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Release: May 15, 2000

New UI center to provide occupational health and safety training, education and outreach

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa has received a three-year, $1.2 million award from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to establish the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety. The center will provide training, education and outreach in occupational health and safety to Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

The Heartland Center, comprised of faculty and staff from the UI Colleges of Public Health and Nursing, will provide graduate student training in industrial hygiene and occupational health nursing, as well as physician residency training in occupational medicine. Nancy L. Sprince, M.D., UI professor of occupational and environmental health, and internal medicine, will serve as the center's director.

"There is a great need for trained professionals in occupational health and safety in our region," Sprince said. "Our region suffers from two contradictory problems: higher-than-average rates of occupational diseases and injuries, and a lower-than-average supply of trained occupational health and safety professionals. The Heartland Center will train physicians, nurses and master's and doctoral-level professionals who will work to prevent occupational diseases and injuries regionally and nationally."

Currently there are 15 other NIOSH-funded centers of excellence in occupational health and safety, called Education and Research Centers (ERCs). Although the other 10 federal regions in the United States have at least one NIOSH-funded ERC, Federal Region VII (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri) has never had an ERC prior to this award.

Sprince assembled an outstanding team of UI faculty and staff in this successful, highly competitive process for the NIOSH award. UI faculty members who will direct cores and components in the Heartland Center include Stephen Reynolds, Ph.D., director of the industrial hygiene core, Kennith Culp, Ph.D., director of the occupational health nursing core, and Craig Zwerling, M.D., Ph.D., director of the continuing education and outreach core. In addition to serving as director of the Heartland Center, Sprince will direct the occupational medicine core.

The Heartland Center welcomes applications from students interested in graduate education in occupational health nursing and industrial hygiene, and from medical students and physicians interested in residency training in occupational medicine. Degrees offered include M.S., Ph.D., and Master of Public Health (M.P.H.). For information on applying to the graduate training programs, please contact Rachel Paquette at (319) 335-4558 for the industrial hygiene and occupational medicine training programs, or Lori Anderson at (319) 335-7021 for the occupational health nursing training program.