Emory University has received a $1.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish a Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (PERRC). In addition to this grant, Emory could receive additional award funding from the CDC over the five-year grant period.
Led by Ruth Berkelman, MD, professor of epidemiology at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, the Emory PERRC will be comprised of an interdisciplinary team of Emory project directors and researchers, including epidemiology, emergency medicine, and health policy and management. The Emory PERRC will seek to identify factors that affect a community's ability to successfully respond to a crisis. The grant will also support training of graduate students and other student investigators in this new field of research.
"The Emory PERRC is important in linking academic expertise from across our University with the needs of state and local health agencies," says Berkelman. "The government has made major investments in public health to increase our preparedness for public health crises, and we need to know what works and what doesn't."
Among the research projects that will receive grant support as part of the Emory Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center are:
- Assessing the Utility of Incident Command Systems and Emergency Operations Centers in Public Health Crises. This project, led by James Buehler, MD, research professor of epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, will assess how the design and use of these systems can be improved to prevent or control disease or injury during public health crises.
- Academic-Community Partnerships in Preparedness. Led by Alexander Isakov, MD, MPH, director of Emory's Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), this project will examine the role of academic institutions in response to public health crises. It will also explore the potential role and contribution of academic-public health partnerships to preparedness and response initiatives.
- Improving Disaster Planning for Nursing Home, Home Health, and Dialysis Providers. This project, led by David Howard, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and management, Rollins School of Public Health, addresses protection of some of the most medically vulnerable populations in emergencies.
- Immunization Systems and Public Health Preparedness. This project will examine how state health departments and healthcare providers have worked together to manage recent shortages of commonly used childhood and adult vaccines, providing models and strategies for addressing potential vaccine or medication shortages in future public health crises.
Since 2000, CDC has been working with schools of public health, including the Rollins School of Public Health after it funded and established the Centers of Public Health Preparedness (CPHP). The Emory CPHP, led by Kathleen Miner, PhD, MPH, of the Rollins School of Public Health, strengthens terrorism and emergency preparedness by developing, delivering and evaluating preparedness education.
The establishment of the new Preparedness and Emergency Response Research centers 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. Emory was one of seven accredited U.S. schools of public health to receive CDC funding to conduct research that will evaluate the structure, capabilities, and performance of public health systems for preparedness and emergency response activities.