With 75-plus funded research projects and centers, the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) examines how environmental and workplace factors affect health, with a focus on people and communities most at risk for adverse health outcomes. Examples of our research are listed below.
This is the largest study of its kind to explore the connection between air pollution and the No. 1 cause of death in the United States: cardiovascular disease. Dr. Joel Kaufman directs the prospective cohort study study, funded over 10 years by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The Superfund Research Program is an interdisciplinary program involving faculty and graduate students from Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Civil Engineering, Biochemistry, Forestry and Microbiology. The goals are to develop biological markers to assess peoples' exposure to toxicants and susceptibility to disease, to assess physiological damage in humans and wildlife and to develop new technology to remediate contaminated sites.
The Center for Public Health Nutrition facilitates interdisciplinary research to improve nutrition, food systems and population health. Located within the University of Washington School of Public Health, the center brings together faculty and staff from the departments of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Health Services.
DEOHS faculty and others who specialize in food systems within the UW School of Public Health in the Nutritional Sciences Program, together with the Population Health Initiative, have convened a UW Food Systems Education and Research Network to bring together UW experts from multiple disciplines to address food systems challenges and develop new food systems research and education initiatives at local and global levels.
The Northwest Center is one of 17 Education and Research Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It supports graduate education in industrial hygiene and safety, occupational medicine, and occupational health nursing. It serves as an educational resource for the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska and administers a continuing education program to upgrade the skills of people working in occupational and environmental health.
The Occupational Epidemiology and Health Outcomes Program uses workers' compensation data and its own research to improve medical care, update treatment guidelines, and provide information on treatment outcomes to injured workers and physicians.
Since 1995, the Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center has been the only authorized OSHA training facility in the Pacific Northwest. The Education Center offers high quality, standards-based training for the private and public sectors. An experienced team of OSHA-authorized instructors presents up-to-date federal and state safety and health regulations. Classes are held in Anchorage, AK; Boise, ID; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Richland, WA; and other cities by arrangement.
One of nine regional centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center focuses on the prevention of occupational disease and injury among farming, fishing, and forestry operators, workers and their families in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Support is also received from the Washington State Medical Aid and Accident fund to focus on the health and safety of Washington's agricultural populations.
The UW Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness offers a proactive approach to pandemics to address the root causes of pandemic risk and accelerate action, working with partners in low- and middle-income countries to achieve sustainable impact.
The UW NIEHS Center for Exposures, Diseases, Genomics, and Environment (EDGE) strives to understand and communicate how genetic factors influence human susceptibility to environmental health risks.
The UW Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHANGE) facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations across UW’s schools and colleges to promote systems-based approaches to help communities prepare for, cope with and adapt to a changing climate.
The Center for One Health Research explores linkages between human, animal and environmental health, including: zoonotic infectious diseases at the human-animal interface, animals as "sentinels" of environmental health hazards and clinical collaboration between human health care providers and veterinarians in a species-spanning approach.
The UW Collaborative on Extreme Event Resilience (CEER) works to build community resilience to disasters and climate change. The collaborative brings together researchers, scholars, practitioners, policymakers and community-based organizations to create and evaluate evidence-based health policies and practices that reduce health risks related to our changing climate and disaster events, including earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires.
The ECHO PATHWAYS study aims to advance knowledge of environmental and social factors that influence child development through a seven-year study of nearly 3,000 mother-child pairs. Research focuses on child airway health, neurodevelopment, air pollution, stress and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
The Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) has assembled a team of experts including pediatricians, occupational and environmental medicine physicians, emergency medicine physicians, toxicologists, and other environmental health specialists to provide health professionals, government officials and families with telephone consultation on the role of environmental exposures on child health.
Infectious diseases research
DEOHS has a number of research labs investigating infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, diarrheal diseases, polio, COVID-19, zoonotic diseases and other communicable diseases. These include:
DEOHS Professor Jerry Cangelosi leads a research team focused on pathogen detection in clinical and environmental samples, the epidemiology of infectious diseases and the development of diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of disease.
DEOHS Professor Scott Meschke leads the Environmental and Occupational Health Microbiology lab investigating the fate, transport, detection and control of pathogens in air, water, food and on surfaces. Research projects include environmental surveillance for poliovirus, mosquito surveillance for West Nile virus and sanitation in low-resource settings.
DEOHS Associate Professor Karen Levy leads a research team investigating the ecology and epidemiology of waterborne and enteric diseases. Her team uses environmental microbiology and environmental epidemiology methods to study water quality, food safety and the impact of climate and land-use change on the transmission of diarrheal diseases.
DEOHS Professor Elaine Faustman leads the risk analysis and communication hub for the Strategies to Prevent Spillover (STOP Spillover) project funded by the US Agency for International Development. The global research initiative seeks to anticipate and address threats from emerging zoonotic diseases that pose the greatest risk of jumping from animals to humans, such as SARS-CoV-2.