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University of Iowa News Release

May 26, 2005

UI Researchers To Establish Violence, Injury Training Program In Croatia 

University of Iowa researchers have received a $750,000, five-year grant to establish a collaborative training program between the UI College of Public Health and the Stampar School of Public Health in Zagreb, Croatia. The program will train investigators to conduct research and develop prevention programs on violence and injury-related health needs in Croatia and surrounding countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

The UI researchers, led by Corinne Peek-Asa, Ph.D., professor of occupational and environmental health, were awarded the grant by the Fogarty International Center (FIC) at the National Institutes of Health. The UI is one of seven U.S. educational institutions selected by FIC to take part in the International Collaborative Trauma and Injury Research Training Program. The program funds a collaboration between an institution in a high-income country and one in a low- or middle-income country to train researchers to address the global burden of violence, injury and trauma.

"Most injuries are preventable, but certain populations, particularly the poor, are more vulnerable than others," Peek-Asa said. "Croatia has higher injury mortality rates than most European countries, and has unique risk factors related to war and landmine injuries."

Croatia was involved in a war from 1991 to 1995, which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates caused 8,437 deaths, 32,833 recorded injuries and the displacement of more than 385,000 people. Ongoing tensions continue to contribute to violent traumatic injuries.

Injuries are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide -- more than five million people die each year from injury and trauma, according to the WHO. Traffic collisions, deliberate acts of violence against oneself or others, falls, burns and drowning are among the most common causes of injury globally.

The goals of the UI project are to train scientists in Croatia and surrounding countries to conduct injury prevention research; strengthen the Stampar School of Public Health as a center of excellence in injury control research; facilitate the transition of trainees to positions of responsibility and influence in the region; and develop infrastructure to translate injury research into public health practice.

Long-term trainees will participate in six months of distance education followed by five months of training at the UI. Participants will work with a mentor to develop and conduct a research activity, and then share their findings with fellow researchers. The program builds on an established UI occupational safety and health training program in Eastern Europe, also funded by FIC.

Other UI researchers involved in the project include Thomas Cook, Ph.D., professor of occupational and environmental health; and Craig Zwerling, M.D., Ph.D., professor and head of occupational and environmental health.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, debra-venzke@uiowa.edu