CDC gives School of Public Health $8.2 million

The UniversityâÄôs School of Public Health will receive $8.2 million over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University announced Wednesday. The funds will be used to establish a Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center. The University was one of seven schools nationwide to be awarded a grant, which will begin with $1.5 million this year. The University project will focus its research on how to improve emergency response training. The project, âÄúUniversity of Minnesota: Simulations and Exercises for Educational EffectivenessâÄù will identify ideal preparedness training and translate research results into improvements in public health preparedness systems. Von Roebuck, a CDC spokesman, said the emergency response and preparedness systems could be for anything from a terrorist attack to a natural disaster. Roebuck said the CDC hopes that some of the research centers will identify additional types of modules that could be used around the country in the event of an emergency. âÄúAnytime thereâÄôs additional work thatâÄôs done, there is a great potential to improve on how we evaluate preparedness and how we actually do respond,âÄù Roebuck said. The University was chosen from 20 applicants, along with Emory University, the Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University , the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Washington. The establishment of the new research centers for the seven schools is mandated by the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006, which calls for research to improve federal, state, local and tribal public health preparedness and response systems. This act also focuses on using information technology to improve situational awareness in public health emergencies and vaccine tracking and distribution. Debra Olson, associate dean for public health practice education, is the principal investigator of the project and said the University applied for the grant in May 2008. Olson said the University was chosen because of its expertise in technology-enhanced learning, in providing educational opportunities and its collaboration and partnerships with the public health community. Project officials are still in the process of staffing and establishing research protocols. The project will launch Nov. 24. âÄúThe CDCâÄôs funding of these types of research centers is really a move in a very unique and important direction,âÄù Olson said. âÄúWeâÄôll know what makes education more effective to improve performance in response conditions.âÄù Roebuck is also optimistic about the program. âÄúAnytime you have a chance to move research forward, you also have the chance move the whole preparedness quotient forward,âÄù Roebuck said. âÄúIt could do a lot to benefit communities down the road; thereâÄôs a lot of potential with these projects.âÄù