but Distinct, Research Approaches

Cenr and citzen science framework
Conceptual framework developed by O'Fallon and Finn to illustrate the similarities and differences between CEnR (top blue arrow) and citizen science (bottom green arrow). Dashed arrows represent potential synergies between the two approaches. Peach boxes in the center show the potential interactions and input between citizen science efforts and researchers. You also can open a full-sized version of the image.

Scientific research approaches that engage the public in the research process have been evolving and maturing over the past two decades. Community-engaged research (CEnR) projects have become increasingly common in the environmental public health arena with recognized benefits for research and public health. Most recently, citizen science has been gaining national attention as an approach that can be used by academic researchers and federal agencies to work in partnership with community residents across the country. While CEnR and citizen science share many common elements, it is important to appreciate the unique contributions each brings to public health. In an effort to draw attention to these issues, NIEHS program officers Liam O'Fallon and Symma Finn recently reflected upon the similarities and differences between CEnR and citizen science in the Fall 2015 issue of Lab Matters, a quarterly journal of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

"As we participated in many different conversations about the novelty of using citizen science approaches, it appeared that the two research approaches were being conflated and there was some confusion about the differences between them," said Finn, who oversees behavioral and social science research grants at NIEHS. "We wanted to help clarify what we see are important distinctions between the approaches with this framework," added O'Fallon, who coordinates the PEPH program.

Using a framework they developed to illustrate the shared elements and distinctions between the two approaches, O'Fallon and Finn posit that the motivations for initiating CEnR and citizen science projects are quite different. CEnR is initiated by academic researchers and is based on the centrality of the scientific questions, with publication and dissemination of results often being the final and desired outcome. On the other hand, citizen science efforts are typically driven by community concerns about environmental exposures or disease, with the goal of near-term translation of results into action to improve community health and inform decision making.

While motivations may differ, the two approaches can also support one another. Finn and O'Fallon suggest that a community partner in a CEnR project may identify new questions or concerns that lead to new citizen science efforts. Likewise, an academic partner in a citizen science project may find a new scientific question to pursue within the CEnR framework.

Regardless of the research approach, CEnR or citizen science, O'Fallon and Finn conclude by emphasizing the need for training and capacity building for both community groups and academics. In this regard, they highlight the potential and promising role public health laboratories can play in these training and capacity-building efforts.

"Much like PEPH, the public health labs are a national network focused on addressing local environmental public health issues," said O'Fallon. "They have an infrastructure in place and a mission to train community residents and academics. Furthermore, many labs want to be partners in these kinds of projects."

Read the full article in the Fall 2015 issue of Lab Matters and check out the APHL website to learn more about the Association of Public Health Laboratories and what services state public health laboratories provide. In addition, be sure to listen to the Air Quality Monitoring for Citizen Science podcast to learn about some of the monitoring technologies being used by citizen scientists and find resources to help you start a project in your community.

Join the New PEPH Group on LinkedIn!

Looking to form new connections and share your ideas, resources, and announcements more widely within the environmental public health community? We invite you to join the new PEPH LinkedIn Group! The purpose of the Group is to foster the exchange of ideas and resources among NIEHS grantees, their partners, and others on LinkedIn with a shared commitment to environmental public health. The group is open to everyone, and members are encouraged to participate in discussions and to share information, such as job openings, recent findings, funding announcements, and other environmental health topics.

EHP Children's Health Collection 2015 is Now Available

Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) Children's Health Collection 2015 is now available. This compilation of the past year's children's health research, commentary, and news offers something for everyone concerned about children's environmental health — researchers, regulators, advocates, healthcare providers, policymakers, educators, community developers, and parents. Peruse the collection to catch up on what's happened in the field of children's environmental health over the past year!

