The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) recently announced that The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health will be awarded a $100,000 supplemental grant to establish a Biosafety and Infectious Disease Training Initiative.
This grant is part of a larger training initiative called the Hazardous Materials Worker Health and Safety Training that is also funded by the NIEHS, that began in 2010 and has a combined grant award of $4 million to be dispersed over five years.
As part of the Biosafety and Infectious Disease Training Initiative, UTHealth will partner with the Nebraska Biocontainment; one of only 3 biocontainment units in the country. This initiative will include both hands on courses, as well as a community-level course to be delivered online.
In a University press release announcing the award, Dr. Robert Emery, Dr. PH., professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health and vice president of safety, health, environment and risk management at UTHealth, stated “We learned firsthand from the recent Ebola experience in Texas that concerns about infectious disease exposures extend far beyond the health care community. This award will allow us to develop and deliver meaningful training to a wide variety of audiences, including workers who we don’t usually consider at risk for exposure to the Ebola virus, such as public service employees, waste handlers, funeral directors and others.”
In an explanation on how the training will take place, Dr. Janelle Rios, PhD., deputy director of the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the School of Public Health, said, “Personnel will deliver this training using a train-the-trainer model to amplify the impact of the award. In the future, we intend to develop refresher training as well.”
In addition to Drs. Emery and Rios, other UTHealth safety team members include:
- Scott Patlovich, Dr. PH., Director of Environmental Health & Safety
- Brett Haltiwanger, PhD., Biosafety Specialist
- Shalaka Kotkar, PhD., Safety Specialist
- Nancy Crider, Dr. PH., Assistant Professor, Family Health, UTHealth School of Nursing
- Pamela Philips UT School of Public Health
- Shawn Gibbs, PhD., University of Nebraska
- John Lowe, PhD., University of Nebraska
- Katelyn Jelden, University of Nebraska