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Your Environment. Your Health.

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health

PEPH Newsletter

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Volume 10, Issue 11: November 2019

Culturally Tailored App Shares Benefits and Risks from Fish Consumption

NIEHS-funded researchers and tribal partners developed and tested a smartphone app designed to communicate fish consumption advice to Native Americans in the upper Great Lakes region. The app, called Gigiigoo'inaan or “Our Fish,” combines fish contaminant and nutrition data, user-input information, and woodland-style tribal art to provide personalized fish consumption recommendations in a culturally relevant way.

The presence of contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls and methylmercury in the Great Lakes has led to numerous fish consumption advisories. But, as developed by state and federal scientists, these advisories do not incorporate the cultural needs of regional tribes, collectively known as the Anishinaabe.

“Fish are an important part of the Anishinaabe diet and culture, yet consumption advice to minimize contaminant exposure does not properly emphasize their priorities to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes fishing. This mobile app is responsive to the needs of specific Anishinaabe tribes who participate in culturally important fish harvests from Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan,” explained Matthew Dellinger, Ph.D., who spearheaded the development of the app. “We created the app to provide a culturally relevant tool to communicate the health benefits of eating fish and help users choose the safest fish to eat.”

Woodland art image of a pike fish

Woodland art image of a pike fish from the Gigiigoo’inann mobile app.
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Dellinger)

The app provides personalized recommendations for fish consumption based on data the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority gathers about contaminants in Native American tribal fisheries. After one enters personal information on weight, age, and gender, the app calculates estimates of both risk and benefit and then provides a list of fish types ranked from most to least beneficial based on the user’s data. The user can then select a fish to access personalized safe consumption ranges.

The researchers partnered with the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan to recruit focus groups of Anishinaabe tribal members to test the app for usability, influence on dietary behavior, and cultural appropriateness. Focus group participants said they appreciated the culturally tailored components, including tribal fish names and woodland art. Participants also provided recommendations to integrate more cultural features, such as stories and Anishinaabe Great Lake names.

Now, with a grant from the NIEHS Research to Action program, Dellinger and partners are working to incorporate this feedback into an updated version of the app. They aim to expand and improve the app by:

  • Collecting contaminant and nutritional information for 25 more local fish species.
  • Updating the app with recommendations made by the focus groups.
  • Testing health and behavior changes among app users.

“Our group works closely with tribal treaty organizations and communities to ensure that risk assessment messaging connects with the most people possible. By considering individual factors, such as weight, sex, and age, along with essential cultural considerations, we are providing a more resonant risk communication strategy for these populations,” explained Dellinger.

PEPH Bids Farewell to Symma Finn, Ph.D.

Liam O’Fallon and Dr. Fin pose for a photo at Dr. Fin's retirement celebration

O’Fallon and Finn pause for a photo at her October 17 retirement celebration. (Photo courtesy of Arshya Gurbani)

This fall, the PEPH Network bids farewell to Symma Finn, Ph.D., an NIEHS program officer who inspired many to put communities first. She will retire on October 31 after serving the institute for eight years (2011 - 2019).

Trained as a medical anthropologist, Finn brought a unique socio-cultural perspective to NIEHS and the field of environmental health — a perspective centered on the idea that research is about people.

“We’re really going to miss her drive and commitment to community residents,” said PEPH program lead Liam O’Fallon, “She inspired excellence.”

During her tenure at NIEHS, she became well-recognized for her work with tribal communities, culturally appropriate communication, and promoting how tribal ecological knowledge can inform environmental health and biomedical research. She also played a major role in defining and advancing the field of environmental health literacy, publishing an article and book on the subject. She has been integral in bridging environmental health and social science, emphasizing how merging these fields can improve the conduct of community-engaged research, help address social determinants of health, and better respond to community needs.

From everyone in the PEPH Network, we wish you a happy retirement, Dr. Finn, and thank you for all you have done to bring cultural considerations and social science to the fore of environmental health research.

Water Sampling Video Provides Resource to Train Citizen Scientists

A short video created by NIEHS grantees at the University of Arizona provides a step-by-step guide to collecting water samples. In less than a minute, the video lists the materials needed and steps to take in order to collect a water sample and record the temperature and pH. Stemming from the Gold King Mine Spill Diné Exposure Project, the video can serve as an instructional resource for training citizen scientists on a common data collection practice in environmental science.

NASEM Report Promotes Addressing Patients’ Social Needs in Health Care Delivery

Having a safe place to live or healthy food to eat affects health, but such social needs are not traditionally addressed in routine health care visits. A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health, contains five overarching goals and associated recommendations that health systems, government agencies, and others should implement to better integrate patients’ social needs into health care delivery.

“Even if people get the best medical care available to them, they may still have poor health outcomes if other social needs such as housing, reliable transportation, or a strong support system at home are not addressed,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the committee that wrote the report. Read the full report or check out report highlights to learn more.

EHP Podcast on Link Between Greenness and Mental Health

Can living in green surroundings make you healthier and happier? In the latest episode of Environmental Health Perspective’s (EHP) podcast, researcher Rachel Banay, Ph.D., discusses her recent study on depression in older women in relation to the amount of greenness near their homes. The study is part of a growing body of research that suggests there may be health benefits associated with spending time in or near green spaces.

Job Opportunity: Professor and Head, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa

The University of Iowa’s College of Public Health seeks a dedicated and experienced leader for the Head of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health. The department advances teaching, research, and practice in four strategic areas: (1) rural health; (2) community engagement and participation; (3) theory-based, culturally informed intervention; and (4) social justice and health equity.