PEPH Colleague Elizabeth Yeampierre Featured in Vogue as Climate Warrior

In recognition of the recent 2015 Paris Climate Conference, Vogue selected Elizabeth Yeampierre as one of 13 featured women who are leading the fight against climate change. Yeampierre is Executive Director of the Brooklyn community-based organization UPROSE and a former NIEHS National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member. In her fight for climate justice, she founded the New York City (NYC) Climate Justice Youth Summit, a space where young people of color throughout NYC gather to learn how to engage their local communities in addressing climate change. Additionally, in response to community concerns after Super Storm Sandy, she created the Sunset Park Climate Justice and Community Resiliency Center, NYC's first grassroots-led, bottom-up, climate adaptation and community resiliency planning project. You can read Yeampierre's climate warrior feature and view the compelling photograph taken for her profile on the Vogue Web page.

PEPH Webinar: Healthy Homes

Save the date for the next PEPH Webinar in which we will discuss the topic of Healthy Homes. The webinar will take place January 21, 2016 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EST. Stay tuned for more information in early January!

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

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Every community is vulnerable to disaster, and every disaster presents a unique set of health hazards. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce disaster risk and improve the resilience of our communities.

In Part 1 of this 2-part series, hear how research helps to reduce the health-related impacts of disasters. And stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll learn what NIEHS is doing to improve researchers' ability to collect data, track recovery, and inform future disaster preparation and response as part of a national disaster risk reduction effort.

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:

Children's health highlighted at D.C. events. Children's environmental health research was the focus of the annual meeting of children's centers and a congressional staff briefing.

Generation Public Health takes over Chicago meeting. Creating the healthiest nation in one generation was a key theme of the American Public Health Association meeting in Chicago.

Summit addresses safe drinking water from private wells. NIEHS staff and grantees joined the Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative summit on North Carolina private well water quality.

Innovative research and collaboration at SRP Annual Meeting. Participants, guided by the theme, Collaboration for Innovation, pursued collaboration across disciplines and with new Superfund Research Program partners.

Asian Pacific Autism Conference Includes Focus on the Environment. At the International Society for Autism Research regional meeting, a keynote talk and panel addressed environmental exposures and autism.

Duke symposium addresses toxicity of energy production. NIEHS symposium addresses toxicity of energy production.

OBSSR Blog Highlights 20 Years of Health Literacy Literature

In a recent blog post on the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) Connector, William (Bill) Elwood, Ph.D., reflects on what we've learned from 20 years of health literacy research supported by NIH. Citing numerous examples from the literature, Elwood explains that while health literacy may comprise an individual's capacity, this capacity is a dynamic state that is dependent on one's experiences with wellness, health, and life. Elwood also provides many examples from the literature highlighting the importance of various types of communication to health literacy, as well as the use of sophisticated models for health literacy research.

NLM Launches New iOS Educational Apps for Students

The National Library of Medicine's (NLM) Division of Specialized Information Services is pleased to announce the launch of three interactive, educational iOS apps for high school students studying biology, chemistry, and environmental health. These free, readily accessible resources assist students with grasping concepts such as DNA base pairing, the Bohr model of the atom, and environmental conservation. Two of the iOS apps, Bohr Thru and Base Chase, were developed in collaboration with a high school educator and are easily usable within the biology/chemistry classroom setting. The third game, Run4Green, is a fun learning tool that reinforces concepts relating to environmental conservation and can be used as an engagement extension activity. You can download all three iOS games (with no in-game purchases) by visiting the iTunes App Store.

Call for Participants: NIEHS Body Weight and Puberty Study

Pediatricians at the NIEHS are looking to recruit participants for a study to find out whether body weight affects when a girl starts puberty. Healthy girls, 8-14 years old, who live in and around Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill, North Carolina are invited to join. Visit the Body Weight and Puberty Study website to learn more about the study, what the study will require of participants, and where parents can access more information.

Opportunity for Public Comment: HUD Proposed Rule Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) invites the public to comment on a proposed rule that would require each public housing agency (PHA) administering public housing to implement a policy prohibiting lit tobacco products in all living units, indoor common areas in public housing, and in PHA administrative office buildings. The smoke-free policy would also extend to all outdoor areas up to 25 feet from the housing and administrative office buildings. Such a policy is expected to improve indoor air quality in the housing, benefit the health of public housing residents and PHA staff, reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, and lower overall maintenance costs. Comments are due January 19, 2016. Visit for more information and to submit your comments.

