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Associate Professor receives funding for pediatric and reproductive health disparities program

Atlanta – A multimillion-dollar grant will allow two Georgia universities to fund a program to evaluate environmental health exposures and disparities to improve health equity.

The NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has awarded a grant for a Pediatric and Reproductive Environmental Health Scholars Southeastern Environmental Exposures and Disparities (PREHS SEED) Program to Lisa M. Thompson, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, MS, FAAN, an associate professor with Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (NHWSN). The K12 Program grant provides funding for five years of $2,427,650 to Emory University, in partnership with historically Black University, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), to establish a mentored career development scholars program.  

"As an environmental scientist and a nurse, I am thrilled to work with others at Emory and Morehouse to develop and test community-based solutions to address the environmental determinants of health that adversely impact marginalized communities here in the Southeastern United States," said Thompson. 

She's not the only one who's excited about the funding and the impact that it will have.

"This program provides an incredible opportunity to make a difference," said Dean Linda McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the great minds at Morehouse School of Medicine and the community partners."  

The PREHS-SEED mentored K12 career development program will provide junior clinical faculty from Emory's School of Nursing and School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine with comprehensive pediatric and reproductive environmental health research training. Faculty scholars will collaborate with local community partners and the Region 4 Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) — a region burdened by systemic racism and increasing climate change-related environmental threats that intensify health disparities.  

"Faculty are excited to support training for clinicians who want to integrate environmental health into their clinical research and practice," said Chair of the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Emory University, Yang Liu. "It is vitally important that clinicians work with environmental health scientists to develop population-based solutions to climate change-related health issues in the Southern United States." 

Faculty scholars will also conduct research to assess environmental health exposures and disparities to improve health equity and safeguard the health of at-risk women and children.  

"The power of this program is not only in the recruitment and preparation of young diverse faculty to become future leaders in this struggle," said Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine, Leslie Rubin. "It's also in the plan to promote engagement with, and empowerment of, environmental justice communities. "This partnership between academic and community resources promises the development of creative strategies to reduce existing environmental health hazards and confront the existential health threat of disproportionate impact from climate change for vulnerable communities." 

Thompson will act as Program Director and work with Dr. Rebecca Philipsborn, the program's Scholar Director. Philipsborn is an Assistant Professor in Emory's Department of Pediatrics. Completing the research team is Assistant Professor, certified NHWSN midwife, and Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) director, Dr. Abby Mutic. They will use the expertise of environmental health researchers at the Rollins School of Public Health to develop this transdisciplinary program that will have a positive impact on its beneficiaries.

 

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