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Release: Immediate

UI agricultural health center receives funding

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Researchers at the University of Iowa College of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $4.4 million federal center grant to study a range of agricultural health issues, including the impact of specific agricultural and environmental exposures on the health of farm families and other rural residents.

The UI Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health received the award from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to conduct research, education, outreach programs and training to prevent diseases and injuries arising from agricultural and other rural exposures. The center also continues to support and collaborate with Farm Safety for Just Kids, an Iowa-based grassroots organization, to promote farm safety for children and youth groups.

Directed by Dr. James Merchant, UI professor of preventive and internal medicine, the center supports 47 research projects in epidemiology, industrial hygiene, toxicology and ergonomics, pre- and post-doctoral training, and regional education and outreach programs. The Keokuk County Rural Health Study, the center's largest initiative, is the first long-term study to evaluate the relationship between the agricultural and rural environment and health among women, men, and children, including assessments of injuries, respiratory disease, mental health, reproductive and other health outcomes and related health services.

"The Great Plains Center provides the University of Iowa an excellent opportunity to address the many research and public health needs of farm families and rural communities in Iowa and the Midwest," Merchant says.

The current center grant is a competitive renewal of funding that the UI first received in 1990.