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Your Environment. Your Health.


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Principal Investigator: Vandiver, Kathleen Mead
Institute Receiving Award Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Location Cambridge, MA
Grant Number R25ES034600
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Sep 2022 to 30 Jun 2027
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT There is a dramatic decline in the US on environmental health education and this is particularly noticeable in the training of health professionals. This MIT program in collaboration with peer P30 centers at NYU and UNM, will address health professionals’ need for training in genomics and environmental health with a one-week Short Course on gene-environment interactions. Two Short Courses will be taught each summer over the grant cycle with rural Tribal Colleges, serving the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes (CRST) in South Dakota, and the Nursing Students at Ramapo College serving the Ramapough Lenape Tribe in New Jersey. Also, an online evening course will be piloted for working nurses in the Dakotas. Providing such learning opportunities for nurses that work primarily with Indigenous populations and/or environmental justice communities will significantly contribute to building community public health in vulnerable populations. Teaching gene-environment interactions requires foundational familiarity with molecular biology and instructing the course participants on how to communicate this fundamental knowledge is an important skill learned in this short course. The participants will start each day with a lecture/discussion on a pre-selected, community-relevant environmental health topic. Lectures will be followed by a unique hands-on program using MIT-patented DNA and Protein models and pre- and post- tests will be used to measure participant learning gains. Each topical lecture will reinforce the hands-on molecular biology sessions, demonstrating specific applications for Environmental Justice Communities. Importantly, the skills of communicating gene-environmental concepts learned from the MIT Edgerton Center DNA Kit and Protein Kit to colleagues and community members will be practiced using different skill sets and critiqued during the short course. Training from these Short Courses will help participants communicate difficult topics including environmental exposures that cause genetic changes and protein responses. Short Course participants will develop an expanded skill set to understand and practice gene-environment interactions through examples, and will generate a health messaging product on a topic of their own choosing in environmental health to demonstrate skills gained in communication. A follow up study (3 months later) will be conducted to collect feedback on how participants have utilized their new knowledge about gene-environment interactions and communication skills. The proposed courses will fill a much-needed gap in health care professional training that has the potential to bring awareness and enhance quality of life to communities who need it the most.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 94 - Communication Research/Environmental Health Literacy
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
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