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Release: Aug. 9, 2002

International scholars to participate in UI public health training program

The University of Iowa Center for International and Rural Environmental Health (CIREH) is hosting five international scholars for a fall semester training program in environmental, occupational and public health issues. The group is participating in CIREH's International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health program, which has been funded by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health since 1996.

The scholars will register as full-time students and take a variety of courses offered by the UI College of Public Health and other departments. The students' coursework will be used for professional improvement and, in some cases, to further a degree program.

The scholars are assigned to faculty mentors who will involve them in ongoing research and help develop new collaborative projects. Scholars and mentors also will plan a program for a two- to three-day workshop on a topic of mutual interest.

"This program has proven to be of great value to both the international scholars and University of Iowa faculty," said Thomas Cook, Ph.D., director of CIREH and professor of occupational and environmental health. "The scholars enhance their professional knowledge and skills in solving important problems back home while faculty mentors enrich their teaching and research activities by the insights they gain into public health problems in other countries and cultures."

Once the scholars return to their home countries, the continuity of the training program is maintained through the workshops and collaborative research projects. Mentors travel to the scholars' home countries to team-teach the workshops with the scholar. This activity provides current research data and techniques to a wider range of international professionals and establishes networking potential among all participants.

The 2002 Fogarty Scholars are listed below.

Alina Buczynska of Lodz, Poland, has earned an M.S. degree in environmental engineering, with a specialization in information and management in ecology. She is currently a research assistant in the Department of Environmental Health Hazards at Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine. Her research areas include the impact of waste dumping sites on humans and the environment, identification and assessment of health hazards associated with hazardous waste sites in Poland, assessment of the occupational exposure of selected municipal service workers, and development of guidelines to limit the harmful health effects associated with occupational exposure of municipal workers in Lodz, Poland. Buczynska's UI faculty mentor is Patrick O'Shaughnessy, Ph.D., assistant professor of occupational and environmental health.

Iveta Carikova of Bratislava, Slovakia, has an M.S. degree in chemical technology with a specialization in chemistry and analysis of food. She is a research assistant with the Department of Bioactive Substances, Institute of Preventive and Clinical Medicine. Carikova's research interests include atomic absorption spectrometry and the determination of toxic and essential elements in biological materials and food. She also has been working on making contributions to the specification of connections between prenatal and postnatal human exposure to selected toxic and essential elements. Her UI faculty mentor is Jerald Schnoor, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Florin Oprescu of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, earned his M.D. degree from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca in 2001. He currently works as a medical doctor at Cluj Napoca Adult Hospital, serves as the management information systems coordinator for World Vision, and is a student in information technology. His research centers on the development of efficient use of computer programs for medical data management and family medicine, data entry and analysis of health status of children. Oprescu's UI faculty mentor is James Merchant, Dr.P.H., M.D., professor of occupational and environmental health and dean of the UI College of Public Health.

Ildiko Fulop of Debrecen, Hungary, holds M.S. and M.D. degrees and is an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, Medical Health Sciences Center. Her research interests include the application of geographic information methods and systems in public health and studying the relationship between mortality and major determinants of health (environmental influences). Fulop's UI faculty member is Gerard Rushton, Ph.D., professor of geography.

Jan Mavri of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, has a B.Sc. degree in microbiology and is currently a doctoral student in the School for Environmental Sciences, Nova Gorica, Polytechnic. His research is the development of biosensors for detection of heavy metals based on metallothioneins as biorecognitionmolecues, metallothionein spectral properties and the application of metallothioneins in an electrochemical type biosensor. Mavri's UI faculty member is Mark Arnold, Ph.D., professor of chemistry.