The Program for Public Health & Water Research


 Program Ojbectives:

  Water quality and quantity continues to be an important issue in Texas and specifically in border colonias in Texas.  Access to safe drinking water and treatment of chemical and biological agents in water is an important issue in many of the developing countries.  The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health’s faculty, staff, and students have conducted research on water quality issues in these regions for more than 10 years.  Illustrative of these efforts are projects such as the “Safe Drinking Water” project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1999-2002), the “Border Health Coordination Program” funded by the Health Services and Research Administration (HRSA) (2005-2008), and a number of international programs funded by the US EPA and NIEHS in China and Azerbaijan (1989-present).   More recently, the department has collaborated with Dr. T.D. Phillips, a NIEHS investigator in the College of Veterinary Medicine, on health studies in Ghana, Africa and Bexar County, Texas.   

The establishment of the Program for Public Health and Water Research will provide a stable foundation to (1) support graduate assistantships and internships; (2) increase visibility of the program through national and international conferences; (3) Facilitate continuation funding for existing projects; (4) Promote active pursuit of funding to enhance water quality and quantity issue, and, ultimately, (5) expand existing research infrastructure on public health and water.   

Potential Research Activities. 

The Program will support activities in five areas including:  (1) education; (2) water treatment and purification; (3) health effects; (4) water conservation; and (5) assessments. Education on water issues will include community health education, collaborations with in-state high schools, graduate (MPH) training, and workshops and conferences for health care professionals.  The Program has already developed a “Safe Drinking Water” module for use as a Continuing Medical Education module for health care professionals.  In addition, a module -“The Trip to Your Tap” was developed and delivered in English and Spanish by promotoras (lay health workers) to more than 300 families in rural Texas colonias.   The Department currently provides scholarship support to several international students.  It is anticipated that the proposed program would expand this activity and actively recruit students from several specific regions (Latin America, the Caribbean, Central Europe and Africa) for the MPH program.   The program would continue to support activities on water treatment (in conjunction with the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program) and investigate new opportunities for water purification systems.  Dr. T.D. Phillips, a program collaborator, developed and patented several modified clays that are capable of binding arsenic and other toxic metals in drinking water. 

The Department has existing research programs in Texas, other states in the United States, Mexico , China, Azerbaijan and Ghana on the impact of the environment on health.  The Program proposes to develop new activities in water conservation; and, to obtain support for student internships to develop assessment tools for communities and for industry to evaluate water quality and conservation.  Many industries in the United States have facilities worldwide.  The Program will develop simple tools that can be used by graduate interns to assess international facilities and to identify methods for water conservation and reduction or elimination of discharges.  A long term goal for this program will be to generate funding support to establish a Center for Excellence in Public Health and Water Research.  A proposal to create this Center will be developed as soon as long-term funding for the Program has been obtained.

Governance and Advisory Structure. 

The Program will reside in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health in the Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public Health.  Dr. Vincent R. Nathan, serves as Director and Research Associate Professor of Environmental Health.  The Program will open membership to other SRPH and TAMU(S) faculty based on active pursuit of issues related to public health and water quality. Governance will reside with the Director, appointed by the Dean, with input from Program Faculty and the Office of Research.  The Director will be advised by periodic meetings of the PPHWR’s faculty.  As the Program grows and approval for a Center for Excellence is obtained, a Board of Directors will be established for oversight of the Center.   



Vincent R. Nathan, PhD, MPH   Director







Copyright 2009 Vincent R. Nathan