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Summer school

Rollins convened several innovative, impactful workshops and courses during the past few months. Here's a look.


Sanitation revolution

Christine Moe and Eddie Perez want to start a revolution—an urban sanitation revolution. Moe, Perez, and like-minded colleagues fired the first shot by convening a two-day workshop, “Achieving Universal Access to Urban Sanitation Services,” in June aimed at addressing the critical need for sanitation solutions for poor families living in urban slums and informal settlements throughout the world.

Co-organizers and sponsors of the workshop included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank, the CDC Foundation, the University of Leeds, and the Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Emory, of which Moe is director. Over 72 invited attendees came from across the globe and, by design, represented a range of disciplines and stakeholders, including city government administrators, engineers, city planners, microbiologists, public health practitioners, professors, NGO staff, and donors.

“We wanted to bring in people from both inside and outside the WASH sector,” says Moe, who began campaigning for the workshop almost two years ago.

While the workshop featured a few presentations, most of the time was spent brainstorming and sharing evidence-based lessons about sanitation successes and failures. One of the key lessons discussed was to not have a “one-size-fits-all” approach but instead to have a menu of innovative, decentralized sanitation technology and service options. Other lessons included the importance of political leadership and accountability to provide safe sanitation solutions to all citizens—especially the poor.

The workshop has spawned follow-up sessions on urban sanitation planned for Stockholm, Kuala Lumpur, and Chapel Hill, N.C. Moe, Perez—a global health lecturer—and colleagues will also be pushing the message out beyond the WASH sector.

“What is it that starts a revolution these days?” says Moe. “It takes an important goal, evidence, advocacy, and a good communication strategy working via social media campaigns and other means. We really think there is momentum for a sanitation revolution, and we need to make it happen!”

planetIllustration by Jon Reinfurt

Exploring a lifetime of exposures

Rollins hosted a first-of-its-kind summer course to delve into the emerging science of the exposome. The Emory Exposome Summer Course drew 150 people from seven countries and more than two-dozen institutions to focus on the current state and future directions of exposome research. For five days, attendees heard from leaders in the field and participated in hands-on lab sessions to learn about new tools for conducting exposome research.

Although many of the leaders in exposome research are toxicologists and exposure scientists, the diversity of disciplines represented by course attendees demonstrated the significant interest from other fields along with a recognized need to include and understand the impact of complex environmental exposures. The perspectives offered by this diverse group throughout the week provided a window into the collaboration required to bring a human exposome project to fruition. Nursing, sociology, nutrition, bioinformatics, neuroscience, and human genetics were just a few of the disciplines represented.

The challenges of capturing the complexity of exposures and their potential health effects across the lifespan are vast. Yet the significance of these challenges also speaks to the great need for moving the exposome forward. The tools covered in the afternoon lab sessions throughout the course introduced participants to what is currently available to tackle the exposome and provided a window into what new development opportunities could advance research.

lungIllustration by Stuart Briers

Watersheds to shower heads

The Emory Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research hosted a two-day program, “From Watersheds to Shower Heads: A Workshop on Legionella Research and Policy” in May. Funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this multidisciplinary workshop was the first U.S.-based public health conference on Legionellosis—also known as Legionnaires’ disease—in 25 years.

Legionnaire’s disease has been on the rise, with a fourfold increase in cases reported to the CDC since 2001. Last year, New York City experienced one of the largest outbreaks in history in the South Bronx, resulting in legislation requiring cooling towers in the city to be registered with the department of health.

The workshop, chaired by Ruth Berkelman, Rollins professor, drew professionals from academia, industry, law, and government, with expertise in fields as diverse as public health, engineering, microbiology, medicine, industrial hygiene, and public utilities. View a video of the workshop at emry.link/Legionnaires.

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