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University of Colorado Denver

Center for Worker Health and Environment
 

Taking Stock: What are we accomplishing?

Director's Note, October 2013


The Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center (MAP ERC) recently reported its accomplishments, as part of our annual renewal for funding from the CDC.
 
I’d like to highlight four sources of pride in what the faculty, staff, and trainees have achieved since our founding in July 2007.  Let me start by saying “Thank you” to all of you who have contributed to these milestones.
 
Training Mission:
 
·         87 professionals have been trained at the graduate and post-graduate levels with funding support from the MAP ERC. 100% are working in occupational safety and health careers.  This is particularly important in light of the projected 12,000-person labor shortage of safety and health professionals in the US by 2015. 
o    Of our graduates, 46% work in private industry, 25% in public service and 29% in academia.
o    Employers of our trainees include: CH2MHill, the University of Maryland, EnCana, the US Navy, Golder Associates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Texas, University of Colorado, Humantech, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Johns Hopkins University, Boeing and City of Hope, among others.
o    Special note: We have trained the majority of the nation’s Health Physicists: responsible for monitoring and protecting workers and communities from radiation; working in nuclear power, hospitals, defense and energy industries, and nuclear regulatory agencies.
 
Continuing Education and Outreach Mission:
 
·         Through our partnerships with businesses in the region, we reach thousands of small business owners, managers and occupational safety and health professionals each year. 
o    7,972 professionals have received training through our continuing education program since 2007
o    Our faculty members and trainees consult with employers on challenging occupational safety and health problems as well as research projects.  Recent employer partners have included Pinnacol Assurance, Garfield County Commission, AfCO Steel, Axion Health, the US Mint, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, New Belgium Brewing Company, the Fort Collins Fire Department and the Seattle Fish Company
 
Support for Innovation:
 
·         We have sparked innovation in the region by awarding pilot research grants to new investigators in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.  Some notable results of our pilot grant program:
o    35 pilot projects totaling over $400,000 in research funding
o    Dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and a pending patent
o    These pilot grants have helped launch research careers of young investigators.  Recipients have since been appointed to academic track positions at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, the University of Texas, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Utah, the University of Colorado Boulder and Denver Health and Hospital Authority.
 
Research Mission:
 
·         Our faculty members are thought-leaders in their areas of expertise, as reflected by their publications, white papers, leadership positions of national and international academic organizations, roles on editorial boards and as reviewers of grants and journal articles, among other academic activities.
o Since 2006, 23 core faculty members have published 524 peer reviewed journal articles in the scientific literature.
·         Our faculty members have applied for or hold 3 U.S. patents
·         Faculty members have founded two innovative start-up companies in Occupational Safety and Health.
 
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) funds us along with 17 other Education and Research Centers. Together, we are responsible for training 75% of all of the occupational health and safety professionals in this country.
 
We again face funding challenges in Washington, DC and are regularly called upon to “justify” the existence of the centers. I will continue to provide you with updates on our progress and call upon you to help us “make the case” for the importance of what we, and the other Education and Research Centers bring to the health of the American worker, employer, and economy.
 
It’s a clear case: We help keep workers healthy and safe. Healthy workers make for healthy businesses and help fuel the economic success of the country.
 
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