California has had its share of natural disasters, but the State became acutely aware of another, more insidious type of threat in the late 1970s, when workers who had been making the pesticide DBCP discovered that they were sterile. Concerned that California lacked the knowledge and the trained professionals it needed to protect people from work-related hazards, the State passed legislation in 1978 mandating the University to establish teaching, research, and service centers in Northern and Southern California. The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) and its sister centers at Los Angeles and Irvine serve government, industry, schools, health professionals, and the general public through programs and partnerships designed to deepen understanding of occupational and environmental hazards and to prevent disease, fatalities, and injuries. Activities are grounded in multi-campus, multidisciplinary teaching programs in medicine, nursing, public health, and related fields which:
Educating Students for the Real World of Occupational and Environmental Health
- Educate future leaders in occupational and environmental health
- Develop new knowledge
- Bring the resources of the University of California to the public
Protecting health and safety on the job and in the community is a persistent national problem. The workplace statistics alone are stark: Every day an average of 9,000 U.S. workers sustain disabling injuries on the job, 15 workers die from a workplace injury, and another 137 die from work-related illness. That’s nearly 56,000 lives lost annually, and more than three million disabling work injuries each year, costing an estimated $171 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. Still, the U.S. lacks health care professionals with expertise in occupational and environmental health. COEH helps address this shortage by training occupational and environmental health specialists for careers in industry, universities, and government.
From Basic Laboratory Research to Applied Field Research
Whether they are probing a single cell or surveying an entire population, COEH researchers have two goals in mind: to prevent injuries and disease in the workplace and to solve critical health problems in our communities. Interdisciplinary collaboration has been the key to powerful results.
Bridge to the Public
At its inception, COEH made a commitment to deliver university services directly to the public. This is accomplished through a labor and community education program, a continuing professional education program and clinical services.
Just the Facts
- Director: John R. Balmes, MD; Founding Director: Robert C. Spear, PhD
- Established as a permanent part of the University of California in 1980.
- One of 16 regional Education and Research Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- Involves approximately 60 faculty, plus researchers and other professional staff from many schools and disciplines on the three Northern California campuses.
- Funded at $2.8 million by the University of California.
- Over $39 million in extramural funding directed by COEH faculty.
Global Health and Environment Program (UC Berkeley)
(Program Director: Kirk Smith, PhD, MPH)
Worldwide research collaborations and an interdisciplinary master's program focused on helping developing countries address occupational and environmental health problems.
Industrial Hygiene Program (UC Berkeley)
(Program Director: S. Katharine Hammond, PhD, CIH)
Graduate education and basic and applied research in occupational hygiene, toxicology, epidemiology, ergonomics and environmental health policy.
Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Program (UC Berkeley)
(Program Director: Ellen Eisen, ScD)
Addresses a national and regional need for epidemiologists with specialized training in occupational and environmental health at both the MS and PhD levels.
Continuing Professional Education (UC Berkeley)
(Program Director: Patricia Quinlan, MPH, CIH)
Multidisciplinary and specialty short courses on a wide array of topics, including an annual week-long CE summer institute and the UC Berkeley Asbestos and Lead-Paint Training Program.
Labor Occupational Health Program (UC Berkeley)
(Program Director: Laura Stock, MPH)
Labor and community education focusing on health and safety.
Ergonomics (UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco)
(Program Director: David Rempel, MD, MPH)
Graduate education, research, and consulting services to prevent musculoskeletal injuries (joint Berkeley/San Francisco program).
Occupational and Environmental Medicine (UC San Francisco)
(Program Directors: Paul Blanc, MD, MSPH)
Occupational medicine residency and interdisciplinary, clinic-based training for graduate students in nursing, industrial hygiene, & ergonomics; clinical services for the public; research in occupational and environmental health.
Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing (UC San Francisco)
(Program Director: Oisaeng Hong, RN, PhD)
Graduate education and doctoral research on preventing and treating work-related injuries and illness.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering (UC Davis)
(Program Director: Fadi Fathallah, PhD, MPH)
Graduate education and research on ergonomic hazards in agriculture
UC Davis Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (UC Davis)
(Program Director: Marc Schenker, MD, MPH)
Graduate education in occupational and environmental epidemiology, toxicology, and biostatistics; clinical services for the public; research in occupational and environmental health.