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When place matters: investments in science benefit community resilience, public health and sustainability on the US Gulf Coast
Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Gulf Coast communities have faced decades of interdependent environmental, public health, psychosocial, and economic challenges directly affecting their individual health and that of their communities. Persistent environmental health threats, recurring natural disasters, and historic health disparities have directly affected community resilience over time. This region exemplifies the inextricable linkage between ecosystem and community health. In the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil spill major investments in research and public health capacity building are underway. However, while discipline-specific science is advancing, robust transdisciplinary research has been limited.
Immediately post-spill, time-sensitive grants sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) predominantly addressed the imminent impact of the oil spill on the ecosystem. Public, private, and not-for-profit investments in research and public health capacity building are currently targeting a complex array of new scientific questions and concerns, including the role of resilience in disaster recovery of ecosystems and people. This session highlights long-term research investments strengthening resilience.
The NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is investing $70M over 5 years in epidemiology studies, worker education and training, and toxicology research into the oil-dispersant mixture. For example, The Gulf Long term Follow-up study examines the impact of potential exposure to the oil- dispersant mixture on the physical and mental health of 33,000 clean-up workers. NIH, led by NIEHS, also formed academic-community partnerships linking local Gulf Coast communities with their academic partners to ascertain, among other key public health issues,factors affecting individual and community resilience. The worker training program trained over 150,000 workers in the spill’s immediate aftermath, while the National Toxicology Program is conducting studies on the toxicity of polyaromatic hydrocarbons present in the oil.
GOMRI is a $500M portfolio to stimulate broad, independent research primarily by gulf coast academic institutions. GOMRI’s research addresses five themes: physical distribution of oil and dispersions, the chemical evolution of this mixture, environmental effects associated with the spill, technology development to reduce the impact of this and future spills, and the public health, behavioral and socio economic impact. To date, GOMRI funded $45M in state-based block grants, approximately $110.5M in research consortia, $20M supporting independent investigators, and $1.5M in bridge grants. GOMRI has or is supporting over 2,200 researchers who already have published 254 manuscripts in globally recognized peer-reviewed journals. New consortium awards will be issued January 2015.
The National Academies of Sciences’ (NAS) Gulf Research Program is a new $500M program that began in 2013. Over its 30-year time horizon, the program is anticipated to foster innovative, collaborative, and cross-cutting approaches to research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring at the nexus of oil system safety, environmental quality, and public health in the Gulf of Mexico and other coastal regions where people and energy production co-exist.
Session presenters will explore a new paradigm of scientific inquiry that reaches across ecology, ecosystem services, and population health. The findings resulting from this transdisciplinary research portfolio are designed to advance community resilience and strengthen public health infrastructure and capacity in Gulf Coast states.
Session Objectives: • Describe key national investments in ecosystem, social, economic, and public health research in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill.
• Discuss key findings resulting from current post-oil spill research to date.
• Identify gaps and priorities in post-oil spill research.
• Assess the potential impact on community resilience associated with the ongoing long-term investments.
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: APHA-Special Sessions
Endorsed by: Injury Control and Emergency Health Services, Public Health Nursing
Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)
Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)