Candidates must have a Ph.D., Dr.P.H., M.D., or equivalent degree in a related field and qualifications commensurate with an appointment as a tenured, full professor. Successful candidates must demonstrate academic experience in a community health and/or behavioral / social science discipline relevant to public health, with national recognition as a scholar. Candidates must demonstrate leadership and administrative experience; evidence of collaborative efforts in teaching and/or research; a record of community service and commitment to social justice; success or knowledge of effective strategies for working with and mentoring faculty, staff, and students; and a commitment to promoting a diverse academic environment.

Learn more about the position and apply on the University of Iowa webpage.

Job Opportunity: Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan

The School of Public Health at the University of Michigan invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. The department is engaged in a broad range of research in environmental and occupational exposure science, toxicology, environmental/atmospheric chemistry, microbiology, epidemiology, and global health.

The successful candidate must have a doctoral degree in a relevant scientific or engineering discipline; a strong commitment to teaching excellence and mentorship; the ability to work collaboratively across disciplines; and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. Preferred qualifications include: a record of peer-reviewed publications; post-doctoral experience in an academic or other research setting; prior teaching experience; and evidence of, or the strong potential for, obtaining competitive research funding.

Application review will begin November 1 and continue until suitable candidates are identified. See the job posting for more information and to apply.

sperm and egg

PEPH Environmental Health Chat Podcast Series

Why Dad’s Environment Before Conception Matters

In our latest podcast, Why Dad’s Environment Before Conception Matters, learn how researchers are exploring preconception, particularly for fathers to be, as a critical window of susceptibility to harmful exposures. Plus, learn what you can do to improve your preconception health.

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

Listen to more PEPH Podcasts
Jamie San Andres
PEPH Grantee Highlight

Jamie San Andres

Jamie San Andres is a project coordinator at Make the Road New York, a community-based Latino immigrant organization in New York City that represents members of the working class. Working closely with NIEHS grantee Sherry Baron, M.D., San Andres and other partners are conducting a survey of household cleaning workers about the cleaning products they use and measuring participants’ exposure to chemicals found in those products. The research team will use this information to develop a campaign to help household cleaning workers better understand how to protect themselves from harmful exposures.

“The goal is not just to understand how domestic cleaners have already been affected but also how to prevent future health problems,” said San Andres. “I really believe in not just conducting research to help understand problems but also thinking about how to improve the lives of the community.”

Read more about Grantee

Funding Opportunities

Application Due Date Nov 04 2019
Environmental Influences on Aging: Effects of Extreme Weather and Disaster Events on Aging Populations (PAR-19-250)

Supports research to advance our understanding of the impact of extreme weather and disaster events in aging human populations. With the companion FOA (PAR-19-249), which focuses on underlying mechanisms of aging utilizing animal models, these two FOAs will help to explicate the behavioral, biological, and socioecological processes that occur during extreme weather or disaster events that affect aging processes. Through the integration of the population studies and the companion mechanistic studies FOA, the goal is to improve the health and well-being of older adults via increased knowledge about extreme weather and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Deadline: November 04, 2019

Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Nov 22 2019
Limited Competition: Specialized Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research [P50 Clinical Trial Optional]

This FOA invites applications from eligible institutions of higher education for specialized center grants to support multidisciplinary research, research capacity building, and community-engaged research activities focused on understanding and reducing or eliminating environmental health disparities, defined as inequities in population health mediated by disproportionate adverse exposures associated with the physical, chemical, social, and built environments.

Deadline: November 22, 2019
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Dec 04 2019
Collaborative Minority Health and Health Disparities Research with Tribal Epidemiology Centers (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Supports collaborative research between Tribal Epidemiology Centers and extramural investigators on topics related to minority health and health disparities in American Indian / Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations.

Deadline: December 04, 2019

Application Due Date Dec 12 2019
NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (Parent R13)

Supports investigator-initiated scientific meetings. NIEHS is interested in supporting meetings that will advance the field of environmental health sciences.

Deadline: December 12, 2019
Letter Requesting Permission to apply is required and must be received six weeks prior to the application receipt date. See the NIEHS conference grant webpage for information about the types of conferences and meetings the institute is interested in supporting, as well as LRP guidelines.

Application Due Date Dec 13 2019
Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes and to Reduce Disparities in Rural Populations (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Encourages research to promote a greater understanding of the challenges faced by rural population groups for the development (or adoption/adaptation) of evidence-based interventions that can reduce health risks faced by rural Americans.

Deadline: December 13, 2019
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date.

Application Due Date Feb 16 2020
Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health

(R01 Clinical Trial Optional; R21 Clinical Trial Optional; R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed). Supports innovative approaches to identifying, understanding, and developing strategies for overcoming barriers to the adoption, adaptation, integration, scale-up, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions, tools, policies, and guidelines. Conversely, there is a benefit in understanding circumstances that create a need to stop or reduce (“de-implement”) the use of interventions that are ineffective, unproven, low-value, or harmful. In addition, studies to advance dissemination and implementation research methods and measures are encouraged.

Deadline: February 05, 2020 (R01), February 16, 2020 (R03 and R21)
Letter of Intent: Due 30 days prior to the application due date

Application Due Date Mar 04 2020
Leveraging Health Information Technology (Health IT) to Address Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Supports research that examines how health information technology adoption impacts minority health and health disparity populations in access to care, quality of care, patient engagement, and health outcomes.

Deadline: March 04, 2020

Application Due Date Ongoing
Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21)

Supports environmental health research in which an unpredictable event provides a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. The program aims to understand the consequences of natural and human-caused disasters or emerging environmental public health threats in the U.S. and abroad.
Deadline: See the Funding Opportunity Announcement for application due dates.

Visit the Funding Opportunity Announcements Page
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