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$9 Million CDC Grant for Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Health, Work & Environment

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The Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health has been awarded a $9 million five-year training and research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve worker health, safety and well-being. The award from the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides continued support for the Mountain & Plains Education and Research Center (MAP ERC), under the direction of University of Colorado Distinguished Professor Lee Newman, MD, MA and Colorado State University Professor Stephen Reynolds, PhD.  

Founded in 2007, the MAP ERC supports the education of occupational safety and health graduate students and physicians at both the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. The grant will help train more than 100 new professionals dedicated to improving worker health, safety and well-being. It is one of only 18 such centers in the United States.

The new CDC grant will support masters and doctoral-level training programs in fields that are critical for protecting the American workforce, including industrial hygiene, occupational ergonomics and safety, health physics, occupational health psychology, as well as a medical residency and fellowship program for physicians specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. With this new grant, the MAP ERC will, for the first time, offer graduate certificates in the emerging field of Total Worker Health®, with a focus on a more holistic approach to the well-being of employees and their families. Each programs offers interdisciplinary educational and research opportunities that teach trainees to work on practical problems facing employers and workers. 

“The COVID-19 epidemic has reminded the public of the high value we all place on having safe, healthy, and productive workplaces,” said Dr. Newman. “Now more than ever, there is a demand for professionals who are trained to assess and create safe work environments, whether they are measuring hazardous aerosols, recommending personal protective equipment, or determining when an employee can return to work,” he added.

“This funding is critical for addressing the regional and national shortage in trained occupational health and safety professionals,” said Dr. Newman. “In the West, we continue to have some of the highest rates of preventable work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses across the country. Our graduates assume leadership positions in business, academia, and government, where they help improve employee health, safety, wellness and productivity.”

The MAP ERC serves a five-state region, including Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming and Montana. In addition to providing educational opportunities, the grant supports high-impact research relevant to the region, which focus on addressing work-related health issues in industries such as mining, energy, health care, agriculture, manufacturing and small business. It also provides a platform for delivering state-of-the-art online and in-person courses for practicing occupational safety and health professionals to maintain their skills. 

“Our faculty and students at CSU and CU collaborate to provide practical, evidence-based solutions for businesses ranging from ranches and dairy farms to hospitals and construction companies,” said Dr. Reynolds, co-director of the MAP ERC. “The goal is to help employers and employees throughout the region create healthier and safer places to do business.”