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Release: Oct. 15, 2001

Heartland Center receives funding to expand training and grant programs

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety has received $321,385 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to establish three new graduate-level academic programs and a research pilot grant program. This award increases the total annual NIOSH funding for the Heartland Center to $806,438.

The Heartland Center, based in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is one of 16 NIOSH-funded Education and Research Centers that provide training, education and outreach in occupational health and safety. The Heartland Center serves Federal Region VII (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri).

"The Heartland Center's new training programs and grant opportunities will benefit the entire region," said center director Nancy Sprince, M.D., UI professor of occupational and environmental health and internal medicine. "There's a great regional need for occupational health and safety specialists. The center's expanded offerings will help to fill the shortage and train the next generation of professionals in these areas."

The new training programs will offer graduate student training in agricultural safety and health, ergonomics and occupational injury epidemiology. These areas add to existing programs in industrial hygiene, occupational health nursing and physician residency training in occupational medicine. The grant provides monies for stipends and tuition for graduate students training in these programs. Students may earn degrees including master of science (M.S.), master of public health (M.P.H.), master of science in nursing (M.S.N.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.).

"The expansion of the Heartland Center increases students' opportunities to interact with a broad group of occupational health colleagues," Sprince said. "This type of collaboration provides valuable practice, since students will be working in interdisciplinary teams in their professional careers."

The new research pilot grant program will offer graduate students and junior faculty grants of $6,000 to $15,000 to conduct research on topics that have National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) priority. NIOSH and its partners developed NORA as a framework to guide national occupational safety and health research. The 21 top research priorities include topics such as musculoskeletal disorders, social and economic consequences of workplace illness and injury, and organization of work. More information on the pilot grant program is on the Heartland Center web site: