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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 18, 2008

Grant funds game to attract future public health workers

The University Hygienic Laboratory received a $23,000 grant from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) earlier this month to create an interactive game and short video clips that will be used nationwide to help recruit workers for careers in the public health laboratory system.

A shortage of some 250,000 workers is expected in the field of public health within 11 years, according to a report by the Association of Schools of Public Health. Contributing to that shortfall is the void expected in four years when one-fourth of the current public health workforce will be eligible to retire.

"Public health laboratories are an essential part of the ongoing commitment to protect the health and environment of Americans," said Hygienic Laboratory Director Christopher Atchison. "This grant will help us reach the next generation of scientists and, we hope, inspire them to join the public health workforce where their contributions will be increasingly needed."

To address that shortage, the Hygienic Laboratory is using the APHL grant to create "Did You See That? Pathways to a Career in the Public Health Laboratory." This DVD-based game features video clips from 14 laboratory scientists, preparedness experts and training personnel who explain their jobs and the academic and career paths they took to achieve them.

"The unique thing about this project is that it is a tool that teachers can use in their classrooms to involve students in learning about different career options," said Beth Hochstedler, Hygienic Laboratory training and outreach coordinator. "It is important for the future of public health laboratories that students know about the many exciting opportunities that are available in our field."

The game is expected to be complete by May 2009 and will be distributed electronically by the Hygienic Laboratory and by the APHL. The video clips created for the game will be broadcast on YouTube.

The "Did You See That" game and the public health laboratory videos are being created with the support of the APHL and Cooperative Agreement Number #U60/CD303019 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is part of the University of Iowa and is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory. The UHL is the designated laboratory for the Iowa Neonatal Metabolic Screening Program, with facilities located on the Oakdale Campus in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb. Among its many services, the laboratory functions as a consultative and analytical support facility for state agencies, health professionals and citizens. The UHL performs analyses on samples from virtually all matrices, including human clinical specimens, air, drinking water, wastewater, soil, sediment, industrial effluents, oil and fish.

Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at

STORY SOURCE: University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Oakdale Campus, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177,