The new center, which will serve the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida along with Puerto Rico, was described in a news conference today (October 23) in Greenville.
Officials from ECU, North Carolina A&T State University and North Carolina State University -- the three partners in the Agromedicine Institute -- participated in the news conference.
The $3 million grant from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety will fund creation of the new center, to be known as the South Coast Center for Agromedicine, as well as 10 projects. Those projects include research into the human metabolism of newer pesticides, evaluation of farm vehicle safety as rural roads become more urbanized, reducing skin diseases in fishermen, reducing heat-related illness in field crop workers, and reduction of pesticide exposure through culturally appropriate education of migrant workers.
Dr. Susan Gustke, director of the Agromedicine Institute, said, "This is marvelous news for the men and women who do the hardest and most dangerous jobs in the country. This new center will help assure that their futures are safer and more productive."
Gustke thanked the North Carolina congressional delegation for their support for a regional center based in North Carolina. She praised the work of researchers at ECU, NC A&T, NC State, Virginia Tech and the University of Florida in developing the center projects. She said the grant recognizes the expertise of the universities in a variety of fields, including agriculture, forestry, rural medicine and telemedicine.
Alton Thompson, dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at NC A&T, said that his university, working with the other partners, wants to help the state of North Carolina take the lead in agromedicine endeavors throughout the country.
Dr. Stephen Jones, vice chancellor for extension and engagement at NC State University, described the new center as a "visionary partnership" that will address a complex issues that no one individual or institution can attack as effectively alone. "This center will address real problems faced by real people every day," he said.
First-year funding for the center is $1,006,325.
The South Coast Center was one of 10 such organizations funded nationwide by NIOSH. Others are at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, N.Y.; Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin; Ohio State University; Colorado State University; and the Universities of Kentucky, Iowa, Washington, California at Davis, and Texas Health Center at Tyler.
ECU News Bureau