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Your Environment. Your Health.

Public Health Disaster Research Response

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

September 19, 2014

Public Health Disaster Research Response

Public health emergencies (e.g., 9/11, H1N1 pandemic, Gulf Oil Spill, Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy) pose many adverse health effects for local communities and the first responders. However, there is a recognized knowledge gap regarding the environmental exposures during the disaster and the potential health outcomes. The recent call to action, “Research as Part of Public Health Emergency Response,” authored by the NIH Director, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the CDC Director, voiced the critical need for well-designed, effectively executed research to address these pressing knowledge gaps. These public health emergencies present challenges to the research community because of their unpredictable onset as well as their health and environmental effects. Currently, human subjects research in the period immediately following disasters is hampered by the time needed to design protocols and implement data collection, so the opportunity to acquire crucial early epidemiologic, medical, and environmental data and samples is usually missed. The NIEHS, HHS, other federal agencies, and the academic community are working to address this need.

In this webinar, we heard about the current Public Health Disaster Research Response (DR2) and Science Preparedness efforts to help respond to the need for timely research.



Sharon Petronella Croisant, Ph.D.

Sharon Petronella Croisant, Ph.D., has a doctorate in epidemiology and a master’s in health promotion and education and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. She also currently 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.

Anthony Barone, M.P.H.

Anthony Barone, M.P.H., is a Senior Management Analyst for Emergency Management with GAP Solutions, Inc., and he is assigned to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, where he serves as the contract-lead for Science Preparedness. He brings over 14 years of specialized experience in crisis management, emergency preparedness, continuity, public health, and public safety. Prior to coming to ASPR, he served as a consultant to various local, state, federal, and private agencies and organizations within the emergency management and preparedness arenas. He continues to serve strategically, operationally, and tactically in these fields. He also holds a Masters of Public Health in Toxicology and a Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management.

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.

For More Information

NIH Disaster Research Response Project Exercise
Scientists, community leaders, and state and local health organizations met in Los Angeles to discuss a disaster scenario and to practice incorporating health researchers into immediate response and recovery efforts.

NIH Disaster Research Response Project (DR2)
This pilot project, developed by NIEHS in collaboration with the National Library of Medicine (NLM), aims to create a disaster research system consisting of coordinated environmental health disaster research data collection tools and a network of trained research responders.

Public Health Emergency (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response)
The website of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which leads the nation in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters.

Science Preparedness (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response)
Science preparedness is a 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.

HHS Establishes New Network to Perform Clinical Studies
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has established a network of five clinical research organizations that will design and conduct clinical studies needed to develop medical countermeasures – drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests that help protect health against bioterrorism, pandemic influenza, and other public health emergencies. Read more about the network in the press release.

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