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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 28, 2011

Photo: Hygienic Laboratory Directory Christopher Atchison (left) welcomes Health Communications fellow Erin O'Gara (left) along with UI School of Journalism representatives Petya Eckler, Ph.D., assistant professor and David Perlmutter, Ph.D., director.

School of Journalism fellowship established at State Hygienic Laboratory

The University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the State Hygienic Laboratory are partnering to provide the first Health Communications Fellowship established by either agency.

"Iowa's School of Journalism and Mass Communication is developing new health communication curriculum, training and programs, and we see this fellowship as an investment in the future," said David Perlmutter, Ph.D., director of the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "A partnership with the State Hygienic Laboratory in the form of a fellowship is a great step forward in cooperation in health communication and disease prevention in the state of Iowa and at the University of Iowa."

Erin O'Gara, a doctoral student in the School of Journalism and inaugural recipient of the school's Murray Family Doctoral Scholar Award, was awarded the fellowship in January. O'Gara is working with the Hygienic Laboratory's Newborn Screening program to expand communications between the Laboratory and Iowa hospitals.

"Much of our health status is based on choices we make based on the understandings we have," said Christopher Atchison, director of the State Hygienic Laboratory. "This is why it is so important to have professionals in health communications who can help each of us understand our options. The alliance we have with the Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication is going to enrich this supply of professionals who will help all of us lead healthier lives."

The Heath Communications Fellowship is the most recent Hygienic Laboratory collaboration to provide professional learning opportunities for post-graduate, graduate and undergraduate students. The Hygienic Laboratory has been actively involved in an Emerging Infectious Disease Fellowship program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Association of Public Health Laboratories since its inception in 1995. For the last three years, the Laboratory has been one of the few sites outside of the CDC to annually host two fellows. The Hygienic Laboratory also hosts interns from colleges and universities throughout the state.

The State Hygienic Laboratory is Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located at the UI Research Park campus in Coralville, at the Iowa Laboratories Facility in Ankeny, and at Lakeside Lab in northwestern Iowa. For more information about the laboratory and its programs and services, visit

The UI awarded the nation's first doctorate degrees in mass communications, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication continues a proud tradition of mixing innovative professional training and advanced scholarship. The school's state-of-the-art building provides the most modern facilities for education and scholarship in media and communications in Iowa, including a new health communication research laboratory. For more information about UI School of Journalism and Mass Communications and its programs and services, go to:

STORY SOURCE: State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, UI Research Park campus, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,