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School Launches CDC Center for Excellence in Environmental Public Health Tracking


The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been awarded funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish a National Center of Excellence in Environmental Public Health Tracking. The Center will play a critical role in the new CDC environmental public health tracking initiative. The initiative will develop a national electronic network to identify and monitor the links between exposure to environmental factors and chronic conditions such as autoimmune and neurological diseases, birth defects, cancer, asthma, lead poisoning, and developmental disabilities.

“The Center and the CDC’s tracking initiative provide tremendous opportunities to advance our knowledge of the relationship between health and the environment, and to evaluate, track, and prevent environmental health hazards,” explained Thomas Burke, PhD, principal investigator of the Hopkins Center and professor ofhealth policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The CDC has committed $14.2 million in grants to state and local governments and schools of public health to develop the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. The School is expected to receive $700,000 annually over the next three years.

The Center will provide training and education to strengthen the environmental health workforce, conduct research to investigate links between health effects and the environment, and provide technical assistance and research support for the development of the national tracking network. “Environmental public health tracking brings together environmental protection efforts to characterize and control sources with public health surveillance to understand adverse exposures and health effects,” explained Dr. Burke. “This offers a chance to begin piecing together a very complex puzzle, and develop a sounder public health basis for national environmental priorities and the management of environmental risks.”

Dr. Burke and colleague Lynn Goldman, MD, MPH, professor of environmental health sciences and director of the MidAtlantic Public Health Training Center at theJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, were instrumental in conceptualizing the environmental public health tracking network in their work as principal investigators at the Pew Environmental Health Commission at the School. The 2001 Pew Environmental Health Commission report, America’s Environmental Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network found that the current public health system is inadequate to track exposures to environment hazards and health effects, which is needed to accurately assess the health of the community and provide the scientific data to develop sound policies to prevent disease.

The Center will develop the environmental public health tracking network with the CDC, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Houston, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York City, New York State, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, University of California--Berkley, and Tulane University. In addition, the Center will coordinate efforts and resources with the School’s MidAtlantic Public Health Training Center, the Center for Excellence in Community Environmental Health Practice (also headed by Dr. Burke), and the Center for Public Health Preparedness, directed by Robert Lawrence, MD, professor and associate dean forprofessional education programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health . 

Other Hopkins faculty working with the Center for Excellence in Environmental Public Health Tracking include: Beth Resnick, MPH, co-investigator and associate director of the School’s Center for Excellence in Community Environmental Health Practice; Jonathan Samet, MD, MS, professor and chair of the School’s Department of Epidemiology and the director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, the Center for Epidemiology and Policy, and theRisk Sciences and Public Policy Institute; and Ronald Brookmeyer, PhD, professor of biostatistics and chair of the School's Masters of Public Health Program.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or