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Public health practice, research center formed at Virginia Tech


Kathy Hosig Kathy Hosig

BLACKSBURG, Va., July 13, 2011 – The Institute for Society, Culture and Environment at Virginia Tech announces the formation of the Center for Public Health Practice and Research as of July 1, to be directed by Kathy Hosig, associate professor of population health sciences.

Formerly the Institute for Community Health, the new center was created in response to the increase in health-related research across campus and the new Master of Public Health program. The mission of the center is to foster interdisciplinary, collaborative public health practice, and research activities at Virginia Tech and among external public health agencies, organizations, practitioners, and researchers. 

"In support of the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment's mission of enhancing interdisciplinary scholarship and research funding in the social sciences and humanities, the center provides an excellent opportunity to pool faculty expertise to create a larger, more recognizable entity than a single faculty member or program alone might accomplish," said Karen Roberto, director of the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment. 

The Center for Public Health Practice and Research will be housed in the Department of Population Health Sciences in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and supported by the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment.  Additional support will be provided through collaborative projects to which center staff time and resources will be devoted.

"The center will provide research and outreach opportunities for faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates, and a mechanism for collaboration among university researchers and with outside partners to respond to national and community needs," said Hosig.

"We will place  students with center partner agencies and organizations for practicum experiences," said François Elvinger, department head of population health sciences. "These projects will immerse our Master of Public Health students in a wide range of public health service and research projects," he said.

The center will work with Virginia Tech Community Partners, housed at the Roanoke Higher Education Center, and coordinate interdisciplinary collaborative projects with external partners based in or near Roanoke. “Virginia Tech Community Partners supports professionals and agencies in the community working with infants, children, adolescents, adults, and seniors, to conduct outreach and research activities to enhance the translation of new knowledge into practice in ways that positively impact the population,” said Kirby Deater-Deckard, professor of psychology and director of the program.

"Increasing rates of preventable conditions, health disparities related to poverty and ethnicity, and the emergence of infectious diseases at the human-animal-environment interface demand local and global responses," said Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. "The new center will facilitate project development to help solve these problems," he added.

Other center activities include coordinating meetings of the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment's special interest group on community/public health, providing technical assistance for community needs assessments to regional public health agencies and organizations, and working with partner agencies and organizations on activities related to workforce development, in particular with the Commonwealth Public Health Training Center, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, of which Virginia Tech is a part.

Specific goals are

  1. Identify, develop, evaluate, and disseminate evidence-based practice models in public health across Virginia and the region;
  2. Promote interdisciplinary practice and research opportunities for students, faculty members, and  practitioners in public health and other disciplines;
  3. Serve as a portal/clearinghouse for students and faculty members to collaborate with public health practice and research opportunities with external partners; and
  4. Develop mutually beneficial partnerships with state and local health departments, community-based organizations, government, and other public and private institutions to improve local public health and contribute to workforce development.

Seven Virginia Tech institutes support research and creative scholarship in strategically important areas, drawing upon the university's established strengths. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute focus on national research priorities, including translational health and medical research, national security, and safe infrastructure. The Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, Fralin Life Science Institute, and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment provide organizational and financial support to develop opportunities at the intersection of engineering, science, and medicine; target infectious disease; and advance human development. The Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology promotes creativity, critical thinking, and life-long learning.

For more information, contact Hosig by email or call 540-231-6637.