|The contract between the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and The University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health has been expanded to include a broader range of assessments of health risks due to environmental factors in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), one of the fastest developing nations in the world.
As part of the expansion, UNC researchers will conduct a large epidemiological study in 600 households in the U.A.E., to explore the links between indoor air quality and health status, as well as to assess the impact of changes in nutrition and rapid urbanization on the health of U.A.E. citizens.
The contract has been expanded to $12.1 million, about $9 million of which will be earmarked for UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The epidemiologic study of indoor air and health is led by Andrew Olshan, PhD, professor and chair, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Department of Epidemiology; Ivan Rusyn, MD, PhD, associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering; and Karin Yeatts, PhD, research assistant professor of epidemiology.
The indoor air measurement team is led by David Leith, PhD, professor of environmental sciences and engineering.
Barry Popkin, PhD, Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of nutrition, is leading the nutrition and obesity team, and Ed Davis, PhD, professor of biostatistics, is directing the study team from the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center. The principal investigator of the entire project is Jacqueline MacDonald, PhD, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering.
Rusyn, who is also a co-principal investigator of the project, said the School is partnering with United Arab Emirates University’s Department of Community Medicine. The UAEU team, led by Tar-Ching Aw, PhD, professor and chair, has been actively involved in the epidemiological studies in the U.A.E.
“We are very excited to work with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and its national partners, the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Water, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and other agencies,” said Ivan Rusyn, who is a co-principal investigator of the entire project.
“The challenges to human health in the U.A.E., as well as other rapidly developing nations in the Gulf Region, are poorly understood, and we are confident that our study will provide the scientific basis for understanding risks and improving health and quality of life in the UAE,” Rusyn said.
The United Arab Emirates is a Middle Eastern federation of seven states, situated on the Arabian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia and Oman. The country, with a population of about 4.3 million, has significant oil and natural gas reserves and a highly industrialized economy. The gross domestic product per capita is currently fifth in the world and third in the Middle East (after Qatar and Kuwait).