Upcoming PEPH-Related Events

January 12 - 13, 2016: Research to Action (R2A) Grantee Meeting at the NIEHS 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.

January 14 - 15, 2016: Environment and Health: What's the Human Microbiome Have to Do with It? in Washington, D.C. and via webcast. Explore the intersection of the environment, the microbiome, and human health at this workshop from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Standing Committee on Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. Participants at the workshop will discuss the latest emerging research on microbiome-environment interactions, including how the microbiome could influence responses to environmental exposures, how environmental exposures early in life could change microbiome function and affect later-life health outcomes, and a potential framework to advance research over the next decade. On-site and webcast registration is required. As a primer before the meeting, listen to The Microbiome podcast and view the slides from the PEPH webinar, Microbes, the Environment, and You.

January 27 - 28, 2016: Protecting Children's Environmental Health U.S. - Mexico Border Symposium in San Diego, California. The U.S. EPA is co-sponsoring a free 1.5-day symposium focused on children's environmental health risks that are commonly found in communities located within the California/Baja California and Arizona/Sonora regions. This symposium will feature sessions that will discuss environmental health issues in the border region, how prenatal and childhood exposures can impact children's health and development, and what participants can do in their respective roles to address or mitigate children's environmental health risks. Healthcare professionals, environmental professionals, public health practitioners, promotores, health educators, and the public from the U.S. and Mexico should consider attending. Registration is open.

February 11 - 13, 2016: New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Portland, Oregon. The conference includes sessions and tours that will showcase strategies for encouraging equitable development. Register by January 21, 2016.

May 11 - 13, 2016: Save the date for the NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Adminstration in Baltimore, Maryland. The NIH Regional Seminar offers a comprehensive program for the NIH extramural community about the NIH grants process and related policies. Registration is expected to open in early 2016.

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.

December 5 - 8, 2016: NIEHS Environmental Health Science FEST in Durham, North Carolina. Save the date to join NIEHS in celebrating 50 years of environmental health science research! Please RSVP if you plan on attending the meeting and stay tuned for more information.

Funding Opportunities

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

Systems for Action - Systems and Services Research to Build a Culture of Health. Systems for Action (S4A) is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that studies novel ways of aligning the delivery and financing systems that support a Culture of Health. Building on a foundation of scientific progress from both health services research and public health services and systems research, S4A uses rigorous methods to test strategies for improving the reach, quality, efficiency, and equity of services and supports that promote health and well-being on a population-wide basis. Studies funded through this call for proposals (CFP) will identify system innovations and interactions that drive collaboration and integration across the multiple financing and delivery systems that support a Culture of Health. Deadlines: January 12, 2016 (letter of intent); projects that align with the CFP will be invited to submit a full proposal, due March 11, 2016.

Evidence for Action. Evidence for Action is a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) committed to developing the evidence base to align with RWJF's vision of building a Culture of Health by supporting investigator-initiated research. RWJF is especially interested in research that will help develop the data and evidence necessary to improve health and equity in communities across the country. Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis; applicants must first submit a letter of intent.

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 of breast cancer from environmental factors. If you have questions, contact Symma Finn (NIEHS) at or Gila Neta (NCI) at 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. Deadline: January 19, 2016.

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.

Health Promotion Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Males (R21). Specifically, this initiative is intended to (1) enhance our understanding of the numerous factors (e.g., sociodemographic, community, societal, personal) influencing the health promoting behaviors of racial and ethnic minority males and their subpopulations across the life cycle and (2) encourage applications focusing on the development and testing of culturally and linguistically appropriate health-promoting interventions designed to reduce health disparities among racially and ethnically diverse males and their subpopulations age 21 and older. Deadline: February 19, 2016.

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). The funders held a webinar December 10 for potential applicants – visit the Open Science Prize Web page to download webinar presentations, as well as a full recording.

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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