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UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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Federal Government Funds Center for Public Health Preparedness at University of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, September 3, 2002 — The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) is implementing a $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish a Center for Public Health Preparedness, one of 15 CDC-sponsored preparedness centers nationwide charged with training the nation's public health, health care and public safety workforce in responding to terrorist incidents, infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats. The funding is part of the $2.9 billion in bioterrorism appropriations signed in January by President Bush.

In announcing the establishment of the network of Centers for Public Health Preparedness, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson remarked, "The funding of these centers comes at a crucial period as the nation moves forward to improve its public health infrastructure to respond swiftly and effectively to threats and emergencies. This new funding will help centers identify, assess and improve critical gaps in preparedness for the state and the localities that they serve."

The center at the University of Pittsburgh will cover training of public health, health care and public service professionals in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Principal investigator is Margaret Potter, J.D., associate dean for public health practice, GSPH. Senior biodefense advisor is Samuel Watson, founder of the University's BioMedical Security Institute. A co-director for Ohio will be named soon.

Training programs will begin this fall. Working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pitt's Center for Public Health Preparedness will provide ongoing crisis leadership training for senior officials in the fields of public health, emergency management, emergency medical systems and hospital emergency departments. This program will be led by Gerald Barron, deputy director of the Allegheny County Health Department; direct a surge-capacity training program for medical professionals such as physicians and nurses, who would assist public health officials during a bioterrorism emergency; and instruct rural hospital personnel in handling bioterrorism emergencies for 24 to 48 hours without outside assistance from state agencies, federal agencies and urban medical centers. This rural preparedness program will be spearheaded by the Center for Rural Health Practice, directed by Michael Meit, at the Bradford campus of the University of Pittsburgh in McKean County.

The 15 Centers for Public Health Preparedness will coordinate closely with the states' bioterrorism plans, the national bioterrorism training plan and the national public health workforce development initiative.

For more information on the network of centers, see

Established in 1948, the GSPH at the University of Pittsburgh is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. It is the only fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States. It is one of 14 schools across the country to be designated a Public Health Training Center by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information about the GSPH, access the school's website at

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