This major award is the SPHHS's first entry into such a national program. Dean Aelion says, "It's very exciting for us to be among this group of elite schools of public health in the country. It is a significant recognition that our school is becoming known for excellence in its teaching, research and community outreach mission."
A fundamental concept of the training center is to allow new diabetes prevention projects to be community driven. DiFulvio, the UMass Amherst SPHHS project's evaluator, says, "We don't know exactly what each will look like. We do know that public health workers, community health professionals and community leaders will be key designers of the local projects."
Chipkin and Gerber point out that the role of public health has changed in the past 50 years from a focus on communicable diseases such as polio and measles to non-communicable "lifestyle diseases" such as diabetes and lung cancer caused by smoking. Chipkin, an endocrinologist, points out that diabetes and its related problems of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol have huge public health implications for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.
One goal for the current and next generation of community public health professionals is to focus on prevention, he stresses. For diabetes, this means improving diet and exercise habits among people who are pre-diabetic. Chipkin also notes that programs will need to involve all ages because obesity and diabetes rates are rising rapidly among children as well as adults.
DiFulvio agrees. "Our collective view among public health practitioners in western Massachusetts cities, towns and rural areas is that diabetes is really affecting people of all ages in our communities. The approach we will take as a training center is: What can we do together to make a difference?"
Chipkin says that this project "is a great opportunity to
|Contact: Janet Lathrop|
University of Massachusetts at Amherst