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Your Environment. Your Health.

Dealing with Disasters

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

January 19, 2016


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 about the types of health risks associated with disasters and how disaster research helps to reduce the health-related impacts of disasters.  In Part 2, 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.

Dealing with Disasters: Part 1


Aubrey Miller, M.D., M.P.H.
Aubrey Miller, M.D., M.P.H., joined the NIEHS team in May 2010 to serve as Senior Medical Advisor and NIEHS liaison to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Miller’s office is located on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, where he oversees a small staff of NIEHS employees who are readily available to meet with NIH and HHS representatives, federal partners, members of Congress, and other stakeholders to discuss how environmental factors influence human health and disease. Miller is coordinating many federal efforts, including playing a major role in the NIEHS and HHS response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. A medical epidemiologist and a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, Miller has longstanding experience, publications, and contributions to a wide range of occupational and environmental health issues and policies, and he is board certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.  
Mark Keim M.D., M.B.A

Mark Keim, M.D., M.B.A. is founder of DisasterDoc, LLC., a public health scientist, an emergency physician specializing in disaster medicine, and a consultant in management of disasters worldwide.  He most recently served as the Associate Director for Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   Keim has provided consultation for the management of dozens of disasters involving the health of millions of people throughout the world. He has received numerous awards for his work in CDC’s emergency operations during the World Trade Center, anthrax letter, and Hurricane Katrina emergencies, as well as for leading the U.S. health sector response after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Dealing with Disasters: Part 2


Aubrey Miller, M.D., M.P.H.

Headshot of Sharon Petronella Croisant

Sharon Petronella Croisant, Ph.D., directs the NIEHS-funded UTMB Center in Environmental Toxicology’s Community-based Research Facility, as well as its Community Outreach and Engagement Core. A major focus of her career has been translational or integrative research – i.e., building interfaces between and among environmental and clinical research, education, and community health. She has considerable expertise in community-based participatory research, including its applications in environmental justice communities, and is currently the co-PI of a grant from the NIEHS to investigate the long-term health effects of consumption of Gulf seafood potentially contaminated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She is now in the process of developing a more fully integrated Gulf Coast Regional Environmental Health Science Network, building on relationships previously established with coastal communities in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters.

For More Information

CDC Emergency and Environmental Health Services
Learn about CDC’s efforts to advance environmental public health practice and emergency preparedness and response.

Find disaster-related information and training for professionals, as well as the general public

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Article
Read a commentary about the importance of conducting research following disasters.

Disaster Preparedness and Response Webinar
In this webinar, NIEHS Worker Training Program partners discuss numerous disasters of national significance and lessons learned from each response. Common themes include (1) community involvement before, during, and after a disaster and (2) training that empowers workers to recognize and choose the right course of action so as to avoid acute and chronic illness or injury.

Disaster Research Response Exercise
Read about an NIEHS tabletop exercise focused on a fictional scenario in which an earthquake in Alaska caused a tsunami to hit California. Participants, which included community members, workers, union members, Core Center grantees, Worker Training Program grantees, federal officials, port authorities, and state and local public health officials, were assigned roles and reflected on how each organization might be able to take coordinated research action to meet the needs of the first responders, decision makers, and residents when responding to disasters.

Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report Enabling Rapid and Sustainable Public Health Research During Disasters
Read highlights of the discussions among 230 federal, state, academic, non-governmental, emergency response, and private sector participants at an IOM Disaster Research Response Workshop held in June 2014.

NIEHS PEPH Public Health Disaster Research Response Webinar
Review presentations about how NIEHS and its grantees are contributing to Research Response efforts.

NIEHS Disaster Research Response Efforts
Learn about what NIEHS has been doing to support disaster research.

NIH Disaster Research Response
Learn more about the NIH Disaster Research Response Program, aimed to create a disaster research system consisting of coordinated environmental health disaster research data collection tools and a network of trained research responders.

Science Preparedness (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response)
Learn about science preparedness, collaborative effort to establish and sustain a scientific research framework that can enable emergency planners, responders, and the whole community to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from major public health emergencies.

Disaster Research Response Workshop
Read about the Disaster Research Response Workshop held in June 2014 in this Environmental Factor article entitled, “Science-ready — enabling public health research during disasters.”

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