OSU Disaster Research Highlighted at Upcoming NIEHS Community-Based Participatory Research Workshop in India | February 26-28, 2019. New Delhi, India

The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences recently released their new strategic plan. Three dominant themes emerged:

  1. Advancing Environmental Health Sciences
  2. Promoting Translation – Data to Knowledge to Action
  3. Enhancing Environmental Health Sciences through stewardship and support.

As part of the final theme, NIEHS is committed to capacity building in global health. In February 2019, NIEHS leadership will partner with researchers and leading public health officials to host a community-based participatory research workshop in New Delhi, India. The workshop is titled “Advancing Environmental Health Science Research and Translation in India through Community Based Participatory Research Workshop.” It will focus on three major environmental health concerns; air pollution, pesticides and disaster response.  A handful of US scientists were selected to speak at this workshop. Workshop organizers reached out to Drs. Anderson and Rohlman to participate. The two have worked collaboratively since 2014, most recently on disaster response research. Dr. Rohlman and Carolyn Poutasse (Anderson graduate student) will attend the workshop. Dr. Rohlman will highlight community-engaged research and research translation specific to disaster response research, using the recent Hurricane Harvey as a case study.

The work conducted by Dr. Anderson and Dr. Rohlman utilizes the passive wristband sampler developed by the Anderson laboratory, paired with individualized reports. Dr. Anderson began responding to environmental disasters in 1999, most notably the Gulf of Mexico Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. Since then she has initiated studies following oil train derailments, wildfire smoke exposures and chemical exposures following hurricane-related flooding. Working with Dr. Rohlman and using resources from the NIH Disaster Research Response (DR2) repository, they developed one of the first university standing disaster Institutional Review Board protocols. This enables them to respond within 48 hours of a disaster. Dr. Rohlman began work on research translation within the OSU Superfund Research Center, as part of the Research Translation Core and the Community Engagement Core. A trained toxicologist, she developed plain language reports that utilized graphics to convey the results of studies.

Initially, Drs. Anderson and Rohlman began small-scale community-engaged projects, reporting back results for up to 62 chemical analytes at a time. Dr. Anderson’s laboratory continued to explore the potential of the passive wristband sampler. The sampler is now capable of detecting 1,530 unique chemicals.  This posed a unique challenge. How best to report back results from a study wherein each individual was tested for 1,530 chemicals? Drs. Anderson and Rohlman integrated community-engagement into each study, working with study participants and community liaisons to develop a comprehensive report that is designed to convey results, increase knowledge of ambient air pollution and increase awareness of risk mitigation strategies. The report is continuously improved based on participant feedback, and is evaluated based on the CDC Clear Communication Index.

Dr. Rohlman will present in the plenary session, “Indian and US case studies on environmental disasters – floods and hurricanes” along with Dr. Upasana Ghosh, a senior researcher at the Indian Institute of Health Management.