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University of Iowa News Release


May 27, 2011

Donham appointed Chair in Rural Safety and Health

Kelley J. Donham, D.V.M., professor of occupational and environmental health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and director of Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, has been appointed to the Chair in Rural Safety and Health.

Donham is the first faculty member to be appointed to the chair, which is supported by an endowment established through the UI Foundation by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.

A UI faculty member since 1973, Donham's research is focused on diseases of agricultural workers, particularly respiratory diseases, zoonotic (animal-to-human) infectious diseases, and injury prevention on farms. He conducted early studies of air quality and respiratory illnesses in workers and swine in confinement facilities. He has published more than 170 articles, books, and chapters in the area of rural health and safety. In 1983, he co-authored the first textbook on rural medicine, and in 2006 co-authored the first text book in agricultural medicine. In 2003, Donham received the Stange Outstanding Alumnus Award from Iowa State University and the College of Public Health Faculty Service Award. In 2009, he received the College of Public Health Teaching Award.

In addition, Donham is widely recognized for his service to rural communities in Iowa and nationally in the areas of health and safety. Throughout his career, he has helped to establish an array of innovative outreach and education programs focused on diseases and injuries among farmers and rural populations, including Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, the AgriSafe Program, AgriWellness, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, and Sharing Help United Network.

"For more than 30 years, Dr. Donham has worked for the benefit of rural residents to reduce the burden of illness and injury through education and primary prevention programs," said Peter Thorne, Ph.D., UI professor and head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. "This endowed chair, established by a company committed to rural health and safety in Iowa and around the world, is especially fitting for Kelley, who has dedicated so much of his personal and professional life to this mission."

The resources from the chair will be used to enhance existing master's and doctoral training programs in agricultural health and safety in the College of Public Health, support development of new multidisciplinary training programs, and facilitate outreach to attract veterinary students and practicing veterinarians into the field of health and safety, and enable recruitment of an additional faculty member in rural and agricultural health.

Donham earned a master's degree in Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health from the UI and a doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1971. He was in a rural veterinary practice before joining the UI faculty in 1973, achieving the rank of professor in 1984. Born and raised on a farm in Johnson County, Iowa, Donham also owns and manages a farm in Mahaska County, Iowa.

"Pioneer is committed to helping improve the quality of life in the communities where our customers and employees live and work," said Paul E. Schickler, president, Pioneer Hi-Bred. "Dr. Donham's work to support rural communities in the areas of health and safety has been significant and valuable; we are pleased to support his continued efforts."

Pioneer makes contributions to community-based organizations and educational institutions through its Community Investment program. To learn more, visit

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the University. For more information, visit the UI Foundation's website at

PHOTOS/CAPTIONS: Photos of Kelley Donham can be found at: For a high-resolution photo, email:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACTS: Dan McMillan,, 319-335-6835; Forrest Meyer,, 319-467-3661