Community Outreach and Engagement Core
Who are we?
The University of Cincinnati’s Department of Environmental Health, Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG) Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) works to translate environmental health science into useable information about health promotion and disease prevention. It provides tools and resources for community members, public health decision-makers, and health care professionals.
How do we benefit the community?
Funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the Community Outreach and Engagement Core is particularly interested in engaging minority and underserved communities that are affected by environmental contaminants and exposures. Because these populations are at a greater risk of being adversely affected by environmental exposures, the Community Outreach and Engagement Core works to communicate environmental health findings from the Center for Environmental Genetics and translate that research to the community to ensure that scientific research does not remain confined to science labs.
Scientists and outreach workers of the Center for Environmental Genetics have been at the forefront of environmental health science, forming academic-community partnerships to address issues identified by the community related to air exposure to manganese and other metals, slurries of chemicals from the world’s largest hazardous waste incinerator, and hydraulic fracturing. We also provide outreach education to physicians and health care professionals through environmental genetics related workshops and seminars. There are also online educational modules for Continuing Medical Education and Continuing Nursing Education as well as fun resources for K-12. The Community Outreach and Engagement Core applyies community-based participatory research in the “transdisciplinary classroom” by developing cross-training opportunities for students in journalism and the environmental health sciences.
Increasing community members’ awareness of environmental health and the specific issues that face us all, as well as specific communities, provides opportunity to become more actively involved in advocating for their own health, and the health of their families, communities, and countries.
Where did we get our foundation?
The Community Outreach and Engagement core has a long history of responding to the initiatives of NIEHS. We hosted one of the first NIEHS Town Hall meetings in 1999. Former COEC Director, Dr. Kathryn Brown’s In My Back Yard (IMBY) program was a product of this meeting. Launched with funding from the Department of Environmental Health and the Center for Environmental Genetics, IMBY’s mission was to build community partnerships to assess, address, and improve environmental and public health issues through accessibility to resources, capacity building, and advocacy. IMBY partnered with the Fernald Community Health Effects Committee resulting in the development of the Fernald Medical Monitoring program whose cohort continues under the stewardship of Dr. Susan Pinney. The Community Outreach and Engagement Core also initiated the outreach component of the Breast Cancer and the Environmental Research Centers.