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University of Iowa News Release

June 15, 2004

UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center Receives $3 Million NIH Grant

The University of Iowa Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC), a multidisciplinary center focused on agricultural and rural environmental exposures and health effects, recently received a three-year, $3 million grant award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Peter Thorne, Ph.D. (left), professor of occupational and environmental health, directs the center, which involves 39 faculty investigators from the UI College of Public Health, the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The EHSRC was established in 1990, and it is one of 22 environmental health research centers supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"This center brings together an array of researchers to address the complex environmental health problems we confront in Iowa and in rural America," Thorne said. "Center investigators focus on environmental health issues that are of major concern to the public, issues such as childhood asthma, lung disease among farmers, antimicrobial resistance and environmental contaminants associated with agricultural production."

The EHSRC is organized into three research cores that focus on pulmonary health outcomes, inflammation and innate immunity and oxidative stress, a biological response to toxicants that may play a role in the development of environmentally related diseases. Three facility cores provide laboratory support and study consultation to investigators in the research cores. The center also promotes close interaction with other environmental health research units at the UI, including the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, and the University Hygienic Laboratory.

An active community outreach and education program within the center ensures that its cutting-edge science is broadly shared with the community. The center has sponsored free public meetings to review current science and discuss community concerns about environmental health issues, such as the impact of concentrated animal feeding operations in rural areas. In addition, each year the EHSRC and the UI Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development organize a one-week summer program called the "Environmental Health Sciences Institute for Rural Youth," which brings gifted high school students from small Iowa communities to the UI campus. During the program, students learn about and participate in research projects being conducted by center investigators. The 2004 EHSI program will take place June 20-25 in Iowa City.

In addition to its research and community outreach activities, the center also serves as an educational resource for graduate students interested in environmental health sciences. Faculty mentors and state-of-the-art laboratory facilities available within the EHSRC provide an excellent environment for training scientists.

For more information about the center, contact Nancy Newkirk at 319-335-4756 or visit the center website at www.ehsrc.org.

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

CONTACTS: Media: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, debra-venzke@uiowa.edu; Program: Nancy Newkirk, 319-335-4756; Writer: Dan McMillan

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: Photo of Peter Thorne is available at http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/academics/faculty/peter_thorne.html