Environmental Health Research Institute launched by $1 million NIH grant

A consortium of the Washington State University College of Nursing, Emory University, the University of Alabama Huntsville, and Castner Incorporated have received a $1 million National Institutes of Health grant to provide environmental health research training.  

The 5-year grant from the NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences covers a train-the-trainer program called EHRI-NCS, which stands for Environmental Health Research Institute for Nurse and Clinician Scientists. The program is for 144 faculty, scientists, and educators who will shape the next generation of environmental health nurse scientists.  

The EHRI-NCS program will enroll a new cohort every year. The program includes self-paced online courses, a 1-week intensive workshop, and mentorship support. The location for the intensive workshop will rotate over the years among online-only; Atlanta, Georgia; Niagara Falls, New York; and Spokane, Washington.  

Enrollment applications for the first cohort are being accepted until Jan. 31. The program is recruiting clinician scientist participants who have completed at least 6 academic credits of graduate research and who educate, train, and mentor registered nurses in research trajectories.  

“The EHRI-NCS is completely participant-centered by using a flipped classroom approach,” said Jessica Castner, president of Castner Incorporated, a woman-owned business enterprise and research institute in Grand Island, New York. “This means everyone has online access to the course basics to finish at their own pace. Then, the program focuses entirely on supporting the participant’s goal – whether that’s designing a new center, course, academic program, research project, or policy, or adding an environmental health variable to their work.”  

Castner added, “Picture it as if each participant is given the keys to open whatever door they want, and the program is designed to offer a great deal of depth and expertise to support whatever new learning choices the participant decides to invest their time and energy into. The biggest requirement is curiosity.” 

Said Katie Huffling, executive director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, “The EHRI-NCS grew out of successful projects and collaborations in the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environment’s Research Workgroup. One of the biggest strengths of this work has been our ability to bring innovations and scientific information to nursing leaders around the country in the full range of rural, urban, suburban, and other settings in ways that are deeply relevant to their policy, research, education, and practice.”  

Julie Postma, associate dean for research at the WSU College of Nursing, has been part of the development of the consortium and will lead WSU’s participation.  

Jeannie Rodriguez, assistant director of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care Program at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, said, “We are really excited to offer participants the opportunity to interact with cutting-edge scientific leaders and laboratories through EHRI-NCS. We’re providing the information in a way that participants have a ready-made and user-friendly instructor toolkit to start teaching this material in their own institutions.”  

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