A team of researchers from Drexel University’s School of Public Health and College of Engineering have been awarded a grant for their proposed work in India surrounding environmental microbial health risks. The Drexel team will collaborate with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).
The Drexel project directors are Dr. Patrick Gurian and Dr. Chuck Haas from the College of Engineering. Co-investigators include Dr. Hernando Perez, Dr. Arthur Frank (left) and Dr. Shannon Marquez from the School of Public Health.
The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), in an open competition that supports projects through the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative (OSI), awarded the grant. OSI aims to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education.
The project is entitled “Resource Building for Ecosystem and Human Health Risk Assessment with Special References to Microbial Contamination.” The purpose of the project is to revise an environmental studies curriculum that currently lacks a focus on human health-risk issues, particularly microbial risks. Some of the microbial risk knowledge that is sited as missing from the current curriculum includes topics such as antibiotic resistant pathogens, novel viruses like H1N1 influenza and SARS, and the relationship between urban sanitation and water infrastructure and waterborne disease transmission.
In addition to updating the curriculum, the goal of the project is also to train students, teachers, engineers, doctors and researchers using the new course curriculum and identify related research projects. The updated course curriculum will initiate in IIT Delhi, Academy of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and IIPH Hyderabad, but will extend to other schools in India after the project is completed.
Drexel will provide a proven curriculum in microbial risk from which these Indian institutions will draw. Drexel will also provide access to an online knowledge reservoir. The Indian institutions will provide their expertise in environmental chemistry and monitoring to the new courses, which will also be taught at Drexel University. Further, the identified new research projects will allow for future collaboration between the two teams.
The grant has provided funding for the project for three years with culminating activities in India. Plans are also developing for the teams to teach new courses at Drexel and India during different times throughout the project timeline. The project will end in August of 2015.